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Choosing a third-party logistics (3PL) partner is a huge decision. Your chosen 3PL should help you increase your productivity and improve cost-efficiency as well as your customer service offering. Here are six considerations to think about when choosing a 3PL provider.

  1. What is their breadth of capabilities?

Obviously the more complete services you can get from a single provider, the more seamless your supply chain process will be. A good 3PL provider should be able to customise a solution to meet your needs and be ready to scale as necessary.

Another key consideration here is network. Do they have a presence in the same global locations as you? Are they able to provide the most direct, simplified transportation routes to make their solution as cost-effective and as efficient as possible? Do they have scope and a willingness to open new locations to accommodate your needs?

  1. What are their tech solutions?

Technology is always evolving and it’s important to ask prospective 3PL providers what systems they use to track and streamline the process. Can their preferred system integrate seamlessly with your existing software? How does their software make inventory management, order processing and tracking easier? Remember, you need to consider a system that works best for your needs and can be easily understood and adopted by your team.

  1. How agile can they work?

You may find that your business is in a state of flux, or you may be looking for a long-term partnership to support your plans to scale. A prospective 3PL provider should be able to accommodate your changing business needs without complicating processes. A long-term partner is ideal as initial onboarding is a time and financial investment in itself, and you don’t want to be going through that process again in a year’s time.

  1. How do they communicate with you and with customers?

An omnichannel approach is key to a unified, consistent customer experience. Can prospective 3PL providers demonstrate how they deliver a premium customer experience? Questions to ask include response times, modes of communication, and clear procedures on things such as general customer queries and complaints management. Don’t be afraid to request client references if available.

  1. What are their values and growth plans?

Today’s sophisticated logistics solutions require a high level of communication and data sharing. Find a 3PL you trust, with a compatible culture and values. Your partner should take time to understand your supply chain priorities.

Providers committed to service excellence and quality management pay careful attention to solution design and use proven processes to achieve desired results.

When you partner with a 3PL, you entrust them with your brand, so it is important to find a company with a long history of proven success. Look for a financially stable partner that continues to invest in facilities, systems, equipment, and human resources necessary for optimal logistics solutions.

  1. What is their track record?

While the most obvious way to determine a company’s track record is through customer reviews and case studies, it is also important to understand their values – and ensure they align with your own.

  • What values are core to their business?
  • Are those values reflected in customer testimonials?
  • How are suppliers and employees treated?
  • What themes appear in their marketing messaging?
  • How long have they been operating? Is there high employee turnover?
  • What sort of clients do they have on their books and are those long-term partnerships?

While some of these questions may be hard to ascertain on first meeting (or indeed, a few weeks into the partnership), doing as much background research as you can is vital in understanding the company’s reputation and level of professionalism, before deciding to invest in their services.

We have provided integrated global logistics solutions across Australia and New Zealand for more than 15 years. Get in touch with our team to see how we can support your business with timely, thorough and reliable logistics solutions.