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5 essential tips to choose a distribution partner in India
Order fulfilment

5 essential tips to choose a distribution partner in India

Versha Kamwal
July 31, 2022
mins read

Every online brand starts with a dream—to offer their innovative products to a large customer base. With that vision, you create innovative products, stock your shelves, and lunch your online store or listings; now, you only have to figure out distribution logistics to deliver your products to customers.

Unfortunately, delivering products to customers in a timely and efficient manner is easier said than done. No matter how critical it is, it remains a challenge for ecommerce businesses.

Typically, ecommerce businesses rely on self-fulfilment when they’re starting out and distributing products themselves— but this approach doesn’t let them scale.

Finding a distribution partner can be the next step in your company’s growth journey. While this idea might seem intimidating, the right distribution partner can increase your ecommerce sales and revenue, reduce fulfilment costs, and help your business enter new markets and sales channels with ease.

Well, it’s time to nip your distribution problem—before it gets too late.

In this blog, you will learn what is a distribution partner, when you need a distribution partner, how to choose a good distribution partner, and how Eshopbox helps ecommerce brands of all sizes tackle the challenges of multichannel distribution.

What is a distribution partner?

A distribution partner is a third-party company to which ecommerce brands give the authority to market, distribute or resell their products.

The process of distribution is different based on each sales channel, so distribution partners may perform different services depending on the sales channel requirement:

  • In retail distribution, a distribution partner coordinates the logistics of getting products to retailers or wholesalers.
  • In ecommerce channels, a distribution partner takes care of picking, packing and shipping orders of a single sales channel to customers.
  • In multichannel ecommerce, a distribution partner takes care of order fulfilment across multiple sales channels.

Why and when do you need a distribution partner?

Here are some signs you should look out for to assess if you need a distribution partner for your ecommerce business:

1. You are not able to offer fast and free shipping

When you are selling online, you have to ship your products across the country. But if you're taking care of your own distribution, you don't have access to a lot of things. These include multiple warehouses spread across the country, discounted shipping rates or multiple courier partners to deliver your orders across all the zones at a fast speed. This means you have to choose one—fast shipping or low shipping costs. You cannot provide fast shipping while keeping your costs low.

By tying up with a distribution partner, you can take advantage of their distributed network of fulfilment centres across the country and negotiated shipping rates with multiple courier companies. Thus, enabling you to provide fast shipping while keeping your costs low.

2. You have to compromise on your delivery standards

Have you noticed that your order accuracy is declining—customers are receiving incorrect or damaged products? If that is the case, you should consider a distribution partner. They ensure incredible order accuracy and a delightful fulfilment experience for your customers.‍

3. You cannot handle fluctuating order volume

The order volume fluctuates throughout the year due to seasonality or flash sales. This means your requirement for inventory, storage and manpower changes frequently. You might think of upgrading the entire facility when order volume is at its peak, but when it hits rock bottom, you are bound to incur high holding costs. In such a scenario, it's best to look for a distribution partner that gives you access to scalable infrastructure and allocates resources according to your current needs.

4. You lack expertise

When you take distribution into your own hands, you simply do what is necessary but not in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Here’s where a distribution partner's expertise comes into play. They can streamline complex processes with their expertise and industry knowledge to achieve greater cost savings and increased efficiency.‍

5. You cannot handle the constant surge in order volume

If your order volume is constantly increasing, it might be the right time to ensure that your fulfilment process can scale up with that growth. As you would be dedicating your time and effort to bringing ecommerce sales, fulfiling more orders can deviate you from your primary goals.

Moreover, you need more warehouse space, advanced technology, automated processes, skilled manpower, and industry-driven insights. As orders increase exponentially, your ability to handle them in-house diminishes– resulting in late order deliveries, poor accuracy, and overworked staff. A distribution partner can help you scale up with everything you need to ensure a seamless supply chain and customer satisfaction.

6. You cannot focus on your core business

As your online business grows, fulfilment and distribution take more and more of your time. But with a distribution partner, you can focus on high-priority business objectives like branding, marketing, sales, product development, and more— enabling you to scale flexibly.

What to look for in a good distribution partner?

1. Fulfilment reach

In today’s ecommerce industry, distributors should be able to ship across the country quickly and cost-effectively for ecommerce brands. To meet this expectation, the right distributor for your brand must have an extensive network of fulfilment centres where every order can be processed, picked, packed, and shipped—from the location closest to the customer.

This reduces the distance and transit time, ensuring lightning-fast shipping and reducing shipping costs for your ecommerce brand.

Eshopbox has a distributed network of fulfilment centres across India—located in Mumbai, Haryana, Kolkata, Banglore, Dwarka, and Hyderabad. This enables you to save 45% on shipping costs while providing express shipping across India.

2. Infrastructure and technology

The most critical components needed for efficient distribution and fulfilment are robust technology and infrastructure. Usually, many businesses don’t have access to them. Fortunately, an established distribution partner already has these two.

You don’t have to make huge investments in purchasing ecommerce warehouses, equipment, supplies and hiring a workforce—all will be taken care of by the distribution partner. The right partner will have the basic necessities as well as additional capabilities and tools to support superior fulfilment and distribution.

Instead of investing in advanced technology to keep the supply chain agile, the right distribution partner will give access to their advanced technology. This will help you to automate entire ecommerce operations, including order fulfilment, returns management, inventory management, warehouse management, order management, and more.

Here’s a checklist for your reference:

  • Sufficient warehousing space to store your inventory across multiple locations
  • Warehousing equipment like forklifts, pallet jacks, warehouse racks, and more
  • Packaging supplies, such as poly mailers, dunnage, tape, and boxes
  • Tools for inventory management, including scanners, barcodes, labels, and more
  • Automated processes and procedures, including automatic order processing, inventory level updates, replenishment notifications, and more
  • Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), Inventory Management System (IMS), analytic tools with real-time updates and insights

Eshopbox is a technology-driven distribution partner that enables ecommerce brands to leverage its next-gen technology, fulfilment infrastructure and automated workflows with access to the above-mentioned checklist.

3. Reliability

Your distribution partner’s ability to provide a fast and flawless delivery experience significantly impacts your ability to ensure a positive customer experience. This means that when choosing a distribution partner, you must prioritise trust and consistency.

You should look for a distribution partner that maintains a high order accuracy rate, adheres to SLAs (Service Level Agreements), ensures on-time delivery, and utilises technology to help prevent exception scenarios that can cause order delays.

Eshopbox has extensive industry experience in providing superior, ultra-fast fulfilment and distribution to businesses of all sizes, including Royal Enfield, Raymond, United Colors of Benetton, Clarks, Blackberrys, and more.

4. Scalability

It’s ideal to look for a distribution partner that can scale with you as your business grows. This means a partner should be able to support a small operation but has the capacity to grow with your business.

Most importantly, ecommerce is prone to fluctuating order volume throughout the year. You need a distribution partner that can help you to manage sudden influxes or dips in order volume, i.e. variability in sales effectively.

Furthermore, the right distribution partner must be able to offer you new avenues for expansion and facilitate your growth into new markets, locations and sales channels. For instance, you’re selling only on Amazon and catering to a customer base across North-west India. A distribution partner like Eshopbox can help you sell on multiple sales channels like Flipkart and Myntra with easy integration and increase your customer across India.

Eshopbox re-allocates fulfilment resources according to the current order volume to manage the demand fluctuations of an ecommerce brand. Moreover, Eshopbox offers superior scalability that allows brands to scale flexibly with scalable fulfilment solutions, enter new markets by catering to the whole nation and add sales channels effortlessly with 2-step integration.

5. Customer experience

Delighting a customer is becoming crucial by an hour for ecommerce brands. Online shoppers expect a lot from ecommerce brands today, including fast shipping, free shipping, a memorable unboxing experience, order accuracy, order tracking and more. As expectations continue to rise, you’ll need a distribution partner that can help you meet all these customer expectations with every order.

With Eshopbox, ecommerce brands can delight their customers with real-time order tracking, proactive shipping notifications, a seamless returns experience, incredible accuracy and an exceptional unboxing experience via custom packaging. Moreover, Eshopbox gives access to a self-service customer portal to enhance the post-purchase experience of your customers.

49% of customers have left a brand in the past year due to poor customer experience.

Wrapping up

With a distribution partner, your ecommerce brand receives the distribution support it needs to simplify ecommerce operations and grow. You can leverage the logistics and fulfilment capabilities of the distribution partner to streamline your supply chain. Moreover, as you grow, a distribution partner's multichannel capabilities enable you to expand into new channels without the hassle. From B2B to B2C fulfilment, a distribution partner can help you get your inventory out of your warehouse into state-of-the-art fulfilment centres, your brand into more sales channels, and your products into customers' hands easily and efficiently.

Connect with our fulfilment expert today.

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