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10 things to look for when choosing the right 3PL partner

Your business needs a strong performing third-party logistics provider (3PL) to increase your efficiency, help curb costs, and boost customer service. However, with so many 3PL providers out there, it can be hard to choose the right one. Remember, these services are not created equal, so you must take the necessary steps to assess your brand’s needs. Pay attention to the following characteristics to ensure that your 3PL partner (present or future) will deliver top-notch fulfillment service.  

1. Assess the processes 

First, do your due diligence by starting with research. Whether it’s your first time selecting a 3PL provider or you’re thinking of shifting to a new one, the goal is to look for a company with proven processes. In other words, do they have a merchant dashboard where you can see when items have been shipped? If so, what is their timeline for updating this dashboard? More on this later, but the goal here is to ensure that you have each 3PL walk you through their process for shipping an item so you not only understand how it works but can ensure that they are solid in their processes.

In addition, they must have the right resources to integrate with the marketplaces you use most (Shopify, BigCommerce, Amazon, etc.). For instance, Deliverr has hassle-free integration, allowing you to send unlimited inventory to just one location even if that inventory is being sold on different platforms. In addition, they will distribute from a place that’s closest to your buyer, known as “localized inventory”, assuring fast delivery to your customers.  

2. Evaluate their range of offerings 

It’s essential to assess what your 3PL provider can offer your brand. The more offerings they have to address your needs, the more seamless and scalable your operations will be. For example, 

  • Apart from standard shipping, Deliverr allows you to take advantage of Fast Tags: Service Level Agreements (SLAs) shown to shoppers on product details pages so they can receive orders in 1, 2, or 3 days. Merchants that enable fast shipping badges on their product detail pages see a 34% increase in sales, on average.
  • If you offer a “100% satisfaction or your money back,” then be sure the 3PL takes care of returns for you. 
  • If you need to ship a product that must be temperature controlled, this isn’t something that every 3PL is capable of doing, so it’s important to discuss this need before signing a contract.

Working with a partner that can customize a solution to meet your needs should be a top priority, so this is the time to stand up for what you want and see what creative solutions are offered.

3. Check out the type of technology used 

One of the things you have to ensure is that your potential 3PL partner has robust technology. They should be able to provide you with advanced technology solutions to efficiently handle and track your inventory. Even if your business is small right now, you still want access to sophisticated tech because hopefully your goal is to grow in the future. In other words, you want a dashboard to help improve transparency, and that dashboard needs to be intuitive, so ask to see this before signing on with a 3PL.

To illustrate, Deliverr provides real-time and end-to-end of your inventory and orders for both you and your customers. On top of that, you get access to live chat or email, ensuring swift replies. 

4. Watch out for easy scalability 

When you outsource fulfillment operations, you are working in a shared-space environment. Thus, your provider must learn to balance the needs of your multiple customers and the demands of your business due to the changes in the market. Your 3PL partner must meet peak requirements without you having to pay extra for permanent space, labor, or equipment. A good partner can help you scale operations to accommodate your business needs without breaking the bank (more on this below)

5. Work with a partner that doesn’t break the bank 

As a business owner, every penny counts because all of this will affect your bottom line. Thus, it would help to have a reputable 3PL partner that helps you leverage postponement strategies. This, in turn, will allow you to optimize inventory while continually delivering excellent service. You cut production and inventory carrying costs when building to order instead of keeping stocks. 

As an example, Deliverr offers simple, transparent, and affordable prices. You can pay just two rates—fulfillment and storage. Typically 50% less than your 2-day and 15% less than your standard fulfillment costs. No fees for inbounds, DAS, split shipping, or integrations. 

6. Align on values 

Working with a 3PL partner means putting a large aspect of your business operations in someone else’s hands. As such, you need a partner you can trust. Look for a fulfillment provider whose culture and values are compatible with your brand. Even more so, it’s important to ensure they understand your company’s supply chain priorities and can provide a high level of communication at every step of the fulfillment process. Sharing data must be done seamlessly to avoid glitches.  

7. Prioritize a 3PL that commits to continuous improvement 

In other words, do they have accessible and quality customer service? You can only excel if your fulfillment partner is also driven towards this goal. This will manifest in terms of quality management and the solutions they offer. Checking out past reviews for the 3PL’s you’re researching is almost always going to be a great place to really assess their customer service (see some of Deliverr’s reviews below).

On top of that, you must select an ally that is consistently working towards improvements as everything in the business climate changes radically. Remember, you cannot work with empty promises when it comes to fulfillment. You need facts and figures of proven success stories.  

8. Evaluate omnichannel expertise 

Omnichannel retail is no longer an option but a necessity for eCommerce businesses. You need to employ this to expand your brand’s reach. Therefore, you need a 3PL provider that comprehends the nuances of omnichannel commerce. Additionally, you must work with a team that can handle this without compromising on the customer experience. As such, it’s critical to work with a reputable partner that has the following: 

  • A tried and tested business model
  • Replicable systems for various channels
  • Proven performance
  • Experience with your industry 

9. Verify if they maintain a network of locations 

An effective 3rd-party logistics provider utilizes a strategic approach. You can count on them to configure solutions and help you determine the best distribution locations that are optimal for your current and future business needs. As such, your prospective partner must have a strong network of facilities with very convenient and robust locations. These locations will open up new opportunities for you and satisfy more clients. Learn more about how this works and why this matters here, and check out Deliverr’s locations below: 

10. Determine the stability of the provider 

Finally, you must check out the stability of your future provider. When you partner up with someone, you entrust them with your brand. It is crucial to work with a fulfillment partner with a track record of success. A few questions to ask during your initial interviews include:

  • Do they continue to invest in facilities?
  • Do they keep improving their systems?
  • Do they maintain and update equipment and technology? In what ways?
  • Do they curate an updated blog and help center?

You can check out more questions to ask a potential 3PL here.

The Bottom Line

Working with the right fulfillment partner will make it possible to hit your business goals. If you want optimal logistics solutions, you need a 3PL provider with a wealth of knowledge of the industry’s best practices and current trends. Be careful in choosing who you align your brand with—when a provider doesn’t have quality processes, your business will suffer in the end. Never compromise on quality and work with a reputable brand that can deliver results! 

If you’re interested in working with Deliverr as your 3PL or have questions about how it might work, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team here!

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