For those attempting to scale a business, there are many benefits to outsourcing your shipping and warehousing needs to a third party logistics provider. 3PLs are experts at providing the operational efficiencies and expertise that you need, and they can often provide these tasks at a cheaper rate than you could do on your own.
What to Look for in a 3PL?
While partnering with a 3PL may be an excellent decision for your company, it isn’t one that should be taken lightly. The provider that you choose needs to be a good match for your growth plans and fit the values and purpose of your brand. These warehousing and distribution logistics companies usually require a contract, which is why you really need to know what you are looking for when making your decision.
Here are a few things you should consider when you are vetting the national 3PL companies.
When choosing a 3PL, you want to make sure that they will be able to grow with you as you do. That means they need to have a scalable presence. If your business is small at the moment, you might think that a 3PL with small operation is sufficient. However, when your business changes or grows, you’ll likely encounter the need to find a new 3PL that is able to keep pace.
Cross Docking Capability
Depending on your company needs, you may want to consider a 3PL cross docking services provider. Cross-docking is different than warehousing as the inventory doesn’t sit in a storage facility. The shipping process is timed precisely. The incoming truck brings the goods to the cross docking warehouse, and then those goods are switched over to an outgoing shipping truck. There is very little hold time in the warehouse
This is often a lower cost option because your inventory doesn’t spend time sitting in the costly square footage of a warehouse.
When it comes to integration, there are a few areas that need to be considered. You need to think about your needs as a whole. What and where do you need your 3PL to be able to integrate with your company.
For instance, you may need your 3PL to pair up with your delivery network, or you may need your 3PL to integrate with the shopping cart function on your inventory management software or even via an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool. Whatever needs your company has, you need to address them with your desired 3PL to make sure that it can provide the level of service that you require.
Technology changes fast in the modern world, and it is important that your 3PL has the capabilities and the IT strategy in place that will allow it to keep up.
Another option to consider is distributed inventory. This is a process by which your 3PL strategically places your goods or products in different warehouses or distribution centers. This enables the products to reach the customers in a much shorter amount of time, and with efficient costs.
Your customers in all parts of the country can get their products in roughly the same amount of shipping time when using a distributed inventory system. This system can also be beneficial because it can lower transportation costs from the warehouse to the customer.
If you’re looking for a fulfilment solution to take your business to the next level. There’s a lot to consider, so take your time and find the perfect partner to help you grow.
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