Today’s consumer is not only educated, but has unlimited options at their fingertips at any given time. Quick and simple solutions that are customized specifically to their needs are key and must come at the lowest cost or they take their business elsewhere. Many industries are feeling the impact of the evolving customer demands, including logistics. The term 3pl is now broadly used to describe a firm that provides outsourced logistics services, but not all 3PLs are equal. Vendors will vary in terms of reliability, speed, innovation, pricing, and scale of impact. A 3pl can range from a software solution to a complete supply chain management team with resources housed on-site at a client. In order to create a client relationship with long-term value to clients a 3pl will need to prove their impact goes beyond “cheap rates”. It is important to partner with a 3PL that is not only has similar goals and culture as your organization, but also has 3 key differentiators that will ensure you are getting the best in service and price.
1. Collaboration – A partnership is a two way street. A 3PL should take the time to learn about your business’ current processes and understand your future goals. Once the vendor has this understanding, communication should continue to better refine this process and find additional ways to save and adapt your processes. Making sure your team is trained and onboard with any changes will not only strengthen your vendor relationship, but also keep communication open with employees. The more collaboration between you and your 3PL, the greater the value you will receive.
2. Service – Finding personalized service is becoming a thing of the past. It’s difficult to find a partner who is willing to put the necessary time and resources into learning about your business needs and creating a custom way to fulfill those. Likewise, everything has gone digital. It is challenging to get ahold of a person when you need answers. A key factor of a 3PL should be exceptional service. When complexities arise in your supply chain, your 3PL should be behind you helping to find a new solution. Likewise, their commitment to constantly finding new ways to improve your processes is important. A strong partnership should include dedicated service from industry experts, who are experienced in finding ways to improve your current process.
3. Innovation – When it comes to innovation within Logistics it encompasses more than technology. It also includes the ability to quickly adapt and solve complex problems. Many 3PLs offer custom software or online solutions to their clients, providing you with greater customization of your supply chain, immediate solutions and data reporting. Likewise, many 3PLs allow you to track your shipments throughout the whole route. Innovation leads to visibility. The more visible your partnership is, the greater the level of service you will receive.