Product prep companies will process your inventory when you can’t, or just don’t want to. Since there are many to choose from, it will be helpful to discuss some of the important factors to consider when choosing which company to work with.

There are many companies out there who will receive, process, pack, and ship your products, but they are each unique in pricing and services offered.

The first factor to consider is the cost for the prep company to process your inventory and the cost of materials used in this process. One pricing model, which I call a sliding scale, is offered by Central Wisconsin Prep Pack and Ship, and Fulfillment Butler, two of the many prep companies out there. They offer a flat rate for their box fee, but they offer a sliding scale for everything else that needs to be processed. If an item simply needs a label, you will pay less than if an item needs to have a sticker removed, a label put on, and bubble wrap around it. The easier your products are to process, the less you will pay with companies that use this sliding scale pricing model.

Another type of pricing is what you see on the SelltecPREP website. They use more of a flat-rate fee structure that is based on quantity unless you need specific supplies to prep your shipment. If you have a smaller order of 1 to 100 items you are going to pay $1/item, and if you increase that order to 101 items, you are going to save yourself fifteen percent in your fees by bringing the cost down to $.85/item. If you are a really high volume seller who is sending in 10,000 plus items in each shipment, you can get your cost down to 40% of what a smaller seller might pay. They do have fees for materials as well like polybags and bubble wrap. Everything isn’t included in that one fee if you need additional services.

A company that is similar but even more flat-fee based is Prime Zero Prep, which offers 100% flat fee pricing. They have simple pricing that includes everything (polybags, bubble wrap, receiving, dunnage, etc.). All of this is included in one flat fee of $1/piece, $1.50/oversized piece, multi-pack, or bundle. The only additional expense you will have will be for the boxes they use to pack up your inventory. They also offer volume discounts for larger sellers.

The second factor to consider is the company location. Some of these companies are located in sales tax-free states. By choosing a company located in a tax- free state, you can avoid the added sales taxes, and this eliminates one step if you are used to contacting online retailers to get refunds on your sales taxes. Another thing to consider in regards to location is shipping costs. The shipping costs may vary depending on the location of the company. If you primarily ship to the west coast, you might not want to use a provider on the east coast. Some of the providers are centrally located in the middle of the country, which could help cut fees no matter which Amazon fulfillment center you are sending inventory to.

The third factor to consider is size. Are you a small seller who needs to have your inventory held until you are able to get enough products there to make a decent sized shipment? Some prep companies will hold your items for two weeks, allowing you time to accumulate a large enough order. Or, if you are a big seller who ships thousands of items a month, those providers who offer volume discounts may be more appealing to you.

Another factor to consider is space and receiving ability. Some companies may not be able to receive pallets or might not have enough space to store your inventory for longer periods of time. If you are a smaller seller and need them to hold your inventory, that might not be a fit for your needs. If you are a larger seller who ships a lot of pallets to your processor, you are going to want to make sure they have a loading dock and the ability to receive and store pallets.

Maybe one of the most important considerations is turnaround time. Some companies guarantee 24 to 48 hour turnaround time, whereas other companies might take a week to process your inventory. You need to have a clear understanding of a company’s processing time frame.

The last thing to consider is what will happen to your returned and unsellable inventory. Some companies offer to list it on eBay or Amazon if you don’t want to have the item sent back to you. Some companies will create a listing from scratch for you. If you need a company who can provide this service, make sure you do your research before committing.

Ultimately, this is not just a cost-based decision. Many other factors apart from price need to be considered to make a fully informed decision that is best for YOUR business.

Be sure to check out the Seller Essentials prep services page for a wide variety of prep companies to choose from.