Possibly the most important consideration in choosing a third party logistics (3PL) provider is to ensure they’re nimble enough to service e-commerce fulfilment needs from infancy through to maturity. A 3PL should serve as a strategic partner in helping e-retailers compete, making large scale warehousing and logistic services attainable even when orders are trickling in.
Shoppers want to be able to see if an item is available before going through the checkout process. It is therefore imperative that inventory levels are available, accessible and accurate at all times. Work with a logistics provider who can help you develop the systems and operational discipline to make your inventory work for you.
3. FAST SHIPPING
It’s hard to fathom nowadays that 10-day delivery time frames used to be standard! Don’t risk falling out of favour with consumers by ignoring the fact that same day despatch is expected. Your 3PL provider must be as disciplined as possible to reduce order processing time to same day or within 24 hours to ensure the level of service your customers expect. Work with a logistics provider who is dedicated to having orders arrive at a customer’s door within 3 business days of hitting ‘Buy Now’.
4. ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Consumers may judge their entire interaction with your company based on the delivery experience. An experienced 3PL provider understands the level of granularity required in attention to detail. When your product arrives in your customers hand, it must satisfy their expectations, seamlessly exude the qualities of your brand, while also balancing costs and resource requirements.
5. RETURN MANAGEMENT
We call this reverse logistics. Managing returns can be the most challenging aspect for e-retailers. When treated as a reverse purchase, with all the same care and oversight that goes into managing the original purchase, you can ensure buyers are filled with confidence in purchasing from your e-commerce store.
Varying options are available to handle returns and Mailshop have an experienced team to ensure the right return management process is used to suit your customers’ needs while balancing resource requirement and ultimately costs.
When same day processing and despatch is on offer, complete and timely data is paramount. Systems integration should be available to export orders directly to your chosen 3PL without any manual interference, so you can ensure orders remain accurate. Similarly, you want to ensure that your 3PL can automate the feed of information back to your e-commerce platform to ensure orders are updated to ‘dispatched’ in a timely fashion and all tracking information is communicated back to your customer accurately.
Perhaps most important in integrating your system with your chosen 3PL is ensuring that your most valuable resource (your time) is not wasted on manual interactions and requests for missing information. Time costs money and if you are spending time on this, so is your 3PL provider and that is going to cost you money.
7. EXCELLENT REFERENCES
To know a 3PL is even worth your time, make sure you have an industry reference that confirms their reliability, flexibility and security. Simple efficiency is not enough. Each and every time an order is sent to your customer, it is a valuable touchpoint that has the potential to delight. Make sure your 3PL sees this as an opportunity to add value, not just a parcel to get through their platform.
Whether it’s kitting, reverse logistics, subscription box services, influencer packs or simple pick, pack and distribute of daily orders, your need to ensure your 3PL is flexible and capable of handling your changing needs. This may require a bit of forward thinking to not only consider your current needs but also what avenues you may wish to consider in the future. Make sure your 3PL will assist in your growth every step of the way.
Aside from normal fulfilment operations, you need to consider how well things go when issues arise that are outside the norm. How well would they respond to large changes in order volumes due to sales promotions? How would they track products in case of a recall? Answering these questions will give you insight into the experience and responsiveness of whether they can handle your specific logistic requirements.
10. CUSTOMER SERVICE
No matter the size of your business, your account demands service and attention. Choose a third party logistics supplier that can provide a dedicated customer service rep that will ease you through the transition to their systems and effortlessly resolve problems as they arise.
To find out more about how Mailshop can support your e-commerce strategy, contact us today!