When you outsource fulfillment to a 3PL, you are relinquishing a lot of control over your logistics supply chain. Because of this you want to choose a fulfillment provider who can step up and meet your brand needs, both in the quality of the fulfillment but also in the service to your team and brand.
Many ecommerce businesses overlook the need for supply chain partners who offer premium services. Things like customer service may be an afterthought when vetting your 3PL—many ecommerce brands focus too much of overall costs—but during the day-to-day operations, good customer service can go a long way in helping your brand proactively resolve any potential issues.
A 3PL with excellent customer service will mean quicker response time when issues come up, faster communication with your end-customers, and less headaches and hassles for your team as a whole.
Clear, Direct, and Frequent Communication
The primary service you want your 3PL to provide is communication. Without it, you might be stuck on a hotline or waiting for an email response when you are in an operational crisis. For maximum customer service choose a partner who has an open line of communication when you need it, not when it’s convenient for them.
If you are seeking premium service, hire a 3PL who can give you a dedicated account team, a direct line of communication to that team, and a clear escalation policy when something needs immediate attention.
If you are vetting a new fulfillment provider and are unsure how communication will be day-in and day-out, ask what channels they use for customer communication. They should list different types: a channel for quick, simple questions; a place for longer, process-oriented projects; and a way that you can share analytics, data, and big picture business decisions.
Ask hard questions about how you’ll be communicating with your team. Be sure to inquire about how they communicate with other partners like retailers, shipping carriers, manufacturers, or customers. There needs to be very clear rules of engagement to ensure the right messages are getting to the correct people.
With clear, direct, and frequent communication, your 3PL will be providing you the support you need to give your customers the best experience with your brand.
Advocacy for Your Products
It’s a misconception that fulfillment is just putting products into boxes. There are many aspects of fulfillment that require expertise and specialization. On the warehouse floor, for example, if a pallet of your products is accidentally left on a dock and the warehouse is closing soon. Would you rather that pallet just sit there unattended until someone notices the next day that it wasn’t picked up? Or would you rather know that the people working at your 3PL will walk the warehouse every day before it’s too late, and advocate that your products make it onto a carrier truck no matter what?
A 3PL with excellent customer service means your products will make it to your customers on time, every time, because of people who will go above and beyond to advocate for your business, every step of the way.
“DCL’s integration was very easy. I did all the setup myself and it was easy. We had test orders going through it in no time.”
Quick and Simple Onboarding
It’s not easy to onboard your entire business to a new 3PL – there are so many moving parts, so many SKUs to account for, and so many new operational processes. If onboarding with your new 3PL takes more than a few weeks to complete, you’re likely to start seeing issues arise. With change comes greater opportunity for things to fall through the cracks. Great customer service includes serving your overall business, and that means getting your products into storage and ready to be sent out quickly.
The second part to this is making it easy for you. A 3PL with excellent customer service will be able to walk you through your entire integration process without you having to do too much. That’s the reason you’re outsourcing right? You shouldn’t have more headaches and issues on your hands, you should have less.Review and Optimize for Growth
It’s one thing to have a partner who can pick, pack, and ship—it’s a different situation if you have a 3PL who is invested in your business growth. All ecommerce businesses want to scale their brand. Growth is a key indicator of success in ecommerce. It’s a little-known fact that the right 3PL can actually help aid your growth. Here are a few things to look for:
- Does your 3PL meet with you on a quarterly basis to review your account?
- Do they have shipping experts to help you optimize your shipping mix?
- Do they provide value-adds like custom messages or kitting help to give your brand a competitive edge?
The biggest thing to look for is your 3PL’s ability to help you manage the common ebbs and flows of sales volume. All ecommerce businesses go through seasonal demand cycles. An excellent fulfillment provider will have the tools and resources to manage this for you, so that you can focus on your business growth and profitability.
If you’re not sure where to start, here is a comprehensive questionnaire to help you vet your next 3PL.
f you’re looking for a 3PL with fulfillment centers in cities across the US, we own and operate facilities in The Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Kentucky. Use DCL’s national footprint of warehouses to distribute your inventory across the country to reduce transit times and save on shipping costs. If you need fulfillment or shipping support and want to partner with DCL Logistics, we’d love to hear from you.