Finding the right fulfillment partner is essential for any e-commerce business, but it’s especially important for those sending out subscription boxes.
With customers receiving items on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis, there are many moving pieces to keep track of to ensure retention. Customers prefer this service for convenience sake, specifically for items that are repeatedly purchased (think beauty products or cleaning supplies), but when items arrive damaged or delayed, they have every reason to be upset. And with more than one-third of customers canceling in less than three months upon signing up, a fulfillment partner is vital to the survival of your subscription box service.
They’ll make sure your items ship on time, every time, but there are certain things to consider when choosing a partner. To help you make the right choice, keep an eye out for these key features of a fulfillment partner when you go to outsource.
1. Reliable Shipping
The hallmark of any good fulfillment partner is the speed in which items are shipped. For subscription services, this is important, as your customers become accustomed to receiving their boxes at the same time each week or month, often looking forward to when the date approaches.
Having a fulfillment partner that can quickly and accurately pick and pack a high volume of orders with multiple items, and ship them on time will help to retain those customers.
2. Global Distribution Network
Where is your customer base primarily located? You’ll want to take that into consideration when choosing a fulfillment partner, as that too will impact when your items are shipped.
Look for a fulfillment partner with a global distribution network to ship your items nearly anywhere in the world. This will give your customers the fast and reliable subscription box service they expect upon signing up. Plus, choosing a provider that has established relationships with major networks can create customized delivery solutions for you based on transit costs and times.
3. Branding and Packaging Options
Part of the excitement around subscription services is the unboxing experience. How your boxes are packaged is almost as important as the items inside it.
So whether you send a custom box or unique package each time, work with a fulfillment partner that will allow you to provide your own branding and packaging options, along with any promotional materials. This will set the standard for how customers view your company, which is important to growing your business.
4. Inventory Management
Subscription services take inventory management to a whole new level of planning intricacy. A standard box is pretty easy to plan for–simply curate the same items each month. A customized box, however, with various colors, designs and styles adds a layer of complexity to this process.
Without the right technology in place, it can be difficult to plan for supply and demand around product launches and seasonal fluctuations. A good fulfillment partner will have an organized inventory management system that directly integrates with your e-commerce platform to process orders as fast as possible. This real-time information makes it easy for you and your customers to track orders, exchanges and returns.
Plus, it gives you complete visibility into all of your inventory levels to accurately forecast projections over the long-term to prevent a shortage or surplus of stock, saving you costs down the line.
5. Operational Flexibility
As your subscription box service grows, so too should your partner. The services they offer, from their reporting systems to their packaging strategies, should be customizable and scalable for your needs.
Unplanned circumstances, such as a spike in subscriptions or cancellations can happen–it’s the nature of the industry. Make sure you choose a fulfillment partner that is flexible enough to accommodate changes that arise.
Streamline Your Subscription Box Service with the Fulfillment Experts at GLF
Having a fulfillment partner capable of curating inventory is critical to subscription box services. At GLF, we turn what can be a complicated procedure into a simple, streamlined process for you and your customers. For more information about our services and solutions, contact us today.