What is a Fulfillment Center?
A fulfillment center is a warehouse that fills and ships orders for vendors. Fulfillment centers receive inventory from clients and/or manufacturers, and package and ship those orders to customers. By operating at scale, fulfillment companies can cut shipping costs and other expenses, and pass those savings onto clients. They can also help companies overcome bottlenecks, move into new markets and deliver products more quickly.
What does a Fulfillment Center Do?
A fulfillment warehouse typically receives orders directly from the vendor’s platform (although vendors can also manually send orders or enter them through an interface.) Once the order is received, warehouse staff pick, pack and ship it out to the customer. In addition to shipping, fulfillment centers may provide a variety of third-party logistics and warehousing services, including:
- Storage: Fulfillment centers can provide inexpensive storage, allowing companies to reduce the cost of storing inventory. This service also can help vendors prepare for demand spikes, provide a wider variety of goods and deliver goods more quickly by stocking them near the customer.
- Freight forwarding: Importing products from overseas manufacturers requires you to address a complex and esoteric series of customs requirements. Many fulfillment centers can handle the process for you. They coordinate with customs brokers and manufacturers, fill out the paperwork, handle bonds and import duties and ensure the goods are released and delivered in a timely manner.
- Packaging: Fulfillment centers will package your products to your exact specifications, allowing you to efficiently meet your customers’ needs. Whether you require palletization for B2B shipping, custom branded packaging, or just a plain brown wrapper, your partner can ensure each order is packed to your specification.
- Returns: Fulfillment partners like Fulfillment Depot can accept returns and quickly integrate them back into your supply chain. We can also include return instructions in each package to inform the customer.
- Tracking: Your fulfillment partner can provide better tracking, inventory management and visibility for both you and your customers. Customers receive email notifications, and can track their package at each stage of the journey. Your own team can see your whole inventory and supply chain at a glance, even across multiple platforms.
- Amazon FBA Prep: Amazon and other selling platforms that offer their own fulfillment have complex requirements for how products must be prepared and shipped to their warehouses. Third-party fulfillment centers can reduce the workload and cost of preparing products for Amazon. By offering less expensive storage and quick shipping, we can help you harness Amazon FBA effectively, while minimizing the costs associated with preparing and storing inventory in Amazon warehouses.
What is Kitting and Assembly?
Kitting and assembly is an industry term for packaging sets of products together Companies need to kit products for a variety of reasons, including:
- Sending product samples to sales leads
- Upselling customers with discounted product sets
- Enticing visitors to take some action, such as joining an email list or completing a survey in exchange for a free sample
Unfortunately, packaging these items together can be work and time intensive, and may require extra space than your company doesn’t currently have available. A fulfillment center can kit and assemble packages of items to your specifications. This can include custom branded content, items from multiple manufacturers or specialized packaging.
How do I choose a fulfillment center?
Fast, consistent fulfillment is critical to your business. No matter how well you run your company, if your fulfillment center is sending orders late, shipping the wrong products or mismanaging inventory, it will harm your bottom line. You need to choose a partner who will offer uncompromising performance throughout the fulfillment process, so you don’t have to worry about late orders and lost customers.
However, performance isn’t enough. Your supply chain depends on a complex web of people and technology, from the manufacturers sending your inventory, to the IT team maintaining your vendor platforms, to the trucks shipping your supplies. Sooner or later, something will break or require special attention. When that happens, you need a fulfillment center with fast, resolution-based customer service that can help you fix the problem as quickly as possible.
Finally, you need the right combination of services, coupled with transparent, affordable pricing. As demand fluctuates, your fulfillment costs will naturally change with it, but those changes should be spelled out clearly. The right partner will be able to tell you exactly how costs are calculated, and give you an accurate total estimate.
At Fulfillment Depot, we take pride in our complete range of services, affordable pricing and rock-solid performance and support. We offer straightforward pricing with no hidden fees, so you know exactly what you’re getting (and what you’re paying) from day one. Try our 30-day free trial today, and find out how much the right fulfillment center can do for your business.