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Finding The Best 3PL For Your Online Business (Part 1 of 2)

This is part one in a two-part series. Read part two here.

Making changes to how you do business, whether that means introducing a new procedure or teaming up with a new partner, can be difficult for any company.

If your eCommerce or catalog sales have outpaced your ability to fulfill them, though, it’s definitely time to start looking outside of your own company for help. Finding the best 3rd party logistics companies (3PLs) requires you to look at your own business practices, as well as those of the company you’ll be working with.

Before you interview any 3PLs, it’s important to know what you’re looking for in key areas like:

Warehousing. Do you need a little bit of space once in a while to help even out seasonal peaks or are you looking to replace a full warehouse facility? It’s important to hire a company that has adequate warehouse space, as well as locations spread across your target market — the closer the warehouse, the faster the customer gets their order, after all.

Order fulfillment. How many days are you spending packing orders before you even send them out? If you’re so backlogged that you need more than a day to get a box packed, you should seriously consider outsourcing all your fulfillment to the same place. Your software will instantly send orders to the packing floor of a 3PL, speeding up processing times.

Shipping. If you ship a lot, chances are good that you’re spending a small fortune in this area. Letting a 3PL handle the shipping means not only more free time for you, but better rates for your customers, as well as faster delivery.

Reverse logistics. Many companies hate dealing with returns, putting them off as long as possible to avoid the unpleasant situations they can be. A 3PL has experienced people on staff who will handle your returns with a smile, giving your customers confidence that you’ll always deal with their problems promptly.

Customer service. Do you really have the time to answer the phone these days? If your time is better spent marketing, networking or sourcing products, it’s time to turn that customer service job over to a 3PL. They’ll only charge you for the time you use, and are usually much cheaper than hiring an employee.

When you’re trying to find the best 3PL for your online business, it’s important to understand where your weaknesses lie. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to locate a 3PL that’s perfectly situated to fill in your trouble areas. We’ll discuss this more in part two of this two part series.

This is part one in a two-part series. Read part two here.

 

May 21, 2015
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