Choosing a 3PL partner is not an easy task – there are many factors involved in making sure that you choose the right provider before you even begin to work together. Intangible aspects will help guide you to your final choice, and we know the decision process can be a lengthy process. By gathering some information about the conditions below, you will be able to decide which 3PL company will support your business best and provide the most suitable logistics and supply chain operations.
- Service Portfolio – Companies demand different services from 3PL partners, and that depends on the type of logistics expertise your business requires. It may differ from warehousing, supply chain, distribution, logistic inventory management, packaging, kitting service, pick and pack, fulfillment, shipping, product return and other services. First, you need to recognize which services are going to boost your operational results. Then you will be able to move forward to select an outsourcing company.
- Customer Service – Customer satisfaction is a critical focus of any business and so it should be for your 3PL partner, too. It is a long-term relationship based on trust and transparency, ensuring that every logistic detail is being considered to improve the overall experience for your business and your customers. More than reports and tracking information, you want a 3PL partner that works to understand your operation, overseeing aspects to deliver a customized service for you.
- Capability –Infrastructure compatible with present and future demands is a critical factor to consider when you are evaluating 3PL options. Space capacity, internal structure, fleet options and professional services available to respond to your orders represent some specific areas for evaluation. If your products have specific storage characteristics, you also may have to check if the 3PL company offers the appropriate services. In the case of frozen food temperature, lighting controls, refrigerated trucks and other regulations should be considered and analyzed.
- Technology – System integration must include software systems compatible with your business, so the information flows quickly, efficiently and unhindered. The use of programs that allow real-time data between the two parties should be seen as a differentiating service. It also enables you to take proactive steps regarding operational issues arising like delays, document failures and excess demand, as well as more specific purchasing trends from your customers.
- Credibility – To make the transition to a 3PL operation, it’s important to rely on companies who have received positive customer references. You can ask for an existing customer’s challenges the 3PL company had to deal with and how they overcame them to build a customized solution adequately created for their business. Additionally, you can also ask about results and performance post implementation.
Information is the most valuable tool before choosing your trusted partner so don’t be afraid and ask. Here is a list of more questions you can use during your discovery phase:
- Do you need a 3PL located near your business? If yes, think about why.
- Do the services offered by the 3PL partner support the specific priorities and demands of your business?
- Can the 3PL scale its services and adapt to the future demands of your business?
- Does their system integrate to your system offering real-time information?
And if you still want to know more about what 3PL partner can do for your business, click here.