If your for-profit or non-profit organization is one that relies on distributing any type of physical items or products to customers, members, or supporters, you’re probably already well aware of the struggles that can come with doing it in-house. You always have options, of course, but knowing whether to outsource your packaging and shipping to a fulfillment service provider like ProList typically requires taking several factors into account before making the big decision. We’ve put together a quick beginner’s guide to fulfillment services to help you better understand your options and to ensure you have some important facts to get you started.
From small business online order fulfillment needs to back-end donor premiums, event attendee packages, employee appreciation kits, or membership packages the one thing they all have in common is that they require kit construction, printed collateral, labeling or addressing, and some type of packaging, whether it’s custom printed boxes or the use of more generic shipping materials. There are a variety of organizations and businesses that rely on fulfillment services to complete and ship out their products. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding fulfillment services.
A: Fulfillment is the process by which a business or organization delivers materials or products to a customer’s or constituent’s doorstep. If kept in-house, the organization or business itself prints, packages, and ships these products or materials utilizing their own resources. If working with a fulfillment service, these orders are directed to a warehouse or fulfillment center and the packaging and shipping are done by their staff.
A: There are quite a few reasons why a business might want to outsource its fulfillment services. Some businesses may require an “on-demand” packaging and fulfillment option. Whether it’s due to the variety of their offerings, or the need for different shipping and packaging combinations, they may not have the in-house space to manage enough of the materials needed to fulfill their orders.
The benefits can also include logistics expertise in selecting shipping providers and shopping for the best rates and services among the many options available.
Are there economies of scale? What’s the best shipping method for certain items? What discounts are available? Fulfillment providers typically are able to offer cost and volume savings by using their coordinated services and competitive rates.
Using an organized, professional fulfillment service also comes with turn-key programs for inventory and quality control, additional tracking and analytics reporting, as well as a wider variety of packaging options for branding, visibility, and/or cost-effectiveness, depending on the goal. The fulfillment team will utilize strategic planning for optimized customer satisfaction based on individual program needs.
Another great cost-saving benefit when utilizing a fulfillment service provider like ProList comes in the form of product sourcing. Finding branded and non-branded quality materials and promotional items for certain programs and kits can not only make this complicated process easier, but it can also help your business or organization streamline getting these items. You’ll optimize savings based on sourcing efficiencies and wholesale pricing incentives to procure products that represent your brand best.
A: In many cases, when using a fulfillment service, you’re only paying for the warehouse space your materials take up, real-time order processing, consumables like boxes and packaging materials as you use them, and shipping. This is in contrast to having to source all your shipping materials in bulk, pay costly commercial shipping rates, maintain your own labor for order processing plus cover the cost of your own warehouse space. If you’re using ProList’s fulfillment services, you’re also getting our experienced staff’s insights, expertise, and dedication rolled into the predetermined costs – no surprises. Not only will the products and materials be stored in one place for easy packaging, but you’re also guaranteed prompt and efficient packaging to get your products and materials to your customers asap. A recent study showed that 40% of shoppers consider the post-purchase experience to be the most memorable part of the brand experience with 73.6% of shoppers saying that delivery is the most important to the overall shopping experience. By going with a fulfillment service, your packages will be expertly packaged and shipped quickly.
This also frees up your incredibly valuable time, and leaves artful and humanized packaging to our team of professionals, leaving 0 room for mistakes!
A: This may be one of the better pros to utilizing a fulfillment center. By keeping your products housed at a fulfillment center, your inventory can fluctuate based on need, and with a service provider like ProList, we help you manage those levels to ensure we’ve got your products and mailers on hand when you need them. You’ll also be able to take advantage of paying for just the warehouse space that your materials are using each month. Inventory is charged by the skid stored and by the product location for smaller items, whether that’s by the bin, shelf, etc. That means you aren’t paying extra for the space you’re not using. Online reporting and inventory management make this process transparent and fluid, keeping up with order fluctuations.
The flipside to order fluctuation is that if there is a sudden surge in orders, your fulfillment service provider can also easily adapt to keep up with demand too. This will ensure that there won’t be delays in shipping and that customer satisfaction levels can be met.
A: Another great benefit to utilizing a fulfillment service includes insight and direction from specialized professionals on services such as custom printed boxes, other unique outer-packaging options like colored polybags and/or branded shipping labels or stickers, etc. A fulfillment services team can help you layout design (or provide design services) and craft packaging options that fit your brand’s needs, as well as shop for the best costs and production times.
A team such as the one at ProList can also evaluate a variety of packaging options including specialty packaging to make sure that shipping is still as efficient and cost-effective as possible. That’s an important consideration, as there are frequently size, weight, and dimensional limitations that should be evaluated when designing custom packaging to make sure it’s developed and specified properly. Once a price has been provided for a fulfillment project and the packaging has been nailed down, per piece shipping costs are typically included directly in the project estimate, so there are no surprises later on.
Of course, these aren’t the only important factors when it comes to making the decision to use a fulfillment service, but ProList is here to help. If you have more questions or think you’re ready to get started with outsourcing your fulfillment needs to us, give us a call at 1-888-PROLIST or fill out a contact form here. Let our professional and dedicated team take some of your business responsibilities off your plate for even greater success!