With the boom of the Internet comes another boom: e-commerce.
The digital landscape is the new frontier.
And on this frontier, you trade via the ‘Net.
Given the popularity of the Internet, it’s never been easier to reach your target audience.
In many ways, though, it’s also never been harder.
This new frontier is boundless–literally boundless.
And since there are no bounds, the number of competitors out there is endless.
That’s why many companies are turning to fulfillment marketplaces to get their names–and products–out there.
But dealing with an e-commerce fulfillment company means dealing with a middle man to reach your customers.
And, well, not all partners fit together quite like peanut butter and jelly.
Before you choose a fulfillment marketplace, there are loads of things to consider.
Below are ten major points that you should take into consideration before partnering with one:
Determining the best fulfillment marketplace for your company
1) Storage space
First, take into account the size of your merchandise.
Are you selling smaller items, such as basic office supplies, or larger items, such as furniture?
Not all marketplaces have adequate warehousing for big items.
Not all items sell steadily year-round. Some sell better at certain times of the year.
For instance, if you sell skis, shovels, and road salt, your sales will rise during the winter and fall during the summer.
Likewise, if you sell beach and pool gear, your sales will go up during the summer and down in the winter.
Unless you’re a big company, you’ll want a fulfillment marketplace that charges based on sales percentage.
If your company grows exponentially, though, it’s fine to consider a year-round fixed rate.
3) Inventory transparency
Regardless of whether you go fulfillment marketplace or not, you always need to know what you have in stock.
When you sell online, you deal with getting orders in from all over the country.
If you go with an international marketplace, you’ll get orders from all over the world.
So it’s always important to know what you have and don’t have.
Choosing a company that provides real-time SKU updates is the way to go.
4) Pricing transparency
Different marketplaces have different costs.
Some will charge you for dunnage (packing peanuts); some won’t.
Some will charge you for packing slips, and some won’t.
Whichever company you choose should be clear on their pricing.
Hidden fees are more than just inconvenient; they’re potentially costly.
Plus, if they aren’t up-front about their pricing, what else aren’t they telling you?
The goal of every company is to make a profit.
But it is the dream of every company to grow.
Your company is like your child. You want it to grow into the biggest, best company it can.
If your company should grow, would your marketplace be able to sustain that growth?
You should choose one that can.
It seems strange that an e-commerce marketplace might have inadequate or outdated software.
Still, it’s always a possibility.
And you don’t want to leave any possibilities open when it comes to knowing your inventory, sales, and products.
Check out the marketplace’s software. See what they use and what version of it they have.
Also: check into any software training programs they have.
You’ll need to know how to use whatever software they use to stay on top of what’s going on on their end.
7) Storage rules
Some fulfillment marketplaces have rules about how long a particular product is allowed to stay in their warehouse.
For example, Amazon doesn’t let products just set, collecting dust.
They want those products moved ASAP.
If they don’t move, they’ll charge the company who owns them a fee.
If you don’t want to pay the fee, you’ll have to find other storage for the products.
See, Amazon wants to store only the most popular products–stuff that’s guaranteed to sell.
It’s not a policy that’s designed to benefit you, the company owner.
It’s inflexible and causes extra, unnecessary stress.
Check into potential fulfillment marketplace partners’ policies on storage before taking them on.
That way, you won’t have to shell out a fee or scrounge up your own storage space if your products don’t sell as quickly as anticipated.
8) Reputation among companies and consumers
Client and customer experience can be a very telling sign.
Of course, every company is bound to get a bad review or two.
National marketplaces, international marketplaces–it doesn’t matter.
It’s just the nature of the industry.
But when you see that a fulfillment company has continuously bad reviews, that’s a big red flag.
Always check reviews before doing business with any fulfillment marketplace.
If possible, talk to the reviewers.
It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into if you go with Fulfillment Company X.
Of course, the cost will always be a major factor in any business decision you make.
You have a budget mapped out, and you need to stick to it.
But don’t just go for the cheapest fulfillment option out there.
Pick the one that gives your company the greatest value for your company.
That might mean spending more moeny than you planned, but you know the old saying:
“You get what you pay for.”
And in business, going cheap could mean hurting your company.
Keep these ten points in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to a “fulfilling” partnership with the right fulfillment company!