Selecting a 3PL That is Right For You 
Selecting the right third-party logistics provider (3PL) requires a thoughtful and deliberate approach, as it can greatly impact your organization’s expenses, customer service, and supply chain for years to come. 3PLs are also not all created equal and the right one for other brands, even brands you may consider your brand similar to, may not be right 3PL for you. Today’s 3PLs offer a plethora of services, meeting the complex demands of modern manufacturers and consumer expectations. Nevertheless, it is crucial to look for specific differentiating factors when selecting a partner that can help you scale your business and achieve your objectives. 

Priorities. Before selecting a 3PL, it is imperative to assess your priorities in shipping, packaging, and marketing. You should view your 3PL as an extension of your brand – ensuring they align with, and can deliver on, your brand needs and promises. Consider also that your priorities may shift over time. When selecting a 3PL, it’s vital to dig deep into their capabilities, scalability, and flexibility. Costs are always important, but do not allow them alone to steer your search. Ensure that your 3PL specializes in the commodity you manufacture. Not all products and their markets are identical to manage through the supply chain, and you want a 3PL that understands your product. 

Stability. A 3PL with extensive experience in logistics and supply chain management services can help you stay ahead of the curve, given the constant changes in consumerism and the logistics industry. Look for a fulfillment provider with a reputation for providing excellent service, from multiple locations. Partnering with a well-respected 3PL can provide access to their vendor network, business intelligence, and industry connections. These all play a role in quality service and approachable costs. 

Scalability. This critical aspect is often overlooked in the search for a 3PL partner. Consider your company growth goals and ensure that you find a 3PL with proven history in managing scale. Also look at ability to manage seasonality within a year. Your 3PL should have solutions for peak eCommerce season success as well as cost management for you during slower periods. If you expect product returns, your 3PL must equally be able to scale reverse logistics services. 

Customer Service. CS is the cornerstone of the relationship between a manufacturer and a service provider. An effective 3PL must promptly identify and resolve issues, provide business solutions that aid in improved outputs and cost savings, tracking products, and identifying delivery times, making the logistics aspect of your business more manageable and less stressful. Look for a fulfillment partner who can provide customized solutions that integrate seamlessly with your supply chain to enhance the customer experience, and one that can provide you with business intelligence to make data-driven decisions in real-time. 

Systems. This is a crucial factor when selecting a 3PL, and your fulfillment partner must be able to deliver with precision. Ensure that they have system tools that will integrate seamlessly with your eCommerce platform and/or ERP. Data is critical for accuracy and success, and the quick transmission of it is vital in today’s fast-paced commerce environment.  

Choosing the right 3PL is not an easy decision, but careful evaluation and consideration of these factors can help you select a logistics partner that meets your needs, scale your business, and achieve your goals. 

NRI is a leader in fulfillment of apparel, footwear, accessories, and other select goods throughout North America. We tailor our solutions to your needs and provide a vast range of services. Contact us to learn more.