Whether you’re an ecommerce start-up that is just launching your brand or a seasoned online retailer who needs to expand, you’ll need an outsourced fulfillment partner who will encourage your company’s growth. But how do you know you’re making the right decision? Below, we’ve listed ten signs to help you recognize a great operations partner that will help you grow.

  1. They can grow with you – Is there room for your footprint to expand in their warehouse as your business grows, adds new products, etc.? Can they easily add new contact center agents to your account to accommodate an increase in customer service needs? If you’ll be shoved into a tiny warehouse corner and are limited in what they can offer you, looking elsewhere is probably a good idea.
  2. They want you to grow – Outsourcing your operations should be a partnership, so a great fulfillment partner will do everything they can to help you be successful. Can they connect you to other ecommerce partners who can help your business expand? Do they come up with helpful suggestions in the warehouse or contact center to increase sales?
  3. They’re financially stable – This might seem obvious, but many retailers fail to do the hard work of looking into a provider’s financial background before signing a contract. If they are public, how do they handle their shareholders? If they’re private, how are they funded? If there are any red flags, it’s best to stay away.
  4. They are growing, too – When an order fulfillment company is doing well, they should be acquiring additional warehouse space, onboarding clients, and investing in technology and new services. Ask about current and future growth opportunities and where they see the business in a year, five years, and beyond.
  5. Their clients are kicking butt – Sure, sometimes a great fulfillment provider may have clients that aren’t growing (either due to industry decline, poor merchandising, or something else). But overall, a great growth partner will already have clients who are rockin’ it – thanks in part to their excellent operational performance and fantastic customer service!
  6. They have a story – and it’s a good one – Ask about more than the standard ‘elevator pitch’: How did they get their start? What challenges have they overcome? How has their vision changed since their founding? If the company and its leadership have battled through the highs and lows that come with the ecommerce industry and have developed solutions to come out on top, you can trust that they’ll do the same for your business.
  7. They scale quickly – Do they have a peak-season staffing plan in place, complete with a list of temporary workers ready to call when needed? Do they have a labor-management system that helps them forecast hiring needs long before it happens? A good growth partner will ‘size up’ easily based on your needs for employees, technology, or warehouse footprint.
  8. Everything they do is efficient – Great growth partners work smarter, not harder. They use technology to analyze and simplify their operations and regularly monitor their processes to improve time and cost efficiencies.
  9. They’re constantly improving – Everyone makes mistakes, whether it’s a mispick on an order or an accidental hang-up during a phone conversation. Some providers will try to hide mistakes to make themselves look better to clients, but a great partner will own up to those issues to improve and ensure they won’t happen again. Ask about ongoing employee training, SOP creation/adherence, and quality assurance programs to learn how they handle their work for you.
  10. They’re transparent – Do they encourage you to visit their facility and meet their operations team? Do they welcome you to speak with current (and former!) clients? A great partner will have nothing to hide and will be proud to show you what you’ll gain by working with them – so make sure to take a look at anything you get the chance to see.