Fulfillment Services For Retailers And Wholesalers
Fulfillment services, also known as fulfillment centers, can help retailers and wholesalers maximize their businesses by taking care of all shipping related logistics, both in an outbound and inbound basis. A fulfillment service is a third party operator who stocks, picks, and boxes for orders on behalf of retailers and wholesalers. You might be surprised, but many large retailers, such as department stores like Macy's, and Amazon independent sellers, use third party firms to fulfill many of their online orders. There are even national retailers who offer storage, packing, and shipping services, such as Walmart.
Before getting into all the details, keep in mind that fees can vary greatly, and storage fees can add up, especially for slow moving products, so you will want to make sure to do your due diligence, and use your negotiating skills, to obtain the best possible rates.
Many key characteristics of small to mid-size business fulfillment services are:
Competitive prices, covering both storage and delivery. In today's consumer-oriented, ecommerce business world, having a fast, friendly, no-fuss pickup and delivery option is crucial to keeping customers happy. In addition, by eliminating the need to store inventory, many fulfillment providers save time and money in running your business. When you have an in-house or external pick and pack staff, you're spending valuable man-hours doing jobs that don't involve your company. Fulfillment companies work quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively by packing and shipping orders directly from the supplier or manufacturer.
Another important advantage to an outsourced fulfillment provider is that your sales and returns management can be integrated with your other customer service functions. Many companies experience problems with returning goods because they didn't receive the product that was ordered with the correct date, price, or specifications. By using an outside fulfillment firm to pick, pack and deliver your customers' goods, you can free your internal customer service department to focus on helping your customers. Also, using an outsourced fulfillment provider will save you money in terms of stocking and storage fees. Many small businesses spend two to three times more space and assets storing unused products than they do on actual merchandise. An online company typically only has about three square feet of storage space for every three square foot of merchandise.
You can also save on packaging and delivery costs by using fulfillment services instead of in-house packing and delivery staff. Some firms offer professional packaging supplies, including custom corrugated boxes, cardboard tubes and bubble wrap. Fulfillment services also package and ship smaller items such as books, DVDs and compact disks.
If you don't have the necessary warehouse equipment, and want to avoid high labor costs, there are definitely advantages to using a fulfillment service. If you outsource your packaging and delivery requirements, you won't need a full complement of forklifts, unpacking trucks and storage area. Outsourcing eliminates the need for additional employees to man the packaging and pick-up departments. Your company doesn't have to invest in costly truck and van fleets. A fulfillment service typically provides the trucks and equipment, without any additional investment by your business. Fulfillment providers typically own or lease warehouses, with the trucks staying in their custody and having access to regular trucks to make future deliveries.
When it comes to business growth, there is always room for innovation. One way to increase your company's efficiency, save costs and improve customer service is to outsource your packaging and delivery needs. By tapping into the resources of fulfillment providers, your company can make future deliveries quickly and ensure that your product reaches the customers it was designed to reach.
Fulfillment services can help your company avoid common pitfalls that often occur with in-house fulfillment. For example, inefficiency in storing products can lead to stock losses and frequent stock abandonment. A lack of on-site storage can result in damaged merchandise and delayed deliveries, both of which can affect your bottom line. Inventory lapses can also result in losses of business and customers. If you regularly run out of certain products in your product range, a fulfillment service can help by storing items for you until they are back in stock.
A fulfillment network can simplify your product assortment and delivery by providing a single, consistent source for all your product orders. Instead of having to rely on in-house inventories, multiple shipping locations, or multiple drop shipping partners, your products can be delivered to your customers in single locations that are managed by a fully staffed fulfillment center. This maximizes the speed and efficiency with which your products move from your warehouse to your customer. In addition, a custom fulfillment service can provide inventory and fulfillment assistance including data on available stock, so that you can accurately forecast demand trends.
If you are selling on Amazon, you will want to make sure that the firm is very familiar with all of Amazon's shipping rules, such as the time frame to ship an order out.
If you are looking for companies that can store your wholesale pallets, and ship them out on your behalf, you might want to consider a public warehouse. Public warehouses will store and ship pallets on behalf of retailers and wholesalers, and will usually charge a monthly fee based on the number of pallets that you store, plus receiving and shipping fees, instead of charging you rent for a space regardless of use (as you would pay when renting a warehouse or storage room for your business).
In other words, with a public warehouse, you only pay for the space that you use.
The challenge with public warehouses is that you generally cannot bring customers inside, so you cannot make sales of your products the way you could with your own warehouse or storage room.
Below is a list of a few fulfillment service companies that can work with retailers and wholesalers: