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Enhance your business's 3PL partnership. Allocate a dedicated team, maintain regular communication, and leverage analytics & strategy to maximize results. Partner with Smart Warehousing for a strategic logistics and fulfillment solution. Contact us today!
Smart WarehousingOct 13, 2023 12:33:00 PM4 min read

Four Ways To Establish a Successful Relationship With a 3PL

E-commerce runs the world. We’re serious. It has transformed how we research products, shop, and even live. And in today’s on-demand culture, customers want their orders to arrive in perfect condition and faster than ever before – all thanks to the rise of e-commerce. 

As a business owner or manager, it’s pivotal to cultivate a strong relationship with your third-party logistics provider (3PL) to ensure you’re meeting consumer expectations and creating forward momentum for your business. Maximizing your results often relies on the relationship you’ve established, how regularly you communicate, and the strategy you’ve implemented to drive your success. The goal is to ensure you’re leveraging all the tools and resources your 3PL has to offer. 

Here are four ways to establish a relationship with – and get the most out of – your 3PL.


Allocate a Team To Handle Your 3PL Partnership

While outsourcing your logistics will alleviate all the heavy lifting associated with warehousing and transportation activities, it still requires managing. Think about it: would you hire a wedding planner to coordinate your big day without actively communicating your wants, desires, and intended outcome? Hint: not likely. Otherwise, you’d risk ending up with decor that’s not your style, music you wouldn’t be caught dead listening to, or food that makes you lose your appetite. 

A common reason why outsourcing to a 3PL can fail is by neglecting to allocate the resources needed to manage the relationship adequately. For this reason, many companies will introduce a manager or team specifically designed to collaborate with their 3PL partner. 

Areas that this individual or team would oversee include:

  • Planning and Organization: From establishing business goals to setting deadlines to managing workflow, your company must play an active role in what needs to be done, by when, and by whom. Planning and staying organized is important to creating a cohesive supply chain. 
  • Regular Communication: Business priorities constantly shift, meaning your strategy and approach to certain initiatives will also change. Ensuring your needs are met and operations continue running smoothly requires your business to regularly communicate with, and relay all this information to, your 3PL. 
  • Analytics & Strategy: A big piece of driving success relies on collaborating with your 3PL to establish and monitor KPIs. This type of data is crucial for identifying weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. Staying on top of these metrics can mean the difference between successfully handling seasonal fluctuation and completely dropping the ball (i.e., losing precious business). 

Let’s dive further into these areas and why they’re vital to establishing an effective relationship with a 3PL.


Bring Your Vision to Life: Planning & Organizing

To derive the most value from your 3PL, you should treat the partnership as a strategic extension of your business. A significant component of this requires sharing priorities, business objectives, and even long-term plans. Providing your 3PL with a comprehensive look into your needs and goals is crucial for developing a strong and scalable strategy that can drive long-term results. 

Think of your 3PL as a problem solver invested in helping your company overcome challenges and move closer to hitting its goals. Providing your 3PL with these insights will offer them the context needed to develop the right strategy for your business. And the reality is, why wouldn’t you leverage a 3PL’s creativity and experience to overcome your biggest hurdles? 


Talking Logistics: Regular Communication

As tempting as it may be, you wouldn’t just sign on the dotted line and then cross your fingers that your logistics needs are carried out seamlessly moving forward. For the relationship to truly be effective, you’ll need to communicate with your 3PL regularly. Why? Because it ensures everything from daily activities to your fulfillment strategy syncs up with your business’s priorities. 

To keep everything running smoothly, you should work together with your 3PL to pencil in recurring meetings. These meetings offer a valuable way to address a myriad of needs – from workflow issues and forecasted order volumes to upcoming projects and product offerings. You may also want to consider holding quarterly strategic reviews to discuss big-picture initiatives, like penetrating a new marketplace or implementing a new sales strategy. By doing so, your 3PL can help you make data-backed decisions and suggest innovative solutions to help satisfy changing needs. 


The Data Doesn’t Lie: Analytics & Strategy

Establishing and monitoring KPIs is vital to measuring your performance and the success of your partnership with your 3PL. The right 3PL partner will have a data-driven warehouse management system (WMS) in place that provides operational visibility, forecasting metrics, inventory insights, and more. From your customer service to your revenue, evaluating metrics that can ultimately improve your business and drive tangible results is important. Once you have KPIs in place, your 3PL will work with you to positively influence those numbers. 


Maximize Results With the Right 3PL Partner

Sure, you can align with a 3PL provider that goes through the motions of picking, packing, and shipping your orders. Or, you can partner with a 3PL that thinks and acts like an extension of your team, always striving to improve performance and deliver maximum value. By establishing a strong relationship with your 3PL partner, you can gain the competitive edge you need to take your business to new heights. 

At Smart Warehousing, we have the experience, technology, and know-how to help your business approach logistics and fulfillment strategically – helping overcome hurdles, drive customer loyalty, and improve your bottom line. Contact us today to learn more about how the Smart Warehousing team can help your business thrive.