Choosing the right Multi-Channel and Distribution Logistics Partner and the Importance of eCommerce Integration
Outsourcing eCommerce warehousing to a multi-channel fulfilment provider has many benefits for a scaling business. Not only are these providers such as Fullers, experts on all of the necessary operational tasks such as hiring warehouse workers, maintaining equipment, paying rent, keeping track of pallets, etc.; but in most cases can complete those tasks quicker, cheaper and more efficiently than you could in your own warehouse.
How does a logistics partner provide reduced costs like the ones above?
Well, we can address storage, transport and handling needs on behalf of our clients. We then use sophisticated software to develop a warehousing management and distribution plan that will best suit the needs of each company whose products we store.
Outsourcing your logistics is a big decision and it’s important that you pick a provider that fits well with your business operations, growth plans and customer service culture. At Fullers we pride ourselves on being both a solutions provider and an advisor that you can trust. We are always thinking of creative ways to make sure that your products are brought to market faster and cheaper. This is achieved by understanding our clients present and future fulfilment needs.
55% of shippers rate 3rd party logistic providers (3PLs) on their ability to provide continuous improvement. *
It is sometimes difficult to evaluate how outsourcing your logistics can provide continuous improvement. To assist you, we’ve developed our own short list of important considerations:
What is the level of technological sophistication?
One reason some of our clients come to us for multi-channel fulfilment is that their current provider is taking a long time to make a process change or enable a new process in response to their request. Make sure you have a partnership with someone who is keeping pace with the rapid and ongoing changes occurring in technology and that their IT strategy and roadmap aligns with yours.
Confirm that the capabilities of your logistics partners systems can integrate with your own automation requirements such as your order routing and storefront inventory management tools, plus any accounting or CRM requirements.
Can your partner keep pace with your growth?
Flexibility and scalability are key to excellent multi-channel fulfilment. Your logistics partner needs to be able to handle your current requirements, as well as the requirements your business will have as it continues to grow. Ideally, you want to have a partner that can immediately take on that extra inventory. If your business plans to reach new markets, it is also necessary for them to be able to expand along with you. To meet these flexibility needs, your provider should work very closely with you to understand your planning and forecasting, and in response, deliver in terms of labour and support services.
Can they help you manage peak seasons?
Short term, a provider must be able to help companies manage peak seasons, such as the holiday rush for the retail sector. Clients need to be able to surge their supply chains so that they can get to market with precision and timing. Then, when the peak season is over, scale back down and not have those carrying costs in their supply chain.
How deep is their talent?
There is currently a shortage of supply chain and logistics talent in the industry, and it’s arguably the biggest issue facing both logistic suppliers and their clients. When speaking to our clients they value the overall breadth and depth of experience within our team. The amount of knowledge and expertise in eCommerce warehousing and transportation among this potential partner’s management team and staff can have a significant impact (positive or negative) on your business.
Do they offer business intelligence and solutions beyond the basics?
This point goes beyond IT. Savvy logistic providers are introducing their ecommerce clients to related technology providers, providing insights about industry-leading practices and trends, and facilitating networking and knowledge-exchange opportunities within the community.
How do they stand on your needs and metrics that matter most?
Be sure to research and compare your potential logistics partner objectively against the metrics that matter most to your business. Ask evaluation questions such as:
How do they manage stock rotation parameters?
How will they handle identification of a product’s location in the event of a recall?
Are they able to show ongoing cost and process improvements?
What is their lead time to respond to changes in order volume or origin/destination and stocking levels?
You also need to confirm that they have the necessary experience and flexibility to accommodate, or at least not interrupt, your business requirements outside of your direct relationship. For example, if you anticipate fulfilling future orders through both a logistics provider and your current network of drop shippers, make sure that your new providers processes (data requirements, etc.) don’t prohibit you from doing so. It can be incredibly frustrating to find out after the fact that all your business’ integrated and automated processes need to be completely redesigned due to the unanticipated requirements of a newly contracted provider.
As your eCommerce Multi-Channel and Distribution Logistics Partner, Fullers are here for you – and your customers – at every step of the way.