How to Choose a Fulfillment Provider
The MFSA (Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association) lists thousands of providers in the continental U.S. alone. How does a business go about choosing the best provider?
- Location: Shipping costs will be lower if you choose a provider that is geographically situated close to your customer base. Also take into account the providers distance from your suppliers- saving on shipping costs on both ends is possible if you choose the location of your provider strategically.
- Services Provided: Make sure the provider is able to track and record shipments and manage your inventory in a manner you find acceptable. Some providers offer additional services, such as credit card and order processing, which can be especially convenient for internet-based businesses with large sales volume.
- Customer Service: Get written estimates before routing shipments to a providers warehouse. Ask if youll have a dedicated rep or point of contact- a responsive provider is generally a safe choice.
- Check References: Check the MFSA website, Dun & Bradstreet, the BBB, and your local Chamber of Commerce for references. The USPS or logistics companies like FedEx, UPS, DHL are also a good source of local recommendations. Ask if the company is ISO 9000 certified, a certification that means they follow certain standard management procedures. Ask about the shrinkage rate, or number that describes the percentage of inventory that is lost, damaged, or stolen- it should not exceed about 2-3%.