Business Management | Resources

3pl: 20 Tips To Find The Best Provider For Your Needs

Nov 06, 2022 | SALAUDDIN SHAIK

Consider working with a third-party logistics (3PL) company if you own an e-commerce business and find yourself overwhelmed by logistical requirements or order fulfillment responsibilities. It can be challenging to choose the ideal 3PL for your business, but doing so is essential to ensuring that your supply chain functions effectively. When searching for a 3PL, you should ensure that they can meet all of your requirements, from packing and labeling to warehousing and delivery. The best 3PLs will also give you with cutting-edge technology so you can keep up with logistical trends as well as first-rate customer care.

If you're still unsure of where to look for a new 3PL, try pondering these inquiries: 

  • What is the capacity of my business right now?

  • Are we prepared for more stock?

  • Will there be enough room?

You should also try posing the following inquiries to yourself: 

  • What kinds of goods do we offer?

  • Do we require satellite locations or specific services like refrigeration?

  • How frequently do we get shipments?

  • Do we require a nearby warehouse?

  • Which delivery options are provided by my suppliers?

  • Are there any limitations on the kinds of materials that can be transported by air as opposed to by ground transportation, or by rail as opposed to by trucking companies?

After all, you must be certain that the 3PL you select will look after your product and ensure that it consistently arrives at its destination on time. 

Here are the top 20 tips to consider when looking for an ideal 3PL:

  1. Process evaluation.

Begin by conducting research as part of your due diligence first. Your objective should be to find a business with tested procedures whether it's your first time choosing a 3PL supplier or you're considering switching to a new one. Do they offer a merchant dashboard where you can track the shipment of your orders, in other words? In that case, when will this dashboard be updated? This will be covered in more detail later, but the main idea is to have each 3PL walk you through the steps involved in delivering an item so that you can assess both their processes' soundness and how they operate.

They must also have the necessary tools to connect with the marketplaces you use the most (Shopify, BigCommerce, Amazon, etc.). 

  1. Consider the variety of services they offer.

You must evaluate the benefits your brand can receive from your 3PL provider. The more products and services they offer to meet your demands, the more scalable and seamless your business will be. 

Make sure the 3PL handles returns for you if you give a "100% satisfaction or your money back" guarantee. 

It's crucial to talk about this issue before signing a contract if you need to send a product that needs to be kept at a specific temperature because not all 3PLs can do this. 

It should be a top priority to work with a partner who can tailor a solution to your demands, so now is the time to speak up for what you want and see what innovative alternatives are provided.

  1. Examine the technology being used.

You must check that your possible 3PL partner has reliable technology, among other things. They ought to be able to offer you cutting-edge technological solutions for managing and monitoring your inventory effectively. Even if your company is now small, you still want to have access to cutting-edge technology because, hopefully, your long-term objective is to expand. In other words, before agreeing to work with a 3PL, request to view a dashboard that will aid improve transparency and is intuitive. 

  1. Take into account the company's experience and length of its history.

Companies with a long history are usually more experienced, and have had more time to develop their processes, systems, and procedures. They also have more resources available to them, which allows them to provide services that other 3PLs may not be able to match.

  1. Check their online reviews/ratings.

The best way to find a good 3pl provider is by checking their online reviews/ratings. You can also look for reviews from people who have used their services and found them helpful, as well as those who have had bad experiences with them. These reviews are usually provided by previous clients and can help you make an informed decision about whether or not to work with that company. If they have a lot of positive reviews, it’s a good sign that they are trustworthy and will deliver the services you want.

You should also look for reviews of the company's competitors, because they may provide insight into how they compare to other companies in their industry. 

  1. Check to see if the business has accreditations proving they adhere to industry standards (like GS1 standards) 

Accreditation is important because it shows that the business has met certain standards for compliance and transparency. It also demonstrates that the 3PL business is committed to improving their processes, as well as ensuring that their products are produced in an environmentally friendly way.

For example, if a business is using barcodes to track their inventory, it's important that they use GS1 standards. If they do, this will be a very good sign that they are serious about their product and its quality.

  1. Enquire about their training program and Employee Certifications.

When you're looking for a 3PL to handle your logistics, it's important to make sure they have the right training and experience.

First, check their training program. While there are different certifications available, we, at Rural Handmade, recommend looking for one that is focused on best practices in your sector. The more they know about the industry you operate in, the better they'll be able to help you manage your supply chain efficiently.

Second, ask questions about the number of employees who are certified to work with best practices in your sector (like FDA compliance). This will give you an idea of how well they understand what makes a good partner for your business.

  1. Find out if they can handle special requests.

When you're looking for a company that can handle special requests like handling hazardous materials safely or creating custom packaging, it's important to make sure that the company is able to meet your needs. The best companies will be able to give you an estimate on how long it will take them to get back to you with a quote, and they'll be able to offer recommendations for any other needed services.

  1. Take into account whether they provide any additional services, which may result in long-term cost savings.

3PL companies provide a wide range of services to their customers. Some of these include product tracking, on-demand shipping options, and more. When choosing a 3PL company, it's important to take into account whether they provide any additional services that may result in long-term cost savings for your business.

For example, if your company is in the business of manufacturing, you might be able to save money on product tracking or on-demand shipping options.

  1. Beware of simple scalability. 

You work in a shared workspace when you outsource fulfillment operations. As a result of the market developments, your supplier must learn to reconcile the requirements of your company with the wants of your numerous consumers. Without you having to fork over additional money for permanent premises, staff, or equipment, your 3PL partner must satisfy peak requirements. With the right partner, you can increase operations to meet your company's needs without going bankrupt.

  1. Look for the option that allows for customization.

A successful 3PL should have full customization capabilities for its products and services. After all, adjusting according to orders rather than just stock enables you to save production and inventory-carrying expenses.

  1. Find a partner who won't cost you a fortune to work with. 

Since all of this will have an impact on your bottom line, as a business owner every penny counts. Having a reliable 3PL partner who can assist you in utilizing delay tactics would be beneficial. In turn, this will let you maximize inventory while consistently providing top-notch service. By building to order rather than retaining stock, you lower manufacturing and inventory-carrying expenses.

  1. Choose a company whose values ​​converge.

Working with a 3PL partner entails giving someone else control over a significant portion of your company's activities. You, therefore, need a partner you can rely on. Choose a fulfillment company whose ethos and principles align with your brand. Furthermore, it's critical to make sure they are aware of the supply chain priorities of your business and have excellent communication skills for each stage of the fulfillment process. To avoid hiccups, data sharing must be done seamlessly.

  1. Choose a 3PL that invests in people.

Work with a 3PL that has made investments in subject matter experts with functional areas of speciality that possess in-depth industry knowledge.

  1. Pick the one that helps you translate insights into actionable steps.

Improved decision-making and supply chain optimization depend on having real-time visibility and access to crucial data. To boost transparency, control, and real-time insights, working with a 3PL that offers an advanced analytics platform is essential in today's corporate environment.

  1. Consider a 3PL that is dedicated to continuous improvement.

Do they offer good, approachable customer service? Only if your fulfillment partner shares your ambition can you achieve success. This will show out in the quality management practices used and the solutions they provide. An excellent area to fully evaluate the customer service of the 3PLs you are considering is nearly always going to be past client reviews.

Additionally, since the business climate is constantly changing, you must choose an ally who is actively working to better things. Remember, when it comes to fulfillment, you cannot operate with empty promises.

  1. Pick a partner who has integrated sustainability throughout the supply chain.

Your 3PL partner should work as a catalyst to encourage suppliers to adopt supply chain best practices that boost Return on Investment (ROI) while lowering operating costs and environmental impact.

  1. Analyze your omnichannel experience.

For eCommerce organizations, omnichannel retail is no longer a choice but a requirement. To increase the reach of your brand, you must use this. As a result, you require a 3PL provider who is knowledgeable about the subtleties of the omnichannel business. Working with a staff that is capable of handling this without sacrificing the client experience is also necessary. As a result, it's essential to collaborate with a trustworthy partner who possesses the following: 

  • a tried-and-true business strategy 

  • scalable systems for different channels 

  • Performance that has been demonstrated Industry knowledge

  1. Look into whether they keep a network of locations.

A strategic approach is used by an efficient third-party logistics supplier. They can help you configure solutions and choose the distribution points that are ideal for your business's present and future demands. As a result, your potential partner must have a vast network of facilities in reliable, powerful places. You'll have more options, and more clients will be satisfied.

  1. Identify the provider's reliability. 

Finally, you need to investigate the reliability of your prospective service. When you collaborate with someone, you give them access to your brand. Working with a fulfillment partner with a successful track record is essential.

Inquire about the following during your initial interviews: 

  • Are they still making investments in facilities? 

  • Do they continue to develop their systems? 

  • Do they keep their technology and equipment up to date? Which ways? 

  • Do they maintain a blog and serve as a centre? 

More queries to pose to a possible 3PL can be found here.

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