4 Questions to Ask Your 3PL!

Ask your 3PL

Working with a 3PL can be an excellent option for organizations that want to streamline their supply chain and unburden themselves of duties and expenses that they are not equipped to handle in-house.

Of course with a lot of third party providers out there, you need to take the time to compare and contrast competing partners before you come to a decision.

To help you with this process, here are just three questions to ask your 3PL which will sort the most suitable 3PLs from the rest of the field.

What experience do you have with other companies in my industry?

When choosing a third party logistics provider, knowing that they understand the ins and outs of the industry you occupy is incredibly helpful.

There may be some sector-specific challenges involved in the storage and transportation of goods and inventory which you’ll want your 3PL to be familiar with. Otherwise you open up the potential for mistakes to be made, or inefficiencies to crop up along the way.

Phrasing the question like this is ideal for assessing prospective 3PLs, because if they answer in the affirmative then they should be able to give examples of the other businesses they have worked with in the past.

If, on the other hand, they have limited or no experience of your industry, it will give them the opportunity to prove that they have looked into the unique obstacles you face, or reveal themselves as less than ideal.

Are your services scalable?

If all goes well, your business will grow and your logistics services will need to grow along with it. On the flip side, if demand slows and you don’t need the same capacities as during peak periods, a scaling back of your logistics makes sense.

A 3PL that is capable of scaling with the needs of its clients is desirable in either scenario. It means that you are never going to over-pay for services and storage space you don’t need, or be bottlenecked when demand spikes and you have to up the ante.

It’s all about balancing supply and demand, and being able to do this in harmony with your logistics provider. The seasonal peaks and troughs of the retail sector are relevant in this context, although other industries have their own issues of scalability to consider and ask questions about.

Do you have service quality and consistency guarantees?

One of the reasons that some businesses may be hesitant to outsource their logistics to a third party is because of the possibility for their brand reputation to be damaged by a partner firm that falls short of the standards it sets.

To counteract this concern, plenty of 3PLs will give clients guarantees regarding the quality of the service they offer, as well as a means to make amends in the event that they do not meet these standards.

So if the wrong items are packed and sent out to customers, rather than passing this cost on to you, a good 3PL will take steps to rectify the error and preserve both your budget and your reputation.

Can you recover from downtime quickly?

Downtime is a costly complication in any industry, and if it impacts logistic providers then the knock-on effects can be disastrous.

Knowing that a 3PL has the systems and contingencies in place to allow it to get back up and running in the event of an outage will give your company peace of mind, because once again it is your reputation that is on the line if customers are disappointed in the service for any reason.

Ask your 3PL article and permission to publish here provided by Cristina Par. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on March 4, 2022.

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