Fear of supply chain collapse keeps many online retailers in unhappy relationships

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According to William Walker, sales director of Berkshire-based Walker Logistics Ltd, online retailers continue to employ under-performing fulfilment services partners for far longer than they should because of a misguided fear that switching to another supplier will result in a hiatus when customer orders will go unfulfilled.

"There is a commonly held misconception that during the migration process from one 3PL to another there will be a time when the retailer's outbound supply chain ceases to function and significant brand and customer loyalty problems will be incurred as a result," William Walker comments.

He continues: "It's easy to see that for a successful online retailer a major backlog could build up in a relatively short space of time and no doubt there have been such scenarios but, if the transition is managed properly, the order picking and shipping process should be seamless."

William Walker advises that responsibility for managing the hand-over of stock from the outgoing logistics company is the responsibility of the new contractor and how this is handled should be a key part of any preliminary discussions and implementation strategy.

"For online retailers, changing fulfilment partner is like changing banks. You think it's going to be a big headache, but, in truth it shouldn't be," he adds.

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