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What to Look For When Choosing a Multi-channel Fulfilment Company

Posted on November 13, 2019
by Emma Burgess

Have you come to that crunch point where you are fed up with your home or office looking like a post office? Have you made a decision to outsource your fulfilment to facilitate growth, but not sure what to look for when choosing a fulfilment house?

If so, there are a few things to consider and take into account. One point of indecision we often hear is the dilemma between choosing a large fulfilment house or a company that can grow with you.

We’ve put some tips together to give you pointers on what to ask and what to look for when choosing a multi-channel fulfilment company.

Tip one: Customer Service

Just as you need to give your customers the best service, so should your fulfilment partner. If this is a new area for you, then you will have a few questions to begin with. Don’t be afraid to ask them and make sure you have a regular and reliable point of contact.

Things to look for include a call centre or warehouse contact number, as well as a human-monitored email address – not automated, scripted or AI responder. Ask about typical response times – when you’re running an e-commerce business you don’t want to be slowed down by your fulfilment company being uncontactable or sluggish to respond to help requests.

To prepare yourself, in case there are any tech issues, clarify who your point of contact will be. Don’t be afraid to ask how they handle situations such as misdeliveries or packing problems. Any downtime could lead to a loss of business, so it’s a highly valid and important question.

For example, at Huboo you have direct contact with your Huboo warehouse team and continuous control and support from our Huboo office. This enables you to have as little or as much control over your stock, giving you the freedom to relax and reap the rewards of your business.

Tip two: Pricing

This may sound obvious but always look very closely at pricing. Ask about hidden costs and clarify if that monthly charge is actual or a baseline figure that could change according to sales activity.

If your business has seasonal selling spikes, then look at how the fulfilment house works with these fluctuations. Ideally, you want the flexibility to pay more at busy times with the option to scale down during quieter periods.

No matter what pricing model you choose, always ensure it is clear and transparent. There should be no guesswork on what you will pay. The last thing you want is a budget-breaking invoice that you weren’t prepared for, which can, and does, happen if you’re not prepared.

Tip three: Scalability

Hiring a fulfilment partner will undoubtedly free up your business to grow. It’s really important to factor this growth element into your decision-making process.

We recommend treating fulfilment as a cost-of-sales expense from the minute you start your business. This allows you to focus purely on growth instead of logistics. However, it’s sometimes seen as something you only invest in when your business gets to that sales tipping point where packing takes up most of your day.

If this is your situation and you’re just about to start up or you are reaching the next stage of growth, then choose a fulfilment partner that can grow with you. Think about your growth strategy and look at whether they can grow with you.

A lot of fulfilment houses may have a one set approach for their customers, no matter what their size, and could expect you to fit with a service level that suits them more than you. Make sure you find a fulfilment company that suits you.

Huboo has no minimum order requirement and we have a dedicated client success team to help on board and grown customers allowing them to gey the most out of their fulfilment. Huboo also do not have a fixed cost model, it’s variable to your revenue, letting you get as much or as little out of your fulfilment needs.

It’s also worth looking into how they can and will respond to the growth of your eCommerce network. If you want to expand your sales channel from your own site to Amazon or Shopify, make sure your fulfilment partner can react quickly and seamlessly.

Tip four: relationships

Like any business, you want to work in partnership with your suppliers, so make sure you choose a fulfilment house who will take the time and effort to understand your business.

Fulfilment is one of the most important part of your business as it is directly customer-facing. From a fulfilment perspective, it not only means staff need to be motivated and happy in their role, but if somebody’s unwell or on holiday, then this shouldn’t have any impact at the warehouse; your deliveries should process as normal.

It’s also important to look at how proactive the fulfilment house is when it comes to a multi-channel approach. For example, we are a PayPal preferred SMB fulfilment partner as we want to ensure we are actively part of the eCommerce community and all that it offers.

This shows a greater understanding of this space and also highlights that offering multi-channel is not purely a box-ticking exercise.

Tip five: control

As we mentioned earlier, your fulfilment partner connects you to your customer. It’s such an important role, it could make or break your business. This is your business and you want it to succeed. You have got be in control.

For this to happen, you need a fulfilment house that is fully transparent, approachable and firmly on your side. If you’re unsure about anything, then arrange to visit the warehouse and meet the team, at Huboo we love it when our customers pay us a visit! Or, if you have any questions then you should feel comfortable asking them at any time.

Multi-channel fulfilment is such a fast-growing area with warehouses opening all the time. In fact, we believe most e-commerce operations will use a third-party logistics partner in the near future. But just like any business, they can close just as quickly. Always do your due diligence when creating your shortlist and check their credentials.

When all that’s done and you have a good shortlist in place, get those meetings in the diary, get them to really want your business and don’t forget to ask them why you should choose their fulfilment house.

Good luck!