The importance of your fulfillment center cannot be understated. Your fulfillment center is the last touch point before your consumer receives your product. The all-important unboxing experience can quickly go wrong if your consumer gets the wrong product, it’s oriented incorrectly, or just doesn’t look good in general. All of this can lead to a negative perception of your brand – and a potential loss of repeat purchases. You should treat fulfillment providers as the brand partners they are because only by working together can your customers get the best experience. In setting up your supply chain, it’s extremely important to find the fulfillment center that is the right fit for what’s important to you in your business. Assuming you’ve picked well, here are a couple of key recommendations to ensure you have a good relationship with your fulfillment center.
Set Clear Expectations
Set up very clear expectations with guides, pictures, videos showing how you want things to be assembled, how you want things to be packed and sent out and how you want returns processed. This will make it easy for anyone new to your business to know exactly what you want done and how to do it. Make sure to update those guides as things change.
Get to Know Them
Have a relationship with your fulfillment center. These are real people. So if you’re able to, you should go see them in person at least once a quarter. In addition to talking about your business, ask about their business. Speak with people who are packing out your products about their families and favorite sports teams. You can understand what’s going on with their business and how you can help via email, but there’s nothing that can replace physically being at your fulfillment center and seeing your product going through. You want to be an account that they want to work on, not one they have to work with.
Keep them in the Loop
Communicate your forecast, expectations, and where your business is going at least quarterly. Let them know how many orders you think you will have and how your business is changing. For example: “we are launching these new products, we think that we’re going to move from a subscription to one-time purchases, or we want to move into multiple warehouses across the country”. Treat them as partners as opposed to a transaction in your supply chain.
Have clear metrics that you’re able to track. You can have data-driven metric and objective conversations about their performance and what needs to change, either on your side or their side. A tool like Capabl – a fulfillment tracking software will keep emotions in check on both sides and isolate the specific actions that are needed from both sides.