What’s the best way to go about choosing a 3PL? When it comes to meeting the expectations of your customers and making sure your products are getting from point A to point B without a hitch, don’t risk it by working with just any 3PL. There are a lot of options to choose from, and it’s not a process to be taken lightly or something you want to take a shortcut on. Do your research to find the right fit, look for a provider that will meet your specific business’s needs along with the ability to grow with your company. Find out how to choose the best 3PL for your business to help your company thrive.
Research 3PLs First
It’s probably no surprise that researching and comparing 3PLs is at the top of the list for anyone wanting to find the right partner for their supply chain. Any 3PL can help you ship your products, but what makes a 3PL stand out are the additional shipping solutions that they can provide.
Look for a 3PL that can best address your specific needs. Some of the things to look for are the ability to connect you with multiple carriers, help you source capacity, offers freight consolidation services, has carriers with specialties in different freight modes, offers a variety of equipment and special services and has been in the industry for a long time. A shipping partner who is established, reliable and can forge a professional, personal connection between your business and theirs sets the great 3PLs apart from the good ones.
Also, ask yourself a few questions to decide what exactly you’ll need from a 3PL. Outline your goals and objectives:
- Are you looking to lower your shipping costs?
- Is your business outgrowing its current fulfillment processes?
- Do you need more efficient access to specialized freight services?
- Are you shipping in large quantities to the same location often?
Depending on how many of these questions you said yes to, you can better understand what you should expect from partnering with a 3PL and decide which one can serve you best.
You know how vitally important customer service is, and you want to make sure your 3PL lines up with the same values and takes customer service seriously, too. That goes for both when things go right and when things go wrong. Look for a 3PL that makes customer service a priority at every level of the business.
- How responsive is the 3PL to customer service issues?
- Does the 3PL communicate clearly?
- Is the 3PL good at problem solving?
Having that “human touch” is important when doing business with a 3PL. If a shipment is lost or experiencing delays during transit, you want someone who’s monitoring the shipment for you and has the know-how to coordinate and guide everyone in the right direction. Service is just as important to shippers these days as price. Don’t settle for just one or the other.
3PL Stability and Scalability
The shipping and logistics industry can be complex and confusing, even for pro shippers. You want to have a 3PL on your side that has a track record of stability in the industry. That means you want your 3PL to understand the ins and outs of freight shipping and logistics, have shipping experts on call to answer your questions or help you with your shipping needs and provide you with the latest transportation management system (TMS) technology in the business.
- How long has the 3PL been in business?
- Does the 3PL partner with multiple carriers to meet their customers’ needs?
- What kind of technology does the 3PL use and do you get access to it?
- Does the 3PL offer additional resources, such as step-by-step instructions?
Additionally, you want a 3PL that can scale their processes and operations as your business grows. Even though you’re working to grow your business, there will likely be up and down times. No matter the reason, demand might change or as we’ve seen this year, disruptions happen, you need a 3PL that can scale up or down but most importantly is capable of growing with you.
Take Your Shipping to the Next Level
Whether you need basic or complex shipping services or you have a need for alternative shipping solutions, you need a 3PL partner that can do it all. FreightCenter is a 3PL that offers a variety of freight shipping services, alternative solutions, innovative technology, industry expertise and over 20 years of experience. Don’t settle for a 3PL that can’t meet your needs.