June 20, 2012, 4:52 PM

When selecting a fulfillment provider, ask tough questions

Don’t be afraid to ask prospective vendors if they’ve lost customers—and why.

No matter how attractive an e-commerce site is, an inability to quickly fulfill orders can leave a retailer without much repeat business. So if an outside fulfillment provider is part of the game plan, choose wisely, fulfillment experts say.

If there’s one lesson to learn when choosing a fulfillment services provider, covering warehousing and pick-pack-ship operations, it’s not to make any assumptions regarding a vendor’s capabilities and its record in serving other retailers, Bill Shea, general manager, Wine Country Gift Baskets, and Mike Murray, senior vice president, operations, ShopNBC, said at the Internet Retailer 2012 Conference & Exhibition in a session titled “10 questions to ask you fulfillment provider.”

Retailers should ask to see evidence of such things as the accuracy of order fulfillment forecasts, and to view warehousing details such as the storage capacity, depth of SKUs that can be stored, and the operating efficiency of item picking and packing systems. “Do the math, and ask the operational folks, not the marketing folks,” at the prospective provider, Murray urged.

It’s also important to understand where the provider may have fallen short in services, and why, Shea said. Don’t hesitate to ask a vendor, “Have you lost any customers—why?” Shea suggested. And get the answer from someone directly involved with the former customer, if not the former customer itself.

comments powered by Disqus

Recent Posts from this Blog

FPO

Darin Archer / E-Commerce

Alternative payments: the path to increasing global sales

While the credit card is the most popular online payment method in the United States, ...

FPO

Jim Tompkins / E-Commerce

Alibaba's great leap forward in China logistics

The giant e-commerce company has projected spending $50 billion to create a modern logistics network ...

FPO

Yevgeny Senkevich / E-Commerce

Why you should treat every SKU as its own line of business

Some items perform well in one marketing channel and not in another. Some bring in ...

FPO

Pat Dermody / E-Commerce

Five tips for unlocking the power of a digital retail circular

Digital circulars are a powerful tool to connect with consumers in real time. Here are ...

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement