When you first sign up with a fulfillment provider there’s so much optimism. You chose them for a reason and there’s this palpable excitement that this could be the partner that takes you to the next level. But certainly, as time goes on, things can pop up. It could be a personal change on your side or the fulfillment center changes something on their side. Communication breakdowns can cause people to question if a rocky relationship can be salvaged into a good one.
So you may find yourself asking the question, “Do I need to leave my fulfillment provider or do I need to change fulfillment centers?” Here are 3 keys to salvaging a rocky relationship or taking a good one to the next level:
Often things get difficult when things become emotional; people talk about how they feel or how the relationship is making them feel and they lose sight of the most important person, the end consumer. That person is paying both for the brand and fulfillment center. It’s critical that you have a recognized methodology and scorecard that both the fulfillment center and the brand can use to keep score. If you can keep the conversations focused on how the performance is with the end customer, then you’re going to eliminate a lot of other headaches and prioritize accordingly.
Depending on where they are, I’d recommend that you have someone on-site at your fulfillment center ideally once a quarter but no less than once every six months. If there’s a problem going on, you should have somebody there every month, or every week- even have them work out of the fulfillment center for a week or two at a time. There’s nothing that replaces being able to see, feel, hear, and talk to people who are directly there.
Approach issues with a perspective of “How can I help? We’re in this together.” You can leave all the conversations about potential enumeration or remediation until after the crisis has passed. But be very open and ask questions about where things are difficult? What can they do to fix the situation? We’ve seen situations where the fulfillment center was running short on labor and we were able to talk to other clients of theirs who were willing to release some of their labor to us temporarily. If there is an issue with their system you can offer to supply the manpower to help put things back on track.