When it comes to frozen food eCommerce, one of the keys to success is turnkey order fulfillment. You might have the most amazing frozen food product, but if you don’t choose the right logistics partner and meet the expectations of the customer, your business may not survive.
A Forrester study found that online shoppers abandoning their shopping cart do it most often because of shipping and handling charges than for any other reason. Most of the top online food retailers offer overnight or two-day delivery options. If your shipping costs are too high, people may not buy.
Quick shipping is a common expectation of the customer in today’s online landscape. If you cannot deliver fast and affordable shipping, most customers won’t order from you. This is especially important when you are shipping perishable items such as frozen foods which will melt if improperly packaged or take too long in transit.
You have to consider items such as dry ice and insulated packing materials designed for perishable goods to keep the items frozen. So, quick shipping is not only important from a customer service perspective, it is also necessary, so the order arrives to the customer exactly how it left the warehouse.
While this may sound overwhelming, it becomes much simpler with the right third-party logistics provider (3PL) for frozen food eCommerce. Not only will the right 3PL for frozen foods help save you money, but this type of partnership will also help you save time. When you know this aspect of your business is being handled efficiently, this means the ability to focus on marketing, growing your business and developing new products.
The hardest part of course is finding the right logistics partner that best fits your needs. One that can not only ensure a fresh product to the consumer but can also improve your cost control as a retailer.
As a frozen food eCommerce business, this is absolutely vital, as it could make or break your business depending on who you choose. Here are a few tips to help you select the right 3PL for your frozen food eCommerce business.
Ask the Right Questions
You need to fully vet any 3PL you’re considering working with. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of thing. You need the right 3PL for your frozen foods fulfillment in order for your operational needs to be met. By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to find the right partner for you.
Start by finding out how long the company has been providing third-party logistics services in the frozen food industry. Are they working with any other brands in your vertical? You want an experienced 3PL with a proven track record of success.
On the cold storage side, ask if they obtained a SQF (Safe Quality Food) certification at all their facilities. They should have processes in place for food safety management and ways to recall and check. Proven capability matters more than just about anything else when it comes to a 3PL for frozen foods eCommerce.
They Must Be Willing to Work with You
With the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), you must have a complaint 3PL who is hyper focused on food safety. They also need to be willing to collaborate to establish best practices between receivers and transportation companies. Not every product is the same and it’s important to work together to establish the information needed by each person handling the shipment. Trust, integrity and a track record of success are at the core of whom you should select.
Roll with the Changes
The frozen food space and logistics are ever evolving. With new technology, small batch shipments needing to go to small destination points and eCommerce taking over, it’s more important than ever to choose a 3PL capable of growing as logistics change. The days of massive shipments going to large distributions centers, and then to the retail outlets are behind us. Today, shipments are going directly to consumer’s houses and brick and mortar businesses are disappearing.
When you consider the right 3PL for your frozen foods eCommerce business, make sure they have the ability to evolve. Things change rapidly in today’s world and you need a partner capable of changing with the times. For example, make sure they have the latest technology, so they can seamlessly integrate with your websites shopping cart. The same can be said for their inventory software management and customer portals.
Where are the majority of your customers relative to their cold storage locations? Do they have multiple locations, so you can keep inventory disbursed to deliver to different parts of the county quickly while keeping your costs down?
From cold storage and custom distribution to logistics technology and direct-to-consumer fulfillment, these are the things to consider when trying to choose the right 3PL for frozen foods eCommerce. You also want to make sure you partner with a company that continues to invest in its people, training and technology.
The right partner can mean the difference between success and failure, so this is something you certainly want to get right. It can also help elevate your brand and cultivate a deep loyalty from your customer base.
Consider these tips and make sure your 3PL will be able to handle your product the way you need to be successful.