Finding the Right Fulfillment Partner for our Growing eCommerce Business
Guest Blog by Tom Schwab
The wonder of eCommerce is that it allows customers throughout the world to find your product day or night. The ugly reality is that when that customer reaches the check out page they want two things: They want it fast and they want free shipping. Both are the number one reason for shopping cart abandonment. Fail to meet either condition and you risk loosing the sale either to another website or a brick and mortar retailer that can provide faster availability.
Our niche direct to consumer medical products company was forced to expand from a regional player to a national provider. Our customers would take their crutch alternatives with them on vacation. Where they went, the call and orders followed. Due to the size and associated dimensional weight of the product, air shipments were prohibitively costly. Ground shipments while reasonably priced could take up to four business days from our Midwest location. For patients struggling with the pain and limitations of crutches this was an eternity. To continue to expand our business we needed to address this real logistical constraint.
As we searched for a fulfillment partner on the internet we were met with frustration. The 3PL companies that ranked highest in Google were on page 1 for a reason: They were big. It was clear that they were not interested in small accounts by their responses. Multi-year contracts, expensive set up fees, minimum shipment, minimum floor space and the need add expensive software to transmit orders all scared us away.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there were many companies that claimed to do 3PL in addition to their core business. What it was in reality was an attempt for them to fill empty warehouse space and provide an additional revenue stream in a down economy. Questioning them about their process proved we could not count on them to provide our level of service our customers.
After months of dead ends that educated us what we could not accept and what we could not afford, we stumbled across WarehousingAndFulfillment.com, an easy to use online service that looked at our specific needs and gave us a quick quote of 5 potential fulfillment partners that potentially met our needs. Beyond a simple matching service between eCommerce companies and 3PL providers, they had pre-screen the warehouses. All the discussions with the potential partners were efficient, informative and addressed our needs. Finally, we had choices instead of frustration. Within days we had chosen our partner and our product was on a truck headed for them.
We’ve now used the WarehousingAndFulfillment.com services 3 times as we’ve added additional 3PL partners throughout the US. Clearly they have been a key resource for us in harnessing the incredible potential of eCommerce. Now no matter where in the US the customer finds us, we can deliver to them in just 1 to 2 business days with free ground shipping.