3 Steps for a Strong Partnership with Your Fulfillment Team

Keeping up with customer demand forces all of a manufacturer’s operations to ramp up, from procurement to inventory, assembly, inspection and testing, and reverse logistics.

As order volumes and organizations scale however, OEMs frequently find it difficult to efficiently scale up all the above operations in sync with each other and in lockstep with increasing sales volume. Thus, OEMs turn to outside partners for services such as warehousing, procurement, and assembly.

This is just as true for order fulfillment.

Fulfillment is tightly joined to distribution, since fulfillment is all about fullfilling the customer’s wants as documented in their order, which must of course include actually putting the merchandise in their hands.

Besides the logistics of transporting products to customers, order fulfillment also includes processes such as receiving orders through multiple channels, moving merchandise from finished goods inventory to the packaging area, and arranging for order shipment. By teaming up with an outside fulfillment partner, OEMs can enjoy the on-demand scalability, cost savings, and other benefits associated with outsourcing production to contract manufacturers.

The best fulfillment partner for your organization depends on a lot of factors, such as product type as well as the number and type of fulfillment services you require. To help guide OEMs in their selection process, we’ve put together these three steps for ensuring a strong and successful partnership between your fulfillment team and an outside partner.

Step #1: Decide how much of your fulfillment operations you are looking to outsource

Are you looking to augment your existing fulfillment team and facilities, or do you desire to completely outsource it?

For companies that wish to offload a new product line, or quickly spin up a subsidiary, an outside partner working as an extension of your in-house fulfillment organization makes a lot of sense. On the other hand, companies wishing to remain lean and nimble by focusing on activities such as strategic planning, research and development, sales & marketing, and customer service should look to fully outsource order fulfillment to fulfillment center.

Step #2: Identify what needs your fulfillment partner must fulfill

Once you’ve defined your overall fulfillment strategy, then you can zero in on the type of outside firm to partner with.

For example, OEMs that have decided to fully outsource order fulfillment are probably aiming to externalize other operations as well. For these OEMs, a full-service contract manufacturer (CM) or third-party logistics (3PL) firm are a good choice, since fulfillment can be bundled with other services. By consolidating vendors and eliminating middlemen, OEMs can sharply reduce supply chain complexity and logistical delays. One-stop shopping also simplifies order processing.

OEMs wishing to keep much of their fulfillment in-house will take a more a la carte approach: those manufacturers must decide what specific services they need a partner to provide. For one OEM, expertise in direct-to-consumer fulfillment may be required. For another, eCommerce experience coupled with blind drop-shipping. Still others may need cross docking coupled with electronic data interchange (EDI) order tracking.

Step #3: Pick the right fulfillment partner

After you’ve defined exactly what you need, you can then use that criteria to select who you need.

A full-service CM like RiverStar is the best choice for OEMs who wish to remain lean and nimble by outsourcing, since they offer an end-to-end turnkey package, from climate-controlled warehousing space to direct-to-consumer order fulfillment.

OEMs in search of a more pared-down solution will want to narrow their search down to more focused and specialized fulfillment partners. This advice comes with an asterisk: many full-service CMs provide their services as standalone offerings, and therefore should be considered by OEMs favoring a more tailored fulfillment solution.

RiverStar is one such full-service CM who specializes in mechanical, electronic, and electro-mechanical products. We provide bundled solutions as well as a full menu of individual fulfillment and distribution services and capabilities: eCommerce, direct-to-consumer, retail, blind drop-shipping, cross-docking, and more. RiverStar continues to be a strong, reliable order fulfillment and distribution partner for OEMs of all sizes.

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3 Steps for a Strong Partnership with Your Fulfillment Team
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3 Steps for a Strong Partnership with Your Fulfillment Team
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Keeping up with customer demand forces all of a manufacturer’s operations to ramp up, from procurement to inventory, assembly, inspection and testing, and reverse logistics.
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RiverStar Inc.
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