Outsourcing some—or all—of your order fulfillment with a 3PL supplier is, ideally, a great way to let the professionals handle things. You’ll be able to better concentrate on running your business and making your customers happy.
But, do you know what you’re doing?
Starting and running your business is one thing, but handing off a big part of it to someone else outside of your business is another. It can be a great help, or it can be a nightmare. Successful outsourcing involves careful planning and understanding what you need to know before handing off a big part of your business. It may take a little longer and more effort, but the long-term benefits of choosing the right 3PL vendor will make a big difference.
Interviewing A 3PL Company
Like anything you bring into your business, you want to know what you’re getting yourself into. No two 3PL companies are the same. Start by asking questions, and ask about how each company’s processes will work for your business. Some may claim to have everything you need in one place, but you won’t know until you ask.
Here are seven questions that can help you get a better idea of what a 3PL company can do for your business.
1. How will you meet my company’s e-commerce needs? A number of 3PL companies that work with ecommerce companies. But because ecommerce is fairly new, there are some who haven’t been doing it that long. Understanding what they can do for ecommerce will go a long way in determining what they can do specifically for your company, and how they handle everyday things.
2. What kind of service guarantee do you offer? Guarantees have become the norm for 3PL companies, and a good 3PL will put that in writing for you. It should include the speed of your order shipment, and what the company will do if something goes wrong.
3. Will your technology integrate with my website? Moving orders from a customer’s shopping cart to their order management system should be simple and seamless. If that’s not possible, there should also be a way to manually enter or batch upload your company’s orders.
4. Is online access to my account available? An order fulfillment provider should give you the opportunity to view your inventory, charges, order information and other important data through an online web portal. Ideally, you should also be able to access multiple forms of reports for your company.
5. What shipping companies do you use? Do you pass along any savings? While most use the Post Office, FedEx, and UPS for parcel shipments, they should have at least two available in case there is a service interruption, as well as multiple trucking and LTL companies. Since 3PL companies are considered aggregate shippers, FedEx and UPS frequently give them discounts. If you ask, and they decline, ask if they will use your own shipping number with the carrier.
6. Do you require a service contract or a long-term commitment? It may sound like a great idea to lock down a company’s services—but what happens if that company doesn’t perform the way you’d hoped? Many contracts have early termination clauses, but most will come with fees that add up quickly. Investigate your options and ask for a full disclosure of the contract. Best option: a month-to-month or short-term renewable contract.
7. Can you provide references from your clients who have businesses similar to mine? Just like an interview for a new hire, ask for references. The best clients to talk to are the ones who are similar businesses or have the same types of supply chain needs. You’ll be able to ask questions about more specific concerns
Ask More Questions
Of course, these are just some questions to start with and help you find common ground with companies who you can work with. As you talk with 3PL providers, you’ll get a better feel for how they operate, how they can help, and how they will work with your company.
The 3PL you select should always seek to improve your current logistics and serve as a smooth, continuous part of your internal operations team.
California’s Leader For 3PL
With headquarters and facilities in Rancho Cucamonga, Los Angeles is an hour away, and Palm Springs 90 minutes. Your shipments are hand-scanned into our state-of-the-art facility. From well-known vendors like Walmart and Amazon to companies like StitchLabs and New Egg, 3PL Worldwide has California companies covered with the home field advantage.
Interested in talking to us? Contact us at (888) 456-1920 or use our online contact form.