Best-In-Class E-commerce Order Fulfillment: A Focus on Both Pick & Pack and Shipping
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E-commerce merchants in search of fulfillment vendors, do not necessarily look at a fulfillment solution in the context of both the pick & pack process and delivery solution. Sometimes, the solution is integrated and covers both primary functions of the fulfillment process. Other times, the merchant can be left to determine on their own, how they choose to distribute their product and which carriers and services to use once the products are picked and packed.
The best fulfillment service providers obviously manage the pick & pack process well, but also take the lead in offering multiple distributions solutions to the client. It’s the intersection of the pick & pack process and product distribution where the best fulfillment service providers shine and add the best possible value for the merchant/client. Let’s look at how the “best-in-class” fulfillment service providers are managing the pick & pack and shipping processes, and in many instances, the intersection of those two primary functions.
Recommended Fulfillment Service Provider Practices and Policies
- Easily supports all technology integrations with client platforms and manages writeback requirements, including carrier-based shipment data.
- Offers a near real-time, dashboard-like view of inventory status, for client view.
- Employs a robust WMS integrated with a multi-carrier shipping platform that supports all primary parcel carriers, such as UPS and FedEx.
- Offers Multiple carrier options.
- Maintains a positive problem-solving relationship when addressing challenging circumstances and has policies in place that specify response times to urgent client matters.
- Encourages use of a service level agreement (SLA) with the client that defines expectations and relationship guidelines.
- Quickly advises client of serious, carrier-originated shipment delays, like missed pick-ups.
- Maintains close relationships with all carriers, including a plan for open lines of communications with the carriers, which allows for near-immediate problem resolution.
- Has negotiated the latest possible carrier pick-up times.
- Is open to reselling their own carrier rate to the client or allows the client to bill their own account number.
- Secures processed shipments in a designated area until carrier pick-up is complete and can detail a process for product separation across all clients and services, if necessary, until pickup is made.
- Proactively hosts quarterly business reviews with the client and primary carriers to review performance and cover future requirements/services that will impact relationships and service moving forward.
It’s not practical for a merchant to expect a problem-free working relationship with their fulfillment service provider as there are numerous moving parts to fulfillment solutions and ugly things will happen. It is reasonable for a merchant to expect their fulfillment service provider to maintain a positive, proactive approach to managing the partner relationship between the merchant and the fulfillment service provider, and that goes toward a best-in-class fulfillment experience for both parties.
Dean Maciuba is the Co-founding partner of Crossroads Parcel Consulting and contributing editor to the Newegg Logistics blog. This content has been republished with the permission of the author and Newegg Logistics, where the article originally appeared.