Common misconceptions about ecommerce fulfillment companies Fact: Your ecommerce fulfillment provider should be as close as possible to your consumer. Rather than picking a fulfillment house location or ecommerce fulfillment business just because of its proximity to you, it makes a lot more sense to use data and allow the analytical research to guide your selection. The most important factor for any ecommerce fulfillment provider is proximity. You want to be able to pick up the phone and call them. The more available they are to you the better. Fact: You should expect your ecommerce fulfillment companies to ship your inventory on a consistent basis. Many consumers don’t realize that the best way to stay stocked and ready to sell is to have all of their inventory in-stock at all times and available for shipping when you need it. Most ecommerce fulfillment companies will offer something called the “instant shipping” option. This will keep your customers consistently informed about when their orders will be shipping out. Fact: You want to find a provider who will work with you to develop a customized solution for your ecommerce fulfillment center. Different businesses require different approaches. If your business consists of several different departments, you’ll want a vendor who can integrate all of them. If you have salespeople, stock clerks, web developers, or marketing people on separate teams, you’ll need a vendor who can integrate all of these departments seamlessly. Fact: You don’t want to be picking and choosing features for your ecommerce fulfillment services. Instead, stick to having just one vendor who can handle all of the tasks associated with fulfilling your orders. This will allow you to focus on what really matters. It also makes it easier for your employees to do their jobs and it helps your customers to receive products quickly. Think of it as hiring a single employee to pack, ship, and pick up your packages instead of numerous employees. Fact: Most ecommerce fulfillment services charge a fee that is calculated on an annual basis. This means that it’s typically a fixed percent of your gross sales. You can get better rates if you plan to sell in larger quantities or if your customers are located in a different country. Ask about renewal offers and the possibility of adding in extra services if your business grows. Ask about the average number of returns on packages handled on a monthly basis. Fact: The storage of inventory is another issue that most ecommerce businesses have to contend with. Some vendors manage this responsibility themselves by renting storage space from a wholesaler. But unless you’re willing to be in warehouse full time, this could quickly become an unaffordable option. For an online retailer, the best solution is to hire a full-service FBA warehouse that maintains inventories and receives and delivers orders for you. Fact: A well-run FBA fulfillment center has a highly trained staff on hand that provides on-time service. A reputable vendor will have knowledgeable workers who are ready to address any issues that you may have concerning order fulfillment. One problem you’ll occasionally run into is having too many returned packages in your inventory. If this happens to you, the good news is that most FBA depots will credit you with the difference. An online shopping cart system can make it very difficult to accurately calculate end user turn-around times, so it’s always a good idea to talk to an FBA expert before making any changes to your online shopping process. Fact: Fulfillment of your orders is only half the work. You also need to properly package your items for delivery to your customer. Ask about on-time shipment options, as well as proof-of-purchase forms that your vendor provides. By keeping these three points in mind, you’ll be well-prepared when your ecommerce order fulfillment process begins.