Everyone is looking for ways to streamline and improve. Sometimes that means finding the right partner to make those goals a reality. For a lot of manufacturers, that looks like partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider. But understanding where to start and who to select can be a challenge.
Here is a helpful and insightful guide to help when determining which 3PL to work with and how they will impact your business for the better:
1. Find a Location that Works
The first thing to look at is if the location of the 3PL suits your needs. Is it close? Will they be able to help you address your needs faster than others based on proximity? Are they close to the majority of merchants you supply? Location can truly be everything when it comes to convenience and speed.
2. Do they Specialize in your Industry?
It’s important for your 3PL provider to understand your specific needs and industry. For example, if you’re a retail company, working with a known retail 3PL provider is a huge advantage. They will recognize industry trends, empathize with setbacks, and offer ways for you to combat them. Other 3PLs can still do this but working with someone who already knows your industry takes away any learning of industry on top of the learning curve of your specific goods.
3. Review their Services & Certifications
The location and industry specialty can be there, but if they don’t have specific services that meet your needs, it’s best to look elsewhere. Some things to consider would be:
● Do they have a cold storage if you need it?
● Is there direct rail access?
● Are they cross-docking goods?
● LTL vs. TL shipments?
● Do they offer consolidation services?
● What about picking services?
● Do the have the food, organic or other certifications you need?
4. Do they Utilize Technology or Smart Warehousing Practices?
Many 3PL providers are still finding their way to implementing different technologies. It’s important to find one that utilizes the kinds of smart warehousing you’re looking for. Are they able to provide you with GPS tracking? Can you access data on scans from anywhere, anytime? This kind of security and transparency can be vital.
5. Assess their Response Time
Last, but certainly not least, is response time. Finding a facility that can quickly and efficiently address your needs and requests is unmatched. And although you could get a slightly cheaper proposal, quality service saves you cost over time. This is especially true with food, perishables, fragile items, etc. If there’s an issue with cold storage, you need a team on your side to address it quickly to keep your product from spoilage.
4. Where to Go from Here?
If you’re in the market for a 3PL provider but don’t want to do all the leg work, ACWI can help. ACWI provides manufacturers and distributors with access to a national network of independent 3PLs who are in touch with and committed to their clients’ exact needs. We have 18 members across the nation ready to help save you time and money. Simply fill out the form and we will connect you with the right 3PL provider to fit your needs and geographic location.