Fulfillment services are companies to which manufacturers and other industrial producers can outsource the final stages of their operations. Product kitting, picking, packing and shipping; management and storage of inventory; administration of customer inquiries and return processing are among the functions of fulfillment service providers.
In order to remain competitive, companies often must do more than simply offer their customers quality products. Many companies that are equipped to produce quality products may not be equipped to handle distribution, and fulfillment services can be the bridge between producers and customers in such cases. From the beginning of a customer’s experience with a supplier, distributor or manufacturer, businesses recognize that convenience, expedience, courtesy and mutual understanding are important for creating a positive impression. For this reason, effective fulfillment services commit themselves to speedy, trouble-free service. Shipping and packaging can be a major frustration for customers if the sender is not carefully organized. Even if a company’s products meet customers’ expectations, a customer is not likely to return to companies whose products arrive late or damaged.
Fulfillment service companies range in terms of the services they offer from complete product packaging to shipping only. Fulfillment service companies that offer a wider range of products can even produce specialized packaging equipment for their customers’ products; blister packaging, clamshell packaging, shrink wrapping and custom packaging are all within the range of possibility for such companies. Every fulfillment service company must direct its attention in two directions. First, they must have highly communicative relationships with their customers on the production end. Manufacturers, whose reputation depends on the condition in which their products are delivered to end-users, must be able to rely on fulfillment services to deliver their products safely and quickly. On the receiving end, customers must be able to expect expedient service and competent return processing in case of the delivery of a wrong or damaged product. In order to accommodate both sides, many fulfillment services feature automated checks and specially trained service personnel to monitor shipments for errors. Some fulfillment service facilities can even be equipped with strictly controlled climate enclosures for the storage and shipment of temperature-sensitive materials.