fulfillment 3pl faqs

Frequently Asked Questions

Question about product fulfillment or third-party logistics (3PL) services? Save time and check below. Then contact us if you need more information.

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A. There are many good reasons to outsource, but the number one reason our clients cite is value. When you outsource, you minimize your expenses when you start a new project. The beauty of working with Coast to Coast is that you have full and instant access to warehouse space, specialized equipment and software, and a trained staff to get your projects off the ground quickly, accurately, and efficiently. At the same time, you have none of the overhead costs of developing or maintaining those competencies. You pay only for what you use, when it is used. When you outsource, you can easily identify and attribute specific costs to every aspect of your product fulfillment programs, so that you can more accurately track your profitability.

When you outsource your fulfillment to Coast to Coast Fulfillment, you will be more productive, because you will be free to focus on your core business. Meanwhile, Coast to Coast stays up-to-date on new fulfillment technologies and processes so you don’t have to. When you outsource your fulfillment, your order-processing operation will have lower error margins and faster order turnaround, thus reducing your inventory needs and increasing your profitability.
Outsourcing to Coast to Coast also increases your flexibility. As your needs change, we can react quickly to bring new services on-line. New teams of experienced fulfillment professionals can be assigned to your project virtually overnight to meet tight deadlines or the demands of increased orders.

For much more information on the reasons to outsource your fulfillment, read our White Papers on business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) fulfillment.
A. 64% of America’s households within 6 UPS zones of Coast to Coast Fulfillment’s Rhode Island warehouse, and most retail distribution centers can be reached by freight in 2 days or less. When compared to shipping to the West Coast, most of Coast to Coast’s client’s customers get their shipments faster and at less expense. In addition, Coast to Coast Fulfillment is near the ports of Boston and Port Worcester for easy entry of products from offshore factories, including those in Asia and Europe.
A. You, the client, own your product. As your fulfillment house, we store your product for you. We take responsibility for keeping track of your product inventory, but you are responsible for insuring your products. (see below).

A. Your merchandise, and its components, are your property. We do not insure your inventory or provide inventory insurance. To insure your product at Coast to Coast Fulfillment, request your insurance company to provide you with “off-site inventory” insurance on your policy. When you engage Coast to Coast Fulfillment to store your inventory, it is understood that you and your insurance company will hold us harmless in the event of any inventory loss due to fire, water damage and theft and “acts of God.”

A. Coast to Coast maintains 82,000 square feet of space and we can make more space available as needed. However, because we are a fulfillment company and not a long-term-storage facility, our goal is optimize your product turnover, to reduce your warehouse space and inventory costs while increasing your profitability.

A. Your product is carefully checked in at our receiving bay, and then your product is cataloged by SKU in our business management software while a specific warehouse space is assigned to it. Our software keeps track of your inventory from the time it arrives in the warehouse until it is shipped (of often delivered) to your customers.

A. Coast to Coast provides customer service including a toll-free number for your promotion Our toll-free 800 number is printed on each consumer invoice and packing slip, to make it easy for our clients’ customers to get service related to their orders. Our outstanding customer service department is staffed from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. Since our representatives have on-line access to the transaction and shipping history of each order, we can handle questions about billing, the status of orders, handle credits, issue refunds, and we even offer limited tech support for some products. We also take orders, especially reorders from satisfied customers.

A. Yes and No. Our customer service representatives handle thousands of calls each week related to orders processed by Coast to Coast Fulfillment. We handle questions about billing and about the status of orders with online access to each customer’s transactions history. However, we are staffed only from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM ET, Monday through Friday, and our telephone operators are trained customer service representatives but not “salespeople.” Consequently, we are not a full-service 24/7 telemarketing operation. We work with several telemarketing companies that are staffed 24/7. For recommendations for a telemarketing service that would be right for your promotion, product, or service, contact us.

A. The bulk of our orders come in electronically. These orders are either sent to us, or are retrieved by us, automatically and imported directly into our order-processing system. These electronically-formatted orders include those from telemarketing companies, from Websites, and wholesale orders coming in via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).

In addition, we also take orders via fax, mail, and telephone.

A. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a specific standardized protocol for communicating business information in an electronic form from computer to computer. EDI is NOT e-mail and is not dependent on the Internet. To over-simplify, EDI is about doing business and carrying out electronic transactions with EDI “trading partners.”. EDI covers most things that are done using paper based communication, for example placing orders with suppliers and carrying out financial transactions. This is why the term “paperless trading” is often used to describe EDI.

More formally, EDI is described as the interchange of structured data according to agreed message standards between computer systems by electronic means. Structured data equates to an unambiguous method of presenting the data content of a document, be it an invoice, order or any other document type. The method of ensuring the correct interpretation of the information by the computer system is defined by the standard.

EDI may seem difficult to distinguish from e-mail and other forms of electronic data transfer, since both involve the transmission of electronic messages between computer systems. What differentiates EDI is the internal structure and content of the data message. The content of an e-mail message is not intended to be processed in any way by the receiving system, whereas EDI messages are intended for and structured for automatic processing.

With EDI, businesses can eliminate the need to re-enter data from paper documents and thus prevent clerical errors. It has also been estimated that the cost of processing an electronic requisition can be one tenth the cost of handling its paper equivalent. EDI systems can shorten the lead time between receipt and fulfillment of orders.

Use of EDI to transmit invoice data and payments can improve a company’s cash flow and may increase the amount of working capital as accounts can be dealt with more efficiently. The process of working with trading partners to implement EDI can also result in the benefit of closer working relationships with trading partners.

The strategic benefits of EDI include:

  • Faster trading cycle.
  • Ability to adopt new business processes such as Just-in-Time delivery.
  • Ability to win new business or retain existing customers leading to improvements in business efficiency.
  • Ability to respond to highly competitive new market entrants.
Opportunity benefits of EDI include:

  • Enhanced image.
  • Competitive edge.
  • Improved corporate trading relationships.
The greatest value of EDI is in strategic areas such as the provision of better levels of customer service and improved marketing competitiveness.

All the leading retail chain stores use EDI to handle their wholesale orders.
A. Coast to Coast can accept orders in almost any medium, including by EDI, telephone, fax, mail, web, e-mail, or other electronic media. The key to inputting orders is to set up a map that allows specific data in one source file to be copied into a corresponding data field in another “target” file (e.g., the word in the “Name” field of source file goes into the “Name” field on the target file. For mail, fax, and phone orders, our customer service representatives will manually enter the orders into our business management software. Once the order is submitted, it is processed through our electronic system, payments are posted, packing slips are generated, shipping is electronically manifested, and invoices are created.
A. Yes. Coast to Coast has handled orders at all levels. We can handle tens of thousands of electronic orders from consumers per week. However, we also have one client who only generates mail orders. Each of these orders requires manual data entry. Nonetheless, we have filled more than 200,000 orders with this product in less than ayear. For another client, we shipped over 450,000 orders in 6 months with 25% of those orders being rush delivery. As us about other case histories and about how we can tailor a fulfillment program for you that can expand or contract to match your order volume.

A. Coast to Coast will work with you to make it as simple as possible. We have many “stock” boxes and other packaging available that you only pay for when they are used. However, for larger volume shipments, we can have boxes made to order, or can work with boxes that you provide.

A. There are numerous ways to ship product. The most common methods are the U.S. Postal System (USPS), United Parcel Service (UPS), FedEx and common carrier (trucking companies). Each of these services has certain strengths and weaknesses. In addition, the correct choice of service depends upon what you are shipping and its destination. We use an electronic manifesting system that works with all major carriers. By the way, Coast to Coast Fulfillment is Rhode Island’s largest USPS customer. In fact, we have a USPS office in our building.
A. Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service (USPS) does not extend credit to anyone, including us. If you have your own postal permit, you know that you cannot just drop off a mailing and ask the Post Office to bill you. They will calculate your postage and request a check up front. Thus, we require that postage be paid in advance. To make this easier for you, we offer three payment options: 1) by check, 2) by Automated Clearing House (ACH) Network, debited directly from your checking account, or 3) by major credit card-subject to a 4% processing fee.
A. Orders usually ship the next business day after receipt of order. The most common delay is lack of availability of the product. Rush orders are typically shipped the same day of receipt or next business day if it is received over the weekend.

A. Coast to Coast can usually be set up before our clients can get us product. We pride ourselves on being ready to serve.

A. Coast to Coast works with its clients to generate whatever reports are needed. Typical reports include the following: Sales, Deposits, Sales Tax, Inventory and Back-Order. These reports and sample customer invoices and packing slips may be viewed at this website under Reports/Forms. While we have over 100 standard reports, we can also customize our databases and data collection systems to capture any type of data, so long as it is furnished in a consistentformat. Then, using a “report writer,” we can format a report in whatever style is needed. Just tell us what you want to know, and how you want to see it, and we’ll make it happen.

A. Refund and return policies are client-specific, and Coast to Coast implements them as as requested by our clients.

A. A merchant account is necessary to process credit card payments. Coast to Coast maintains a merchant accounts for all major credit cards. However, we prefer that our clients set up their own merchant account.

However, Coast to Coast, at its sole discretion, and subject to approval of its merchant bank, can provide merchant account services to its clients. Fees include a discount fee, a percentage of the total billings on credit cards and a transaction fee per order. Our merchant account services are for American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa credit cards.

A. There are numerous factors associated with getting a merchant account. The number-one factor is your relationship with your bank. It also may depend on how long you have been in business and what level of business that you are doing and have done. The process can easily take 3 to 6 months.

A. Yes. We will work with you to meet any and all of your website needs. E-commerce provides many opportunities and pitfalls. We will use our experience to assist in getting the most out of your website investment dollar.

A. Coast to Coast Fulfillment reserves the right to refuse any program or service request upon review of the materials and campaign plans. We will not provide services that will accommodate, distribute, or represent materials of an obscene, inappropriate, degrading, libelous, or potentially harmful nature. Neither will Coast to Coast Fulfillment participate in, support or implement any program or campaign of a deceptive or unlawful nature. We also currently do not fulfill perishable products, or ones classified as hazardous materials (hazmat).

A. Coast to Coast Fulfillment holds as confidential all client-related information, plans, and ideas. We also hold secure and maintain in confidence all client proprietary information, including databases, customer lists, formulas, inventories, materials and/or products for which Coast to Coast has knowledge and any other client related data. Coast to Coast Fulfillment will not disclose, use, share, rent, lease or sell any client data, materials, or products without the express written directive of the client to whom it belongs, or unless so required by a court ordered subpoena.

A. The customer names in our database belong to the client who generated that name. We do not sell mailing lists or list procurement services. At the request of the client, Coast to Coast will generate a clean list and provide it to the client for their use. A clean list has all of the same types of information in the same fields in the same sequence in all records. When we clean a list, we purge the duplicates, upgrade the addresses to postal standards, and create an exception list of records that we were not able to either upgrade or verify.