Does Your Fulfillment Vendor Have Industry-Specific Experience?

Posted by Kyle Voniderstein on Sun, Jan 30, 2011 @ 12:17 PM

Some companies are confused when it comes to selecting their fulfillment vendor. Many times, they think that the company needs to be knowledgeable about their industry. And it’s understandable. For any specific task, especially one that is core to your business, would most certainly require someone that’s knows your industry. It would in fact require a company that is IN your industry and knows it quite well. But with third party outsourcing for fulfillment type activities, its different. Think about it: Whether you are talking about kit assembly, product packaging or even answering phones, most fulfillment activities are simply labor intensive type tasks.

Does an order fulfillment company need to have direct experience with a product in order to do the best job? The answer is, not really. Despite all the reasons that people may come up with, experience with your particular product is not a major consideration.

Take inventory management and picking and packing for example. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a computer, software, a toy, a handbag, or a marketing package, if you have people that know how to pack things, which is most people, then you are fine. As long as your fulfillment company knows where to find it and how to manage the process, they can handle the job.

Here are some of the top order fulfillment considerations:

  • Can the fulfillment company meet your needs big or small (10 SKUs or 10000)?
  • Can they handle pick/pack orders with 2 line items or 200 line items?
  • Can they pick loose units or cases, or both?
  • Can they handle B2B fulfillment or direct-to-consumer?
  • Can they handle last minute rush jobs?
  • Can the fulfillment company manage returns?

There are all key considerations that go beyond or around the “industry specific” question. You can see that its more important that they have general fulfillment capabilities, that they know how fulfilling works, than it is that they know your business or industry.

You may however, want them to be familiar with the retailers you ship to. Some products need special attention when they are packed. Some product types have serial number capture requirements that may be industry specific. If you have a large-scale program, they need to have the space requirements.

So, does experience in your industry matter? It really does depend, but in the end, it’s not an important matter.

After considering everything, let us know if Direct Answer can help with any fulfillment services you might need.