Business is booming, customer demand is up and you’re getting infinitely busier—which is great! But as you grow, you may find that some of the systems and processes you’ve had in place up until now are no longer sufficient—particularly when it comes to your fulfillment operations. Does your existing 3PL provider have the capability and expertise to accommodate your changing needs as you scale your business? If not, it may be time to evaluate a new partner.
With so many options to choose from that boast a range of services and expertise, how do you know which one is right for your evolving business? Not all 3PL partners are created equal; what might be right for one business may not be right for yours.
Here are five things to consider when evaluating your next 3PL partner:
Beyond the obvious logistics offerings, such as storage, picking, packing, and shipping, what else does the 3PL offer? Do they employ inventory storage logic that ensures you’re not spending more than you need to on storage? Do they offer high touch pack outs if your brand requires it? Can they handle production, kitting, and assembly projects? Are they equipped to deliver actionable insights, real-time reporting and forecasting guidance? Do they offer omnichannel support that aligns with the high expectations of today’s marketplace? Look for a 3PL that’s not just a vendor, but a strategic partner who will support your growth goals.
Whether you’re shipping around the corner, throughout the U.S. or internationally, your ideal operations partner will offer a breadth of options that can accommodate a range of needs. Ask them how fast they can ship your orders, and whether or not they offer same- or next-day delivery options. Do they provide drop shipping solutions to ship products directly to your customers? Find out if they support free shipping promotions with low-cost transportation, and, if applicable, whether they can accommodate your international shipping needs.
Look for a provider that has extensive experience partnering with similar businesses to yours. A 3PL that is operationally geared towards your business model—and knows how your business works—will be equipped to do more than expertly meet your warehousing, fulfillment, packaging and shipping needs; they’ll also be more likely to offer strategic guidance to support your business’s growth goals.
Without a strong process for returns management, you run the risk of excessive returns processing time, upsetting your customers, damaging loyalty, and potentially losing their business. Be sure to partner with a 3PL that has a strong returns management practices in place for a seamless and expeditious returns process.
In today’s e-commerce environment, almost every process is dependent on the seamless flow of data and a strong IT foundation. Pay close attention to the technology used by potential 3PL partners. Your ideal partner should offer technology-driven order fulfillment services that include inventory tracking, forecasting capabilities, return updates, multichannel support and real-time reporting and visibility.
As your logistics operations grow more complex and evolve with your business, you need a 3PL partner that can optimize your logistics and fulfillment services to fuel business growth. With Dotcom, you don’t just get a logistics and fulfillment provider—you get a true distribution partner that understands your business and will do whatever it takes to ensure your success. Contact our fulfillment experts today to get started.