In an age where big data and flexibility are key to supply chain success, shippers need to tread cautiously when choosing a third-party logistics provider.
Is the provider up-to-date on technology? Are they willing to continually evolve in a tumultuous market?
Here are five things that shippers can do to increase the chances of making their logistics partnership an ideal match:
1. Cleary define market and service expectations.
Example: If shippers don’t have trading patterns outside of a defined area, their best bet might be a provider with a proven record of services in that region.
2. Always be able to get answers to inventory questions regarding storage, transit, expected delivery dates, immediate notification of delays and expected resolution of delays.
3. See if the current 3PL, when presenting responses to an RFP, asked questions about the shipper’s supply chain and customer requirements.
3PLs must know all the “ins and outs” of the shipper’s supply chain to provide suitable service; especially when they know what the shipper’s customers expect.
4. Ask if the potential 3PL brings innovation to the supply chain.
After examining the questions posed from the #3, does the provider respond with an even more effective approach that could reduce time and cost and improve reliability? Look for a provider that is forward-thinking and proactive instead of reactive.
5. Ask if you have the commitment of the senior management of the prospective 3PL.
Successful 3PLs often have the backing of their senior management. Seeing that participation also gives shippers insight into the company culture and helps them discern if it will be a good cultural fit.
Always remember that it takes three logistics variables to make an ideal match: price, service offerings and data management. Shopping around for a logistics partner can take time, but the end result is too important to give up your supply chain management to a subpar provider.