Diamond Logistics CEO and Founder, Kate Lester.
8 is said to be auspicious number – wit 3 of ‘em in our telephone number! Let’s hope this article gives you the judgement to accompany your good luck in finding the right fulfilment partner!
Its important to understand when its time to look, who to choose, what you might want to consider and the choice out there – if you wish to use a third party. And, to be honest, despite the fact I am clearly biased about why you should outsource, people like Huel and Charlotte Tilbury used outsource fulfilment to scale their businesses exponentially, so it’s clearly a good business decision.
Great fulfilment partners store, pick, pack and despatch your goods. For most of our clients, they didn’t start an online business to be a warehouse picker and packer, nor run one, so it’s a relief to outsource.
Here’s our top tips:
1. It’s in the timing – Start up at home and/or in your garage and test the water. Look for a fulfilment centre when you are starting to run out of space, time or just can’t bear the boxes. You can start with fulfilment from day one – but its probably better to test the water and if you scale quick you can jump pretty quick if you do your market research early. Ballpark we’d say is 200+ cons a month and its time to outsource – Read our blog “When is the right time to outsource your fulfilment“
2. Choose a partner who fits with your company and your products – Do you want a cold transactional cost based relationship or do you want to build a relationship with a trusted provider? Is your Fulfilment partner going to be part of your team, or just a supplier? There’s a huge choice and it really does depend on what is important to you. I’d say the more corporate, the more rigid but much bigger and volume based. The more local, the more personal and more bespoke. It really is what suits you more.
3. Must have easy to use tech that integrates with all your websites/platforms/channels – From Amazon to Shopify, eBay to Linnworks, you need it all viewable in one place to see what’s in progress and have 100% transparency with live data of what’s going on at your 3PL (Third Party Logistics).
4. Must be able to stock synch – Bit of industry lingo but this means live inventory synchronisation to make sure when goods are ordered you have them in stock, regardless of how many platforms you are selling on. This is essential for you to manage your operations with ease, and paramount for your customers to be able to order with confidence.
5. Have a warehouse where you want your stuff OR with the right specialist knowledge – This is your choice. Do you want it local so you can see and touch your stuff? Do you want industry experts in a particular field – i.e. alcohol, homeware or baby products? Or maybe it’s a subscription box that needs specialist kitting? Or is it high tech, high value so needs added security? You must decide what you need and want and choose accordingly.
6. Ask to speak with other clients – I know it’s a bit of a clique – like they are going to give you any that have gone wrong hey? – but its worth exploring a few, and ask the question ‘has stuff gone wrong, and when it did how did they fix it?’ This will reassure you that your new Fulfilment partner’s heart is in the right place in client care. Logistics is never perfect, so there will always be a tale of something, but the bit that sorts out the standard provider from the great provider is how they deal with stuff when it goes wrong.
7. Make sure your values align – If you have it on your website that you are eco-friendly, a supporter of equality, diversity and inclusion and support local charities, you want to make sure your supply chain aligns with this. Check all of these policies and ask to see it in action, not just lip service.
8. What’s the future of the company? – Are they scaling at a rate of knots to build a small fortune for the founders or are they building sustainable local businesses for the long term? Is your business just going to be another number OR are they going to support you long term throughout your business journey?
I do hope these tips help. You are on an amazing journey and we wish you every success. And if you need a hand then you know where we are.
To discuss your eCommerce Fulfilment needs with Diamond, fill in the below contact form and our team will happy to help: