Blog Posts Finding the Right Fulfillment Provider for Your Digitally Native Brand

Key Takeaways:

  • Digitally native brands are experiencing remarkable growth.
  • Since increased order volume adds to the complexity of fulfillment operations, many brands opt to work with a third-party provider.
  • When selecting a 3PL, seek out one with experience supporting online brands and 7 other core competencies.

Born online, intently focused on the customer experience, in control of their end-to-end distribution… These are just some of the defining characteristics of digitally native brands (DNBs). Fast-growing – and profitable – these companies are making their mark in today’s evolving retail landscape.

In fact, Digital Commerce 360 projects that web-only retailers will achieve a collective 29.8% increase in ecommerce growth this year.

The bar for success is high in this increasingly crowded marketplace. Brands must cultivate an in-depth understanding of their customers; provide timely, detailed communication (about products, orders, shipments); offer opportunities for personalization; deliver orders quickly, accurately and cost-effectively, and more.

While this level of service can be challenging for a fledgling DNB, the complexity of operations only increases as the company grows. To manage the increasing intricacies of order fulfillment, many DNBs enlist the help of a third-party partner.

7 Qualities DNBs Should Look for in a 3PL

Not all 3PLs are equipped to support the unique fulfillment needs of digital brands. Start by seeking out providers with firsthand expertise serving digitally native brands. They’ll be able to get you up and running more quickly – and more successfully – because they understand your business model. 

Following are seven more key capabilities to look for in a qualified provider:

  1. Custom solution design – Don’t fall for a cookie-cutter solution. An experienced provider can custom engineer processes and incorporate the optimal automation to ensure faster turnaround times and greater cost-effectiveness.
  2. Top-tier technology – Customer relationship management (CRM) software and a sophisticated order management system (OMS) are essential for a growing DNB. By outsourcing to a third-party provider with these technologies – and integration expertise – in house, you can reap the benefits without the overhead investment.
  3. Scalable resources – Business growth is not always predictable. A 3PL with a shared-space environment can provide flexible space and staffing to handle business fluctuations more cost-effectively.
  4. Digital Commerce 360 projects that web-only retailers will achieve a collective 29.8% increase in ecommerce growth this year.

  5. Network configurationYour 3PL should be able to recommend a strategic network configuration to minimize transit time/cost and support your growth plans (i.e., pop-up shops, physical stores, boutique options). Ideally, they also will have existing DCs located where you need them – or be willing to build out operations to suit your needs.
  6. Value-added services– Special touches like assembling gift sets, embroidering apparel, etc., can delight customers, but that customization can be labor intensive. Ask your prospective provider if they have the ability to handle those details for you.
  7. Parcel management – Plan to leverage your provider’s buying power, established carrier network and analytics capabilities. Ask about other parcel strategies that they employ to control delivery time and cost.
  8. Continuous improvement – Delivering a positive customer experience is vital to build a loyal following for a DNB. Confirm that your provider utilizes quality methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma to ensure efficiency, accuracy and consistency.

To learn more about order fulfillment for digitally native brands, read our ebook.

Related to: Managing Growth, Selling Online