How do you choose an order fulfillment company when they all seem so similar? The most telling insight into the soul of a fulfillment house may be how they handle receiving.
A successful fulfillment center – whether in-house our outsourced – begins with good data. And that good data must be captured at the onset of the process, in receiving.
Receiving is where accuracy begins. It’s where you get a chance to verify that your supplier shipped the same number of units you purchased. It’s where damaged items are discovered and incorrect colors and sizes are found. It’s where quality assurance happens.
When playing the pricing game, some outsourced fulfillment services offer “Free Receiving,” while others charge for receiving. What’s the better value?
Ask the fulfillment company what they include in receiving? Do they insist on a high level of accuracy or do they simply verify the number of pallets received? What happens if you find out down the road that there was an error in receiving or the supplier sent the wrong quantity? Who is responsible for making that right? And how do you handle the orders that were affected by shipping incorrect inventory or backorders?
If free simply buys you a pallet count and taking the supplier’s word for it, then you’ll need the Q/A steps described above done at a later date.
Receiving is a garbage in – garbage out proposition. If the wrong items find their way to inventory, they’ll then find their way to your customer. And that’s where the real cost begins – errors and unhappy customers. Either way, you decide when you want to pay.