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How to Choose a Fulfillment Provider

Choosing a fulfillment provider is like choosing a car. You might be drawn to the make, model and color, but it’s what’s under the hood that keeps the car running smoothly. Pick the wrong partner and you are surely in for a bumpy ride. Choose the right partner and you will get to your destination smoothly.

Dave Tu, President of DCL Logistics, shares his insights on what he believes are the important considerations in choosing the right partner. Dave’s mission is to provide his customers with “Hassle Free Logistics so You Have Peace Mind”, which means relieving his customers of the pain and high cost of managing their own operation.

1)  Pricing – A fulfillment center’s cost structure is usually a combination of inventory storage fees plus per-order charges such as pulling, packing and shipping. Make sure to get all pricing in writing and make sure payment terms are clear. It’s a good idea to model your pricing on a typical monthly invoice that outlines the number of orders, units per order, number of pallets locations, etc. This makes your fulfillment expenses more predictable and allows you to compare your proposals apples to apples.

2) Service Levels – Compare service level agreements (SLAs) for all aspects of your fulfillment program including receiving inventory, processing orders and shipping. Does your prospective fulfillment provider offer same-day shipping? What are their cut-off times? How many days does it take them to receive and put away your inventory? Ask potential fulfillment partners to provide statistics on the percentage of same-day shipping orders, order accuracy and inventory shrinkage.

3) Warehouse Locations – Warehouse locations are key to reducing transit times and shipping costs. Seventy percent of the U.S. population lives East of the Mississippi, so shipping from an East Coast or more centrally-located facility might make sense. However, if your product is manufactured in Asia and your goods are predominantly sent via ocean freight, then a West Coast solution might have merit. Shipping from two locations could also be a viable solution, although there are added. Your potential partner should be able to help you analyze the best solution based on your unique requirements.

4) Integration Technologies – A fulfillment provider that uses state-of-the-art technology will make your life a lot easier. Look at their current technology and inquire about their future technology initiatives that both drive their operation and help enable you to do things easier. You don’t want to be anchored to a partner that is unwilling to invest in this area. Instead, you’ll want access to a robust customer portal, a platform with strong EDI capabilities, as well as an API for real-time shipping and inventory data. Not having this option results in managing your business through a rear view mirror.

5) Customer Service – Having an Account Manager who can walk the warehouse floor and act as your company’s advocate is a huge benefit to the success of your operations. This will be the most critical relationship you will have at the fulfillment center. Is this person dedicated to your account? Ask for references and customer service case studies. Speak to others who have done business with the fulfillment provider. In addition, you might want to search for unsettled complaints lodged with the Better Business Bureau to help in your decision making.

6) Flexibility – How do you fit in terms of customer size at the organization? Are you too small or large for their typical clients? Is your potential partner able to expedite an order or provide other special services like checking for defective products, repackaging an item, etc.? Flexibility, another component of good customer service, is hard to measure. Nevertheless, you will want to validate your fulfillment partner’s full scope of services by touring the warehouse, checking existing customer feedback and speaking with a few of their customers directly in the form of a recommendation.

7) Longevity – Choose a fulfillment provider with many years of experience in the business. A long track record indicates the company has effective leadership in place and the company is able to weather economic downturns. The last thing you want is a provider who closes their doors, giving you little time to transition your product to another fulfillment warehouse. This can be costly and puts you at risk of not being able to meet order commitments.

Conclusion

Picking the right fulfillment partner is critical to your company’s time, reputation and bottom line. Choose the fulfillment provider with the longevity, locations, technology and customer service you seek.

 

Dave Tu
President of DCL Logistics

Meet Doug Laidlaw Jr., Director of Strategic Global Accounts

At DCL Logistics, we recognize our employees as our most important asset. In our new blog series, Spotlight, we’ll feature various DCL Logistics employees. You’ll get to know them a bit, as well as their role within the company, and get their take on the ever evolving 3PL industry. Follow along as we introduce the dedicated people whose daily efforts make our company a recognized leader in supply chain and logistics.

With over 20 years in the supply chain and logistics space, Doug Laidlaw Jr. is a recognized leader in planning, optimization, execution, and ultimately the success of client programs and supply chain models.

Throughout his career, he has led cross-functional, inter-organizational, and global teams, creating and deploying customized, agile solutions that address highly complex programs and projects for Fortune 100 giants and fledgling start-ups.

Through his first-hand exposure to a wide variety of customers and solution providers, Doug possesses an exceptionally broad and deep understanding of client needs and myriad operational solutions. Whether leading an initial customer integration/on-boarding or the launch of a new product that enhances an existing product line … Doug and his teams listen and disseminate client’s exacting needs and requirements; monitor risk management; coordinate the smallest program details; convert chaos into stable and manageable order; and collaborate with all stakeholders. This translates into client confidence and trust. Doug and his teams serve as DCL customer’s front-line advocates to deliver to their exacting business requirements.

Bragging rights

Doug is the primary company liason of DCL’s most strategic clients, providing continuity, near-flawless execution, and solutions for our valued clientele. An example of a project this past year that reflects his role, Doug successfully led DCL’s largest-ever program implementation/integration for the world’s leading networking equipment provider.

In the late 1990s, Doug was Vice President of Operations for DCL’s Northern California operations. After a 15-year hiatus, Doug returned to DCL in his current role focusing on our clients, their needs, and the successful solutions and results that we see daily.

Quite like the DCL of the 90s, Doug comments, “DCL is far and away the best firm in our market space that delivers consistent process, near-instant and successful problem-solving, and agility.”

Doug’s job allows him to leverage his 20+ years of experience and expertise to help DCL’s clients optimize their supply chain and logistics models and drive supply chain velocity, quality, and cost savings. Doug has seen the industry evolve from a focus on software manufacturing to highly-customized logistics models.

What makes DCL a Key Player?

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Doug Laidlaw Jr. pictured (back row, left) with the GoPro team.

When asked recently about the industry’s landscape and why DCL remains a key national presence, Doug said, “DCL’s stability, consistency, agility, responsiveness, and flexibility at a fair cost differentiates itself in a highly turbulent, competitive, and demanding space. Executing at a near-flawless level is and will be absolutely critical to our customer’s logistics ‘last mile’. As DCL continues to be positioned as a best-in-class logistics provider, we’re well positioned to face the many known and unknown challenges our industry and customers will throw at us.”

Fun facts about Doug

As the saying goes, behind every good man is a good woman … Doug and his wife, Kathy, have been married for over 30 years. She is Founder/Executive Director of a 501(c)(3) education non-profit organization, GiveTeens20, that focuses on helping teens find their optimal direction in life and career. Doug & Kathy’s son, Douglas III (Trace), is a seasoned Corporal in the United States Marine Corps. Trace could tell you what he does in the Marine Corps, but then he’d have to shoot you. Doug spends his personal time cooking, traveling, watching vintage movies, and attempting to lower a sky-high golf handicap.

Following a passion since his son played youth soccer, Doug has been refereeing soccer in the SF Bay area for adult, high school, and youth soccer. Doug’s perfect evening is capped off with a glass of fine wine, scotch, or bourbon … a good cigar … and, of course, time with Kathy.

DCL Logistics Named Top 3PL Provider in 2017

Ecommerce, Retail and Wholesale Company Selected by Multi-Channel Merchant

Fremont, CA, February 04, 2017 — Ecommerce, retail and wholesale logistics company, DCL Logistics, was recently named a top third-party logistics (3PL) service provider by Multi-Channel Merchant (MCM). This distinction recognizes leading 3PLs in the retail industry, as selected by the editors of Multichannel Merchant (MCM). Companies that make this list have been vetted in the areas of ecommerce and value-added services for its customers.

DCL Logistics has more than 30 years of operational expertise and customer commitment, supporting industry pioneers ranging from startups to global brands in launching their products through a variety of sales channels.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by Multichannel Merchant as a Top 3PL in 2017,” says Dave Tu, President at DCL Logistics. “We continue to strive towards perfection in our ecommerce, retail and wholesale logistics business through ISO-certified execution and our leading customer technology platform: eFactory. We will continue to invest in technology and infrastructure for our customers, who find the right balance with DCL Logistics: as nimble as a start-up with Fortune 500 company resources.”

Multi-Channel Top 3PLs 2017 features an online searchable directory for merchants looking for a qualified 3PL provider. Each company profile includes key information to help merchants find their ideal provider, including core capabilities, average annual client order volume, top merchandise categories handled, facility locations and more.

You Should Really Meet Our Sister! (That is … our sister company DCL Print Solutions)

FREMONT, Calif. – July 20, 2016 You are already realizing the benefits of working with DCL Logistics. Now your company can get even more value by taking advantage of the print services offered through our sister company, DCL Print Solutions (DCLPS).

All your Print Needs

Whether it’s brochures, books, manuals, business cards, flyers, booklets, retail cartons, product packaging, signage or corporate collateral – your company will enjoy fast turnaround, competitive pricing, improved control over printed products and quality, and great customer service. Plus, our experienced print consultants can suggest enhancements to your current projects that can reduce cost and increase your ROI whenever possible.

More Value

Since printing, warehousing/handling and fulfillment will now be under the same roof at DCL Logistics, you’ll save on in-bound shipping costs and shorten lead times. Since printing occurs in the same DCL facility, we can physically ship it to DCL Logistics in virtually an instant. For DCL Logistics’ customers, we will offer free storage (90 days) and receiving for any items procured from DCL Print Solutions.

Save with Print-On-Demand

Using customized online portals set up just for your company’s print catalog, you’ll be able to print jobs on demand … in real time as needed … in small quantities without waste … with comparable offset printing quality. Having variable access to change multiple images or pictures along with text content on the fly empowers you to update your printed documents (with no additional costs) before sending it to final print or delivery.

Sound interesting?

We welcome the opportunity to introduce DCL Print Solutions to you or the appropriate individuals of your company’s procurement, marketing and sales departments. Let us know how we can help you in minimizing the need of managing multiple print vendors, paying shipping or handling costs and meeting constant deadlines or rush projects.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact your Account Manager or Sales Representative or email us at sales@dclcorp.com. Thank you for your continued trusted partnership with DCL Logistics.

Using 3PLs to Keep Up With Increasing Fulfillment Demands

There are many reasons why outsourcing logistics will be one of the smartest decisions you make for your business in this constantly evolving retail space. Our President, Dave Tu, discusses some of the key reasons why retailers should use 3PLs to Keep Up With Increasing Fulfillment Demands.

DCL Logistics Announces Freight Forwarding Partnership with Flexport

FREMONT, Calif. – July 6, 2016  DCL Logistics (DCL) is now partnering with Flexport, a technology-based import/export freight forwarding company. The new alliance streamlines freight forwarding and customs brokerage and creates an end-to-end supply chain technology solution for DCL customers as well other operational advantages.

Flexport is one of the first freight-forwarding outfits to digitize international shipping, making it easy to move goods through customs and around the world. They provide companies with a single online dashboard to purchase and manage all the services required to ship products between any two places on the planet.

DCL and Flexport systems have already been integrated and DCL customers are reaping the benefits of this new partnership. For example, when a shipment leaves Asia, DCL’s receiving system receives notifications and is automatically updated. Shipping and finished goods inventory data is continually shared between DCL and Flexport systems, enabling Flexport clients to make intelligent manufacturing decisions based on a variety of data: stock balances and sell through rates at DCL, and inventory in transit with Flexport.

Ryan Peterson, CEO of Flexport, points out the advantage to this, “Because we monitor re-order cycles, we are able to provide our customers with a single platform, which will instantly trigger notifications to replenish inventory for DCL customers.”

“The partnership is a big benefit for our customers,” observes Dave Tu, President of DCL Logistics. “For the first time, our customers can now ship, track and manage all of their freight in a single online dashboard whether it’s in the DCL or the Flexport platform. With our partnership with Flexport, all of the intricacies and complexities of global freight transportation are simplified.”

 

DCL Logistics Attends the 18th Annual Levin Consulting Executive Summit

DCL Logistics recently attended and proudly sponsored the 18th annual Levin Consulting Executive Summit which was held in San Diego, California. Leaders from the Consumer Electronics industry attended the two day event where they had a chance to network and attend sessions and presentations focused on industry hot topics. It was another successful event where we were able to meet our peers and share ideas and best business practices.20160614_115427_resized

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Do you have the time and know how to run your fulfillment in-house? Do you get the best freight costs? Do you have the capacity to scale your operations as your business grows? These are just some of the questions you might face as you run a business. Our President, Dave Tu, recently sat down with our friends over at Stitch Labs to talk about the benefits of outsourcing your order fulfillment. He walks you through key factors to consider and how someone like DCL Logistics can help eliminate logistical pains, allowing companies to focus on what they do best, marketing their product and growing their business.

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