5 Things You Need To Know When Selecting a 3PL Provider

If you have an online store or ecommerce business chances are you might have thought about using a 3PL (third party logistics provider) or more commonly known as a fulfilment centre to speed up operations. If you haven’t heard of one before, it is essentially a company that handles all of your warehousing and order requirements (picking, packing, shipping). You might already have a 3PL partner and maybe you’re thinking about the longevity of the working partnership. Either way, here are 5 things you need to know when selecting a 3PL provider.

Ask Questions

It might sound obvious but ask questions. Lots of questions. What industries does the 3PL provider specialise in? How many clients have they got? What is their client retention rate? What technologies and software do they use? What marketplace API's do they use? Shopify fulfilment, TikTok shop fulfilment? Can they support in Amazon FBA? More importantly, how much does it cost?

Most 3PL’s/fulfilment centres are very transparent when it comes to cost but if you speak to a provider and they are a bit iffy about disclosing pricing information then that is a huge red flag to steer clear of them. You want to make sure the 3PL you’re dealing with is going to be the right fit for the growth of your business.

The Best Time to Sign Up with a 3PL

It depends when you need it. If it is a decision that you’ve been considering for a while or if you’re thinking of switching providers here in the UK, the month of August actually presents the best strategic opportunity. Many people are on holiday and ecommerce experiences a bit of a lull, so it's a nice period to sign up both from an ecommerce seller’s POV and from a 3PL’s POV. It’s definitely to sign up before the storm of Q4 or peak season hits.

Geographical Coverage & Shipping

Make sure the 3PL can deliver your orders nationally and internationally and find out which couriers they use. This may be a factor to consider especially in regards to your brand uniformity. If you’re styling your brand as a luxury goods then you want to ensure the 3PL can not only safeguard your business in terms of premium shipping and courier services.

Scalability

What does this mean? Well think about your own ecommerce business. Do you want to grow and scale your business? Meaning do you want to make more sales and more money? Will you be looking to expand your product range? Will you be looking to boost your marketing costs? It’s important to choose a 3PL that accommodates your future growth plans and to also find out what their scalability plans are too. If they get bigger as a company and you are still only doing 30 - 40 orders a week, will that 3PL still look to keep you as a valued client. We’ve seen it here in the UK news, that Amazon is increasingly pushing out smaller and independent sellers. Side note but we highly advise all of our clients to grow their businesses across a number of marketplaces as possible.

Customer Service

Last but not least customer service. Yes this goes for 3PL’s too. You are buying their services so you want to make sure that you choose a provider that has good to great customer service. Say you need to amend an urgent order and you’re having trouble accessing your WMS account (warehouse management system), do you know what the best ways of getting in contact with the customer support team are? Does the 3PL have a reliable point of contact? Do they provide account managers? Good 3PL partners will provide this information before your goods arrive at their site but again if a 3PL can’t provide a dedicated and customer focused support team then this could potentially be another thing to consider.

Hopefully these tips will help you in choosing the right 3PL or fulfilment partner or making the switch to one that suits your business needs.

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If you do need a hand with packing the orders and you're curious about what Rapid Pack Fulfilment can offer in terms of growing your business and boosting your growth ... you can get a free quote > HERE< Just tell us about your business. It only takes a few minutes.

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