Third Party Fulfillment | Third Party Logistics Search and Selection
F. Curtis Barry & Company assists clients with evaluating third partyfulfillment and call center as an option versus internal fulfillment and call center operations. We work with clients to complete detail due diligence, contract review and negotiations, review order management systems and eCommerce solutions proposed, and to plan and project manage the transition to the new provider.
Over the years we have learned that there is not just one type of business that benefits from using third party fulfillment. Our third party fulfillment clients’ products range from high-end fashion footwear and apparel, large furniture and home decor, high-end optics and telescopes, food and perishables, and textbooks for on-line universities that are sold via catalog, eCommerce, wholesale, and retail channels.
Our clients select to use third party fulfillment and call center partners for any number of reasons:
- High service levels, at a competitive-cost solution.
- Avoid capital expenses for additional facilities, systems, material handling equipment, etc.
- Embrace technologies which would be prohibitive in terms of people resources, schedule and costs.
- Changes fixed cost of fulfillment into a variable expense (e.g. management and labor).
- Allows companies to focus on core business of marketing and merchandising products.
- Season-intensive businesses don't have to increase recruiting, training and staffing.
- Allows businesses to quickly implement a multi-Distribution Center Network (east coast/mid-west/west coast) to get orders to the customer as quickly as possible.
- Assist United States-based multichannel businesses to sell and distribute product to European customers and dealers quickly and inexpensively; expand your sales markets without having to have a facility and operations there.
For whatever reason you are considering third party fulfillment, we can help. It must be noted that our firm is completely vendor independent and doesn't receive any finder's fees or payment for placement with a specific vendor. We also believe that third party fulfillment is not the right business strategy for every company; so do your detail due diligence.
With most any project we approach, we handle third party fulfillment projects in phases.
Phase I: Due Diligence of Third Party Fulfillment Vendors
FCBCO works with clients to develop a formal RFP which covers all current and projected business metrics, current operations narratives, systems requirements, and service level expectations. It is submitted to experienced vendors to handle the fulfillment of orders and or calls. The detail quotations for the bidding vendors are compared to your current fulfillment costs and services in a side by side comparison as well as reviewing in detail the service levels and narrative responses from each.
Phase II: Site Visit, RFP Review and References
We conduct a site visit with our clients to the 2 best fitting third party fulfillment finalists’ facilities in order to meet with their executive team, the operations managers and account manager. We also tour their facility to see their operations that will handle your orders and or calls; review the systems requirements and any remaining items from the RFP. FCBCO will review follow-up items with the vendor and client, which are identified during the visit. These typically include questions to be revisited from the RFP response, contracts, pricing and remaining items not yet negotiated. Once we return from the site visits, we conduct reference checks not only with contacts received from the vendor, but with our clients that use the vendor or have used the vendor in the past.
Phase III: Contract Review and Negotiations
FCBCO reviews from a business case perspective (not legal), the Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and terms (systems installation and integrations, transition planning, training, out clauses, fines, payment, etc.) in the contract. We write a draft of those areas we recommend changing. We work with the attorney of your choosing, and have several familiar with this type of agreement. We recommend terms and SLAs which are fair for the client and third party fulfillment vendor that are in line with the expectations and customer service of the client. We also recommend areas that the client should negotiate with the vendor on.
Phase IV: Project Management and Transition Planning
FCBCO works with clients to develop a detail third party fulfillment transition (implementation) plan to move inventory to the newly selected facility; setting-up of the forward picking and bulk storage locations; implementation and integrations of systems; detail schedule of responsibilities and timelines in collaboration with the client and vendor. We work with our clients to decide on what inventory should be moved and what inventory should be liquidated. We assist in laying out the process for the transition while still handling incoming orders and inventory to be received. Also included within transition planning is deciding what information is to be uploaded to the new system regarding products, customers, promotions, etc. Lastly, the plan will outline how the vendor and client will test the system prior to going live at the new facility. Our objective is free up the client team and together with all parties make the transition successful.