How to Onboard an Order Fulfillment Partner

Are you setting up a distribution center for your business? Or maybe you’re a company looking to change 3PL partners. A streamlined onboarding process for your fulfillment partner ensures your successful setup or transition. This process requires a fast, seamless integration of these services into your business. There are several factors influencing the speed and overall success of onboarding an order fulfillment partner.

How you handle the inventory transition from your existing warehouse to the new partner facility and the distance to the facility from your warehouse are examples of concerns. Sending shipments, uploading products, and completing paperwork are vital.

Let’s look at ways to streamline the onboarding process with your order fulfillment partner.

How to Onboard an Order Fulfillment Partner

Create an Onboarding Plan

Meet with your order fulfillment partner and leverage their expertise to map out the stages involved with the transition. Integrating existing self-fulfillment systems into the 3PL is vital for a successful transition.

Introducing new processes into your logistics strategy requires time to fine-tune the supply chain. During onboarding, your 3PL sends documents and contracts to formalize the transition.

Ensuring prompt signing of the paperwork prevents delays in the onboarding process. Even if you’re a seasoned e-commerce company, don’t assume your onboarding rep will give you all the information you need to manage the process.

Each 3PL partner will have unique onboarding processes, so familiarize yourself with them to ensure a smooth transition. Choose an order fulfillment partner with experience working in your industry with your product offering. Communicate the specifics of picking and packing processes and shipping requirements.

This ensures order processing, order management, and order fulfillment services are where you want them to be. You should also manage warehouse space and inventory levels to your specifications.

Picking Packing and Shipping Requirements

Your 3PL partner must understand your packaging process. They must know whether you ship it in the original packaging or use overboxing. They must appreciate any special shipping and handling instructions.

This includes how to send customer-ordered goods securely using bubble wrap or other packing products. Also understanding the return process results in a positive customer experience.

Do you want to offer customers a package featuring multiple items? Or do you need it packaged individually? Don’t assume the 3PL partner knows what you want.

Efficient & Effective SKU Uploading

Fast-track the onboarding process with your 3PL partner by uploading your product SKUs into their system. Enter as much data as possible and include the weight and dimensions of all products in your range. This strategy gives your 3PL partner the capacity to calculate the most cost-effective and accurate shipping costs.

Provide Advanced Shipping Notices (ASNs)

Advanced Shipping Notices allow for accurate entry of inbound shipments into the 3PL partners system. ASNs are essential in the onboarding process to educate the 3PL partners’ staff on your products.

Failing to provide ASNs wastes time. Your shipment sits in the loading dock longer while the 3PL team decides where to position it in the warehouse. Notifying the 3PL of incoming shipments gives them advanced notice.

This strategy allows for improved warehouse inventory management. As well as staff resources required to unload the inventory quickly when it arrives on-site.

Cross-docking to Resolve Backorders

Hiring a 3PL or switching to a new partner results in a timeframe where your inventory is in transit between warehouse locations. Backorders accumulate during this transition period. Request cross-docking from the fulfillment partner to fast-track the clearance of backorders to reduce delivery delays for customers.

Successful Onboarding Takes Time

Onboarding a 3PL is a time-consuming process. Understand that the more time and resources dedicated to the process, the better the speed and success of the transition.

Move fast, and you’ll reduce the onboarding process by days or weeks. This depends on the size of your order fulfillment company and inventory holding. After completing the initial setup and onboarding, leave the logistics to the 3PL and focus on getting back to business.

MAI Fulfillment | 3PL Warehouse Chicago, Illinois

Warehouse | Cross Docking | Fulfillment | Kitting | Inbound/Outbound Voice | Freight Broker

Established in 1981, MAI is a privately-held 3PL company in Chicago specializing in warehousing, fulfillment, and omnichannel contact services. As an experienced outsourced provider, we provide value-added solutions designed to help companies build and maintain relationships with their customers.

The MAI business model offers clients the efficiency and convenience of dealing with a single accountable resource for a wide range of services. MAI areas of specialization include:

  • Custom B2B and B2C warehouse/fulfillment solutions
  • Omni-channel contact center services
  • Technology support

A wide range of service offerings, strategic problem-solving skills, and experience make MAI a valued partner to a broad range of Fortune 500 companies. “Quality” is more than just a word here – it’s the foundation of how we conduct business and an integral part of the processes and metrics we use to deliver value to our clients every day.

Contact MAI today to learn more!

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