Considering 3PL Warehousing? A Few 3PL Questions To Ask Yourself First

Warehouse logistics: is it a word you get excited about, or does it cause you to sigh? Whether you’re smiling or sighing at the thought of improving logistics, 3PL warehousing is likely to be a consideration and there are some important 3PL questions to ask yourself.

3PL Question: What Can 3PL Warehousing Do?

Basic 3PL warehousing providers can take care of many logistical details for you, such as picking and packing your product, shelving, storing and shipping. In addition, many 3PL warehousing providers can help you improve efficiencies, offer processes for detailed tracking of your inventory, cross-docking, item-specific packaging and more based on an IT software implementation.

An emerging trend in 3PL warehousing is the non-asset based logistics provider, who helps you get the most out of your packaging, shipping, financial logistics and product tracking without actually hiring trucks or warehouse staff. This type of 3PL warehousing vendor can also handle aspects of customer service and help you resolve customer challenges.

Another trend in 3PL warehousing is on-demand, specific solutions, in which you can post a logistics job, like shipping a load of product, and let the best rate win. The quote you receive will be based on your own specific requests.

3PL Question: What Should You Look For When It Comes To 3PL Warehousing?

First, ask yourself what your best strength is as a business. If you are excellent at marketing your product, do you also want to invest in logistics infrastructure, like warehouse stocking and shipping? You may find it more profitable to hire this service out to a 3PL warehousing vendor so you can do what you do best.

3PL Question: Are You Willing to Join Forces?

Another consideration when implementing 3PL warehousing services is whether or not you are willing to partner closely with an outside provider. Your 3PL warehousing vendor will have secure access to your inventory and sales requests, plus handle distribution across your operation, and you’ll have to be willing to trust someone with the details of these tasks. You’ll need to be collaborative partners together, communicating across video conferencing or web-based calls and sharing your business goals.

3PL Question: In What Area Do You Need 3PL Assistance?

In another model, you may want to ask yourself exactly which part of your logistics you want to send to a 3PL warehousing provider. For example, you might only want to hire a 3PL provider to run the process of choosing the most cost-effective carrier for each shipment, and you could essentially centralize this activity with a vendor while you handle all the other operations tasks.

3PL Question: What’s the Price Tag on Each Phase of Your Product?

Of course, cost is a factor in implementing a 3PL warehousing provider. Not only is there cost in setting up the process, but you must know precisely what each element of your logistics costs you. This means analyzing costs for order fulfillment, customer returns and even customer service-related calls. As you’re comparing 3PL warehousing vendors, you’ll be equipped to know how your price per piece compares to theirs.

3PL Warehousing May Be a Shift in Thought

Another 3PL question to consider when it comes to 3PL warehousing relates to the bottom line–creating value and satisfaction for your customers. Are you willing to make a shift in thought from seeing your warehousing as a cost center, to considering it instead as a core piece for adding value and giving you an edge over your competition?

When your ware house management runs smoothly–from receiving, shelving, picking, and shipping–and is tied in closely to your sales and marketing efforts, then 3PL warehousing is a powerful tool toward increasing profits and creating high-impact, loyal customers.

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