Choosing a Third-Party Logistics Partner
If you’re an eCommerce business that ready to scale, a third-party logistics provider offers you the means to do so successfully. A 3pl will have the infrastructure you need to reduce the costs of your operation. Not only that, they’ll also be able to make efficiency savings on transport, storage and shipping. But are they the right growth partner for your business?
How do you choose the right 3pl?
Choosing a 3pl is about more than the immediate savings they can deliver. As a partner to your business, you also need them to be a good fit for your culture, your growth plans, and your way of doing business. Your 3pl partner should be proficient in both the short-term sprint, and the long-distance marathon. Prolog Fulfilment has compiled 5 questions that are critical for eCommerce brands to consider when making their choice.
- Does This 3pl Have the Technology I Need?
- What Expertise Do Staff Have?
- What Are The Value-Adds They Can Provide?
- How Do They Do On Metrics?
- Can They Grow With Me?
1. Does This 3pl Have the Technology I Need?
What standard of service can a 3pl offer your customers? It depends on the sophistication of their tech, and their consistent investment in innovation. For an eCommerce brand, the tech a 3pl uses will be the heartbeat of their future success, so check two things very carefully before making your decision:
- Will the tech used by a 3pl integrate seamlessly with your own systems?
- What level of investment does the 3pl make annually in customer-facing tech innovations?
2. What Expertise Do Staff Have?
When you’re considering a partnership with a 3pl, it’s not just the infrastructure that should be on offer. The value in partnering with a third party also resides in the expertise that their staff and management team can bring to the table. If their industry knowledge is patchy, or not readily available to you, it leaves a gap which can impact your business.
- Ask about the onboarding process, and the role account managers play. How often are reviews scheduled?
- Talk to employees about the work they do. Do they seem knowledgeable, motivated?
3. What Are The Value-Adds They Can Provide?
The 3pls to look out for are those that are able to discuss trends and innovations in their industry. They’re the ones that have a peer knowledge network which offers insights, updates, and facilitates networking for clients. They’re attending large-scale events where they meet up with industry experts , and they’re able to offer a range of value-adds as a result:
- Sustainable solutions related to your supply chain.
- Packaging and design solutions.
- Global fulfilment solutions.
- Returns management and customer facing services.
- Kitting and co-packing.
4. How Do They Do On Metrics?
Have a set of questions up your sleeve that relate to the key metrics for your business. Compare the responses you get from each 3pl you talk to as part of your decision-making process. The ‘look and feel’ of a potential partner for your business is important, but so are the metrics that matter to your success. You may want to ask:
- If a products recalled, how do you identify its location?
- How quickly are you able to respond to a change in order destination, or order volume change?
- How do you manage stock rotation parameters?
- What evidence to you provide of ongoing cost and process efficiencies?
5. Can They Grow With Me?
It’s not enough to know that your 3pl can handle your current requirements efficiently; they also need to be able to manage both spikes, and rapid and sustained growth requiring adaptations of scale. Take the time to talk through your planning and forecasting in detail with any proposed partner. Ask them to provide an equally detailed response in terms of workforce and support.
Are You Ready to Scale?
If you’re an eCommerce business that’s at the stage of needing a 3pl partner who can offer the infrastructure, expertise, and range of value-added services you need to scale, we’d love to talk. Prolog has an established fulfilment centre, located in the heart of the UK, with flexible warehousing and a trained, highly motivated workforce.
If you would like to take a look at our fulfilment centre, meet our 3pl team, and talk through what it is you require from a 3pl partner, do get in touch. Then, if Prolog feels like the right partner for your business, we’ll proceed at your pace to work alongside you in order to achieve a seamless switch.