Do a side-by-side comparison of 3rd party fulfillment providers, and you’ll quickly realize the ones that rise to the top are leveraging technology and their partner network to provide a full solution for moving products to store shelf and door step. “Fulfillment is no longer just pick, pack and ship. The technology and automation to launch products into the omnichannel universe requires providers like us to link up and establish connections with businesses in various areas of supply chain expertise,” explains Christian Goodrich, Client Business Manager at DM Fulfillment.
Data integrators partner with retailers and fulfillment providers, fulfillment providers integrate with order management services and storefront platforms, order management services link up with ERP providers, the knee bone connects to the thigh bone, and so on. The reason that understanding all of this is so important is because it can play a major role in how you select which partner is right for you.
Evaluate your long-term objectives. Where are you and where do you want to go?
What are your goals? Are you making the transition from traditional retail/brick and mortar to eCommerce/Direct to Consumer channels? Are you looking to integrate a cloud-based order management system into your existing ERP? Do you have an online storefront, but need to expand your fulfillment footprint? It’s possible that some of your existing 3rd party service providers already have established connections that could help you achieve your long term goals faster and with much less pain. “Because of our integration and reputation with companies like Commerce Hub and SPS Commerce, we often get referrals to work with their customers who might have specific fulfillment needs,” says Goodrich.
Leverage one resource for all your selling channels.
The big question you need to ask is “Who can reach the most selling channels?” Whether you’re researching fulfillment providers or data integrators, find out who they’re already exchanging data with to see if it aligns with your business objectives. With the right technology and established connections, one resource could be your doorway to unlimited sales channels and a simplified supply chain.
And of course, there’s Amazon.
It’s hard to talk about eCommerce without acknowledging the elephant in the room. If you are new to Amazon, you’re likely trying to understand the best way to utilize the platform and reach their millions of customers. Even those who are successful at it are continually questioning if they are going about it the right way. Many can actually up their Amazon game by utilizing 3rd party connections. “For example, an Amazon seller can choose to partner with a 3PF provider who can execute Seller Fulfilled Prime and EDI inventory reporting can streamline their pathway to Prime and greatly improve their “out of stock” percentages, ultimately leading to greater revenue,” says Goodrich. “Keep in mind, that fulfillment partner could also connect them to other selling channels and order management services to excel their overall growth.”
There’s a massive amount of data being exchanged as your product moves from inventory to end customer. The more time you take to understand the connections between providers, the better you can leverage 3rd party relationships to get the right mix of retailers, carriers, sales channels, data integration and inventory management to grow your business.