Closing a new deal and starting a new partnership is exciting for both the client and your 3PL business. You may have spent weeks or months nurturing your leads, but now it’s time to turn them into happy long-term clients. Get off on the right foot by getting your new clients up and running smoothly and quickly. By expediting the client on-boarding process, you can deliver value to your clients quickly and start getting paid faster.
Let’s dive into 5 tips to speed-up the on-boarding of new fulfillment clients
- Use standardized templates
Gathering key information from a new client is critical to kicking off the on-boarding process in any operation. Start by looking for ways where you can standardize your current methods of getting information. Your goal is to make it easy for your team to get the information your business needs from new clients.
Spend some time with your team and dive into the specifics you need to get your clients onboarded efficiently and quickly. After some brainstorming, you can create templates in excel or word, clearly listing the must-have details.
On-boarding templates you should start with:
- SKUs Template – quickly import product catalogs into your OMS/WMS.
- Order Import Template – easily add orders so you can get them processed faster.
For example, you may have an e-commerce seller who is using a custom website to sell their products, rather than a traditional e-commerce platform. By having templates ready to go, you can quickly provide your client with a “guide” to follow. This will help them give you the information you need, in a format that allows your team to import it quickly. You can save time by not having to format or massage data, and reduce errors that can come from inconsistent or on-the-fly methods.
- Create an On-boarding Questionnaire to quickly get key information your team needs
Craft a 360° view of what your operation needs from the front office to your warehouse managers. Determine pertinent information different departments need to onboard a new client. Once you’ve formed questions, you can build a questionnaire in the format that works best for your operation. This might be an interactive form built on your website or a simple word doc.
We recommend focusing on the following areas in your operation:
|Fulfillment Program||What type of fulfillment are you looking for? |
(direct to consumer, retail, wholesale, etc?
|Products||What type of products are you managing? (consumer products, apparel, food/beverage, etc?)|
|In-bound||What / how many suppliers does your client work with? |
Does the inventory require any transformation before picking/packing?
|Order Volume and History||What is your estimated average weekly order volumes? Better yet, ask your client for a year’s worth of order history so you can view actuals not estimates. |
Do you have forecasted growth estimates?
What are the “Signature” or order patterns every week? (are Mondays and Tuesday way busier than Wednesday-Friday)
Is there seasonality to your products?
What are the average number of order lines?
|Product Storage & Handling||Do your products require special storage accommodations? |
Will your products need lot tracking? Lot tracking can be used to track production runs or perishables with expiration dates (e.g. food or pharmaceuticals)
|Order Capture||Where do orders come from? |
What systems are used to capture orders?
Are APIs or files available to get orders?
|Shipping||Does your client have a preference on carriers? Are they comfortable using your preferred carrier? |
What freight accounts will be used, yours or your clients?
|Returns||Do you need to process returned orders?|
A more standardized process with key documents is just one of the ways you can expedite and optimize your on-boarding process.
- Request MISSION CRITICAL DATA! (aka order volume & detailed history)
We mentioned it in the above questionnaire, but we can’t stress enough how critical order volume and detailed history information is from a new client. This data is gold for helping you determine processes, staffing, pricing, profitability, forecasting, and more. Having a deep understanding (backed by data) of your new client will help you make the right choices as your business grows.
- Create a “Check List” for your team
Look back at the consultations you’ve had with your new clients during the sales cycle. You can draft a list of their needs by reviewing key topics they mentioned during conversations with your team. You may have forgotten a client’s troubles and pain points during the sales cycle. A check list will ensure these important details don’t get lost in the mix.
- Implement a “welcome” journey
Nothing says welcome like a “welcome” journey. Draft a few emails that inform your clients on what they can expect during your 3PL’s on-boarding. This will help clue them into the process and reduce phone calls and questions to your support team.
This was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to getting your clients on-boarded more easily. Regardless of how you optimize your on-boarding process, focus on how you can provide new clients with the best fulfillment experience possible while making your life easier!
If you need more tips, our fulfillment experts are happy to share some on-boarding best practices and other tips we’ve learned over the years. Speak to a fulfillment expert today!
Brian Parrillo is Vice President of Sales at VeraCore.
He has over 19 years of experience in the fulfillment industry and has helped hundreds of 3PLs reduce operating costs, improve customer experience, and optimize their overall business processes.