Most startups are staffed and structured to work at a breakneck pace, often developing new business dialects along the way. If you’re among the online retailers in the market for what is now coined “eCom shipping,” you’re also among the growing sector that needs and expects immediate support to scale its fulfillment infrastructure.
Outsourced eCom shipping needs to be a process improvement that streamlines customer service and overall business operations, so you need a partner that eliminates your biggest challenges and minimizes risks. Here’s what to look for in a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to make sure you speak the same language when it comes to seamless order fulfillment:
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Order processing and shipping times: Fulfillment and shipping times are different. You know that, but most customers don’t. The dock-to-door timeframe is their focus and if customers believe their orders are taking too long, you can expect increased customer service calls, or worse, complaints.
One leading provider eliminates the need for explaining fulfillment complexities to your customers, or even your agents and staff. Red Stag’s order fulfillment team accommodates multiple service options (i.e., Next Business Day, 3:00 p.m. ET, or 5:00 p.m. ET cutoff). By guaranteeing that 100% of customer orders will be processed by the times you specify, Red Stag is able to execute timely order shipment and delivery its customers can count on.
Cost savings: 3PLs can enable reduced overhead (no fixed warehouse costs and fewer personnel) and shipping prices that are negotiated on your behalf across multiple carriers, so partnering typically results in an immediate cost reduction. Especially for eCom retailers who offer products that are bulky, large, and heavy, the savings are critical.
Branding: Customers don’t want to and don’t need to know your 3PL partner’s name. Every element of your customer shipment—from boxes to labels, shipping tape, specialty packaging, slips, and receipts—is part of your branding and can be customized with your logo and other identifying features.
Consolidated data: Every aspect of your order fulfillment should be accessible and manageable through a single dashboard for you and your customer agents. With real-time data in one place, you can quickly and better serve your customers and maintain inventory efficiently. Look for a partner who can visualize data as business intelligence, so you can read the results instead of being left to interpret them.
Flexible inventory: Since more than half of all annual retail sales are logged during end-of-the-year holidays, most eCommerce businesses experience large seasonal fluctuations. Managing product counts and ramping up with enough time to meet demand are just two of the challenges retailers face. Your 3PL partner should provide flexible inventory options so you don’t have to pay for December-level storage needs in the middle of July.
Tailored support and services: No size fits all for most things, but especially when it comes to eCom shipping. Look for a 3PL who understands your business (or is eager to learn if they don’t) and is ready to pull out all the stops to keep you and your customers happy.