Getting your product from point A to B to C(ustomer) can seem daunting, but start with these tips in your research to ensure you choose the best logistics partner for your business.
As a growing eCommerce company, calculating your operating costs and finding the right logistics partners to help you scale your business is crucial. When considering different manufacturers, fulfillment partners, carriers, and other third-party providers, ask yourself: “who can I trust to produce and maintain the quality of my product, and how can I deliver my product to customers reliably and efficiently?” Deciphering the differences between vendors and services can be exhausting and overwhelming, but we have compiled some best practices so that when it is time to select a partner in scaling your logistics operations, you feel confident that it is an informed and intelligent business decision:
1. Find a manufacturer that understands your product and needs
As Nathan Resnick, founder of Sourcify, explains: “Sourcing suppliers and manufacturers is a unique process, and for many, a new experience. Trying to locate suppliers that are a good fit is a critical decision for your new business and aren’t always easy to find.”
Once you have decided whether domestic or overseas manufacturing works for your business, consider looking at resources and partners that can help you decide which manufacturer fits your specific needs. Companies like Sourcify specialize in helping match your product with the right overseas factory, leveraging their wide network of trusted manufacturers to give you the best partner to help you scale your business. After you have defined your product requirements and submitted your product designs and specifications to Sourcify, Sourcify will help you submit the necessary product materials to receive bids from matched factories and provide guidance through the process of approving your sample, starting production, and receiving your products.
Having a trusted partner who understands your product and has established relationships abroad with manufacturers is an invaluable asset to your business. The process of switching suppliers can be an expensive transition — it is not easy to integrate new systems, end contracts and negotiate new agreements. Buyers experience cost savings upward of 30% when they collaborate with a product sourcing partner, so investing the resources and time to select the best-fit supplier from the get-go is clearly worthwhile.
2. If outsourcing fulfillment, find a fulfillment partner with discounted rates/vast carrier network
Fulfillment is fragmented and expensive; it can be up to 40% of a small business’s overall expenses. If you’re outsourcing fulfillment to a third-party logistics partner (aka 3PL), it’s often hard to forecast and reconcile the cost associated. However, tech-centric 3PLs do offer services that bring significant measurable cost-savings to your operations. The most efficient 3PLs leverage rate shopping technology that rate-shops across a wide carrier network automatically to ensure you receive the fastest, most cost-effective carrier option. 3PLs often pass on their discounted carrier rates, allowing you to provide cheaper and faster shipping options to your customers without the pain of negotiating lower rates with every carrier on your own.
3. If fulfilling in-house, rely on the latest in data science to help you get the most discounted rates
If you are fulfilling in-house, bring your operations into the 21st century and implement technologies that enable you to process orders and ship your product with accuracy and efficiency. Shipping costs alone account for up to 10% of eCommerce expenses, but using big data and technology to optimize shipping rates can greatly reduce overhead.
Integrating shipping technology that rate-shops across your carriers gives you the ability to pull the carrier and service level that fits your business logic. Shipping APIs makes it easy to integrate rates into your TMS, WMS, app, or whatever setup you have, and will automatically aggregate rates across your carriers, pulling the most optimal rate from the appropriate carrier.
4. Integrate systems that allow information to live in one place / one dashboard for better BI
It is important to ensure that you are adopting solutions that integrate with your current systems and provide actionable insights to your business.
Integrating shipping technology that aggregates data in one place and that is custom to your business logic gives you the ability to track patterns and make more informed business decisions. Let’s say you are concerned that your orders are not reaching customers by the estimated delivery times that your carriers have agreed to in your SLA. By aggregating carrier data and tracking your orders on a single dashboard, shipping APIs give you visibility into how your carriers are performing and if they are holding to the negotiated SLA.
When it comes to optimizing your logistics operations, make sure that you are working with partners that understand your workflow and can be held accountable. No matter what phase of production your business is currently at, it is important to start thinking about what partners and types of technology will help you grow your business while maintaining the integrity of your product and providing a positive customer experience. Doing your research and creating a clear checklist of must-haves are monumental steps in selecting the right partner(s) for your business.
EasyPost was founded in 2012 as the first API for shipping. As we have grown our network of carriers, partners, and warehouses, our mission has remained the same: to remove the technical complexities of logistics so that customers can get back to growing their businesses. Click here to receive a fulfillment quote and learn more about EasyPost’s simple, efficient, tech-forward solution for all fulfillment needs.