Business owner trying to handle their own logistics services

Choosing a 3PL for e-Commerce Fulfillment and Distribution: 8 Factors to Consider

Is handling e-commerce fulfillment and distribution in-house holding back the growth of your business? If so, you may want to consider outsourcing these operations to a 3PL provider. Trying to figure out what 3PL provider to partner with can be a difficult task. To help with this task, we have compiled a list of 8 factors to consider when choosing a 3PL for e-commerce fulfillment and distribution.

1. Capabilities

A 3PL provider is a business partner, so their capabilities need to match their clients’ needs. Whether it is customized labels or shipping orders out within 24 hours, the 3PL partner needs to be able to meet the services required. The technology that they use is also part of their capabilities. Can they integrate with clients’ e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify or WooCommerce? Coordinate drop-shipping with major online retailers? This is important to know along with if they use advanced technology for warehouse and inventory management.

2. Experience

Does the 3PL have experience with the services that are being outsourced? A partner with a good reputation and extensive industry experience will bring more value and better solutions to their partners. Learning about the experience of the 3PL’s leadership team can tell you a lot about the company.

3. Reliability

A 3PL’s reliability will be the outward perception of your own reliability. It is essential for correct orders to go out on time or it can affect not only the 3PL’s reputation, but their client’s reputation as well. It is also important to know how they handle disruptions and if they can be responsive during changes in order volume or when an additional service is needed.

4. Organization and Safety

An unorganized warehouse facility leads to delays and mistakes. Can they accurately and efficiently pick, pack, and ship orders? Their facility’s organization can directly tie in with how reliable they are going to be. A 3PL should also follow safety guidelines to protect client inventory and their warehouse workers. Any damage to inventory or injuries to staff will ultimately lead to delays. To see how clean and organized a 3PL warehouse is, ask for a physical or video tour of their facility before making a commitment.

5. Customer Service

A dependable 3PL will give every business partner the appropriate amount of attention. Chances are new clients will have some questions and there needs to be someone available to answer those questions. If any issues arise, clients count on their 3PL partner to quickly identify and resolve the issues and develop a process to ensure issues don’t repeat themselves.

6. Scalability

When businesses consider outsourcing ecommerce fulfillment and distribution, current sales volumes and whether the 3PL can handle it are often the topic of discussion. However, future sales volume is just as relevant when choosing a provider. The 3PL partner needs to be able to handle a larger workload if their client begins to grow or has peak seasons.

7. Customization

Can the 3PL provider customize their services to meet the needs of their clients? If a business requires a specific label or customized packaging, it needs to be within the capabilities of the 3PL. A business maintains a reputation with its customers and a 3PL acts as an extension of that business. The right 3PL will deliver the same level of service and reliability to their clients’ customers that their client would.

8. Location

The location of a 3PL in proximity to a potential client’s customer base is a key factor in costs, efficiency, and speed of delivery. Final mile costs can be minimized by strategically partnering with a 3PL in a relevant location. It can also be helpful if the 3PL is close to major highways and shipping hubs.
Inside the warehouse with logo on the wall
It is important to get to know a 3PL provider before deciding to partner with them. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Asking about the factors listed above is a good start. You need to make sure the partner you choose is going to be the best fit for your business. If you are looking for a 3PL that consists of a team with extensive industry experience, a clean and safe warehouse facility, reliable and efficient operations, and outstanding customer service, Beyond Warehousing may be the right business partner for you. Contact us to learn more.