Whether it is your first time or your fiftieth selecting a 3PL partner, you’ll need to come with questions to ensure your business’ needs will be met. Logistics is an industry with thousands of repetitive movements storing, stacking, shipping and packing your goods, so seemingly small inconsistencies can add up. This can be especially true for fulfillment, which covers the final steps before your products reach customers. These are considerations we suggest when you’re ready to choose a fulfillment provider:
When it’s time to prepare and send a shipment to your customers, you want to be certain that it will get there quickly and efficiently. The first and most obvious consideration is where they are located in the country:
- How many trucking hours will it take to ship to major metropolitan areas?
- Do they have more than one warehouse location you can take advantage of?
- What can be just as important, however, are the micro-level considerations of location:
- How close are they to highways, railways, ports, and an international airport?
- How difficult is it for a truck to access their facility?
- How easy is it for you to visit the facility in the case of an emergency?
Though these considerations can appear minor, the first two impact a supply chain’s maneuverability in daily scenarios that add up, and the last can compound stress in an already difficult situation.
The fulfillment industry is growing and changing year after year, and choosing a fulfillment partner that isn’t keeping up can mean choosing one that’s wasting your time and your customer’s:
- Do they have a central hub for supply chain transparency you’ll have access to?
- What improvements to their pick & pack system have they made in the last year?
- How will customers be able to track their shipments?
- What upgrades to their facilities are they looking to implement in the next year?
These answers, or their lack of answer, can help you determine the technologies that will help you meet your customers’ needs.
Inventory Management & Storage
Inventory management is what separates the coal from the diamonds in fulfillment providers. Anyone can put some boxes in a room and then dig through them to find what they need. Good inventory management principles will keep your shipments running smoothly:
- How does your team accommodate ABC priorities in the warehouse?
- When was your last warehouse audit?
- How can I calculate what my safety stock levels should be?
- What tools do you use for demand forecasting?
New to inventory management principles? Our beginner’s guide can help.
Quality Control and Customer Service
Though the last three categories are good to ensure efficiency in the supply chain, concerns about quality control and customer service can make or break it. Here’s how to make sure you won’t run into unexpected issues:
- Does your team inspect the quality of shipments to your warehouse on arrival?
- What happens if my customer receives a broken item upon arrival?
- Do I need a reverse logistics strategy?
- What are the things you’re looking for in your pre-shipment quality control inspection?
Your business deserves a fulfillment strategy targeted to the needs of your products and your customers. Having answered these questions, your third party logistics team will be more prepared, and you can rest assured and focus on your business objectives without worry.