When you started your business you probably fulfilled all of your own orders from your front room. But before long you may have noticed that you couldn’t see the living room carpet. Or perhaps there wasn’t any room for your car in the garage because it was so full of stock! These are all good signs of a successful start up. But they don’t make life easy.
If this sounds familiar, this is the time to start looking for a 3PL (third party logistics provider).
We get approached by potential customers on a weekly basis looking for advice.
The key benefit when using a 3PL is that our customers suddenly find the time to start managing their businesses again. This allows them to start doing so many crucial things to make their business a success: running marketing activity, implementing social media activity, optimising the website and ensuring that your customers are getting a ‘top notch’ service.
Customers also tell us that the accuracy of the pick & pack improves (because 3PL’s use barcode scanning technology) as does the speed with which orders are despatched. In turn, this reduces the number of returns (and your costs).
Choosing a 3PL partner is a risky business at the best of times but here is a list of the key things that you need to consider:
- Your 3PL must use barcoding technology. This may mean that you have to add barcodes to your products. But, in so many ways, it is worth the effort. You’ll never look back!
- Be clear about your requirements. Many 3PL’s do not handle hazardous goods or items containing lithium batteries.
- Make sure you use one of the main shopping platforms (Shopify & WooCommerce are the most commonly used). By choosing platforms such as these you will be able to work with a greater number of 3PL’s. If you use a less well known platform you may find that some 3PL’s will not be integrated with them.
- If practical, go and have a look at the fulfilment facility so that you can be confident that they can handle your orders.
- Most importantly, make sure that you like the team who will be managing your business and be confident that you can work with them.
- As a ‘rule of thumb’ – if you find that you are having to chase the 3PL for quotes and information before you have even given them your business then think twice. Once you start working with them you need a partner who will be responsive and proactive. This is possibly the most important part of the 3PL’s offering. If this is not up to scratch then your working relationship could become very challenging. And this could damage your business.
- Finally, pull together a short list of fulfilment companies and take references. If a 3PL won’t give you references then don’t give them your business.
Fulfilment Matters is a specialist fulfilment provider to small and medium sized e-commerce businesses. We can despatch your parcels within the UK or to any other part of the globe via our despatch network.
And we will fulfil your orders as if they were our own.
If you would like to talk about your requirements, or just want some advice, then please give Barry Salmon a call on 01296 531601.