The Amazon effect: When outsourcing fulfillment makes sense

outsourcing fulfillment

Outsourcing fulfillment can makes sense.

Amazon has set the standard for speedy fulfillment.

Despite being both parodied (make sure to watch Netflix’s Drone to Home video) and parroted (the FAA recently clipped a brewery’s attempt to deliver beer by drone to Minnesota fishermen), Amazon insists unmanned aerial delivery vehicles will soon be as common as mail trucks.

While we wait for products to drop from the sky, outsourcing fulfillment to the right provider has never been more important for businesses vying for attention from consumers used to free two-day and next-day deliveries.

“The reality is that Amazon is so big that they are now mandating what the customer satisfaction requirements are for everyone, even if you don’t think that you compete with Amazon,” Jim Tompkins, president of Tompkins International, once told Modern Materials Handling.

If you are dealing with the following issues, you may want to take a good look at fulfillment business partners:

  • You are spending a disproportionate amount of time and money on filling orders.
  • The size of your warehouse is keeping your company from growing.
  • You would rather spend your expertise on developing and marketing your products.
  • The cost of warehouse equipment and warehouse employees is too high.

Also, keep in mind:

  • Fulfillment cost: As a first step, make sure you know your exact fulfillment cost per order before you start gathering quotes from fulfillment companies.
  • Proximity: Your fulfillment should be located as close to your customers as possible, not only to reduce shipping costs but also to achieve that necessary speed of delivery. Once again, Amazon has taken the lead by investing untold amounts in building distribution centers within 200 miles of major metropolitan areas.
  • Scalability: Scalability is important, as well. Can the third-party distribution center grow with your business and absorb the seasonal peaks and valleys of ordering?

And finally, be diligent about researching your chosen provider. Ask targeted questions such as:

  • Is the fulfillment center financially sound? Inquire about debt and ask for bank references.
  • What is its reputation? Check how long the company has been in business and its credibility in the industry.
  • What kind of technology does it use? The systems in place will tell you about the service that you can expect.
  • How effectively does it communicate? Great communication is key when dealing with back orders, returned items, and cancellations.

Companies that cannot match Amazon’s speed of delivery run the risk of making a quick exit.

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