As the saying goes, if something’s worth doing it’s worth doing right, and this is most certainly the case when it comes to choosing your third-party logistics (3PL) provider. For many ecommerce brands, the decision to partner with such a business is a no brainer. Afterall, if you are clocking roughly 1000 orders per month and want to build on this level of success, fast, efficient and low-cost delivery is essential.
Ecommerce is flourishing and its phenomenal success is in turn influencing the growth of the 3PL market, which is estimated to be worth more than USD 1.7 trillion by 2025. And it seems that Ireland is taking its own relative slice of the pie. With the results of a recent study revealing that two-thirds of Irish online retailers generated more than €1 million in sales in 2020, it stands to reason that more and more ecommerce companies are in a position to rely on 3PL partners to expertly handle their order fulfilment needs.
However, while outsourcing this element of your business can be of huge benefit to your brand’s success, it is vital that you choose the right provider so that your vision of the ideal customer experience is met. This takes time, research and an understanding of the key attributes you should look for in a 3PL provider.
Maintaining a reputable name in business is one of the most tangible measures of success. When you make the decision to outsource your order fulfilment, an important first step is to do your research to find out some critical points of note about your company of choice. Information such as how many clients they work on behalf of, are they an end-to-end service provider, and will you be offered a dedicated account manager, will be important to you so you can make an educated decision.
The company’s performance record in terms of their fulfilment accuracy, return rates and proof-of-delivery tracking will also tell a lot, along with client reviews. Why not request a chat with one of their existing clients? The likelihood is that if the service is excellent, happy customers will be more than happy to share the good news.
Warehouse Network and Scalability
Brexit, along with the abolishment of the EU duty-free allowance in July 2021, has brought a host of problems to ecommerce businesses in relation to logistics. Choosing a 3PL provider with a network of warehouses in different locations will allow you to reap the benefits of reduced tariffs and swift movement through customs.
Look for added bonuses, such as AEO certification to ensure an even smoother process. A partner that offers scalability is also an attractive one. This shows that they support the growth of your business and will be able to expand with you when the time comes.
The quality of a 3PL provider’s IT infrastructure should also be a make-or-break condition. Look for a partner that utilises ecommerce software that will seamlessly integrate with your own inventory system, allowing you access to tracking progress on all orders until delivery destination has been reached.
Other benefits of an advanced technological infrastructure include inventory controls, integration with major couriers and API solutions, allowing for quick and efficient communication.
As an ecommerce business owner, you undoubtedly have a very specific vision for your brand in terms of style, quality, demographic and of course, profitability. Intertwined in all of this is your company ethos and how you wish to be perceived by your customers.
When a portion of your business – such as order fulfilment – is taken out of your hands, you want to ensure that the company you are partnering with shares your vision for the benefit of your customers. For this reason, the 3PL provider you choose should meet certain criteria. Tracking updates, on-time delivery, personalised orders are just a selection of the boxes your fulfilment partner should tick in order to ensure your vision and ethos are treated as their own.
A Bespoke Experience
Many 3PL companies operate differently in the sense that some provide a particular service, such as freight or warehousing, while others will offer you an end-to-end service, incorporating everything from order processing to packaging to delivery. The latter is the go-to option for ecommerce brand owners looking for a seamless experience from start to finish, that is safeguarded by an experienced partner utilising contemporary technology.
Furthermore, most end-to-end providers will offer you a customised plan, allowing you to pick and choose the services that will best suit your objectives. A reputable 3PL partner should provide you with a service level agreement (SLA), which will outline their responsibilities and obligations to you the client, based on the tailored package you have signed up for.
While securing a satisfactory deal in financial terms with your chosen 3PL partner is important, it is also wise to remember that you get what you pay for. Companies offering you the sun, moon and stars at a bargain price may seem too good to be true – and probably for good reason. Stick to an operator who will liaise with you on your desired price point and offer a payment plan to suit both parties.
With omnichannel selling now becoming the norm for many ecommerce retailers, it helps to choose a 3PL partner with an insight into this particular sales model. Look for a provider with in-depth experience of brands similar to yours and discuss with them your plans and benchmarks for successful omnichannel fulfilment.
If you are in search of an end-to-end order fulfilment service that offers unbeatable customer service, contact ParcelPlanet for a quote today. Outsourcing your order fulfilment to ParcelPlanet will give you the time and peace of mind to focus on increasing sales and growing your business.