For companies that are selling electronics products, working with a company that offers standard fulfillment might not be enough to take care of all your needs. Electronics are different from many other types of items, and therefore, they require special care and handling. You need to consider things such as the return logistics and the best way to handle them, as well as those products that might require repair or refurbishment. Not all fulfillment services companies out there have the capacity to offer these types of services. Working with the usual 3PL is not likely to be the best choice.
What Should the Specialist Provide?
You need a company that can provide you with reliable fulfillment duties, naturally. However, there are certain additional specialties you should look for when making your choice. Let’s examine the most important elements you will need to consider.
Repairs, Refurbishment and Product Testing
Electronics repairs and refurbishment is a very specialized service. Because it’s not common for fulfilment companies to offer this type of service, most electronics companies have to perform these services internally, requiring extra steps in the logistics process, such as shipping product back and forth. However, there are some companies that have the sophistication to handle electronics repairs and refurbishment. You should see what type of repair functions and facilities the fulfillment company can offer. Can they take care of the refurbishment and repairs at the board and component level? It is important to know the depth of services offered in this capacity.
Not only do electronic products companies need repairs and refurbishment services, but they also need to be able to test the products before being re-sold and re-shipped, ensuring that fully functioning products are delivered to customers. It’s important to check if the fulfillment company offers electrical testing of the system and the peripheral devices, and whether or not they provide a final inspection? These tests help to ensure the quality of items being shipped from the fulfillment company.
Using a logistics company that specializes in electronics can truly streamline the process and save your company money – but the benefits don’t stop there in some rare cases. A select few of these electronics logistics companies go even further in their electronics skillset by offering contract manufacturing as well. A logistics company that also offers manufacturing capabilities can help with fully bringing the entire process under one roof, or acting as a secondary manufacturing facility as a back-up in times of need.
Warranty and Non-Warranty Claims
Another critical aspect of delivering high quality logistics services for electronics products revolves around warranty and non-warranty claims. It’s important to check into what the company offers in terms of warranty and non-warranty services. Warranty services could include repair or replacement of items that are still under the warranty of the manufacturer or the seller. The non-warranty services are repairs and work done on items that are no longer within the warranty. If they offer non-warranty services, be sure to check into what their policy is in terms of pricing for repairs?
Speed of Delivery
Customers today do not like to wait. When they order something or when they have an issue, they want it to be taken care of as quickly as possible. Therefore, when you are choosing an electronics fulfillment company, you will want to make sure that you find those who have a fast turnaround time. This is true for important projects that you might be undertaking, as well as for smaller projects. In some cases, it may even be necessary to find a provider with multiple locations spread throughout the US.
Experience Within the Industry
In many cases, you will find that working with companies who have experience with European and Asian manufacturers as partners and collaborators will be a good idea, as well. They can help when it comes to the logistics and movement of goods to different parts of the world.
Companies that have experience with some of the larger, major electronics brands is important, as well. If you are going to be selling certain types or brands of products, it only makes sense to work with a fulfillment company that has at least some experience with the brand, as well.
Other Considerations for Logistics and Shipping
How can you be sure the company you are considering working with truly has everything you need? You must delve a little deeper and look at how they conduct their business.
- One of the most important elements to consider is how they track and organize their warehouses for shipping. Ideally, they will utilize unit serial and lot number tracking, as this can make overall organization easier and more accurate. When the organization is accurate, it tends to speed up the shipping process, and your customers can receive their goods faster. Check to see if the company you are considering can work with various types of specialty components, as well, such as lithium batteries, which may require hazardous storage and/or shipping Capabilities.
- Does the company have electronic data interchange (EDI) capabilities that will allow them to ship to retail and API connections for business to consumer sales? What about the labeling? Depending on the types of products being sold and shipped, they may need to have specialized labels.
- What other services does the company happen to provide? Are they able to provide kitting services and provide the customers with additional parts or pieces? A common example of this would be a PC company that builds a computer and then “kits” it with additional peripherals and alternatives for the customers.
- Can they take care of triage to find out what might be wrong with an electronic product, and can they provide custom packaging for the item? Does the company have exchange pools set up that will allow them to make fast exchanges in the event a part or component does not work properly? If something does need to be returned, what type of RMA, or return merchandise authorization will the fulfillment company have?
- Does the company offer technical support through a call center? In addition, how capable and reliable is that call center?
Are They Right for You?
You must also check to see if they have quality certification, such as ISO certifications (e.g. ISO 9001). An ISO certification provides you with peace of mind that the company you are doing business with adheres to certain standards and practices, and that they have the proper documentation procedure in place that has requirements necessary for standardization and quality. This can help to provide you with some additional peace of mind.
However, you should also make sure that you take the time to speak with other customers of the electronic fulfillment company to see what they say. Have they ever had any trouble with any of the areas we’ve discussed in this article? What types of problems, if any, have come up and how were they resolved. By getting reviews from others who have utilized the company’s services, you can get a much better idea of how they actually handle their business and what you can expect when you work with them.