Order fulfillment is the most crucial part of the supply chain, and using a third-party fulfillment company (3PL) should help you successfully manage this.
But what if your 3PL isn't performing as well as it should?
Maybe your 3PL is unable to provide certain aspects of fulfillment that your growing business now needs. Is their speed and accuracy and in fulfilling orders not meeting your expectations? Are they unresponsive when you need them the most?
If you're starting to have your doubts about the performance of your current 3PL, you should start by assessing how they're doing in the following areas:
- Transportation and freight management, including claims
- Warehouse management
- Distribution management
- Returns management
Once you've decided that your current provider falls short of your expectations, it's time to start looking for a new 3PL.
Related resource: What's a 4PL? The Difference between 4PL vs. 3PL
Important questions to ask when selecting a new 3PL provider
Clearly, you'd like to make sure that if you're going to make the switch, your new 3PL can exceed your expectations. Consider asking these questions so you make your warehousing needs will be met.
Can they meet your business requirements, now and in the future?
A good 3PL should be helpful in guiding you through proper fulfillment requirements, especially if you're growing quickly.
Make sure they know of any special licenses or permits needed for your products, in addition to proper storage techniques.
Do they provide international shipping?
If you ship internationally, or plan to in the future, be sure they offer coverage to the countries you want to ship to, in addition to competitive overseas shipping rates.
Learn more about Easyship's global eFulfillment services.
How prompt is their customer service?
Make sure the company has an accurate and effective customer service management system that is available when you need them, especially if your business handles large volumes and or requires urgent deliveries.
Do they offer a good tracking system?
A good tracking system is a must as today's consumers expect this service as a given. You should also have access to a responsive tracking system to keep tabs on all of your shipments.
Are they using latest technology?
Technology is not just required for tracking shipments, but also for integration with your inventory management system while keeping your logistics efficient. If they are using outdated systems, this is a major red flag.
How much volume can they manage?
If you have large volumes of items to be delivered at specific times of the year, you should definitely make sure this company can manage it properly.
Ask what their strategy is during peak holiday seasons and how they will ensure that there will be minimal errors in processing your orders.
Can they handle returns and inaccuracies effectively?
Know their process in handling returns and any other fulfillment issues, such as incorrect addresses or cancelled orders. Consult the company about the timely and proper handling of items in such scenarios.
If it's possible for your business, see if you can try out your potential new 3PL company by opening a trial account. Some offer this option for free.
You can also consider signing a short-term contract in the beginning before committing to a long-term deal, to ensure they meet your expectations.
At Easyship, we currently partner with warehouses in Hong Kong, Singapore, the US, and the Netherlands. Don't be shy to drop us a line and see what we can offer you!