As a large retailer, finding the right third-party logistics (3PL) partner is crucial to the success of your eCommerce operations. Your 3PL partner will handle everything from warehousing and shipping to returns and customer service, so it’s important to choose a company that aligns with your needs and goals.
But with so many options out there, how do you find the right 3PL partner for your business? And once you’ve found a potential partner, how do you know if they are the right fit?
In this post, we will provide 10 tips for large retailers looking for a new 3PL partner. We’ll cover everything from defining your needs and goals to evaluating the business fit of a potential 3PL. Whether you’re looking to switch 3PLs or start working with one for the first time, these tips will help you find the right partner for your business.
Tip 1: Define your needs and goals
Before you start looking for a new 3PL partner, it’s essential to take a moment to define your needs and goals for your eCommerce fulfilment clearly. Reviewing your current performance and completing a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to fulfilment and logistics is a great starting point. Within this, it’s essential to consider factors such as SLAs, costs, efficiency and customer needs.
Once complete, you will need to create an RFP or brief to document your requirements.
Tip 2: Research potential partners
Thoroughly researching potential 3PL partners is essential to finding the right fit for your business. Looking for companies with a strong presence in the industry and considering their capabilities and reputation is important, but it’s also essential to ensure they can meet your needs. While most 3PLs offer the same services, they are not always delivered in the same way. Some have set processes that may not work for your brand, while others may include costs for services you don’t require. Finding a 3PL partner that is flexible and able to meet your exact needs is essential to ensure the long-term success of your operations.
Tip 3: Request proposals and references
Once you’ve identified a few potential 3PL partners, it’s time to request proposals and references to get a sense of their capabilities and performance. Be sure to include specific questions in the proposal request, such as details on the company’s fulfilment processes, pricing, and customer service. And don’t forget to ask for references, as talking to other businesses that have worked with the company can give you valuable insights into their reputation and performance.
Tip 4: Evaluate their technology and infrastructure
In the fast-paced world of eCommerce, technology and infrastructure are vital to the success of a 3PL partnership. Be sure to evaluate the company’s warehouses, delivery partners, and IT integrations and platforms. Consider factors such as the company’s ability to scale and the suitability of their IT and reporting capabilities in relation to your systems. As a large retailer, off-the-shelf fulfilment inventory and reporting technology will likely not fulfil your needs, so don’t forget to evaluate the potential for bespoke support and recommendations.
Tip 5: Consider their customer service and support
Customer service and support are critical factors to consider when choosing a 3PL partner. When looking for a new 3PL partner, it’s important to look for a company that will be responsive, communicative and able to support you as the client.
Additionally, considering factors such as a partner’s approach to problem-solving, optimisation and account management is also key. Consider whether you would preferably work with a dedicated account manager or are you content to work with a ticket-based customer service team.
Customer reviews and testimonials can be valuable ways to gauge a company’s performance in this area.
Tip 6: Consider the cultural fit
It’s essential to pick a 3PL partner that is the right fit for you and your business. To deliver a strong partnership, you need more than just a supplier who can do the job. You need trust and a good relationship. Taking the time early on to meet and talk with the key contacts who would be responsible for your account is a great way to evaluate if you can imagine yourself working with them as an extension of your team. Conducting your search for a new supplier over email will likely result in a relationship that is just that, a client-supplier relationship. Actively engaging and building relationships will take that relationship to a whole new level and provide the potential for your supplier to become a partner with your best interests at heart.
Tip 7: Visit their operations
Visiting a supplier’s operations is an important step in deciding on a new 3PL partner. Doing so allows prospective clients to see firsthand how the supplier operates and how they handle logistics. It also allows you to meet with the supplier’s team and get a feel for their level of expertise and professionalism. By visiting the supplier’s operations, you will also better understand the supplier’s capabilities and whether they will meet the client’s needs.
Additionally, seeing the supplier’s operations allows you to ask any questions about the supplier’s processes and clarify any concerns they may have about the supplier’s ability to handle their logistics. Overall, visiting a supplier’s operations is essential to the due diligence process and can help clients make an informed decision about their 3PL partner.
Tip 8: Evaluate their growth plans
Finally, evaluating a potential provider’s growth and investment plans is an often overlooked step in deciding on a new 3PL partner. Doing so will help you to understand the provider’s long-term vision and how they plan to evolve and grow their business. It also allows you to see if the provider is committed to investing in new technology, equipment, and other resources that will enable them to better serve their clients. This is particularly important for clients looking for a 3PL partner who can scale with them as their business grows. By evaluating a potential provider’s growth and investment plans, clients can ensure that they are partnering with a 3PL provider that is well-equipped to handle their logistics needs now and in the future.
In conclusion, finding the right 3PL partner for your large retail business is crucial to the success of your eCommerce operations. By following these 10 tips, you can ensure that you find a partner that aligns with your needs and goals. From defining your needs and researching potential partners to evaluating the cultural fit of the partnership, these tips will help you level up when sourcing a new 3PL.
Remember, finding a new 3PL partner is a complex and time-consuming process, but by being strategic and thorough, you can find a partner that will help drive your business forward. If you’re still considering whether it’s time to change, check out our recent blog: Have you been thinking about changing 3PL?
Are you a large retailer looking for a reliable and efficient 3PL partner to handle your eCommerce fulfilment needs? Look no further than Synergy Retail Support! With our cutting-edge technology, experienced team, and commitment to excellent customer service, we are the perfect partner to help your business succeed. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help take your eCommerce operations to the next level.