Order fulfillment is directly related to the shopping experience of consumers, so it’s the key to the success of an online store. Especially when your suppliers are far away in China. Order fulfillment from China can be the most vulnerable part of your e-commerce business, that’s why it’s essential to choose a good China fulfillment service before rolling up your sleeves and running a bunch of marketing campaigns. It’s the “make or break” factor.
Why use a China fulfillment center
People may ask: “Why to use China fulfillment center when I can choose China dropshipping or warehouses closer to the consumer?” There are a lot of advantages of shipping from China order fulfillment center.
The first one is near the source. China’s manufacturing industry is developing quickly, tons of quality manufacturers are doing OEM, ODM for global eCommerce companies, China has become a world factory many years ago, not to mention the world-famous platforms like Alibaba, AliExpress, DHGate, etc, are providing easy ways to source all kinds of products. If your suppliers are in China (Yiwu, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dongguan, etc) and you prefer to entrust China order fulfillment to professionals (a decent China fulfillment company, not the dropshipping suppliers who pay more attention to getting more orders), shipping from China directly will save you a lot of money and time. More than that, your communication costs will be much lower because China’s fulfillment companies will assist you with inventory storage, product exchange, and return, eliminate language barriers and cultural differences.
Second, low budget. China has lower labor costs and more skilled workers. Lots of China-based warehouses provide 90-day free storage and free product receiving, it’s unimaginable in the United States and Europe fulfillment centers. Take ShipBob as an example, the fulfillment company with 4 fulfillment centers in the United States, it charges at least $50 for inventory receiving (detailed fulfillment service price of ShipBob refers to this article, it is not cost-effective for small and medium-sized e-commerce business owners who adopt the strategy of small inventory + fast transfer.
Third, China has a more developed logistics industry. Because of the well-developed eCommerce, Chinese domestic shipping is the fastest in the world. China’s leading intelligent logistics system can easily handle tens of billions of packages every year generated by Taobao and JD. Besides transport many made in China products to the world, there are various shipping methods from China to other countries. Other than DHL, FedEx and other multinational shipping companies, there are many freight forwarders and dedicated line operators. If your products are large in volume or weight, you can also choose high-quality and cheap shipping lines. China’s advantages in the logistics industry are incomparable to any other country.
So, it’s wise to use a China fulfillment center. The following question is, who to cooperate. These are some considerations when choosing the right order fulfillment center.
Where are the warehouses?
In which province? Most of the Chinese factories in these 5 coastal provinces: Guangdong, Fujian, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Shandong. They are close to each other, and because Chinese domestic shipping is fast and cheap, it doesn’t matter when your supplier is in Shanghai and you use a Yiwu based fulfillment warehouse. But in these areas, one exception is Shenzhen, Guangdong. As a special economic zone, Shenzhen is very close to Hong Kong, the world logistics hub, so if you have a fulfillment center in Shenzhen, it will bring you extra benefits.
Global warehouses or not? In fact, a China order fulfillment company can have more fulfillment warehouses other than the one in China. Warehouses in the USA, Europe, Australia provide more options and opportunities for your online business. For example, during holidays or the time customs clearance slows down because of some unexpected circumstances, the inventory in a place closer to your market will give your online store a greater advantage than your competitors.
How are the software and hardware system?
Advanced hardware and good warehouse management can make order fulfillment more efficient and accurate. If you have selected a potential fulfillment partner, it’s best to check their warehouse by video or field trip. Trust me, spending a little more time in the early stage will help the later cooperation go smoothly.
The software part is also the key to measuring a fulfillment company’s professionalism. A qualified fulfillment system has to have these features
Shipping method integration: list all the shipping methods you can use
eCommerce platform & shopping cart integration: sync orders from your online store
Inventory management: show the real-time inventory
Order management: display the fulfillment status and tracking numbers
Cost calculation and financial management: easily get a clear bill every month
How is the additional service?
Normally the additional service of an order fulfillment company has 2 parts, value-added services (other than standard fulfillment services including storage, pick & pack and shipping) and customer support.
Value-added services. It’s better to clarify that the China fulfillment center provides you with multiple and flexible service items so that it can adapt to your expanding business and changing business model. More than that, value-added services can be a part of your branding strategy, bringing customer loyalty. Common value-added services include:
- Kitting & assemble: pack multiple items in one package
- Order merging: pack multiple orders from the same customer in one package
- Custom packaging: pack the items with specially designed packages
- Other custom services
Customer support: Customer support not only includes communication with Chinese suppliers but also includes all kinds of services you can think of. As a customer-oriented fulfillment company, NextSmartShip provides one-on-one customer service. The dedicated account manager will solve all kinds of problems for customers, do all the troublesome work for customers so that customers can focus on their own business.
How many shipping options are there?
More choices of shipping methods allow you to adopt more flexible shipping strategies, which are also very helpful for your promotion activities. For example, you have many products, including heavy ones, bulky ones, and puffy ones. Sometimes you need to deliver to consumers quickly, while others need cheaper delivery methods. If your order fulfillment partner can provide different shipping options to suit all your needs, you can run different marketing campaigns without worrying about how to fulfill them. Free shipping, 2 days shipping, free plus shipping. It’s up to you.
How to calculate the fulfillment costs?
Just like I mentioned earlier, the way to calculate fulfillment costs can greatly affect the profit margin. There are a lot of billing methods: by weight, by service items, by order quantity, by working time, etc. The easiest way is to charge a unified handling fee and calculate the shipping fee by weight. The fee list will be very clear and intuitive. This is very friendly to small and medium-sized business owners who have a small order quantity, small inventory, and no time to study the pricing rules carefully.
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