Outsourcing your logistics needs can be intimidating. When you decide to work with a third-party logistics (3PL) company, there are many things that you may want to consider. Not every 3PL is right for every business and finding a good match can take a little time.
As you start your search for a 3PL provider, it is important to understand exactly what you need from a logistics partner. A 3PL that has solutions for your problems is critical, but there are other vital factors to consider as well.
So, what are the top factors you should look for in a third-party logistics company? Here are eight things to look for in a 3PL.
1. Professional Reputation
Professional reputation is everything in the logistics world. A 3PL that has left a wake of unsatisfied customers is not one that you want to work with. Look for a 3PL that has references from not only customers, but also vendors, carriers, and employees. Those with a good reputation will be well-respected within the industry and have a better network and industry connections that can benefit you should any issues arise. You also want to look at their experience level. How long have they been in the industry? Experience can play a vital factor in how successful a 3PL is.
2. Technological Capabilities
A good 3PL provider will use technology that helps simplify the complex logistics industry. When searching for a 3PL to do business with, you want to look for a provider that can integrate with the processes and technologies that you already have in place to prevent a massive overhaul in your supply chain. The technology that your 3PL invests in should also help streamline the entire process. A 3PL should also have a good inventory management system they use. This will give you insights and important data you will need as a business owner.
It is also smart to research how much of its annual net revenues a 3PL invests in technology. This gives you a good idea of how up-to-date and efficient a 3PL might be, which is critical in providing your customers with the best service possible.
3. Customer Service
Your business will be one of many that a 3PL provider works with, but you are no less important than the other companies they provide services for. The right 3PL will establish a strong relationship with your business and give your account the attention it—and you—deserves.
Quality customer service should be top of mind as you start searching for a 3PL because those with good customer service will better help you resolve logistical problems when they pop up. Additionally, a customer-focused 3PL will help you save money and take care of your customers.
As part of good customer service, a 3PL should also be responsive to your team and handle any supply disruptions with quick communication. When talking to different 3PLs, you may want to ask them questions about how they handle supply chain problems, recalls, and errors. You will want to ask how you would contact them for support and if you will have a designated contact.
As your business continues to grow, you need your 3PL to keep up! A good 3PL partner will work to eliminate growing pains and help you scale your business more quickly. You need a third-party logistics company that will be ready to increase the volume of your products that it manages during the warehousing and fulfillment stages. While a 3PL might be able to handle your order volume now, if the goal is to grow your business, you may look for a 3PL that will be able to handle increases in order volume.
Data protection in logistics isn’t discussed often enough. It is essential that your 3PL partner takes data protection and security seriously. Your 3PL provider should have systems in place that protect important data and financial information. For the sake of your business and your peace of mind, find a 3PL that has data security certifications.
Accuracy is key in logistics. No customer is happy when they receive the wrong item or have delayed shipments. When looking for a logistics partner, you will want to find one with a strong affinity for accuracy in all facets of the supply chain. When speaking to references, you can ask about inventory, shipping, and order accuracy, as well as what the 3PL does to make things right when errors do occur. For example, Smart Warehousing’s inventory and order accuracy is 99%.
Even though the 3PL’s employees aren’t technically your employees, you want them to have a safe work environment. Safety should be top of mind for every 3PL, and you should ask any prospective 3PL partner what they do to ensure that their warehouses are safe for their employees. Your 3PL provider should also stay up to date on safety regulations to remain compliant within the industry. If you are in the food and beverage industry, you will also want to make sure they are keeping your product safe and secure.
Logistics isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution; every business has its own unique set of challenges, and your 3PL provider needs to be able to adjust and offer customized services. When it comes down to it, your fulfillment partner needs to be experienced in offering solutions that work for your company and its needs. A logistics provider should have experience with B2B, retail, and e-commerce companies, and offer solutions that are custom-tailored to each.
Many companies also have custom packaging and shipping needs, which must be met by a 3PL. When you find the right 3PL, your customers will never know that you aren’t doing everything yourself, because your partner will provide your shipments with the same attention to detail and level of service.
Smart Warehousing: Your Best 3PL Partner
At Smart Warehousing, we know it can be challenging to find a 3PL partner that works for you the same way you would. We are dedicated to meeting our clients where they need us and providing customized packages that fulfill every need our clients have.
When you work with Smart Warehousing, you will get a dedicated team of professionals that handle your logistics needs from start to finish. Our real-time warehouse information management system tells you how many of your products are in stock and when they ship out.
Working with us, you can rest assured that every last detail is covered. We have many clients who want us to use custom tape, shipping labels, inserts, and packaging, and our team meets those needs every time.
Scaling your business has never been easier. We have 38 warehouses located across the United States to provide a wider footprint for our customers and speed up shipping times, and we only expect continued growth.
Check out our 10 Questions to Ask Your 3PL Free Download to learn more about choosing the right 3PL for you!
To learn more about Smart Warehousing, contact us.