Quality counts – don’t let your brand suffer from bad practice
Without strict quality controls in place, your 3PL partner might not just damage your product – your brand’s reputation could be dented, too. Marketing teams often leave the minutiae of quality control to their handling & fulfilment suppliers. After all, these are the organisations that work with the nuts and bolts of quality control every day.
But it’s vital to know that the minimum requirements are in place so that your supplier can be held to account if they don’t meet the benchmark. At Granby, we pride ourselves on fulfilling orders to the highest standard. Below are our five top tips for building real quality into your supplier relationships:
Broken items, broken brand: What goes on in the 3PL warehouse may not always seem to have a direct bearing on how you connect with your customers. However, if there’s a slip-up in the ordering system, broken products in shipping or missing items, customer delight can soon turn to displeasure, having a serious effect on your brand’s reputation. Quality control should ensure orders are fulfilled on time and in full. You want the customer to be thrilled, and it’s the product-by-product checks, the hand-finished items and the detail of dispatch that can make all the difference, whether delivered to store or direct to the individual.
Collaborate for quality: As already stated, any supplier worth their salt will be aiming to meet their own exacting standards day in, day out. Working in tandem with the organisation – or even asking the supplier team to devise requirements themselves, like taking advantage of their packing experts – is a great way to drive up quality. At Granby, we like to invite our new clients to see our operations for themselves to get a clear idea of what happens on-site, then work with them to devise those quality controls.
Data, data everywhere: Orders produce data, and there’s a huge amount to deal with in handling & fulfilment. It’s vital to record everything and organise it into a logical audit trail that is visible and available. Then, if anything goes wrong, your supplier should be able to put its hands on the requisite information at any point. Check, for instance, that your handling & fulfilment partner adheres to the international data standard ISO 27001.
Standards breed standards: Talking of ISO accreditation, there are many other areas of handling & fulfilment where it applies. One of the biggest areas of concern for brands and their customers is packaging. A great supplier can advise on and check the materials being used – for example verifying a required level of recyclables – so that you can stay within the constraints of the ISO 14001 environmental standard. Other standards to insist on include ISO 9000 quality management and ISO 22301 business continuity.
Prepare for peak periods and special requirements: If there’s one time when standards might naturally slip, it’s when seasonal spikes of activity occur. Mitigate against potential issues by discussing with your handling & fulfilment partner how their systems can remain watertight even at times of peak demand. Similarly, the supplier should be able to deal with all special requirements, such as having dedicated areas of their premises for the safe handling of items that have specific care requirements.
So, handling & fulfilment quality is as important a part of your brand and marketing strategy as creative, planning, product development and delivery. There have been high-profile examples of brands being criticised on social media for poorly thought-out packaging, and many others indicating brand damage when simple but thorough checks and balances could have saved the hassle. Working with your supply chain to create stringent standards enhances best practice across the industry, and really can ensure your brand operates on Quality Street rather than Skid Row.