Getting into business has never been easier. Computers and automation have revolutionized the manufacturing process, and tasks that would once have consumed entire departments can now be outsourced for a fraction of the cost. Turning chores like lead generation and fulfillment over to an outsourcing company saves time and money that can be better spent elsewhere, but choosing the wrong provider could lead to disaster. This article will cover eight things that you should consider when you choose which lab supply fulfillment services to use so you can avoid costly mistakes as you get your new business off the ground.
1. Strong Marketing Capabilities
The lab supply fulfillment company you choose should be able to do a lot more than deliver your products in a timely fashion. It should also help you to bring your products and ideas to the attention of prospective customers. To do this, fulfillment companies should have deep roots in the industries you serve and enough technological savvy to know which online marketplaces provide good bang for the buck and which are a waste of money. Since you will be distributing scientific and medical products, you should look for a distribution partner that has experience in the health care, academic and public sectors.
DABOS has become one of the largest distributors of lab supplies and equipment because we provide just this kind of competitive edge. DABOS can help you to develop branded packaging that sets your products apart and enhances the unboxing experience for your customers, and we can also provide you with access to more than a million potential new customers at medical facilities, research institutions and government agencies.
2. Strong Company Reputation
Every fulfillment company claims that they will be with you every step of the way and treat your business as if it were their own, so how can you tell which ones will actually live up to these promises? Taking a look at what their customers have to say is one of the best ways to find out. Reading comments from happy or disgruntled customers on social media or review websites could let you know what kind of problems the company has and how they deal with them in the real world. And you should also check platforms that allow workers to post reviews of their current or former employers.
You want to find an ecommerce fulfillment partner that treats its customers and workers well because that is the kind of company that people tend to stay with. A driver with years of experience spends less time waiting around because they have procedures memorized and know the people they deal with very well, and warehouse workers who care alert their supervisors when they see things that could cause problems.
Another hidden benefit of working with a company that has a good reputation is not having to worry about your sensitive customer data getting into the wrong hands. The kind of companies that treat their customers and workers poorly rarely have robust security protocols in place and often sell sensitive information to third parties.
3. Location of Warehouses
The physical location where your products are stored is not as important as how effectively your ecommerce fulfillment company can move them from place to place, and a warehouse that is a thousand miles further away from your customer could be a better choice if it is well served by major highways and close to transit hubs.
Fulfillment companies can use a large central facility that makes keeping track of inventory much easier, or they can shorten journey distances by shipping products from a network of smaller warehouses spread across the country. Both approaches can be effective for small and consistent shipments, but a centralized approach adapts more quickly to order surges and rapid upscaling.
One thing that should definitely be avoided are flimsily built warehouses in parts of the country that are prone to natural disasters.
4. Shipping Times/On-Time Delivery
There was a time when consumers would happily wait days or even weeks for the products they ordered to arrive, but that was before companies like Amazon and Walmart revolutionized retail. People now expect confirmations within minutes of placing an order and shipping notifications within hours, so you should really look for a fulfillment warehouse that offers same-day shipping. When consumers were surveyed about their purchasing priorities in 2017, 35% of them said that they would cancel an online order because of slow shipping.
Getting a product out of a warehouse and onto a truck in record time does little good if that truck then fails to meet a connecting flight because the driver missed a turn or spoke to the wrong person. If you will be shipping lab supplies to facilities in technology and research corridors, you should look for a distribution partner that has experience flying into the smaller regional airports that serve these areas.
You are probably hoping that your business grows quickly as news of your product spreads. Therefore, you will want a fulfillment service that will be able to work with you when your needs evolve and change. The company you choose should be able to offer you a range of packaging options and insulation materials to choose from, and it should use automation technology in its warehouse to simplify the fulfillment process and eliminate the mistakes that often accompany rapid growth.
A surge in orders will always lead to a surge in returns, so you will want a fulfillment provider that can adeptly handle products coming back as well as handling shipments going out in the same efficient manner. If products are being returned because of shipping damage or delays, it may be a good idea to look elsewhere for a new distribution partner.
6. Easy to Work With
Fulfillment companies should be easy to work with and eliminate problems rather than causing them. You should look for a company that has a simple interface and avoid providers that expect their clients to choose from a bewildering menu of industry jargon. In addition, you should make sure that any questions you have are answered right away. Distribution companies should also be flexible enough to work with you if you have to deal with a sudden spike in demand or your manufacturer makes a mistake and sends you an unusually large shipment.
7. Familiarity with Your Business
Delivering an order of medical supplies to a university, independent laboratory or government institution is a lot more complicated than leaving a package on a consumer’s doorstep. This is why you should look for a distribution company that has existing relationships with your customers and is familiar with the paperwork and procedures it will encounter in your business niche. Experience and a track record could be especially important if you plan to sell your products overseas.
You should also look for a company that is used to shipping fragile items and knows the tricks that can be used to prevent transportation accidents. Some of these techniques are quite ingenious in the way they encourage workers to be more careful. When a Danish bicycle company replaced the graphics on their packaging materials with images of flat-screen TV sets, shipping damage was reduced by 80%.
8. Data Analytics
Your customers will expect to know where their packages are at every step, and they could become impatient if the information your distributor provides is not updated several times each day. You should seek out an ecommerce fulfillment service that is dedicated to transparency as this is the quality that consumers crave the most.
When more than 2,000 consumers were asked about their buying preferences in 2016, more than half of them said that providing complete transparency would make them loyal customers of a brand for life. Your fulfillment company’s software should also work well with your existing applications and save you money by identifying customers who routinely order products and then return them.
DABOS is with You Every Step of the Way
The way you choose to get your products into the hands of your customers could make or break your business, so it’s best to think carefully when you pick a fulfillment service. DABOS has years of experience delivering lab supplies and medical equipment to academic institutions, hospitals and public and private sector research facilities, and we could provide you with access to more than a million potential new customers. If you would like to find out more about the services, including the end-to-end fulfilment we offer, please use our online form to schedule a call today.