FSI - Fulfillment Strategies International
FSI - Blog
FSI - FAQ
Request A Quote
FSI - Client Login
Home - FSI Fulfillment Product Fulfillment Services FSI Clients Contact FSI Fulfillment FSI Careers FSI Giving Back    
Frequently Asked Questions


Check out the answers to our most frequently asked questions below, and please call us at 800.979.9012 or email us at Sales@fsifulfillment.com to get in touch with our Sales Team if we can answer additional questions or schedule a tour of our facility.



What exactly is fulfillment?
Why outsource to a fulfillment company, why not just do it myself?
So I need a fulfillment company, does it matter where since my orders will ship all over the US or the world?
So I need a fulfillment company, why choose FSI?
How long has FSI been in business?

Do I need my own web site?
Can FSI handle credit card processing and terms/net 30?
What is your pricing structure?

How long does it take before you can start fulfilling orders?
Can you do database design and create custom I.T. solutions?
What types of products do you fulfill?

Do you handle international shipments?
May I schedule a tour of your facility?
How many orders must I have?

How can I maintain control of my business if you handle the fulfillment?
Can you handle both individual orders and large-scale kits?
What about product returns?

Do you offer climate-controlled storage areas?
Will my inventory be properly secured?
Has FSI ever been recognized for its leadership role in the fulfillment industry?

Fulfillment is just a commodity business, so shouldn't I find the cheapest one?
I'm interested, but can I get a no-obligation quote?


What exactly is fulfillment?

Simply put, fulfillment is the handling of some or all aspects of order receipt, inventory storage, product assembly, and order shipment.

And if that's the definition of fulfillment, FSI is the definition of a top-notch fulfillment provider. FSI Clients range in order volume size from a few orders per day to several thousand orders per day. They may have their own web site or they may use FSI's shopping cart, but once the order has been taken they rely upon FSI to make it happen.

FSI receives the order via web site, phone, fax, email, or via other electronic means such as web service technology. With the order in hand we rapidly charge the customer's credit card (if needed), verify the required inventory is in stock, print a packing slip with our Client logo on it listing all the items in the order, and pull the order from one of our warehouses.

FSI employs a number of technologies to ensure rapid and accurate order fulfillment, with advanced barcoding systems at the center. Each order is electronically verified to ensure that the correct number and size of each product has been pulled before the box is sealed and moved down the assembly line for shipping.

Once the order ships, FSI provides web-based reporting so you have real-time visibility for your orders, including tracking information. Automated order and shipment confirmation emails keep your customers abreast of the status of their orders, and of course we stay on top of new inventory receipts as they arrive so that your next orders are ready to go as soon as they arrive.    back to top


Why outsource to a fulfillment company, why not just do it myself?

We have an article that answers that question in great detail. It can be summarized by saying that a fulfillment company does the pick/pack/ship, inventory management, kit packing, etc. for you, which is our core competency, so that you can focus on growing your business, which is your core competency. A fulfillment company has the resources and has made the investments into space, personnel, equipment and systems that manage these tasks more efficiently and effectively than most companies can do on their own. Be sure to check out the article that elaborates on why outsourcing these services to a fulfillment company is to your advantage.    back to top


So I need a fulfillment company, does it matter where since my orders will ship all over the US or the world?

You'll want your inventory closest to where the majority of your order recipients will be. While you may be shipping orders nationwide and even internationally, the majority of your orders will ship to where the majority of the population is located. 80% of the US population lives on the east coast. We have an article that explains in greater detail how east coast fulfillment has the advantage over west coast fulfillment due to the proximity to the majority of the population. It also describes how Atlanta is a great choice for your east coast fulfillment by being the distribution center of the southeast, the busiest airport in the world and the busiest and fastest growing port in the US.    back to top


So I need a fulfillment company, why choose FSI?

For three very important reasons:

Since 1996 FSI has been a proactive leader in the changing field of product fulfillment. Long before most fulfillment companies thought of the value of putting data on the web, FSI had developed a reporting site from the ground up. This site has evolved into a critical tool for our Clients known as FSI Enterprise, which keeps our Clients aware of their orders, inventory levels, product returns, inventory usage, and more. It has since grown into plug-in modules which can be directly integrated within our Client's systems so that our Clients can provide their customers and authorized employees with real-time inventory information.

Secondly, FSI prides itself on a much higher accuracy rate than is common in the industry. You would think everyone bardcodes their inventory, especially with similar items such as apparel where the same item may have 12 different sizes and colors. FSI continually invests in systems and procedures that result in the highest accuracy rates possible, which means your customers are happier and more likely to come back for more.

Thirdly, FSI strikes the right balance of price and value. We have found that providers who treat fulfillment as a commodity through rock-bottom pricing usually end up costing Clients a lot more through poor customer service and inaccurate shipments. Even worse, Clients have found themselves hampered by their provider's inability to grow with them and develop creative solutions to meet changing Client needs. FSI strikes the right balance to ensure each Client receives the proper attention to detail and the right level of professional service.    back to top


How long has FSI been in business?

FSI began in 1996 when it became increasingly clear that the Atlanta area needed a better, more proactive solution to order fulfillment. FSI was founded by Ken Marbutt, a longtime leader in the fulfillment and printing industries, who has put together a solid team that has seen FSI through steady growth from 1996 to present.

FSI started operations in 1996 with 16,000 square feet of space, which soon expanded to 32,000 square feet. In 2000 FSI moved into a 55,000 square foot facility to handle growing volume and to add room for expanded capabilities. Then in 2006 FSI moved to its present facility, eventually purchasing the 155,000 square foot facility that has positioned FSI for continued growth and expansion.

FSI maintains additional storage in nearby warehouses to allow us to quickly handle the storage and staging requirements for large, last-minute projects.    back to top


Do I need my own web site?

The choice is yours! Many of FSI's Clients request that FSI set up a branded shopping cart for their exclusive use. While using FSI's shopping cart is by no means required, it does come with certain benefits. Some Clients enjoy not having to worry about maintaining a shopping cart, and enjoy the real-time order visibility that comes from being able to view orders and inventory levels via our reporting site. We even offer a "lite" version of our shopping cart for cases where you want a super quick, one-page checkout process.

For Clients who already have a shopping cart, or who prefer to build or maintain one with a third party, FSI provides a proven set of web services to enable seamless integration between the Client's system and FSI. In essence these web services serve as real-time messaging vehicles so that as soon as an order is finalized on your shopping cart, it is transmitted to FSI for processing. This eliminates the need for manual transmission of orders and results in a more reliable means of getting orders to FSI quickly and efficiently.    back to top


Can FSI handle credit card processing and terms/net 30?

Yes. Clients have the choice of handling credit card processing and other funds management or having FSI handle them. To faciliate credit card funds management, we integrate with Paymentech, a leader in credit card merchant services.

FSI also handles terms/net 30 orders and can generate statements for customers as needed.    back to top


What is your pricing structure?

FSI is a services company, so pricing will vary depending on which services are needed, as well as an analysis of many aspects of your anticipated business. Factors such as order volume, service-level agreements, and even product characteristics play a role in determining the pricing for your account.

Please call our Sales Team at 800.979.9012 for a FREE, no-obligation analysis of your needs and to receive a complete, clear quote so you can see the value of our service lineup.    back to top


How long does it take before you can start fulfilling orders?

Speed of implementation is a key factor in selecting a fulfillment provider. The setup time will vary based on the number of products that need to be set up in our system, whether photos of each item are needed, and so on. Usually from the time we have your formal approval to move forward to the time we are ready to begin fulfilling orders ranges from a few days to a few weeks. Towards that end, one goal is to get a list of inventory items from you so we can have everything ready in our system by the time you can arrange for inventory to be sent to us.    back to top


Can you do database design and create custom I.T. solutions?

Absolutely! One factor that sets FSI apart from traditional fulfillment providers is our ability to create solutions that can help you with your business. Often our Clients have a fulfillment-related project that requires the development of customized software or databases. This may range from a simple web-based form to collect customer demographic data all the way to a profile-based system to guide customers through a customized ordering process with complex business rules. They love that once the data has been collected through various marketing efforts, the kits, mailings, or other shipments can be fulfilled immediately without having to jump through hoops.

FSI's in-house I.T. department gives our Clients ongoing confidence that we can handle custom projects.    back to top


What types of products do you fulfill?

FSI specializes in rapid, accurate product fulfillment. The process and the technology work equally well across a surprisingly large variety of industries. Some of the more common products include books, CDs, DVDs, apparel, marketing & promotional items, store displays, literature items, games, and electronics. We also fulfill prizes from sweepstakes, contests, and promotions too numerous to mention, including both physical prize fulfillment and monetary prizes.    back to top


Do you handle international shipments?

Every day. FSI shipments encompass all 50 states and over 170 countries, from Aruba to Zambia. Whether the package must go UPS, FedEx, or the postal service, FSI has the experience to handle the packaging and documentation (where necessary) for both small and large volumes of international shipments.

One invaluable feature supporting our extensive international capabilities is our integration with "paperless invoicing", which in most cases decreases the amount of time it takes to produce the required Customs paperwork for international orders. The numerous details needed by Customs agents are effectively encapsulated in barcodes, eliminating the need to print multiple copies of international paperwork and affix it to the outside of the box. That saves time, money, and minimizes the chance of a shipment being held at the border. back to top


May I schedule a tour of your facility?

FSI maintains modern, professional facilities and welcomes the opportunities for Clients and Prospects to see how we do business and gain confidence in our capabilities. Clients commonly mention being impressed with the level of organization in both the office and warehouse areas, and we see those comments as a reflection of our commitment to excellence.

Please call our Sales Team at 800.979.9012 for more details.    back to top


How many orders must I have?

Our Clients range in size from recent start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. Some have only a few orders per month, while others may have thousands of orders per day. FSI can never take credit for the amazing successes of our Clients, but we strongly pride ourselves on being your strategic fulfillment partner and able to handle anything you send us, including those beautifully unexpected spikes in order volume.

Our main conference room and display areas are lined with letters of thanks and media clippings that speak of FSI's role in supporting their business needs out of the gate until they had achieved success within their markets. Let us do the same for you!    back to top


How can I maintain control of my business if you handle the fulfillment?

FSI has been working almost since our inception to solve that age-old problem, and we think you'll love the result. FSI won't run your business; instead we take your mind off the day-to-day hassles and complexities of rapid, accurate product fulfillment. The time and resources many companies spend on order fulfillment represent a process bottleneck that contstrains their growth, so by selecting the right fulfillment provider with the right capabilities, that bottleneck is removed, enabling you to get orders out the door quicker and more cheaply than before. Why maintain storage, software, hardware, and countless other capital-intensive fulfillment systems when you can focus on your core business?

One key means of allowing you to retain control is by providing you with real-time order and inventory reports that your authorized Team members can access via web browser. You'll have the ability in real time to see the orders we have received, see the impact of those orders on your inventory levels, and be able to make stocking decisions based not only on those reports but also any internal forecasting models that you have developed.

Additionally, FSI provides options to notify you automatically when certain events occur. For example, you may wish to be notified via email whenever new inventory arrives at our facility, whenever certain products drop below your designated re-order level, and so on. So, far from losing control you may well find that FSI allows you to regain control!    back to top


Can you handle both individual orders and large-scale kits?

Definitely. Individual orders are usually called "pick-pack-ship" (PPS) orders in fulfillment jargon, and represent a sizable portion of FSI's business. PPS orders come to us from Client-owned web sites located around the country as well as from sites managed on FSI servers. Each PPS order is checked for available inventory, compared against the Client's business rules including what to do in backorder situations, and sent to one of the fulfillment teams. The fulfillment teams pull the order from stock, barcode-verify each item on the order through a packing verification station that allows us to remain among the top tier of fulfillment accuracy, and finally sends the order through the packing and shipping stages to be picked up by the appropriate carrier. FSI's dedicated Customer Service team has the tools to track and manage PPS orders at every stage, and Clients have the ability to track many aspects of these orders in real-time from FSI Enterprise, our web-based reporting site.

"Kit-pack" orders represent the other major portion of our business. Kit-pack projects can range in size from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of identical kits that typically ship as soon as the project is complete, although some warehousing of completed kits is also common. There may be multiple versions of each kit, such as in the case of a retailer who maintains 20,000 stores throughout North America. The project may be for a seasonal sale, and each kit may include signs, banners, and promotional displays. Some versions may be for English, others Spanish, and so on.

One key benefit of using FSI for these packages is the ability to point your browser to FSITrack, FSI's real-time shipment tracking tool, and know not only what shipped, but also what has been delivered. A Client who has sent us 10 different kit-pack jobs can log in and say, "For the Summer Sales Event promotion, show me which of those 20,000 packages have not yet been delivered." Can your fulfillment provider do that?    back to top


What about product returns?

FSI makes it easy not only to get your packages out the door, but to support your customer base by enabling the smooth return of products based on your business rules. Having a solid returns program in place can result in improved customer confidence that can drive product sales, and having FSI handle your existing return program can result in a net savings. FSI has a proven track record in streamlining the returns process, including the custom interfacing of disparate systems to support an optimal, rules-based returns process.    back to top


Do you offer climate-controlled storage areas?

Yes!  Within our controlled-access facility most items are stored in regular storage areas. But we do recognize that certain items require special storage, and we offer several to choose from. In addition to regular storage we maintain climate controlled storage for items that require it. We also have a caged storage area typically used for premium items for additional security. For even higher security we have a small, highly restricted vault area suitable for the storage of small ultra-premium items, gift cards, etc.    back to top


Will my inventory be properly secured?

Your piece of mind is a top priority, and nowhere is that more evident than how we treat your inventory. There are many levels to inventory security, ranging from the level of insurance FSI has purchased to cover inventory stored in our facilities; to proper screening and training of FSI employees; to the physical and electronic measures taken to ensure the security of all inventory.

FSI's corporate offices and main warehouse features card-restricted entrances to ensure only authorized access to the premises. 24x7 motion-controlled video monitors both the exterior and interior areas, with high-capacity backup power supplies to keep the cameras running even in the event of a power outage.    back to top


Has FSI ever been recognized for its leadership role in the fulfillment industry?

Many times. In 2008, FSI's founder Ken Marbutt and VP/General Manager Forrest Marbutt were invited to appear on the Heartbeat of America television program, hosted by William Shatner, to receive the 2008 "Keeping America Strong" award. Heartbeat of America recognizes small businesses around the country that make a significant, on-going contribution to America. Only one company is selected from each industry type, and few were surprised upon hearing of FSI's selection.

In addition to national recognition, the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce has named FSI among the Top 25 small businesses in 2008, 2009, and 2010. A panel of judges comprised of business and community leaders selected FSI based on factors such as service innovation, growth, financial strength, and community service outreach.

We were also honored that Inc. Magazine named FSI in their 2009 and 2010 Inc. 5000 lists of the fastest-growing private companies in America. Ranked statewide for all business types, FSI is among the top 200 businesses in all of Georgia in this prestigious list. Says Ken Marbutt, founder and CEO, "FSI is pleased to have been repeatedly included in Inc. Magazine's list, and is honored to receive continued recognition for our efforts within the industry. We are proud of each team member for the excellent care they provide each day to our Clients."    back to top


Fulfillment is just a commodity business, so shouldn't I find the cheapest one?

Fulfillment is only a commodity business when corners are cut at every step, rather than using people and technology effectively to gain real efficiencies and true value. Every product and every order deserves to be shipped correctly because your reputation is on the line, and FSI understands that like no one else.

Perhaps this question can be addressed most effectively by handing the mike to one of our long-time Clients who came to us from another provider. This Client had an extremely successful web site and received hundreds of orders per day. But when they came to us they admitted they were swimming in a sea of product returns caused by order error rates approaching 20%. We agreed with them that a 20% error rate makes it extremely difficult to maintain profit margins, and explained that their provider's lack of systematic, technology-driven processes was the source of the problem. Their old provider had attempted high-volume fulfillment on a low-end budget, and their lack of adequate systems resulted in chronic quality issues.

Upon switching to FSI they saw an immediate and revolutionary improvement, providing them with the objective data they needed to confirm that their order accuracy rates had risen from the high 70's to the high 90's (currently 99.97%). This number is even more impressive when one considers their hundreds of apparel items which look identical but have many different sizes, so our barcoding systems have made it possible to achieve enormously higher accuracy rates with only a modest increase in fulfillment costs.

FSI continues to price our services competitively, but we encourage you to take into consideration the true cost of going for the lowest per-package price. Our Clients understand that it doesn't help to save a small amount on fulfillment if it means shipping the wrong items to the wrong customer, then having to pay to re-ship the right items to the right customer. The cost of correcting errors, not to mention the cost in lost customer goodwill, continue to prove what we already know: getting it right the first time is best for your business. Case studies such as this one continue to demonstrate the value FSI brings to the table when it comes to calculating the true cost of fulfillment.    back to top


I'm interested, but can I get a no-obligation quote?

It would be our pleasure!  Please call us at 800.979.9012 to speak with us at no obligation.    back to top



Click to verify BBB accreditation and to see a BBB report
FSI   7800 The Bluffs, Suite C Austell, GA 30168   Phone: 800.979.9012   Fax: 678.391.5981
Sales Inquiries sales@fsifulfillment.com    Customer Service support@fsifulfillment.com