How to Evaluate Your Fulfillment Service

Order fulfillment is vital to your brand’s success, with 98% of consumers agreeing that the shipping experience impacts brand loyalty. More notably, 84% say that one negative experience is enough to turn them away. In short, it’s not something you should compromise on.

Fortunately, the post-holiday period is the perfect time to evaluate the performance and value of your fulfillment solution. With the busiest time of the year still fresh in your memory, you’re best placed to assess how your fulfillment centre performs when order volumes are at their peak.

Identifying your fulfillment goals

First things first, what do you want out of your order fulfillment? When you partner with fulfillment companies, you might just want the process taken off your hands. But when the dust settles and you want to evaluate their performance, there are a few specific criteria to consider:

  • Speed60% of consumers expect delivery in two days or less, so it’s critical that your fulfillment services can keep up.
  • Accuracy – Inaccurate orders lead to delays and dissatisfied customers. Order fulfillment services should be accurate as a minimum!
  • Cost – Consider the value you’re getting for that cost too. It’s no good saving money if you’re losing customers.
  • Customer satisfaction – Dissatisfied customers are a sure-fire sign that something is wrong, and it’s often down to the delivery experience.
  • Time consumption – If you’re paying for fulfillment services, your in-house team should be free to focus on other things that drive business growth.
  • Visibility – Whether it’s for peace of mind or to assess the points above, you should be kept fully in the loop about the status of your order fulfillment and returns.

6 questions for your fulfillment evaluation process

If you want to weigh up how well your fulfillment service performs, there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself (and your team):

What was the same-day fulfillment rate during the holiday shopping season?

The same-day fulfillment rate gives you a quantifiable picture of how many orders are being fulfilled the same day the orders are received, in no uncertain terms.

Checking the average time specifically during the holiday shopping season will show you how quickly orders are being fulfilled at the busiest time of year. If fulfillment services falter when things get busy, it doesn’t bode well for businesses that want to grow.

What was the fulfillment accuracy rate?

Check the accuracy rate too. A drop in inventory accuracy over the festive period suggests that your fulfillment partner is cutting corners to get through the holiday rush.

That’s simply not good enough for your brand, which will suffer irreparable reputational damage as a result of their mistakes.

Do you have access to these figures through a warehouse management system?

Same-day fulfillment and accuracy are standard key performance indicators for fulfillment companies. As such, your fulfillment provider should have this kind of data to hand. Ideally, you should have access to it as well, so you can keep track of their performance throughout the year.

If neither is true, then their services are lacking visibility, which makes them practically impossible to evaluate – a definite red flag.

What do your customers think?

Whether it’s public reviews or direct feedback, customers’ opinions are a great barometer for your fulfillment services. If they’re largely positive when it comes to packaging quality, speed, and the delivery experience, you’re onto a winner. If not, that’s another red flag. Consider how many complaints you received over the holiday shopping period too.

How much time did you spend on fulfillment operations?

Think back to the months from October to December. How much time did you spend managing activities related to fulfillment operations? That could be preparing stock to meet certain requirements, handling returns in-house, taking care of kitting and assembly yourself because your fulfillment company doesn’t offer all the services you need, or spending time dealing with your fulfillment partner because issues keep popping up. If outsourcing fulfillment still takes up a significant amount of time on your to-do list, your fulfillment partners aren’t doing their job to take fulfillment off your plate and improve operational performance.

How easy is it to work with your fulfillment partner?

Finally, consider your own experience working with your chosen fulfillment partner. Is communication clear and helpful? How long does it take them to respond to your queries? Are they flexible and adaptable to your requirements? If the answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions, you can definitely deduct points from their scorecard.

How confident are you?

The ultimate evaluation point is how confident you are in your fulfillment partner. Can they scale up to effectively handle your peak season orders as your business continues to grow? This can make or break your business development. Fulfillment services that meet the grade without breaking the bank will undoubtedly deliver a healthy return on your investment.

Evaluating the ROI on your fulfillment service

When evaluating any service, return on investment (ROI) is always an important metric to consider. Quite simply, what are you getting back for the price you pay? With fulfillment, there are three main cost factors to consider:

  • Space – The cost to store inventory can soon stack up. By taking stock off your hands, a fulfillment warehouse can save you money in this respect.
  • Staff – Fulfillment requires significant people power, which you’d otherwise need to pay for directly.
  • Systems – If potential fulfillment partners use specialist software like a warehouse management system (and they should), then this is another cost to add in.

Contrasting with the costs, there is the added value and quality of service you get from a good fulfillment provider that boosts your business. The aforementioned factors like speed, accuracy, and confidence will lead to tangible business returns, which can be measured and compared to the overall cost of fulfillment. These include:

  • Repeat customer revenue generated
  • Referral revenue generated
  • Time saved (and the associated cost-saving)
  • Complexity reduced – a fulfillment service that eliminates a logistical headache is worth its weight in gold!
How is your fulfillment company performing?

If your fulfillment service doesn’t meet the grade, it might be time to make a change. With a 100,000 sq ft Irish fulfillment centre, Autofulfil can deliver fast, accurate fulfillment services to drive your business forward.

That includes a same-day fulfillment rate of 99.9%, the accuracy rate of 99.9%, and access to our inventory management system and client portal, so you can see real-time information and performance metrics about all your orders and returns. Additionally, our customer service team responds to all enquiries within one business day – with most responses occurring within the same hour they are received during normal business hours.

Contact us today to talk more about your requirements and how we can help.