Recently you might have read the introduction to 3PL, also known as third party logistics. That blog post explained what it is and what it could do for your business.

Now that we’ve done that, we thought we’d expand a little more for you and talk about next steps in integrating 3PL into your business. But first, how do you know it’s right for you?

Is a 3PL vendor solution right for your business?

Deciding to use 3PL is all about answering one question;

Is the process of storage, stock management, fulfilment and shipping going to be a dedicated (and properly resourced by you) part of your growing business?

If you answered yes;

You will need to treat that part of the customer experience with the same level of importance as you do product sourcing, design, production and sales and marketing. Your customers won’t be terribly forgiving if part of their transaction is a let down – especially if that let down comes after they’ve parted with their payment.

And if you’re expecting that customer to either refer you to a friend or come back in the future, your customer are expecting that that part of their purchase process will be done impeccably.

That means putting systems and processes into your business to make sure that you’ve got swift turnaround on orders – not waiting to batch everything once every two weeks. And you’ll want tracking procedures and some kind of stock management system in place too. There’s nothing like getting a great order in only to realise you have none of that stock on hand to ship when you go looking for it.

If you answered no

Sure you want your business to grow and you want your customers to be well looked after, you just don’t want to have to get bogged down in the detail of systems and processes, then 3PL is probably the way to go.

Integrating a 3PL vendor into your business

Once you’ve made the decision that you’re going to introduce 3PL into your business, you’ll have some decisions to make about who you’re going to work with.

Whilst one 3PL vendor can look much like the others, you’ll need to think about;

  • Their track record – the last thing you’re going to want is to trust your valuable customers to someone who’s only just recently set up shop. Ask them how long they’ve been in business
  • Getting in touch with one of their existing customers – ask for first hand experience of the service. And finally
  • What’s important to your customers – is swift turnaround is something that’s important to them? A lot of 3PL vendors will say they ship same day, but when you scratch the surface, some of the terms and conditions around that are a little interesting. Some 3PL vendors will say your orders have to be in by 8.30am in order to be shipped same day. So what that really means is that you’ll really need to have your ordering ducks in a row yesterday if you want to make today’s mail. So you’ll want to check those.

At Coghlan, if your orders are in by 2pm, we’ll get them shipped to your customers. That generally means one less day for them to have to wait for their online goodies.

Once you make your choice, you’ll likely be assigned a 3PL coordinator to work with you and your business to understand what’s required.

  • Are you looking for storage facilities in addition to shipping
  • Is pick and pack required
  • What kind of packaging experience are you wanting to deliver your customers
  • Do you need bar coding
  • Do you need parcel tracking
  • What’s your returns policy going to entail
  • Is there the likelihood of product recalls

Among they’ll want to check off with you. All in the name of providing a seamless, professional customer experience. And, at the same time, reducing costs (and stress).

What next?

As soon as the shipping and storage requirements of your business start splitting your attention or that of your staff, it is time to consider a 3PL vendor.

If you’d like to explore the right logistics options for your business, drop us a note to get in contact with one of the 3PL experts at Coghlan.

And that’s where we can help. If you have upwards of 50 orders or more a month that you need to ship to your customers, we’d be delighted to talk to you. You can always give us a call on +61 2 9828 0111 (Sydney)+61 3 9240 6300 (Melbourne) or +64 9 263 8855 (Auckland) or drop us a note via the form below. Alternatively, you can find a full list of available services here.

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