What to Look For in a 3PL Transportation Partner
Companies of all sizes face an ongoing challenge to get their less-than-truckload orders to the market. Given the rising costs of all forms of transport, fluctuating demand, and shrinking delivery windows, contracting LTL carriers can be expensive, time-consuming, and resource draining. Many of these challenges can be addressed by partnering with a third-party logistics (3PL) company who can manage your transportation needs. If you are considering working with a 3PL transportation partner, here is what you should look for.
Look for a company that can handle transportation beyond its regional service area.
If you are a small company shipping your product nationwide, you will want to engage as few 3PL partners as possible. At the same time, you need dependable delivery in every region of the U.S. Look for 3PL’s that cover broader service areas than just their domiciled region. For example, if you are considering a provider in the Southeast, can they also service the Southwest? If you are considering a 3PL in the Midwest, can they also cover the Northeast? The wider the coverage area, the fewer 3PL’s you will need. The more their service areas overlap, the more flexibility you will have.
Look for an asset-based provider that can handle multiple critical services.
If you can warehouse and transport your product using the same 3PL in the same facility or campus, you should save time and resources vs. using multiple providers in the same market. Those costs can be reduced further if the 3PL offers consolidation programs with other shippers going to the same destination. Using the same provider can also eliminate multiple handlings, simplify and streamline communications, and reduce your internal resources.
Look for a company that has regularly scheduled routes to your retailers.
Today, “close” is not close enough. If your 3PL does not have a dependable schedule of regular deliveries directly to your customers, you could be facing additional compliance fees and fines as well as other buyer penalties, up to and including dropping SKU’s. Confirm your 3PL’s delivery compliance record and volumes to your critical customers so you can be confident that your products will arrive as promised.
Look for a company that is solution driven.
Working with your 3PL partner means more than just coordinating transportation — that company becomes part of your team. They need to be committed to helping you keep your promises. A solution driven 3PL will anticipate and avoid problems before they arise to make sure your deliveries and order requirements are met.
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