Not all businesses have the operational and financial capacity to fulfill all their customer orders. But since it takes up a significant portion of the business, it's up to the company to find ways to take customer orders from the warehouse to their doorstep.
Order fulfillment involves a lot of stages, beginning from when the customer purchases the order up to when they actually receive what they bought. Depending on how big your company is, you should have a separate storage location to house your inventory, have the means to fulfill the order in a timely manner, and have the ability to deliver the order to the buyer. If you factor in returns, it becomes even trickier.
When your order fulfillment can no longer be done in your house, perhaps it's time to consider collaborating with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider to help you.
What is Third Party Logistics (3PL)?
Third-Party Logistics (3PL) is a service that has the ability to handle most — if not all — things related to shipping operations. They're often tied with a business' warehousing and transportation procedures. When you hire a 3PL company, you can delegate stuff like warehouse storage, inventory management, packing, freight forwarding, shipping and tracking, and reverse logistics. A 3PL can help you achieve peak productivity as it relieves you of shipping-related tasks, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your operations.
Why hire a 3PL company?
You know you need to hire a 3PL company when your house or garage can no longer handle the demands of your business or when you no longer have the time to execute the logistics yourself. Collaborating with one can help you scale, save you money, reduce customer complaints, manage inventory, and reduce risks associated with running a warehouse.
What to consider when hiring a 3PL company
Hiring a 3PL provider isn't as easy as making a quick Google search and calling the first one you find. You have to go through a rigorous vetting process to find a 3PL company that can fit your budget and can accommodate all the needs of your business. Here are the factors that you should consider:
From the outside looking in, procurement and shipping may seem to be low-tech operations, but 3PL companies must have the proper technology to provide efficient service. When hiring, ask if they are up-to-date with the latest technology that can optimize your company's operations, including the capacity to offer real-time data and feedback, syncing of inventory with your online store, online tracking, and so on.
Proven track record
While there's nothing wrong with hiring a 3PL with little experience, you're better off going with one that has a proven track record and years of experience under their belt. Reputable 3PL companies typically have a better knowledge of industry regulations and know-how to offer reliable customer service.
Since order fulfillment will fall on the responsibility of the 3PL company, you also have to make sure that they will not disappear at any time during your partnership. During the hiring process, it's important that you ask for payment history to gauge their financial stability. You wouldn't want to deal with a company that will be the downfall of your business due to mismanagement.
Unless you want to deal with the hassles linked with logistics, it would be better for you and your business to hire a 3PL company that's experienced and can accommodate your needs.
We’re a heavy hauling company based in Owensboro KY with decades of experience transporting large equipment across the lower 48 US states. Get in touch with us today if you need our services and we’ll be happy to help!