The 3rd party logistics (3PL) partner you choose today can have long-term effects on your company’s health and growth.
That’s why it’s vital that you know what to look for in order to find a 3PL that will meet your needs today and tomorrow. Being data-driven is vital for any 3PL company, so before you take another step, ensure that your new partner can provide you with loads of data about your products, your shipments and your reverse logistics.
Here are three more characteristics to examine closely:
- Average customer size. 3PLs vary widely in how much storage they require and how big the individual materials are that they ship. This is why it’s so important to know what size customers your 3PL tends to work with and how well they’re equipped for expansion.
For example, if a 3PL usually works with medium sized companies and has the room to allow for seasonal warehouse expansion for each of them, they might be a poor choice for a very large company who ships more units daily than the other clients combined. Alternatively, a very small company could get lost in the shuffle if a 3PL tends to work with giant accounts only.
- Product specialization. Not every product requires expert handling, but those that do shouldn’t be managed by anyone else. Cosmetics, sensitive chemicals and electronics are just a few examples. Cosmetics expire, so a proper rotation schedule is vital, as is knowing when each and every box is set to go off.
Sensitive chemicals may require special certifications and specially designed areas to keep both workers and products safe. Electronics are frequently returned, meaning that your 3PL will need to be equipped to check the devices, refurbish those that can be refurbished and recycle the rest.
- Your business has specific markets in mind that you’d ultimately like to touch. Whether that’s Texas or Tanzania, your 3rd party logistics company should be able to get you there. For local or national customers, look for distribution centers that are centrally located, so your products can all be together in one place and sent almost anywhere in no time.
Your international customers will often be better served by fulfillment companies on coasts, where ports are readily accessible, or by companies that have overseas locations in the markets you want to enter.
Your ideal 3PL partner will be able to help you reach your goals today and tomorrow, no matter what those happen to be. By matching your needs to the right sized warehouses filled with employees trained to handle your products and in locations that can provide delivery at the speed of sound, there’s no telling how far your eCommerce business can go.