The Small Business Guide To Choosing Order Fulfilment Services

26 September, 2019

Woman with tablet

Small businesses are disrupting economies the world over. This is largely due to the opportunities provided by digital platforms, social media, and more straightforward cross-border e-commerce pathways. Scaling up is an exciting time for any company. There are, however, many risks involved when it comes to committing resources to accommodate the increase in demand – be that national or international.

If you’re tentative about outsourcing your order fulfilment tasks, we’ve collated the essential points to consider when choosing the best solution for your SMB.

1. Know why you need an order fulfilment service

This may seem elementary, but you do need to have a clear list of priorities before setting out to find an e-commerce order fulfilment service. This will save you time by eliminating providers that don’t meet your criteria. You’ll also be in a better position to negotiate terms and avoid making compromises on aspects that will only affect your business further down the line.

Your “why” could be related to any of the following factors:

  • cost
  • delivery times
  • geographic reach
  • packaging
  • labelling
  • warehousing

Have a well-formed strategy for your business going forward so that the third-party order fulfilment service you select can meet your expectations.

2. The type of product you ship

Not every order fulfilment service provider will be experienced in handling your type of product. You should evaluate any case studies or reviews that the company has received – particularly ones relating to the distribution of items that are similar to yours.

If your parcels are likely to encounter more thorough scrutinising by customs officials, you need a shipping partner that is practised in meeting the necessary legal requirements to deliver your goods to their destination successfully.

Furthermore, you may distribute the kind of product that is affected by seasonal demand. In this scenario, you will need an order fulfilment partner that offers flexibility and is able to handle the peaks and troughs of your sales cycle.

3. Do you need returns handling?

Offering your customers the option to return unwanted or faulty items is very much a prerequisite for any business these days. Your returns policy is one of the first things visitors will check out on your website. If you’re going to be accepting returns on a global scale, you need to choose a service provider that will cover you across all the territories you sell in. Here, you’re looking for someone that can accept, process, and refund returns on your behalf. This level of customer service helps to establish your brand as trustworthy and reliable, regardless of whether you are dealing with a domestic or international market.

4. Easy platform integrations

When entrusting your goods to a third party for shipping, you’re also giving up physical visibility of your stock. Luckily, we live in an age where technology facilitates instantaneous transparency. If an order fulfilment provider is unable to integrate their technology with your e-commerce platform, you may grow increasingly frustrated with the lack of insight as to how your stock levels are looking.

Inventory management affects your business’s ability to successfully fulfil orders; it’s essential for your e-commerce platform and your shipping partner’s processing system to integrate seamlessly so that picking, labelling and delivery can be accurately executed.

5. What are your customer’s expectations?

Making purchases online is fast becoming a globally accepted, if not preferred, method of shopping. Transportation and infrastructural improvements have greatly helped to facilitate the success of e-commerce. This means that your customers, even those in some of the world’s poorer countries, are likely to have high expectations of delivery times, shipping costs and returns policies.

Furthermore, many customers prefer the flexibility of receiving their orders at nominated collection points and value features such as tracking and up-to-date delivery notifications. It’s essential to pick an order fulfilment service that is able to satisfy those requirements, particularly if they are a determining factor in your customer’s purchasing decision.

Could Asendia be the shipping partner for you?

At Asendia, we take pride in working with industry-leading brands as well as assisting young e-commerce businesses to lift off the ground and flourish. The size of our network, our long-established reputation, combined with highly skilled staff and modern facilities makes us an ideal order fulfilment service for both B2C and B2B vendors.

To learn more about how we can help your business, click here. Or, if you have any questions about our services and how we can meet your specific needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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