5 Signs That You Need a New Fulfillment Partner

May 24, 2022 by Amware Fulfillment

When online sales grow to the point where E-retail companies need to rely on an outside fulfillment partner, some, unfortunately, wind up committed to a substandard or incompatible service provider. Partnering with the wrong fulfillment 3PL will result in a laundry list of problems for a retailer, including damage to the brand and customer relationships, financial hardship caused by issuing too many customer credits, and too many resources or too much time spent on customer service.

Though it may seem easier to stay in the bad situation and try to make it work, an e-retailer will usually find itself better off seeking an exit strategy. The earlier your company decides to break free of a provider that can’t meet your needs, the easier that transition will be. Staying in a bad fulfillment partnership too long means you’ll waste valuable time and money that you could have invested into your company’s growth instead.


Time for a Change?

If your business has a substandard order fulfillment services provider, you’ve probably already begun to think about changing fulfillment partners. However, if you aren’t sure, here are five signs that it’s time to look for a new 3PL.


1. Your provider can’t handle basic fulfillment SLAs.

new-fulfillment-partnerIf your current 3PL consistently misses the basic service level agreements (SLAs) associated with fulfillment, that erodes the very foundation of your promise to customers. They order; you ship the right thing to the right place in the right time. Monitoring performance metrics helps ensure that your provider is doing its job. Look for the following problems:

  • Returns increase due to quality issues or product damage
  • The process of receiving products at the warehouse gets bogged down and products sit for too long before they are logged into inventory
  • Orders are not picked correctly and the wrong product or number of products is shipped to the customer
  • Your partner is missing deadlines for same-day, next-day, or two-day shipments


2. Things changed after an acquisition.

Acquisitions are common in the logistics space, and you may find yourself in a situation where another business purchases your current provider. Such an event will change your fulfillment relationship, and it’s up to you to decide if those changes were for the better. Should your provider be acquired, carefully weigh how the new arrangement has changed things. Have service levels degraded? Do you still have access to middle and upper management? Do people seem preoccupied with “acquisition integration” issues? If you aren’t comfortable with the way things have changed, you may be better off making a change yourself.


3. Your 3PL fails to identify areas for improvement.

Sub-par fulfillment partners set a low bar for performance, focusing only on meeting day-to-day order processing requirements. But a true fulfillment partner will proactively seek out cost-saving opportunities and service improvements on your behalf. For example, does your 3PL recommend new equipment and processes that will streamline fulfillment and lower your cost per order? Does it recommend an alternate parcel service that might reduce eCommerce shipping costs? If your partner doesn’t regularly bring ideas to the table that will improve your fulfillment operation and partnership, it may be time to change fulfillment providers.


4. You can’t talk to your fulfillment partner’s management/executives.

Some fulfillment partners may bring their CEO or COO into the conversation early on to impress you, only to reveal later that you don’t actually have reliable access to them. Other providers may simply limit your contact to an account manager or other point of contact and never let you address concerns directly with leadership at all.

The actions of your fulfillment partner reflect directly on your brand and profitability, making it essential for you to resolve problems effectively. If you have concerns about the quality of service you’re receiving from your fulfillment 3PL, you are within your rights to pick up the phone and speak directly to the organization’s leadership team. If you’re experiencing anything less, that’s a good sign that you should change 3PLs.


5. Your provider doesn’t respond to your concerns.

When you flag a problem with a true fulfillment partner, you should quickly see action to correct the issue. If your 3PL doesn’t promptly address your concerns, that’s a good sign that your account may not be a priority – because of the size of your business or some other reason.

The relationship between an eCommerce business and its 3PL should be synergistic. A fulfillment provider should not act as a separate entity but rather as an extension of your brand. If your existing provider only takes actions that benefit itself, it may be time for a change.

At Amware Fulfillment, we understand our role as an extension of your eCommerce brand. We operate in a spirit of continuous improvement in eCommerce order fulfillment that enables us to identify opportunities to streamline processes and cut costs for our partners. Please reach out to us to see how a partnership with Amware Fulfillment will benefit your business.

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Filed Under: Fulfillment Outsourcing