Out tips on Choosing the Right eCommerce Fulfilment Supplier
When choosing to outsource your eCommerce fulfilment there are lots of companies vying for your attention. In this article, we share tips on choosing the right eCommerce fulfilment supplier for you and your business.
The reality is, in the same way that shopping for clothes or cars is incredibly subjective, then so is shopping for the right Fulfilment partner.
- Are you planning to pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap?
- Do you prefer a more personal service?
- Do you care where your goods are in the UK?
- Or do you prefer to have a Fulfilment centre that is close to you?
- Are you happy to use one of the bigger companies?
- Or do you think you’d prefer a company that gives a more personal service?
- The reality is there are many options available and we’re determined to help you make the right choice for your business.
Please note we do not mention our services here. After all, you are reading this on our website, so we guess you already know – but feel free to take a look at our eCommerce fulfilment page here.
Some of the big boys and gals….
Clipper Logistics was actually really helpful and showed our team the inside of one of their vast warehouses which helped us on the way in our Fulfilment journey.
Clipper is a listed company (publicly trading) therefore well capitalised and is pretty huge – so if you are a big player, particularly in fashion or high-value, fast-moving consumer goods, they are a good choice. They will have a minimum volume you have to despatch a week.
Of course, we all know about Amazon and Fulfilment by Amazon services.
Not only does Amazon provide a platform on which you can sell your services, but they can also provide storage, as well as pick and pack services to help you.
They say you can see a 35% increase in orders due to the faster fulfilment times.
Again, this is a huge company with substantial resources and technology. I don’t think as an FBA customer you can go and see and touch your stuff – it’s a tech-enabled solution that runs on strict boundaries in terms of what you can and can’t do – and there are some charges that are worth bearing in mind, such as:
Long-term storage fees – assessed monthly for all items stored in a fulfilment centre for more than 365 days.
Removal order fees – Amazon will return or dispose of your inventory in a fulfilment centre for a per-item fee.
Returns processing fees – Charged on orders when Amazon provides a customer with free return shipping.
Unplanned services fees – charged when inventory arrives at a fulfilment centre without proper preparation or labelling, making unplanned services required. Amazon will deal with smaller clients too.
Tech company or fulfilment?
Then there are a few companies who kind of started in Fulfilment and then realised that the big valuation would be in the technology piece – and they have done a few investment rounds to prove it!
Don’t get me wrong – they do Fulfilment – but think of themselves as tech companies first, such as Huboo Technologies.
They emphasise in their story their development of the software package that enables what they do.
Huboo says, ‘Huboo was founded in 2017 by CEO Martin Bysh and CTO Paul Dodd to help start up and SME businesses realise their full potential. Coming from an eCommerce and tech background, Martin and Paul were frustrated by the lack of quality, trusted multichannel fulfilment providers, and that’s how the idea of Huboo was born!’
Huboo are new, dynamic and growing fast, and they have lots of funding, having closed 2 rounds of funding for £14m and £60m respectively.
James and James Fulfilment are a bit of a hybrid – describing themselves thus; ‘The two Cambridge grads trying to make ends meet selling honey online. Spotting the failings of the Fulfilment industry, they hatched a plan to address them (and cause major, intentional disruption). Said disruption came along in 2010 in the form of James and James Fulfilment – the first, digital-native Fulfilment house in the UK’.
Being an online retailer originally must help them empathise with the brands they work with today.
They have taken investment on too but are still very much owner led.
Fulfilment at the heart of it
Companies such as ILG have fulfilment at the heart of what they do.
Kate knew the founder, Grant, before he sold the business and they were innovators in the fulfilment space.
They have helped scale brands such as Charlotte Tilbury and are well regarded in the scale-up space.
They process thousands of orders at 13 specialised Fulfilment centres across the UK and EU.
They were acquired by Yusen Logistics in 2018 so are now part of a really big logistics company.
Small and beautiful?
We have heard many a horror story of people outgrowing their previous local, Fulfilment houses when they realised that the only means of inventory was an Excel spreadsheet and Bill in the warehouse counting them once a month!
In modern eCommerce, this just isn’t good enough.
We won’t say who these sites are, as it’s not my job to slate the competitors, but do look at systems – you need to have world-class tech nowadays.
So, if you’re choosing a company that is geographically close to you, make sure they have the tech you need.
It cost MILLIONS to write great software so it is unlikely a local company will have their own – or if they use an outsource software solution be careful and ask what the contingency plan is if the software company goes bust – we learnt this from our own personal experience.
Proper eCommerce outsourcing needs an immaculate warehouse, great tech, awesome carrier rates – if they don’t have all three then bail!
What is the right choice for you? A fulfilment checklist
Ultimately there are a few items that should be on your checklist in terms of what is important for you to evaluate them.
- Is scale your primary issue?
- Where are you in your business journey?
- What is important about your fulfilment experience?
- Warehouse situation
- Rapport with team
- Do you need a UK warehouse, EU or both?
- What kind of a company is it? Does it matter to you?
- Do you want to see and touch your stuff?
- Is location important?
- Do you prefer local and owner-managed or global and corporate?
- Do they share your Values?
- Do they suit you?
- Will they care about your business?
We hope this has helped. If you want to see if Diamond might suit you, then get in touch today.