Running your e-commerce business can be quite a task. From generating leads, maintaining your customers, positioning yourself for more sales, and staying on top of the competition, it can all get pretty overwhelming when you do not have the requisite support. One major hallmark of selling on Amazon is order fulfillment, and you’ve got to have a smooth system for running this operation.
- Can’t I just do the prepping of my products?
- How do I get quality prep services?
- How to identify quality prep centers?
Okay, so you’ve succeeded in getting a customer to order your products, and you’ve got to package the product appropriately and get it delivered to the customer in the right conditions that meet their expectations. This is where prep services come in handy. We have documented all you need to know about prep centers and Amazon Prep services here. However, before making that important leap, there are quite a number of boxes you need to check before settling for a center to take care of your logistics needs.
CAN’T I JUST DO THE PREPPING OF MY PRODUCTS?
Of course, you can. But as we have established, prepping your products may not be a walk in the park. First, you have got to adhere strictly to Amazon’s stringent rules for accepting your products into the center before shipping. The sheer time and resources that go into doing this is something you cannot afford if you are a small business selling on Amazon.
Moreover, why go through the stress when you can simply just leverage the systems and established logistics processes of prep centers, which can efficiently package and fulfill your orders. While you focus on scaling your business and making more sales, we highly recommend that you let Prep services take care of your order fulfillment.
HOW DO I GET QUALITY PREP SERVICES?
Let’s get right to it. To make sure you are picking the right center to fulfill your orders, here are 10 important factors you need to consider.
The importance of this factor cannot be overemphasized. You have to be strategic and take into account the geographical positions of your business chain. This will not only save you money on transport but will also greatly conserve the turnaround time for your products, allowing you to quickly access and deliver orders, in cases of urgency. Moreover, the location of your suppliers/manufacturing partners is also strategic contemplation you need to observe. Make sure the Prep center you are choosing is close or within reasonable distance to the Suppliers’ location.
In addition, if you source your products from abroad, you have got to go the extra mile in picking a prep center. A suitable prep center close to the seaport, airport, or border crossing (depending on the mode of your transport operations), and that can quickly get your products to Amazon fulfillment centers, is highly recommended for you.
2. Management procedures
The quality and efficiency of any organization are largely reflected in its management procedures. You can easily find a prep service that will provide value to your business. By the way, they generally run their own business. Below are management highlights you should look out for in choosing a prep service
- Strategy for communication: How effective is their customer service? Can they really understand and execute your requirements? How fast and often do they give feedback or update information on the state of your products? These are questions you should ask before deciding on a prep center to use.
- Flexibility: The prep centers you decide to settle for should have rich flexibility capacity. You don’t want to deal with an issue that could have been easily sorted if the prep center could just “understand” and make corrective actions on time. You also want a prep center that can adapt its operations to accommodate unforeseen orders or other such events.
- Cost-effective policies: A fantastic prep center shouldhave policies and guidelines in place to help you save costs. Check out the policies of the prep centers on procedures such as bundling, box counting, return policy, and shipping of products.
Allwin Freight gives you these benefits and more, to ensure you have smooth and sustainable order fulfillment plans.
This is a very critical issue that should have probably come first on the list. (Lol). As much as you want to deliver quality service, you also have a budget to worry about and a profit margin to maintain. Amazon FBA centers typically charge between $2 and $5 for standard-sized products (weighing around 2 pounds). Oversized products (weighing between 70 and 150 pounds) will cost between $9 and $138 to ship, depending on dimensions and other factors. More often than not, there are always cases of additional fees and hidden fees in most prep centers. So how do you maximize your order fulfillment without breaking the bank?
- Make sure the prep center fees are transparent and simple. Complex and confusing fees are a red flag. You should be able to fully understand their pricing policies and prepping fees in a simple way. Also, make sure their pricing is transparent enough and there are no hidden fees or charges
- You have also got to learn the nitty-gritty of their pricing systems. Do thorough research on the fees, commissions, how they charge (per unit), overweight, shipping costs, labeling costs, etc. You need to know all of this.
- It is pertinent to note that most prep centers charge per unit of products, this is more reason why you carefully weigh all your options before choosing a prep center. To cover for small business owners who have little to spare on prepping, Allwin freight has some fantastic prep service plans here.
4. Turnaround time
Turnaround time is very integral to the efficiency of a prep center. Do due diligence to understand how many hours the prep centers take to complete an order fulfillment order (from picking to delivery). The average turnaround time for most fulfillment centers is between 24 and 48 hours. However, some centers may have a longer turnaround time.
5. Warehouse/Storage size
Since the prep center also serves as a storage facility for your products, Depending on your business model and products, you should check out whether the warehouse
- Large enough for long and bulk storage
- Is in appropriate condition (spacing, arrangements, and ventilation)
- Have adequate facilities to hold and prep products with special requirements such as low-temperature products (i.e. cold room)
6. Strength and depth of operations
You surely don’t want to deal with prep centers that experience downtime and delays due to operational issues. When choosing a prep center, you need to make sure you are confident about their staff capacity, the efficiency of their machinery such as forklifts and delivery patterns, and the systems guiding their product inspection process. Also noteworthy is the coverage area of the prep center. At Allwin Freight, we have organized and coordinated operations to fast-track your order fulfillment.
7. Room for Specific/Special services
Ensure the prep center possesses the facilities and resources to provide you with tailored services. Depending on your products, you may have special storage, packaging, and shipping needs. Also, consider any other services you may need in the course of your product fulfillment; and include these in your choice of prep center. Some of these services may include customs clearing, import inspection, inventory processing, and delivery planning. All of which Allwin Freight can easily take care of.
8. Quality of their prepping materials and equipment
Make sure their boxes, bubble wraps, labels, polythene bags, etc. are of standard quality and can withstand pressure and stress. Also, ensure they have prepping materials for a wide range of products.
9. Inventory management system and Experience
How easy is it to use? How efficient is it? Can you quickly onboard your staff to it? Their experience in the fields is also applicable here. A prep center with enough experience in the industry would most likely have fine-tuned its operations to provide the best service at affordable prices.
10. Their Incentives and opportunities for growth for your business
You need to know the growth opportunities available for your business provided by the prep center. Do they provide personalized solutions for sellers in their e-commerce business? In addition, make sure the prep center can operate within your budget for a long time. This means no sudden changes in pricing or other marketing policies.
11. Stability and Reputation
It must be a prep center that doesn’t suddenly change its terms of service or pricing structure on you. Make sure you can build a relationship with them. This means no sudden changes in pricing or other marketing policies. Check out why our customers choose us.
HOW TO IDENTIFY QUALITY PREP CENTERS?
- Adequate background research on their precedents. Know how frequently they change their terms of service, operation policies and pricing structure (Break down all of these into individual units) Let your background check be comprehensive. Visit their warehouses (if they are close to you). Talk to their agents. Know the capacity of the company and make sure you are making the right choice.
- Go through reviews, testimonials, success stories, and comments on their services. This will allow you to gauge their quality of service and customer satisfaction index
- Consider the frequency and quality of their communication to you. Check their conflict resolution and product return policies.
- Do cost comparisons to fit into your budget.
Choosing a prep center is quite a herculean task. With the guide above, you should be able to make a great choice that will help you scale your business.