Are you ready to outsource your order fulfillment? We’ve gathered 10 inventory management questions that should be on your list to ask your fulfillment partner.

Outsourcing your ecommerce order fulfillment can save precious time, money, and headaches. It’s an excellent option for many retailers. Your operations will be successful if you find the right partner.

To help you with your search, we’re sharing a few important questions to ask a potential partner regarding inventory management. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but these questions will provide critical answers you’ll need to know to make the most of your outsourced relationship.

  1. Who owns the inventory until it’s sold?
  2. What WMS (warehouse management system) and OMS (order management system) does the provider use?
  3. What type of reporting is available to you about your inventory? Is it real-time?
  4. Who manages vendor/manufacturer relationships? Can the provider work with your other vendors on your behalf?
  5. How does the replenishment process work?
  6. Is your warehouse footprint configured to facilitate efficient picking (i.e., fastest-moving SKUs located in the easiest accessible areas)?
  7. How is loss prevention handled: internal staff, a third party, or not at all?
  8. What security systems exist to protect your inventory? Are there access-controlled or caged areas for high-value items?
  9. How are peak seasons handled? When does the preparation start?
  10. Who will have ownership over the relationship within your organization and your provider? What communication methods work best (phone, email, in-person visits)?

Remember, this is the dating phase of your relationship with your fulfillment partner, so it’s important to ask the right questions (and lots of them!) to ensure that you’re on the same page before taking the plunge.

There are no right and wrong answers to these questions. But if several of these answers don’t match your vision, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a lousy provider – they may not be the best provider for you.