When it comes to shipping your product, you wouldn’t just use any old box. Rather, you find – or create – the ideal container, thinking through all the details to ensure your packaging is the best possible representation of your brand, and the most efficient means of delivering an exceptional customer experience.
When it comes to your relationship with a third-party logistics (3PL) partner, the same holds true. Many companies can provide the basic services, but finding the right partner for you requires some more thought. It’s often the intangible qualities that make the difference between a merely serviceable or even a disappointing partnership, and a perfect, long-lasting partnership that generates excitement on both sides, helps to drive sales, and creates a highly productive and invigorating environment in which your company can thrive and grow.
At Quiet, we have identified 6 essential qualities to look for and insist on when searching for your ideal 3PL fit:
1) You and your partner should be of like minds.
Is your company driven by technology? Do you sell online? Are your customers mobile savvy? Today, the answer to all these questions, increasingly, is YES. Make it a point to seek out a partner with similar tech credentials and a deep understanding of your platforms, relevant software and core values. Think twice about teaming up with providers who have an old-fashioned way of doing things, as this can be a serious drag on your forward-thinking business.
2) Your partner should share your passion for brand care.
While partnering with a 3PL provider is technically outsourcing, in practice you are essentially expanding your team to include a logistics and fulfillment group. In other words, your 3PL partner is a direct reflection of you and your brand. Every package that leaves the warehouse and arrives in a customer’s hands is an important brand moment. Choosing a partner with exceptional attention to detail, order presentation and packaging is key to winning new customers and retaining repeat customers after each delivery.
3) Your partner should be invested in your success.
Packing and shipping your boxes shouldn’t feel like merely checking off boxes. If your partner seems content to do the bare minimum, know that you can do better – in fact, for your business’s bottom line, you need to do better. In this day and age, customers are demanding greater speed and accuracy than ever before. Seek out a 3PL provider that’s committed to being at the forefront, in order to fuel your ongoing success.
4) Your partner should have an excellent management team.
Wisdom comes with experience, and so does an extensive set of contacts. Look for a team of industry leading management executives with expertise in your area of the market and a well-developed vendor network. Your partner’s ability to negotiate and leverage that network on your behalf will play a significant role in keeping costs efficient and ensuring that your fulfillment is always top notch.
5) Your partner should be highly available and responsive.
The ideal 3PL relationship is highly interactive. After all, warehouse inventory is constantly in flux, customer demand can spike unexpectedly, and it’s essential for you to be able to react and respond in to new information in a timely manner. To this end, seek out a partner who provides you with a user-friendly way to stay on top of warehouse data in real time, and works with you one on one, day to day, to respond to immediate as well as longer-term needs.
6) Your partner should take a consultative approach.
Your perfect 3PL partner is just that – a true partner, ready, willing and able to offer productive and proactive suggestions to grow and scale up your business. More than simply executing a plan of action, the ideal partner takes a strategic, global view. Don’t end your search until you’ve found a logistics provider who sees the bigger picture.
Especially in the e-commerce era — when deliveries are increasingly important as brand touchpoints and every package has the power to make or break a customer’s experience — your 3PL partnership is mission critical. Keep these 6 qualities top of mind and don’t settle for anything less.