Are you spending hours fulfilling orders to your customers? Your process is probably slow and laborious. Even after all the time you spend, you can still make costly mistakes like using a wrong shipping address.
What you need is a pick and pack fulfillment service.
Making the decision that you need a fulfillment service is easy. What’s hard is choosing a pick and pack fulfillment service that’s right for your business.
In this post, we’ll provide the guidelines you need to choose a pick and pack service that saves you time.
What is Pick and Pack Fulfillment?
Pick and pack fulfillment is part of the supply chain management process. It’s the process of picking sold product, packing it, and then affixing a shipping label and invoice to the product.
When this is done, your product is ready to be shipped.
In laymen terms, it’s whatever process you take after you sell an item that needs to be shipped to the customer. You pick your inventory, pack it in a box, and then slap a shipping label on it.
As a seller, you can either do this process yourself or you can use a fulfillment service to do it for you.
Why You Would Want to Use a Pick and Pack Fulfillment Service
A streamlined picking and packing process isn’t an easy feat.
Inventory must be on-hand, organized, and tracked. This way you know you have enough inventory to ship and track what your customer received.
Products must be properly packaged to be delivered safely to your customer. This means knowing the required box size and needed packing material.
Shipping labels have to be generated and placed on the right packages. A system must be in place to validate that customers received the correct order.
To achieve this, you also need the physical space and personnel to perform the process.
This process is manageable for sellers that only fulfill a few different products a day, or even weeklu.
Once you have 50-100+ orders a day, or week, fulfillment becomes a daunting task. It takes too much time and you’re prone to make mistakes. These types of mistakes can cost you customers.
At this point, many companies use a pick and pack fulfillment service. An outsourced fulfillment services can take care of this entire process for you.
All you have to do is provide them with your inventory. Then, when you make a sale, they pick, pack, and ship the item for you.
Using a pick and pack fulfillment services allows you to:
- Ship items quicker
- Free up time that can be spent other administrative tasks
- Avoid costly mistakes when shipping orders
- Provide a better customer experience
- Handle more orders as your business grows
That sounds great, right? Well, now all you have to do is pick a service!
Choosing a Pick and Pack Fulfillment Service
Here’s your problem now: there are many different pick and pack services to choose from.
To save you some time, here’s our checklist for choosing a pick and pack service that actually works for your business. When evaluating services, consider these:
First and foremost, you need to see what all services they provide. At the minimal, they should provide basic pick, pack, and shipping capabilities. That’s why you’re using them.
Depending on your business needs, however, you might need more.
Do you need to ship different items together in a certain way? Do food items needs to be stored in a warehouse with a certain temperature? Does the service process returns for you, too?
If you ship internationally, you’ll need to make sure that the provider handles international orders.
Define what your specific needs are and see how each fulfillment provider meets those needs.
Pricing terms are important. It’s going to take a little bit of research on your part. Each provider could have their own pricing model.
Most pick and pack services at least have pricing terms based on inventory storage, package size/weight, order handling, and shipping location.
You need to think about the products you sell. Do you sell small items like books and cds? Or, do you sell furniture or perishable food items?
Products like furniture are going to have different types of costs associated with handling and shipping. Understand how your product types affect incurred costs.
If you’re considering using a third-party logistic (3PL) company, you need to check out storage fees in the warehouse. Products with long shelf lives or storing items during the holidays can be more expensive.
Some 3PLs, like Amazon’s FBA, provide a calculator to help you determine your unique costs. Use these types of resources to better understand costs.
When researching different pick and packs services, see what their guarantee is for shipping.
Some promise to always ship the same day the order came in. Some vendors even take it a step further and promise to pay for the package, if they ship any later than that.
Also, see what shipping services they provide like 1-day, 2-day, rushed, expedited, etc. These are important offerings to your customers.
You want a shipping service that you can rely on to ship your packages in a timely manner. You can always look to customer feedback to see if the provider ships on time.
When working with an external service, you need to feel confident in how they communicate with you.
Look for services that provide timely shipping confirmation and tracking numbers for both yourself, and the customer. A good service provider will do so.
This type of communication helps you manage your business. It’s also a vital part of the buying experience for the customer.
Have the confidence that your item got to the customer on time. If your customer does have a problem, you need the right information to solve it.
This criteria might not seem as obvious to you. During evaluation, check out where the pick, pack, and ship service actually occurs.
If most of your customers are on the east coast of the US, you probably don’t want to use a service that only has warehouses on the west coast. This could affect timeliness of shipping and costs.
Single and Multichannel Fulfillment
Consider what channels your orders will be coming from. Do you just need to fulfill orders from your own site? Or, do you have several channels such as a webstore, Amazon, eBay, and even in-store that you need to process orders for?
Ask how the pick and pack service will handle all different types of orders. The pick and pack service will need to handle the order format of your different channels.
Always check out the fulfillment provider’s customer reviews. Current and past customers can provide valuable insight into how well a service did or did not work for them.
Reviews can add a boost confidence that you’re picking the right vendor to work with. They also can point out problems that weren’t apparent on the surface.
Save yourself from dealing with a bad fulfillment provider, and check out other sellers’ experiences beforehand.
Lastly, ask each service what support they offer. When you do outsource fulfillment, you can lose direct oversight on your orders.
In the case that there is a problem with an order, who can you call to fix it? You need to be able to fix any problems quickly for the sake of your customer.
Make sure that support is a priority of the pick and pack service you choose, not a luxury.
If you have a multichannel business, your fulfillment service might just be one piece of your business. You might also have accounting software, several marketplaces, and an eCommerce platform.
To streamline all of your business processes, you’ll probably need to integrate your fulfillment data with the rest of your sales data. This ensures inventory levels are correct and shipping information is synced across all of your business systems.
So, keep your business’s big picture in mind. Are you going to have to integrate at some point? If you do, you need to choose a pick and pack service that can integrate with the rest of your systems.
That’s it! Use these as guidelines when evaluating fulfillment providers. They’ll help you choose a pick and pack solution that will save your business time.
Popular Pick and Pack Fulfillment Services
If you’re not sure where to start your research, here’s a list of popular fulfillment services to check out:
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) (Check out our post, Are FBA Fees Worth the Cost?)
- Rakuten Super Logistics
- Red Stag Fulfillment
- eFulfillment Service
Get our free eBook that tells you everything you need to know about Fulfillment by Amazon. In the eBook, we compare and contrast all the pick and pack fulfillment services above using the same guidelines we just talked about. Download to check it out!