When selecting a 3PL partner, you’ll want to make sure they provide you with a web-based management tool, or platform, where you can remotely monitor and control all aspects of your fulfillment operations. Quality IT platforms allow for thorough reporting functions, quick order placement, control of automated procedures, integration across multiple online storefronts and intuitive digital asset management. Here are five key questions to consider, when assessing your fulfillment partner’s IT platform:
What reports does your fulfillment partner offer, and do they provide the visibility and metrics you need to analyze and budget your operations? Review and analysis of fulfillment operations can only occur if your fulfillment partner gives you access to its data. At a minimum you will want to have 24/7 web access to reports on available inventory, inventory history, inventory transactions, order status, order history, and billing. Data should be readily accessible, real-time, downloadable, and easy to read.
Does your fulfillment partner provide you and your sales reps with a web-based tool to place orders? If your company has internal staff and sales reps that will be placing orders directly with your fulfillment partner, you will want the order placement process to be as quick and easy as possible. This order placement tool should display available inventory, allow multiple user access controlled by you, and facilitate easy bulk ordering of both wholesale orders as well as single-item orders.
Does your fulfillment partner have an IT platform that allows you to set and automate important notifications? Many people like to be able to set certain notifications for themselves with their 3PL partner, so they do not miss critical information or points of action. Examples of common notifications among operations managers include low stock alerts, automatic re-order points, inventory receipt confirmations, and returns processed.
Does your fulfillment partner have the IT staff and resources to establish (and troubleshoot) IT integration between their fulfillment database and your ecommerce storefronts? There are countless sales channels available online for any given industry vertical. Linking order information and accurate inventory levels across multiple ecommerce sites back into your fulfillment operations can be a challenge.
Does your fulfillment partner offer list management services? Every time you sell your product online, you gain valuable information about your customer such as their address, items purchased etc. If you store and organize this customer information well, it can be a valuable source for marketing campaigns. Because they process and distribute your orders, your 3PL partner has access to much of your customer data and they should make this readily available for you at all times.