Don’t ever settle for second best when selecting a logistics partner to run your transportation, fulfillment and freight forwarding operation. Here are five things to keep in mind when picking the right one for your operation.
The need for adaptability and resilience is greater than ever, and many shippers are turning to logistics providers to help them fulfill orders, manage their supply chains, deliver the goods and even handle the merchandise returns process. After receiving loud wake up calls over the past two years, companies are rethinking their business models and supply chains and leaning on reliable, trusted third-party providers for help running their supply chains.
- Think beyond price. Supply chain sustainability has become a core mission for most companies over the last two years as labor shortages, supply disruptions and transportation snarls have become the norm. And while cost containment is always a priority for profitable enterprises, it’s also important to think beyond price when evaluating logistics providers.
- Look for the best fit. You’ll also want to consider the provider’s business model, understanding of your industry, its technological capabilities, any successes (and failures), and other factors that will help you determine whether you have a good “fit,” or if you should keep looking. “Providers should also be able to integrate to your existing systems, or be willing to work with you to find an agreeable solution,” GlobalTradeMag points out. “Ideally, look for outstanding service across financial history, brand stability, experience working in your industry, experience in specific geographic regions, owned vs. rented assets, and compliance with regulations.”
- Ask about supply chain visibility, forecasting and exception management. The days when you could operate independently of your third-party logistics provider are long gone. Today, shippers and their providers are tightly intertwined and working toward the same goals. Look to your partner to provide high levels of supply chain visibility, exception management and forecasts that help you effectively plan production and distribution during this period of volatility. “A [3PL’s] IT infrastructure is vital to your needs and their own,” GlobalTradeMag says. The provider should have warehouse management systems, fleet tracking systems, and inventory analytics and controls, at a minimum. “You could also look for order fulfillment systems, freight theft or damage management, and wares tracking using RFID or EDI,” the publication adds.
- Find a provider who understands the global supply chain landscape. This one is critical in today’s world, where supply chains are interconnected and spread around the globe. A logistics provider with global expertise, resources and connections will understand the nuances of your supply chain and be able to manage it, hone it and make recommendations. Working together, you’ll be able to tackle the current complexities of your global supply chain while also adjusting it to accommodate future expansion.
- Strive for a win-win. Finally, your logistics provider should be able to solve for the “now” while also supporting your company’s future growth plans (e.g., a new product line, geographical territory or other goal). Look for a trusted partner that wants to become a part of your company’s success, versus just serving as a transactional supplier that you call on when needed. Remember, mutual success is all about long-term sustainability, trust and a win-win attitude.