Blog Posts Read This Before You Outsource Subscription Fulfillment

Ready to find a third-party provider for subscription fulfillment? Whether you’re new to outsourcing or just looking for a new partner, you’ll have better results if you take a strategic approach.

In her latest blog for MultiChannel Merchant, Saddle Creek Director of Fulfillment Nicole Lee shares seven tips for giving your 3PL the tools they need to succeed.

Following is an excerpt…

7 Strategies to Get the Most from Your 3PL

You’ve put considerable time and effort into building your business. You want to find a fulfillment partner who can help meet your goals and give them the tools to succeed. The following strategies can help guide the process.

  1. Start with the end game in mind
    Having a clear idea of your desired outcome can help you identify priorities and give clear direction to your provider. Think about your overall goal for your fulfillment solution. Is order fulfillment central to your strategy for competitive differentiation? Do you want to improve how subscribers are engaging with your brand? Share your vision with your provider to make sure you’re on the same page from the outset.
  2. Consider your customers’ service-level expectations
    Think about what it will take to satisfy your customers and the fulfillment requirements necessary to support that service level. The following questions may help to spur your thought process:

    • Are orders customized to meet personal preferences?
    • Do subscribers have the option to add items to their subscription order from an online store?
    • Will orders require premium packaging such as a custom box?
    • Do deliveries need to be synchronized to accommodate social “unboxing” events?

    Communicate expectations like these as early as possible in discussions with your 3PL. Ask about their processes and best practices for ensuring an optimal customer experience in similar situations.

  3. Clearly define the scope of work
    In order to develop a comprehensive action plan, your provider also needs to know your exact project parameters and timeline. Make sure you have a good handle on the basic metrics of your business. You need to have a solid understanding of what you are shipping, where and to whom.

    Commonly required information includes:

    • Shipping frequency – orders shipped daily (anniversary model) or all at the same time (batch model)
    • Other sales channels used (i.e., ecommerce, online marketplaces, etc.)
    • Monthly projected order volume
    • Space requirements
    • Number of order configurations required
    • Desired order cutoff times for shipping
    • Deadlines for changing or cancelling orders
    • Specific subscriber addresses (helpful for determining optimal distribution network)
    • Information regarding existing commitments to carriers
    • Data security requirements
    • Returns management needs

    Armed with these specifics, your provider will be better able to come up with a solution that is scalable, repeatable, and cost-effective.

For more strategies to ensure effective subscription outsourcing, read the full article on MultiChannel Merchant.