Choosing the right 3PL provider for your business can be daunting. There are plenty out there and you should use this competitive market to your advantage. What should you look for? At a minimum, you will want to engage a company that uses modern technology and tracking to be fast, efficient, and cost effective for whatever your 3PL needs are.
Automated Inventory Control
The key to defining a superior 3PL is their grasp on data technology. Don’t take this as a given. Some of the smaller players still use a system too dependent on manpower, with the same information for each shipment rekeyed throughout the supply chain.
Ensure the 3PL you choose has an automated inventory supply which links to all parties, including the carriers, so that information only needs to be entered once, saving time and labor costs, meanwhile avoiding errors. Shipping documentation, works orders and bills of materials should be electronically generated by the inventory control system and preferably saved in the cloud, where it can be easily but securely accessed.
Reorder points should be automatically calculated, enabling minimum stock levels to be replenished as soon as possible. You don’t want to receive a major order only to discover you’re out of stock of a particular item. This can also lose you money in the future if the customer goes elsewhere. Again, something as critical as stock levels are better kept automated than reliant on error-prone manpower.
Speed & Flexibility
Your needs as a competitive business will continually be changing. Seasonal trends, uneven sales patterns, evolving legislation, new products, new suppliers and buyers all combine to produce a route to growth that has to be constantly navigated. Your 3PL’s logistics services should be able to keep up with these changes, offering the speed and flexibility required to add new parties and to devise ever more efficient solutions to enable you to keep winning contracts and maintain existing ones.
These are your goods being shipped, let’s face it. It’s understandable then that you need complete shipment visibility throughout transit and storage. The best inventory control systems provide end-to-end shipment visibility, reducing errors, curbing costs, and maintaining slender profit margins by ensuring shipments are delivered on time. An automated alerts system, perhaps filtering out the more transient delivery problems, is vital to allow carriers, suppliers and manufacturers to address specific failures in the supply chain.
When looking to outsource a superior 3PL for your business needs, consider first the inventory control system it uses. Make sure it’s automated, fast, flexible, and offers great shipment visibility.