There are a great many 3pl providers in the marketplace; however, finding the right one that is best suited to your business is critical.
How do I choose the right 3PL provider?
An experienced and reliable third-party logistics (3pl) provider can help you to boost efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance customer service.
Here are some tips to help you choose the right 3pl provider to suit your needs:
If this is to be your first 3pl or if you are shifting 3pl providers, look online for companies that offer the features that you value. It is also critical that they can integrate with your existing system for smooth automation and transfer of data.
Find a partner, not just a logistics company
It is worthwhile calling the 3pl first and asking for specifics around how they can help with your supply chain. Some 3pl providers will truly partner with you by allowing you to leverage their existing knowledge and previous client experiences to help you achieve better outcomes. Building this relationship can yield excellent results not just in the short term but over many years.
Seamless & scalable
Look for 3pl providers that can offer a seamless logistics experience as this will boost your efficiency. This is very critical, especially if you are hoping to scale your business with larger order volumes. Do they have spare capacity if you receive large orders? Do they provide third-party warehouse management services for the kinds of goods that you are selling? If their offering is seamless and scalable, then there is a chance that you have found the right fit for your next 3pl provider.
Modern technology and software
When choosing a 3pl provider, you want one that has a fully integrated warehouse management system and can give you real-time visibility on all your orders at whatever point they are at in the supply chain. The most effective 3pl companies have a system for tracking all goods once they enter the warehouse and can easily track the movement of items in, around and outside when they are shipped to the customers. Professional 3pl providers can give full oversight via an online portal or mobile phone application. This way you can monitor levels and costs live as they are flowing through your channels.
You should talk only with 3pl providers who have a capable and experienced team. This includes customer, technical, systems and order processing support. The reason why it is so critical to find the 3pl with the right team is that they can help you leverage their experience to drive down costs and further enhance your product offerings to the market. Do not be afraid to ask them whether they have previously managed businesses like yours before. The chances are high that they have already solved many of the issues that you have seen crop up within your own supply chain. Sometimes when dealing with larger 3pls, you can feel just like a number as they have many other clients. Check if you can find a 3pl provider that can assign you your own dedicated account manager. This can make a significant difference as having a single point of contact can prove more effective than having to speak to multiple parties at the same business.
It is important to plan for your future growth by finding a 3pl provider who has the capacity to support your growth but also, adapt to market forces and allow you flexibility within your supply chain. Finding the right 3pl logistics provider to partner with could likely help your business grow and adapt for many years to come. Ideally, you should find a 3pl provider that has plenty of surplus warehouse space. Or, if they are currently approaching capacity, they should have other sites that you can use once you have outgrown the existing facilities.
A lot of 3pl providers will talk big about customer service but the right partner for you and your business is likely one that walks the talk when it comes to helping you on your journey. Look for a 3pl provider that gives 24/7 customer support, provides you with a dedicated account manager and has the resources, capability, and motivation to engage with you at all levels. This way when problems arise (as they invariably do) you will be well placed to speak to someone and move quickly to have things fixed to minimise distribution disruptions.
Environmentally friendly eco packaging
In 2021, more and more companies are seeking out greener methods for packaging and transporting their goods. That said, most traditional packaging is not so environmentally friendly and a lot of it ends up as general waste. You might want to choose 3pl providers that offer recycled packaging or bags and boxes that are biodegradable. This can also appeal to your customers and represents an opportunity to make a socially responsible contribution as well as future proof your company.
If you are looking for an experienced 3pl provider, talk to Invenco today. As eCommerce 3pl specialists, we are keen to discuss your unique business needs and provide you with the best solutions.