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How Social Media Has Impacted The 3PL Industry  

Social media marketing for 3PLs

The logistics industry relies heavily on technology for everything from route planning to rate calculations and load optimization to shipment tracking. Customers also use technology, both in business and in their personal lives. Smart Insights reports that many users access their social media accounts up to 10 times a day, most days of the week.

Social media is one of the hottest technology areas in marketing, and many customers and prospects check social media before making a purchase, both to get a feel for the company and to see what existing customers have to say.

Companies in all industries use social media to connect with their customers on a frequent basis. It can be ideal for introducing new products and services, explaining parts of an offering and gaining credibility as a subject matter expert in your area. For a 3PL, having an effective and credible social media presence is the best way to show customers that your team is comfortable using technology, a critical measure of 3PL service.

Effectively using social media enables the 3PL to gain customer intimacy by monitoring customer sentiment in response to its own efforts as well as what customers say about competitors. First, however, you need to discover which social media sites your customers use most. Once you know that, the insight gleaned from this dialog can pinpoint gaps in services and areas ripe for improvement.

However, social media is an active activity. Unlike the ballfield in “Field of Dreams,” if you build it, they won’t necessarily come. You must provide a reason for them to visit or follow your social media efforts, and that requires regular commitment. Your first decision when you decide to enter the realm of social media is to establish a cadence for posting new content. Whether you choose to post daily, weekly or biweekly is less important than keeping a schedule of which your followers can rely.

Content is the means to drive traffic, but not all content is created equal. There are important steps that you must follow to keep readers interested:

  1. Don’t make your posts all about you or your services. If followers find your posts are all self-serving, they will stop following you quickly. It’s OK to make some posts about you, but most experts recommend no more than one out of every five to 10 posts be exclusively about your services.
  2. Vary topics. One post might be about upcoming legislation that affects the transportation or marking of certain goods, while the next might be an explanation of how the customer benefits from cross docking and how to get started. The important thing is that the topics are of interest to customers, and that your content provides new and interesting insight.
  3. You can also adopt a theme to drive traffic. For example, if you specialize in handling chemicals, periodically post about green efforts in the chemical industry. You might decide to post occasionally about “last mile” delivery experiments, such as drone delivery, Uber-like services or pickup depots for e-commerce purchases. Readers who are interested in the topic of your theme will come back again and again, especially as your posts gain a reputation for smart content.
  4. Avoid fluff. Fluff is any content that doesn’t include real insight, expertise, research or a strong point of view. You will not build a reputation as an expert with this type of content.
  5. Make it credible. Include research from recognized authorities such as industry trade groups or research firms to support your position.
  6. Spelling, grammar and formatting matter. Be sure content is edited and professional, otherwise this hinders credibility.

Aberdeen Research reports that industry leaders increased the number of 3PLs they worked with by 20 percent in 2014. The Aberdeen report attributes this to strategic choices to fill coverage gaps. The finding suggests that firms are looking for increased connectivity and better flow of information, so the market is clearly looking for technical expertise in its choice of a 3PL.

Social media marketing is a way to attract companies searching for new 3PL partners while at the same time demonstrating familiarity with industry issues and technology. Your competition is using social media. You should too.

Jaime McLiverty is Director of Marketing at Unyson. She joined the team in 2007, and has developed a comprehensive understanding of the unique needs of clients. McLiverty is responsible for providing internal and external communications on the customized solutions and guaranteed savings Unyson provides. She received a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Human Resources from Virginia Tech.

3 Reasons Why 3PL Fulfillment RFP Is Important

RFP request for proposalWhen searching for a 3PL Fulfillment provider, you will quickly note how broad the competition is for your business. The choices can seem daunting. Today we’re going to look at one way to ease the work of finding that perfect partner. Specifically, we’re going to look at  why 3PL Fulfillment RFP is an important step toward making that perfect match.

  1. A 3PL Fulfillment RFP Asks Potential Partners to Come to You. One of the key benefits of the request for proposal (RFP) process is that you control how potential partners to come to you with their offers. You choose who sees your RFP, and you choose the terms on which potential partners come to you. This stance places you in prime position while bargaining with 3PL fulfillment companies. You are the one in control. Also, you know up front that anyone who comes to you will be able to do the work outlined. This means thatyou can save time searching through alternatives, speaking to companies who will not be able to fulfill your needs. For example, let’s say you are looking for a 3PL fulfillment company will be able to insert small complimentary items like flyers or business cards in each shipment. The RFP process helps to ensure you don’t waste your time on fulfillment companies who do not perform these services.
  2. A 3PL Fulfillment RFP Lets You Define the Format of Responses. The second key benefit of RFP’s are that they allow you to solicit responses from a broad range of competitors and then compare their responses side-by-side. A RFP lets potential 3PL fulfillment partners know exactly what you’re looking for, what kind of information you’d like about their businesses, and how many estimates you would like to receive. When sorting through responses, it will then be easier to compare competitors side by side, viewed in terms of how you do business. What are the costs for the services you’ve requested? What are some additional services you may want for the future? Be sure to include any relevant information you want businesses to include in their proposals, such as any SLA’s and metrics and business history you consider relevant when weighing possible options. Then, you’ll have all the answers you need in one easy place.
  3. A 3PL Fulfillment RFP Helps You Start Your Partnership Right. Third, and at least as important, an RFP helps to normalize business relationships in a professional manner. Whatever the age and type of your business, a RFP is a time-honored, professional means to begin a fruitful partnership. RFP’s are used in a variety of business settings; they are a standardized, above-board way of letting other companies know you would like to enter into a long-term contract. You then have the added confidence that the businesses responding to you are professionals willing to act above-board. To put this another way, let us say you do not use a RFP but instead search for the right company by looking through the phone book or by reaching out through business contacts. This method will often limit your prospects, and it may include some businesses which are less than trustworthy, including hidden costs and unreliable practices. A RFP is a way of conducting business that is standard and open, giving you better access to all the reliable businesses who can perform the services you need.

Is this your first RFP for 3PL fulfillment? Are you considering what kind of RFP or whether to go with an RFP at all? Do you have questions about the kinds of questions you should ask, and the kinds of services which are available? For answers to these questions and more, contact us today. Let 3PL Companies help you find the perfect 3PL fulfillment company for your business.

Freight Forwarding: Importing Your Overseas Goods to Your 3PL Warehouse

Freight Forwarding TransportationAs a new business, you’re perhaps still learning the ropes on how you ship goods from overseas markets to a 3PL warehouse. You’re maybe still in the process of trying to find the perfect 3PL that can effectively ship and store your products. But importing (and exporting) goods is frequently a complicated process involving protracted steps and exorbitant fees.

No business should attempt to take on all the paperwork and regulations alone when importing goods becomes necessary. Fortunately, you’ll discover most businesses use a process called freight forwarding to take care of the above complex procedures.

With international exporting and importing a major part of business today, you need to know what a freight forwarder is. In addition, you should know their process, including what occurs through customs clearance and drayage from the port to the warehouse.

Let’s take a look at how you can define a freight forwarder and how to find a quality one.

Defining What a Freight Forwarder Does

You’ll find a lot of lengthy explanations online for what a freight forwarder does, yet you can basically define it as an intermediary who arranges the importing or exporting of your goods for a fee.

One thing they don’t do is actually do the transporting of goods. They work closely with those who provide transportation, including ocean cargo shippers, truckers, air freighters, and rail services.

All of these have complex fees involved in the moving of goods to your warehouse. A freight forwarder works as your advocate to negotiate better prices on the transportation. They do this through a bidding process so you can get the best possible price out of numerous transportation choices.

The operative word is “organizes”. The freight forwarder doesn’t actually move the goods but handles the logistics of their movement. This involves relationships with various shippers, by land (trucks and railroads), air and water. Any movement may involve multiple modes and shippers. Freight forwarding includes all associated paperwork, including data collection, and for international shipments, preparing and processing customs. Freight forwarders also have expertise in regulations and legal issues.

Specific papers a freight forwarder reviews on international shipments include  commercial invoices, the shipper’s export declaration, the bill of lading and other documents required by the carrier or country of export or import. The work of the freight forwarder doesn’t end when a shipment enters the country. Drayage refers to picking up an ocean container from the port or rail ramp, delivering it to the 3PL warehouse, and returning the container.

While this is a general overview, you should learn about each procedure in detail and how much knowledge the best freight forwarders have to make importing simpler.

Customs Clearance

Working with an experienced freight forwarding service helps you navigate the frequently complex steps involved in customs clearance. They understand import documentation, which frequently involves handling the purchase order of the buyer, the sales invoice of the supplier, the bill of entry, and the bill of lading.

The forwarder also needs to deal with the packing list, and certificate of origin. However, this is frequently just the start because different regulations from the importer, or financial institutions, can complicate documentation further.

Sometimes businesses go through customs brokers to handle the customs clearance processes. Nevertheless, freight forwarders with extensive experience should already know the details.

It works easier when you properly communicate information to your freight forwarder. The importer needs to make sure their shipping containers are properly loaded. Also, be sure to provide accurate paperwork to your freight forwarder so there aren’t any mistakes.

Drayage from the Port

If you’re still unfamiliar with the term drayage, it means trucking service transporting your goods from a port to another destination. In your case, it could mean transporting directly to your 3PL warehouse in another part of the country.

Many freight forwarders work near ports, and they’ll negotiate the fees involved with those transportation services. It doesn’t always mean trucking services and can often mean negotiating prices with rail services or air freight.

Thanks to a freight forwarder’s knowledge of pricing in this industry, they’ll know which price is the best for you. Their experience also tackles complicated banking procedures involved with payment to importers.

Useful Freight Forwarding Terminology

The following list isn’t exhaustive but provides a few basic terms to assist as you consider whether to handle freight forwarding internally or delegate it to a third-party.

3461: U.S. Customs and Border Protection Application for Entry/Immediate Delivery. This form details the content of cargoes entering the U.S.

BOL: Bill of Lading. The carrier issues this document and provides details of a shipment.

Customs Status: Customs Clearance status on a shipment, required before release into the U.S.

Drayage: Picking up an ocean container from the port or rail ramp and returning the empty container.

OBL: Ocean Bill of Lading, used by a steamship line to show receipt of cargo and associated details.

OBL status: Steamship lines require payment before releasing cargoes.

POD: Proof of Delivery. Used by carrier to show that cargo delivery.

Finding the Right Freight Forwarder

You can find various sources online that help you track down the best freight forwarders across the United States or abroad. What you’ll appreciate is that many of them charge modest rates, even though this can vary depending on their expertise.

Before you get to this point, you’ll need to find a 3PL warehouse first. We can help you find the right one with our reliable vetting resources here at 3PLCompanies.net.

Contact us to learn more about what to look for in 3PL’s and in freight forwarders, both of whom need to work in tandem.

Insured, Bonded, or Free Trade Zone 3PL: Which is the Best for You?

Insured, Bonded, or Free Trade Zone 3PLSearching for a top-level 3PL warehouse entails many aspects that are sometimes impossible to deal with without professional assistance. Just one aspect to finding the right warehouse is deciding among an insured, bonded, or Free Trade Zone 3PL. If these terms still sound arcane to you, it’s time to learn about these different warehouse types and what it means in helping you financially and bringing more security.

All of these factor into the unexpected and myriad fees involved in the logistics process. Since you need to work closely with your 3PL to keep things running optimally, knowing what’s going on behind the scenes is essential. However, you can discover these aspects with proper vetting before signing a long-term contract.

One thing you’ll learn is not every warehouse is alike. The above warehouse types prove this based on specific aspects you may need for your business structure. Nevertheless, you’ll frequently find 3PL’s with combined elements, which is all the more reason to scope out the details.

An Insured Warehouse

Logistics analysts almost always talk about how important an insured warehouse is. When doing your research on your 3PL, find out whether they have insurance at all. If they don’t, you shouldn’t even consider working with them since the potential for accidents is always high in a warehouse setting.

While you’ll discover most warehouses do have some level of insurance, it’s perhaps not up to date. This isn’t readily apparent by just doing simple vetting. You have to dig deeper and ask the warehouse whether they’ve updated their policy.

If they’re not current on their insurance coverage, it could easily cause problems if you incur damage to your freight. Having damaged goods can cost you thousands of dollars if an insurance company ultimately refuses to cover losses or damages.

Ask the warehouse how comprehensive their insurance coverage is so it covers all catastrophic events like theft, or loss from natural disasters.

A Bonded Warehouse

Finding a bonded 3PL is vital if you’re importing goods from overseas and need to store these items long-term until demand exceeds supply. It’s a license your warehouse receives from the government to store goods up to five years without immediate payment of duty.

You may find it necessary to use a bonded warehouse if you need to store your imported inventory for a while and need product protection. In this regard, a bonded warehouse usually requires insurance as well to keep the goods from getting damaged while in storage.

If you expect public demand to increase later for your products, a bonded warehouse keeps your inventory in reserve to save you time and money finding expensive storage on your own.

A Free Trade Zone Warehouse

You get many advantages using a 3PL in a Foreign Trade Zone. Similarly to bonded warehouses above, you don’t have to pay customs until goods are actually shipped. The difference, however, is that bonded warehouses are only good for storage and not manufacturing.

Another major advantage here is an FTZ gives you more control over product delivery, whether it’s foreign or domestic. A warehouse in these zones ultimately saves you time having to fill out customs entry documents, which are frequently protracted. The latter also has major fees, which an FTZ ultimately helps you eliminate or cut down.

Before you find a 3PL, do some research on where Foreign Trade Zones exist. They’re in every state now, albeit in designated areas.

Let us help you find the 3PL right for your business this year.

Contact us here at 3PLCompanies.net to find out more about our vetting resources and to learn more about 3PL trends.

Size and Weight of Shipments Can Determine Your Choice of 3PL Company

Size of Freight ShipmentsEach third-party logistics provider is likely to have its own profile in handling its operational processes. When negotiating to procure the services of a third-party logistics company you have to understand how it operates and how its operation can fit your needs. The Size and Weight of your shipments can have a big impact on your choice of fulfillment provider.

LTL Shipping:

If you ship in small, light quantities you can make your shipments on a less than truckload (LTL) basis. LTL shipments typically weigh between 151 and 20,000 pounds. These are shipments too small to fill an entire truckload, but too large to be shipped as parcels. There are many carriers that specialize in LTL shipments and many of those will apply a discount on the heavier, larger LTL shipments.

LTL carriers collect freight from various shippers and consolidate the freight onto trailers for line-hauling to hub terminals where the freight is further sorted and consolidated for shipping to local destinations. In most cases, drivers start out the day making deliveries of loads from the previous day. Then they make pickups once the trucks are empty. They return to the terminals with new cargo for sorting and next-day delivery. Pickups are usually made in the afternoon for next day delivery.

Density: LTL freight rates are structured so that the more a shipment weighs, the lower the rate per 100 lbs. LTL shipments are usually palletized on 48″ X 40″ pallets for ease in loading. They are classified by density which is the total weight of the shipment and pallet divided by the volume in cubic feet. Each palletized shipment is classified according to the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) system. The higher the density the lower the cost of shipment per pound.

Distance: The longer the haul, the higher the price per hundred-weight will be. Many LTL shippers only serve specific geographic regions. For shipments outside the shipper’s serviced zip codes, the shipper will transfer your loads to other shippers for final delivery. This shipment transfer between lines (“interlining”) will add to the cost of the shipment.

Freight All Kinds (FAK): Arrangements can be made with most LTL carriers that enables shipments to be filled with pallets at different weight classifications to be shipped and billed at the same freight class (usually an average). For instance, a client that ships multiple commodities ranging from class 50 to class 100 can often arrange a FAK to have the shipments to be carried as if all the commodities were classified as class 70.

Minimums: Freight companies all have minimal shipment costs below which the shipment will not go. This minimum charge is constantly increasing. Carriers are demanding a 2 to 3 percent increase every year. Carriers are doing this because the cost for a minimum charge shipment always far exceeds the costs they experience for the heavier shipments.

Full Truck Load (FTL) Shipping:

When you ship volumes of homogeneous cargo sufficient to fill an entire semi-trailer or intermodal container, the carrier will contract an entire trailer-load to a single customer. This freight is not handled en route. There is no re-packing, sorting and transfer to other trucks. Full truckload carriers deliver the semi trailer to a customer or shipper who fills it with freight for a single destination. The only thing that gets altered during the shipment is the driver whose work is limited by hours of service regulations. Customers can usually count on their shipments moving along at a rate of 47 miles per hour (including traffic jams).

Freight is usually loaded onto pallets in shipping containers or crates. Once at destination, truckloads may be broken down for further delivery by LTF carriers or express carriers.

When you make decisions about interstate and international distribution and shipping, InsightQuote can help you research and find the best fulfillment service for your business. Please contact us to learn more.

Scoping Out Their Strengths and Weaknesses of 3PL Firms

Strengths and Weaknesses of 3PLsAnalyzing 3PL company strengths and weaknesses is necessary if you want to find one that works well with your niche industry. If you’re new to searching for warehouses, you may think all fulfillment centers are alike. They really aren’t, and many have designs for specific companies. You may even find a few that say they’re suited for specific industries when they really aren’t.

Just like you would for any business, proper vetting helps you choose the right warehouse for your company. Doing this only helps yourself since having a good relationship with your 3PL is important to keep working with them long-term. You don’t want to have to switch to another warehouse midstream just because you didn’t take time to study the pros and cons.

So what are the biggest strengths and weaknesses you might encounter in a 3PL during the vetting process? Almost all of them have good and bad elements, though weaknesses can sometimes mean something positive.

Is Their Management Strong or Weak?

Management principles in most 3PL companies have various strengths and weaknesses. The most critical thing to find is whether the management in your warehouse has real vision for the future. Are they willing to tailor their services for your company structure?

If management treats their warehouse like a commodity service, it’s best to move on to another. It’s a must to have management with intent to expand and continuously update their technology to keep up with demands.

Also, check into how centralized the management is. When or if they expand to other geographic areas, management could become more decentralized and cause more logistics confusion.

How Strong or Weak is the In-House Technology?

A 3PL that doesn’t invest in the latest warehouse technology obviously shows a major weakness. Most warehouses do, though you have to make sure they’ve streamlined it and integrated it into every department.

Top-tier technology is only as good as how it’s used, and having examples in how the 3PL uses it can help you get faster answers on their strengths. More so, you can determine whether they keep up on the latest tech updates so they know what to invest in down the line.

Is Trained Staff Strong or Weak?

How much training has the warehouse given to their staff lately? Do they update training regularly, or do they wait several years before new training takes place?

A staff that’s continually learning is a benefit to the 3PL you work with because they’ll know every procedure without having to ask questions. Any employee with confusion on how to operate technology only leads to downtime. That can’t happen in a warehouse where speed is mandatory to keep pace with shipping demands.

Make sure your 3PL has capable people working, including proper safety training to eliminate any risk of injury.

How Strong or Weak is Their Geographic Location?

Do you know exactly where your 3PL’s location is? Many of the best ones are near major ports, highways, and airports. If they’re in a more remote area that takes an hour longer to get to transport service, it can matter in how fast a delivery takes place.

Geographic location also matters in any potential risk or danger from nature. Is the warehouse in an area where hurricanes frequently occur? A warehouse in Southern California may have risks from earthquakes.

These strengths and weaknesses can help you form a backup plan if something were to happen. Asking your 3PL if they have a disaster recovery plan in place is just as important as asking about management, costs, or technology.

Let us help you find the right 3PL warehouse here at 3PLCompanies.net.

Contact us to use our reliable resources to find warehouses with more strengths than weaknesses.

5 Reasons Why Touring Your Potential 3PL Company is a Good Idea

You Should Tour Your 3PL Warehouse if You CanSeeing is believing, as the old saying goes. Today, we are going to look at few reasons why touring your potential 3PL company is a good idea. Chances are, you regularly monitor manufacturing sites and branches which are part of your business, but you might not think to visit 3PL sites. After all, as long as your shipments arrive on time, what difference does it make? Here are a few reasons you should consider visiting potential 3PL companies.

1. Get a Feel for the Place.

There is only so much you can learn from a verbal description. Pictures may help, or the occasional Skype conversation, but only by being there can you get a real feel for how the business runs. Is it clean? Do people seem satisfied at work? What kind of atmosphere do they have – laid back yet efficient, high-stress but they love it that way? Knowing how the dynamic works can help you decide if this is the place for you and will help your business relationship going forward.

2. Meet Your Potential Business Partners.

Especially when you live and work at a distance, it helps to meet at least once. Shake hands. Spend a little time in casual conversation and get to know them as people. Good relationships and solid communication are key to any business partnership. Work can get hectic at times and having those key interpersonal relationships running smoothly can make the difference between a serious problem and no problem whatsoever. In addition, you may find that you simply do not “click” with your new partners for whatever reason, due to some personal conflict, and maybe it is best to look elsewhere.

3. Familiarize Yourself With Their Processes and Procedures.

Especially if you are shipping goods which require special handling, such as food, medical supplies, or sensitive technology, you need a 3PL Company that will do their job well and within mandatory guidelines. Procedures are key. Regardless, you have your own corporate mindset and way of doing things, and you want a 3PL provider who will work with you. A company which appears to work well from afar may not match up to your expectations in person.

Then again, maybe you will find your potential 3PL partner does things in ways which you have never thought of and which could improve your own processes. After all, these facilities specialize in one aspect of the business, storage and shipping, and they work with that aspect day after day. You will never know until you see for yourself.

4. Play Through Some Scenarios.

On your way to and through the facility, you will have a chance to ask yourself “what if.” What if you were to select this company? If you fly into the area, check out the airport. Take note of the physical route you take from the airport to the facility. Once in the facility, observe how packages arrive, how they are handled, and how they leave. Make sure to explore the surrounding area, especially if this a city – or a country – where you have never been before. Imagine that you are a carrier here, in this place. Visiting a facility and playing through a few scenarios can give you an appreciation for how the logistics will work and can help you decide if you are comfortable choosing this facility.

5. The Comfort of Knowing.

Whatever the size of your business, whether you have shareholders or the simple desire to make a profit each year, it helps to know who you are in business with. If you are government-regulated, and anyone ever asks, you can confidently say that you were there. No one can say for sure what the future holds, for good or ill. If all turns out well, as it will, you can be comfortable knowing you visited and picked up a few tricks while you were there. If something goes wrong, you can know you visited and did all you could to vet the place first; and, you will have those face-to-face relationships in place to weather the storm.

One last point of note – if you can’t walk through the facility, at least see if you can get video footage of the facility. This is more common, and serves as a good way to virtually “walk through” a facility across the country or world.

Regardless, touring your potential 3PL company is a good idea and definitely something to consider. For more questions on selecting the right 3PL provider for your business, from someone with an inside view of the 3PL industry, contact us today.

Top 5 Reasons to Use a 3PL Warehouse: Improving Logistics for Your Company

Top 5 Reasons to Use a 3PL WarehouseSupply chain management is a crucial part of any business, and it’s a monumentally challenging thing to do yourself. By outsourcing this to a 3PL (Third-Party Logistics) warehouse, you’ll have a consolidated way to get your products shipped worldwide. This includes having everything from assembly to distribution all in one place.

You won’t have trouble finding a 3PL in every corner of the nation. But not all of them are going to fit the industry you’re in. Even so, all of them have one thing in common: They can help your profitability.

Every 3PL warehouse has combined knowledge and resources to help get your products to the places you need to reach. Without these warehouses, you’ll find it more difficult to tap international markets that are equally (if not more) valuable than those stateside.

Take a look at the top five reasons to use a 3PL warehouse as soon as you can. Then you can vet the right one through us here at 3PLCompanies.net.

1. A Vast Network of Resources

The best 3PL’s network with numerous resources around the nation (and globe) to make logistics become a painless process. Since supply chain management involves significant steps that are sometimes very complex, you don’t want snags doing this in-house. Some of these steps include dealing with international border issues, and excessive fees.

With many 3PL’s having good relationships with those along the supply chain route, it can speed up shipping procedures. More so, with extensive knowledge about leveraging discounts and negotiating contracts, you’ll start to see yourself save money. That’s especially true when your 3PL works within a Foreign Trade Zone, plus networking with others in additional states.

2. The Beauty of Outsourcing

Perhaps you’ve considered outsourcing other things in your company to eliminate the pressures of balancing everything. A successful business means not attempting to do it all on your own just to save money. In many cases, outsourcing saves you more in the long run since it leaves you more time to focus on things that make your profitable.

Outsourcing to a 3PL already helps you save by not having to invest in warehouse space, staff, and technology to get proper shipping done. Shipping technology alone is a major expense that needs updating often to stay competitive.

Using a third-party warehouse also eliminates mistakes so you don’t create negative first impressions.

3. Scaling to Your Shipping Needs

As your company continues to grow, you need to have the proper space and equipment to deal with your expanding inventory. A 3PL provides this for you so you don’t have to invest your own money. However, it’s always important to thoroughly vet your 3PL first to assure they’re continuously scalable for your company.

When you need more shipping flexibility as well, 3PL’s can provide it without barriers. Almost all warehouses have locations in strategic places for decentralized distribution.

4. Gaining Valuable Expertise

Along with the networking, you’re gaining valuable expertise using a 3PL. All outsourcing gives you experts who know what they’re doing so you gain a stronger competitive edge.

With business being more competitive than it ever has, you need a staff who understands the latest technologies and inventory management procedures.

5. Improving Customer Service

Making your customers happy with efficient shipping is the heart and soul of keeping your business afloat long-term. Especially if you’re a startup, you don’t want shipping mistakes that set you off on the wrong foot. In today’s world, you need the fastest shipping procedures you can find to keep up with customer demands.

By keeping your logistics running optimally, your customers will deem you reliable rather than assuming improvement later. Most customers don’t give those second or third chances.

Our reliable resources here at 3PLCompanies.net can help you find the 3PL warehouse that works for your industry.

Contact us to find out more about our vetting process and search procedures.

How to Evaluate a 3PL Provider to Ensure You’re Getting the Best Service

How to evaluate your current 3PL warehouseAccountability and performance are important aspects of any business relationship, but when it comes to your 3PL partner, they’re especially important.

If your 3PL provider misses a beat or makes a mistake, it could have huge and lasting repercussions for your business.

But what are the best ways to hold your 3PL provider accountable and how do you measure their success?

This is a topic that we are asked about a lot. So, we thought we’d provide you with some tips on how to evaluate a 3PL provider to make sure you’re getting the best service.

Take a Second Look

The contract that you originally signed with your 3PL provider may no longer suit your needs. As your business changes and grows, so must the contract that you have with your 3PL partner.

You contract defines the terms of your relationship with your 3PL provider and lays out each party’s responsibilities. As you learn more about the logistics solutions your business needs and as you gain more experience in the 3PL industry, you’ll be able to negotiate more favorable contract terms over time.

When you do review your contract’s terms, keep in mind that contracts aren’t in place for the good times, they’re in place to protect both party’s interests no matter what happens in the future.

All too often contracts get renewed without making significant enough changes to meet the needs of the businesses who are signing them.

Regular Meetings

One of the most important things you can do to manage your relationship with your 3PL provider is to meet with them regularly. During these meetings you should be reviewing their metrics, evaluating their performance and discussing improvement strategies where needed. We recommend holding these meetings every month or every quarter.

By having pre-scheduled meetings with your 3PL provider, you’re able to stay on top of their numbers and performance before there’s an emergency.

When you hold your 3PL provider accountable in the short term, they’ll take your business more seriously and will be less likely to make mistakes when handling your goods.

Now, if you don’t know what metrics to talk about in your meetings or how to evaluate the 3PL’s performance, then read on.

Metrics That Matter

Data and analytics reports are a standard in the modern 3PL age we live in today. This is a fantastic benefit for your business because you’re able to see the numbers and judge your 3PL’s performance based on facts, not feelings.
Here’s what you should look for when you’re evaluating your 3PL provider’s capabilities:

1. Order error and success rates

Your 3PL provider’s business is making sure that your goods are handled properly and that your orders are completed without error. Of course, no 3PL provider will have a 100% success rate every time. Errors do happen and should be expected as a cost of doing business.

However, your 3PL provider should be able to explain where their errors stemmed from and what they’re doing to prevent them from happening in the future.

2. On time shipping percentage

When your customers are given a delivery date, that date should be met. Even if your 3PL’s order success rate is high, if there are a large percentage of orders that aren’t arriving on time, that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

Every order that gets delayed impacts your business’s reputation and your bottom line.

3. Inventory count accuracy

Your 3PL provider not only handles the transportation and storage of your goods, but in most cases they’re managing your inventories to ensure that you’re not over or under producing goods.

That’s a big responsibility and if they’re not managing your inventories well, it could cost you your business. Likewise, if they’re doing a great job with your inventory management, then you can be confident when it’s time to renew your contract.

Communication

Beyond the metrics and the numbers, your 3PL provider should be providing quality customer service to you and your team throughout the relationship.

In addition to the regular meetings you’ll be holding with your provider, your requests for information, phone calls and emails should be responded to promptly and professionally.

Logistics is about organization and execution. If your 3PL provider isn’t able to respond quickly with the data and answers you need, then their priorities and organizational skills could be called into question.

Conclusion

Logistics is a complicated and data driven industry. Your logistics provider has to manage a lot of moving parts in order to deliver on their promises of prompt execution and timely service.

Make sure that your 3PL provider welcomes discussions of accountability and is transparent about how they’re managing your account.

By using the metrics and tips above, you’ll be better equipped to evaluate your 3PL’s performance and make more informed decisions about the future of your business’s logistics needs.

If you have any questions about holding your 3PL accountable, feel free to contact us.

What Insurance is Required When Using a 3PL Warehouse and What They Mean For Your Business

Insurance needed when using a 3PLYour goods are you business. Their safe transport from your production facilities to their subsequent warehouses and their safe storage is one of the most important considerations that you have to make as a business owner.

If your goods are lost or damaged while in the hands of a third party warehouse provider, you could be looking at losses in revenue of tens of thousands of dollars or more without the ability to recoup those losses.

That’s why asking the right questions and choosing the right 3PL warehouse provider is such a critical decision. Our clients often ask us questions about what kinds of insurance is required when using a 3PL warehouse provider and what kind of insurance should they include in their contracts?

This post is all about answering those important questions and giving you a deeper understanding of the warehouse industry so that you can make informed decisions.

What kind of insurance is required and what are you covered for?

There are several types of insurance that any warehouse and transportation provider can possess. Each one has a different level of coverage and will cover your goods for different scenarios.

We are going to cover three of the most common types of insurance that you need to be aware of when contracting a 3PL provider for warehousing and transportation services as well as what each one means for your business.

1. Warehouse Legal Liability Insurance

Warehouse legal liability insurance means that the warehouse provider is responsible for the safe storage of your goods and must provide “reasonable care” to your goods while in their care.

This means that if the warehouse provider does not provide “reasonable care” and their negligence results in loss or damage of your goods, the warehouse provider’s insurance company will cover your losses and pay your for the goods.

Under this kind of insurance policy, you are still responsible for your goods for any other kind of damage or loss of goods i.e fires, floods, windstorms, hurricanes, etc.

It’s important to note that with warehouse legal liability insurance, the insurance provider that is covering the policy will only pay your damages if negligence is the cause of the loss or damage.

If the warehouse provider is offering you a level of care that goes beyond the legal definition of “reasonable care” the insurance provider will most likely not cover damages in the event of lost or damaged goods.

So, if your warehouse provider is offering added storage benefits or a higher degree of care than what their insurance policy defines as “reasonable”, you need to make sure that your contract specifies who will cover damages in the event the insurance provider declines to cover the costs.

2. Business Interruptions Insurance

Business interruptions insurance covers the warehouse in the event of a natural disaster or other business interruption and pays the warehouse their profits during the time that they were unable to conduct business.

This is a step beyond property insurance as it covers the profits associated with loss of business and not just the costs of repairing the property.

This kind of insurance will only cover the warehouse provider, not the customers that are storing their goods there.

If the warehouse that you’re storing your goods in is located in an area prone to natural disasters, you could add a provision to your contract that would require the warehouse provider to give you a portion of your losses out of their payment from the insurance provider who underwrites their business interruption insurance. However, this would be a very hard bargain and is unlikely that most (or any) 3PL providers would agree to it.

However, there is also contingent business interruption insurance which means that in the event one of your warehouses cannot operate and you lose profits during the time that they were inoperable, you would be able to file a claim with your insurance provider to cover the losses during that time.

This would be something that you would need to purchase outside of any warehouse provider you decide to do business with, but could be incredibly beneficial to you as you expand your business and increasingly rely on third party logistics providers throughout the country.

3. Transportation Insurance

Much like the warehouse legal liability insurance above, transportation insurance has varied clauses, legal definitions and limitations to when and how much you’ll get reimbursed if your goods are lost or damaged.

Basic transportation insurance specifies that the carrier is responsible for the safe transport of your goods and their insurance provider will pay your for loss or damage as long as the carrier was negligent during transport.

Again, you’re still responsible for loss or damage due to natural disasters or other circumstances outside of the control of the carrier. When you’re reviewing the contract for responsibility during transport make sure you understand the definition of negligence that the carrier is using.

Another consideration for transportation insurance is whether or not the payment will be made to you based on loss of profits, wholesale price of your goods or price per pound of your products. Depending on how payments are specified, you could be looking at a varied amount of payments.

These examples are some of the most common kinds of insurance required when using a 3PL warehouse. Based on your specific business needs or products being stored & transported, these may be insufficient for your needs. It’s always best to consult a professional or a lawyer when drafting or signing contracts that could impact your business’s bottom line.

If you have any questions about insurance or any other aspect of 3PL warehousing or transportation, feel free to contact us.