Are you looking for a company to complete your product fulfillment? Here are ten things you’ll want to find out before signing on with someone.
How do they handle refunds?
Refunds are a part of every business, but you want to deal with them as little as possible…mainly because dealing with them can be inherently negative. Refund processing can be time consuming and discouraging to deal with on a consistent basis. So you want a fulfillment company who can help you create and manage a simple refund process without you having to worry about handling disgruntled customers.
Can they print on demand at an affordable rate?
This is very important in the beginning when you create a new product and you’re still trying to determine how much you’re going to need to ship or print on a daily or weekly basis. Can your printing company print and send your products on demand at an affordable rate or will they require you to stock items in order to get a competitive rate?
What’s their average turnaround time and volume?
Find out how quickly they can print and/or ship at a time and how quickly they can send something out once you get an order. They might have different rates for rushed orders; other fulfillment houses won’t be able to handle rushed orders unless you’re paying a monthly fee, so find out what your options are.
Who have they worked with?
You can tell a lot about a company by looking at their list of customers. If possible, ask for a small list of references that you can follow up with. Remember that high value customers tend to work with competent companies.
Do they have a relationship with a call center?
This is really important. If your customers will be calling in to check on the status of their order or their refund, you’ll want to make sure that your call center rep can communicate with your fulfillment company. In most cases, it’s best that your call center and your fulfillment house have worked together for some time.
How old is their equipment?
Printing equipment can break down, and even if it’s repaired quickly, it can create delays in your orders. Find out how old your fulfillment company’s equipment is AND what they do to make sure it’s running in optimum condition.
How do they handle chargebacks?
Chargebacks aren’t the same thing as refunds. Sometimes, customers initiate them once the product has already been shipped. You’ll want to find out how your fulfillment company will handle this so that you don’t end up giving away a product to a customer who has requested a chargeback from the credit card company.
How can you track orders?
In the rare case that you get involved in a client dispute or if you just want to track the status of an order, you’ll want to make sure you can get the information you need quickly. Find out how your fulfillment company handles this and see if it’s viable for helping you manage your customer orders.
How do they work with your ecommerce solution?
One of the most confusing and frustrating things about marketing over the internet is making sure all the systems work together. When you hire a fulfillment company, make sure that they work with your ecommerce solution. If they don’t, find out what they DO work with. Sometimes, their solution will be more efficient than the one you’re already using.
What kind of support will you have?
You need a single point of contact at your fulfillment company in order to resolve issues quickly. Find out who they are and how they’ll be available (email, phone, etc). The last thing you want to do is start working with a company who isn’t responsive.
Don't be afraid to be as comprehensive and blunt as possible. Once you cover all these basis you'll know you've found a great long-term partner.