Not only do you need to determine the best physical locations for warehousing and distribution, it’s important that you make the right choice the first time to save the money and man-hours involved in making the switch.
Questions You Need to Ask Before Choosing a 3PL:
When you think about the questions you need to ask before choosing a 3PL, who do you imagine that you’re asking first? Before you approach your first 3PL, you need to ask yourself a few important questions. After all, if you don’t know what you want in a 3PL, how will you find the one that’s going to make your company really stand out?
Take the time it takes to answer these questions for yourself:
Why do I need a new 3PL? Even if it’s your first 3PL experience, it’s a valid question. Why do you need one, what do you expect to get from the relationship?
Business services are notorious for being just specialized enough that no one really knows what the other does, not really. Do you want a company that can handle your warehousing and distribution on your behalf? Or do you really just want someone to mail your packages?
What are my goals for my 3PL relationship? 3PLs can bring speed, convenience, returns handling and other concrete benefits to companies like yours. If you don’t know what you need, though, it’s hard to find someone who can provide it. Like any company, some 3PLs are more focused on different areas of the supply chain.
Has my business been collecting enough information to document things like order processes, production costs and customer requirements? A potential 3PL is going to want to know what you’re already doing so they have a place to start.
If you run your company on internal shorthand or update a spreadsheet whenever you have the time, you should step back and work a little bit on the documentation before contacting a 3PL. Otherwise, you may see cost overruns and a reduction in the kind of efficiency you had hoped to gain.
An honest assessment of your business and its shipping needs is really the first step. Before you make your long (or short) list of 3PLs, really dive into your needs and reasons for wanting to contract with a 3PL. This is the very best way to find a company that can meet and exceed your needs for years and years to come.