5 fulfilment centre red flags I The Storage Place

So, it’s finally time to start looking for a fulfilment centre online, and a quick Google search brings up a sea of potential fulfilment centres. As you browse the web, everything looks good at first glance. But, as with all good market research, thorough checks and due diligence must be carried out beforehand to ensure you’re making the right choice.

When looking for a fulfilment centre partner, there are many things to take into consideration. Partnering with a reliable 3PL is a critical factor in determining the future success of your eCommerce business, as it can be fundamental in expansion and growth. but you want to make sure that the 3PL can be trusted to handle your business correctly. When outsourcing your fulfilment, the 3PL becomes an extension of your business, so it really is important that you find the best one possible.

It’s easy to make things look good online, but really, how good are they? Let’s dive into the red flags you need to look for.

With the cost of living, and general cost of everything currently on a scary incline, it can be tempting to feel sold by a cheaper 3PL. Who doesn’t want to save a bit of extra money? You may think you’re making a cost-effective decision, one that will spare you some extra money, but is this always the case or best decision?

Cutting costs may seem appealing, but if it is detrimental to the reputation of your business, then this is counter-intuitive. We’d advise you to consider the ramifications of ‘going cheaper’, as partnering with a poor 3PL could end up costing you even more in the long run.

This isn’t to suggest you should completely discount cheaper fulfilment centres, but enquiring as to why their prices are lower than competitors is only being diligent.With that being said, you may also want to avoid someone who can’t provide you with solid processes and pricing, as you don’t want to end up in a contract where there are hidden or additional fees.

Always ensure that pricing is clear, and there are no hidden costs. When searching for fulfilment online, you’re likely to stumble across some seemingly great deals, but be meticulous in your research and check all the details in any written quote you receive. Sometimes, prices or fees that should be included are missing, and added into other areas of cost, such as postage.

2.Check the reviews and testimonials

You don’t want to partner with a fulfilment centre that can’t get your orders out on time, as it could lead to unhappy customers and a bad business reputation. When partnering with a fulfilment centre, their behind-the-scenes work is essential in the growth and reputation of your business.

Always check the reviews and testimonials online, as this is usually a great indicator as to the performance and reputation of a fulfilment centre. Reviews and testimonials are extremely insightful and they can help inform your decision accurately.

If you’re not sure what good and bad points you should take note of, here are a couple of vital clues to look for when browsing reviews:

  • What types of reviews do they have most? Are they mainly good, or do they have bad reviews or even average ones? Obviously, you want to avoid a 3PL who has mostly bad reviews, but perhaps you should consider steering clear of those with a few average reviews too. Why is it only average? Do you want someone who’s just ‘average’ handling your business?
  • Are their reviews legitimate? Do they have any reviews from actual businesses or are the reviews just from individuals that might not be reputable?

3.Will they let you visit?

One of the biggest red flags is if they won’t let you see their site and operation.

If you’re going to partner with a fulfilment centre and let them handle your business operations, then it is often standard procedure to visit and check out the site before you make any commitments.

You’ll want to make sure that your products are stored safely, and to gauge an idea of how things actually operate. So, if you request a visit and you’re told you can’t, then you may want to ask yourself why. It’s also important to establish if you can visit whenever you need to, they may allow an initial visit before signing the contract and then afterwards tell you that you cannot visit the site to view your stock which is concerning.

During your visit, there are also some things to look out for which may be indicative of poor service including:

  • Are site areas kept clean and tidy?
  • Does the fulfilment centre look capable of handling large operations?
  • Are they busy?
  • Is there an account management team present to communicate with?
  • Are there stringent security measures in place?

4.Ensure they have a good network for your supply chain

A well established 3PL will have a strong network across the supply chain, and should have good ties with delivery couriers, transporters and freight links.

If it becomes apparent the fulfilment centre you are thinking of partnering with has a small or restricted network, then seriously consider your options. They may not have the resources to provide flexibility for your business, or they may struggle to get you the most cost-effective prices for delivery and packaging needs.

5.Do they use technology or cloud-based systems?

Manual methods of inventory management used to be the go-to solution, as it was all that was available. Now that technology has advanced significantly, all fulfilment centres should be using technology-based systems, or powerful reporting tools to seamlessly integrate all your orders into one place.

If there isn’t a technology-based system in place, then your business operations are a lot more prone to fallibility from human error. Ask the 3PL what systems they have, and maybe even request a brief demonstration of them in use so you know exactly what you’re working with.

The Storage Place – a reliable and experienced 3PL

There are so many things to consider when moving 3PL’s.  Ensuring the right choice is paramount to your success. At The Storage Place, we’re open, honest and transparent about operations, as we believe this is the key to building and maintaining successful working relationships. 

Contact us today to obtain a quote, or if you want to discuss what we can offer, our friendly, professional team will be on hand to advise you with any queries.

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