Most online retailers aren’t big enough to support their own warehousing and distribution operation, and even those that are can’t always do so profitably.
It makes sense for a lot of these businesses to choose to partner with a 3rd party logistics company. After all, they’re experts in order fulfillment services. But determining the true value of a 3PL partner can be difficult, if not impossible.
Is Your 3PL Partner Worth the Cost?
There are a few industries where it’s difficult to really nail down the value of the vendors therein. Third party fulfillment companies are in one of these gray areas.
The services they provide could certainly be brought in-house to some extent, but that would mean your company would need more space, more tech, more people, more training, more resources and more specialties under one roof.
While you may not be able to put a solid number on the value of your 3PL, here are some things to consider when judging if they’re worth having:
- Does your 3PL help you create a consistent shopping experience across all your channels? Today’s online shopper shifts rapidly from desktop to mobile and back again without blinking.
That means you have to be able to shift, too. If you have brick-and-mortar locations, that’s another front to add to the battlefield. Your 3PL should make this an easier hill to climb, not increase the complexity of the process.
- Do they ensure that your last mile deliveries are fast, flexible and flawless? Routing and rerouting shipments is well within a good 3PL’s ability, especially if there’s an identified issue up ahead.
Fast shipments are important, but those shipments have to also be flawless. Customers don’t leave room for errors, which is why the automation and additional checks that 3PLs have in place on pick, pack and ship floors are designed to make you look like a superstar.
- Are they keeping you and customers in the loop when something goes wrong with a shipment? No one wants to admit they’ve done something wrong, but when a shipment goes awry, someone has to take the blame.
It’s better to get ahead of that and act as an informant, or have your 3PL do so, keeping the customer in the loop as their troubled shipment is either replaced or tracked and rerouted to arrive at their destination asap.
The real value of a 3PL goes way beyond money only. They can make you look like you can do retail magic, with each and every shipment. A good 3rd party logistics partner is the best friend an eCommerce company can have.