Type the phrase “direct selling tips” into your favorite search engine and you’ll find a ton of articles on choosing the right product line, how to get started, how to boost sales and so on. What you won’t find is a ton of articles on order fulfillment – that underappreciated function that puts your products into your customers’ hands.
Done well, fulfillment helps your business flourish. Done poorly, it can cost you business. That’s why your choice of a third-party fulfillment (3PF) partner is critical.
Here are four tips on what to look for in a 3PF.
#1: Scalable order fulfillment infrastructure
For order fulfillment in direct selling, day-to-day order volumes can fluctuate significantly. They may double or triple on subscription renewal (“continuity” or “re-order”) days, and after conventions, new product introductions and special promotions. A fulfillment company that cross-trains staff to work on multiple accounts can handle these spikes without charging you for labor you’re not using when volume is down.
#2: Flexible order fulfillment systems
In direct sales, orders can be received and fulfilled in a variety of ways. You need to know that every order will flow seamlessly between your direct selling platform and your fulfillment partner’s warehouse management system.
It’s critical, too, that your 3PF’s system can accommodate order requirements that are unique to direct sellers who use multi-level marketing and party planning to sell their products. In the case of party planners, this means accommodating orders sent to guests directly, to hosts only, or a mix of the two. If sent to hosts only, the fulfillment company should be able to create a pack slip for each individual order and add these to a master case to ship to the planner.
Finally, your 3PF should provide real-time visibility into your order and inventory data, either through an online portal or by pushing data automatically to your system.
#3: Customized packaging capabilities
Perhaps more than in any other sales channel, presentation – the “wow factor” – is a top priority for direct sellers. When seeking a partner for order fulfillment in direct selling, look for one that can provide the branded packaging, custom kitting and personal notes you need to build your business – and do it while managing a high-speed, high-turn warehouse operation.
#4: Nationwide fulfillment network
Your customers may not be as fanatical about two-day delivery as Amazon’s customers are, but speed still factors into your business success. By warehousing your products closer to your customers, you can reduce delivery times and save money on shipping costs, as well – both good reasons to choose a 3PF with a nationwide fulfillment network.
This blog has only scratched the surface regarding the importance of fulfillment in direct selling. For a deeper dive, read Fulfillment for Direct Sellers: 5 Keys to Success.
Order Fulfillment in Direct Selling Matters
Complex inventory management, fluctuating order volumes, and custom packaging requirements make order fulfillment for direct selling companies challenging. Does your 3PF have what it takes to support your business?
Amware Fulfillment is a member of the Direct Selling Association and works with more than a dozen MLM and direct sales companies. We’re acutely aware of the multi-faceted demands of this sales channel. Check out this short video on how Amware helped one direct seller expand into the U.S. market.
If your current fulfillment partner isn’t delivering the service your brand demands, here’s one last direct selling tip: contact Amware.