When it comes to fulfilment, storage and shipping, many brands and retailers don’t know where to begin. Modern Retail spoke to Chrissie Probert Jones, Founder and CEO of Eatsleepdoodle about her experiences, and the ways her experiences have shaped the business she runs today.
MR: What should retailers understand when deciding on a suitable warehouse?
CPJ: “Due diligence is the most important thing to check first. It is vital to check the reputation and day to day working of the warehouse. Every company says they’re brilliant, but you have to ensure that they are able to provide what you need.
“Make sure you check each of the criteria you have; safety, insurance etc. but you also need to know timings and how quickly orders can be turned around. Make sure there’s good customer service so you can get hold of people when things aren’t going right, or need sorting out, and that they can respond in time. Look at companies’ links and contracts with shipping and transporters to see how this can help you out.
“It’s also vital to meet the people, speaking to those involved in the running of the warehouse, asking the staff key questions. By doing this, you can understand their processes and determine whether this works with your business.”
MR: Have you faced any challenges with your warehousing over the years?
CPJ: “There are always challenges with warehousing, as there are different customers with different demands, and the world of online is also changing things. I would recommend every retailer checks contracts very carefully before signing, getting legal advice to check there are no penalties for leaving if you’re not happy. We once left an inadequate warehouse where the contract had not established that there could be a leaving fee and received a large and unforeseen penalty charge for this. Making sure you understand contracts will ensure you don’t encounter issues like this.”
MR: What advice would you give retailers looking to create a successful storage and shipping process?
CPJ: “When we have large amounts of stock, we use professional shipping companies rather than regular couriers. We tend to use freight forwarders for our big orders. We’ve built great partnerships over the years and I think it’s very important that retailers build relationships with shippers. By working closely with shipping partners you can sometimes get better rates, you get detailed trackability and can follow up with any customs delays as well as deliveries, being updated throughout the process. It’s also important not to get complacent and always use the same company. While you’d hope they wouldn’t, some companies try to quietly inch up their prices, regardless of how often you use them, so you should continuously reevaluate and get several quotes.
“If shipping overseas, you should also make sure you have the HS Codes for all your goods. If you’re new to this, you can work out what the accurate code is for your products, which is vital for creating commercial invoices seamlessly. You also need a customs bond in the States; it’s not too expensive, but it means any shipper you use can import for you using your code.”
These tips from Chrissie will help you to ask the right questions and set up long-lasting relationships with storage, logistics, shipping and fulfilment partners.