How to be Successful as a 3PL with Filling Subscription Box Orders.

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Subscription box sales are a recurring purchase of products as part of a marketing and sales strategy by an e-commerce-based business.  Subscription box orders are shipped on a predetermined basis.  A customer could select a variety of occurrences of how often they would like their subscription box.  Those occurrences can range from weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and quarterly.

Subscription box fulfillment companies can present multiple options to their customers for what they are selling, or no options at all.   A lot of the popular subscription box companies offer the same final product to every customer on a once-a-month delivery.  This allows for an easy pick-and-pack process.

3PL for subscription box fulfillment is an important support structure in the fulfillment process.  There are a lot of 3PLs who perform subscription box fulfillment.  The 3PLs, who have success in filling and shipping orders, must excel in multiple key areas.  They must have a great WMS system to process and track the inventory and processing of orders. 3PLs must have great planning and preparation to get ready to process the orders.  If they do not have this, the ability to do be successful will be challenging.

An important part of the fulfillment process is the receiving of the Inventory.  Having a Purchase Order before the product arrives so that the fulfillment company can be prepared and knowing what to expect is very important.  FulfillMe uses its 3PL system to do all its receiving and tracking of inventory.  The customer enters the PO into the system, and we receive the inventory versus this documentation.  Separating the product as it comes in for receiving is a process that allows for a more streamlined pick-and-pack process.

Assembly and Kitting Services are a very important piece of the pick-and-pack process for subscription-based fulfillment.  Kitting must be very detailed, and the prep work must be precise.  Each customer must receive the same item and layout.  Each package should look the same, and any inserts should be identical to any other package.  Training the employee before the kitting starts, and having a quality control process is important to ensuring that every package is the same.  Setting up kitting stations with the proper tools and supplies is key to its success.

One important process of subscription box fulfillment is shipping the products on time.  Having the ability to process a high volume of orders in a very short amount of time is vital to the success of any 3PL.  To be able to do this you must be organized, prepared, and have a plan of action to process these orders.  FulfillMe has worked with a customer for more than 14 years shipping as many as 35,000 subscription packages a day for them.  To be able to pick, pack, and ship that many orders a day FulfillMe used strategic layouts, automation, shipping programs, and leveraging relationships with local and global shipping carriers to meet large volumes.

Selecting the correct shipping carrier and method is a very important process.  FulfillMe has shipped over 6 million packages a year, which has allowed us to gain great shipping discounts.  Each carrier has different advantages depending on the size of the package, and the weight of the package.  FulfillMe uses Fedex, UPSMI, UPS, DHL, and USPS to provide the most economical and sensible shipping method for the client, and end customer.

One aspect that is important for subscription-based fulfillment shipping is quality and customer service.  If a customer enters an incomplete address our 3PL system will catch that error before it ships.  There is no bigger customer letdown than ordering a product and it not arriving.  FulfillMe also offers the ability to update addresses for customers who move or need to update their incomplete addresses.

To conclude, to be successful at shipping subscription-based orders, you must have a high caliber WMS system, have processes in place for receiving and inventory, have a system in place for Kitting that has very detailed and precise, the ability to process a large volume of orders in a short period of time, a great relationship with shipping carriers and great quality control and customer service.  If a 3PL can be successful in these key areas, they will be able to work well with subsection-based companies.


Scott Clark