Questions To Ask Potential Third Party Logistics (3PL) Companies
When you’re shopping around for the best third party logistics company for your business, there’s more on the line than just the bottom line.
After all, the cheapest companies may provide horrible customer service, can be slow to ship or create other unforeseeable headaches for your business.
So before you take the plunge, make sure you ask your potential 3PL provider these questions:
Do you offer custom order fulfillment services? There’s nothing worse than a 3PL that believes all its clients can be managed exactly the same. When you’re dealing with unique products and customers, you have a right to expect individual attention tailored to your business.
What services besides product fulfillment do you offer? Some 3PLs offer printing services, direct mail services and other services to meet your specific needs. A company that can do more than stuff an item in a box and ship it off is a company designed to help you make money.
How does your pick, pack and ship process work? “PPS” should be something that is well understood by everyone at a 3PL company. Ask to observe the PPS process or at least be walked through it — if it seems disordered or your contact isn’t sure how things work on the floor, there are likely more serious communication problems in the background.
How will you manage my reverse logistics? Returns and unhappy customers are facts of life in business, it’s how you handle them that really makes the difference for your company. Make sure the company that will be taking over your customer service truly understands what it is that makes your customers happy and how far you’re willing to go to keep your reputation intact.
Do you have any customer testimonials available? A worthwhile 3PL will have lots of satisfied customers who are more than happy to talk them up to potential new clients. Read any written testimonials you can get and call customers to ask about the level of service the 3PL provides. Ultimately, you also want to see financials with at least enough detail to be certain how the 3PL you’re considering hiring affected the happy customer’s bottom line.
Choosing a Third Party Logistics company to handle all your day-to-day packing, shipping and customer service calls can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never hired one before. If you’re careful to interview each potential company and not to rush into a contract before you’re certain, you’ll find you’ve got more time to expand your business while your new 3PL handles all the details.