Choosing The Right 3PL Partner
Choosing the right 3PL partner to outsource to is not a simple task. In fact, choosing the wrong outsourcer could delay processes, expend significant time and money, and damage your bottom line. These contracts between shipper and outsourcer are not to be taken lightly. So how do you choose the 3PL partner that is right for your company’s operations management?
Below are some questions to consider when researching a 3PL partner:
What are the services that are offered by this company?
Don’t fall into the “fancy language” trap of many transportation outsourcing companies. When you’re looking for a 3PL partner, you want a clear understanding of the services they provide. They could offer a single service or a network of bundled services that manage different parts of the supply chain.
The activities that are most frequently outsourced, according to CIPS, are domestic transportation, warehousing, and freight forwarding. Some other common services include outbound and inbound transportation, customs brokerage and clearance, contract negotiations, and freight bill auditing or payment.
Here are a few of the services we offer at all of our warehousing & distribution facilities:
Warehousing and Distribution Milwuakee Services:
- Case Pick/Open Case Pick
- Small Parcel Shipping (Fed-Ex, UPS, DHL, USPS)
- Cross Docking
- Just-in-Time (JIT)
- Retail, direct-to-consumer & business-to-business distribution.
- Contract (Dedicated) and Public (Multi-Client) facilities
- Real-time web access to inventory
- WMS with full reporting and analytics
- Cycle Counts
- Value-Added Services
- Overflow and Seasonal Warehousing
- Inventory and supply chain management
- Custom technology
- Personalized customer service
How personalized and customizable are these services?
What is giving you a headache in your operations? The purpose of outsourcing is to alleviate those headaches. Find a company with flexible and customizable services that can grow and scale in tandem with your organization.
Furthermore, does this 3PL partner have strong customer service? 73% of shippers interact with their 3PL every day. Will you be able to have a strong relationship and partnership with this company? Do they care about your growth?
Do they utilize a strong data and software system?
Third-party logistics was originally the term given to those transportation service companies that were using the internet to make freight processes more efficient. Your 3PL company should believe that data and technology are still at the crux of the supply chain. In fact, studies have shown that 3PLs using cloud technology are able to help shippers reduce costs, improve visibility, and better regulate inventory.
Your company should offer data consolidation, which is a tool that helps you manage every aspect of your supply chain whether you’re shipping FTL, LTL, parcel, international, or all of the above. Your 3PL should also have a way of tracking, analyzing, and reporting data in a consistent, usable way.
How will they enhance your efficiency?
Ask your potential 3PL their top three ways of enhancing efficiency. What sets them apart from their competitors? They should be able to have a clear answer for you that demonstrates their exact process for taking away your headaches and making your processes more effective.
What is the cost?
Of course, you should always compare costs with other 3PL providers and basic freight forwarders. How will your package of services stack up with one company versus another? Remember that a company that charges too little may not have the capacity for delivery as some of the more moderately or higher-priced providers.