(This is a guest post from our friends over at ShipStation, leading web-based shipping solution that helps ecommerce retailers import, organize, and ship orders quickly and easily—wherever you sell, however you ship)
According to ShipStation’s latest Last Touch report, 83% of consumers are less likely to re-purchase from a retailer after a negative delivery or shipping experience.
With more customers shopping online than ever before, it is even more important to ensure your products are being shipped effectively and in a timely manner. Sometimes that means outsourcing and hiring a 3PL, or Third Party Logistics provider. 3PL’s are a great way to scale your business because they take part or all of your shipping processes in their own warehouse so you can focus on other business operations.
Finding the right 3PL is extremely important since they are your customer’s last touch with your brand, which can ultimately make or break their satisfaction. There are many things to consider when searching for a 3PL to meet your needs.
So, here’s 6 easy questions you can ask to ensure your 3PL will be the perfect logistics partners for your eCommerce brand.
1. Does the 3PL specialize in your product vertical?
Fulfillment providers that have worked with customers in the same industry are usually privy to the packaging and shipping needs of your products. For products with stringent shipping protocols like hazardous materials or refrigerated/frozen components, finding a fulfillment partner with experience in those specialties is crucial.
2. Where are their warehouses located?
Customer expectations around delivery speeds has changed drastically over the last few years, so finding a 3PL with warehouses near your customers is beneficial to your business. Not only will they be able to get products to your customers faster, but it will also save you money.
3. Do they work with shipping carriers you already use?
It is helpful to use a fulfillment provider that already works with the carriers you do since they will know the policies and procedures needed to ship to your customers. In addition, it minimizes any possible disruption to the customer experience.
4. What is the 3PL’s inbound process?
Each fulfillment provider has their own method of receiving inbound products. Some 3PLs require strict scheduling and pre-labeling of products, while others may be more flexible. Finding a provider that has similar inbound procedures can help ensure you don’t create more work for yourself.
5. What is the pricing structure, and does it fit with your growth strategy?
There are many different pricing methods 3PLs use for their clients. For instance, they may charge per fulfillment or a lump sum for warehouse square footage. It is recommended to speak with multiple providers to see which pricing model works best for your current and future needs.
6. What are YOUR pain points?
The parts of your fulfillment process that are causing the most trouble are a great place to start when looking for a 3PL.
Pro Tip: from ShipStation: When looking for the right 3PL, it vastly helps to project shipping volumes for the next three to six months. Some metrics that you might want to consider are number of SKUs, daily order volume, customer locations, and weights of shipments.
Using Online Order Fulfillment to Increase Sales
Unfortunately, a lot of online sellers struggle with fulfillment, causing their business to suffer from their bottom line to customer satisfaction. Choosing the right 3PL partner can be a first step to managing a logistics networks that sets you apart and delights your customers.
Don’t take it from us – read about how nChannel / ShipStation customer EasyCare leveraged a 3PL partner and integrated technology to institute same-day shipping to increase their sales and customer satisfaction. You’ll see their step-by-step process of how they chose the right 3PL partner.
Here’s more helpful resources to help you improve your fulfillment processes:
- United by Blue Founder/CEO Brian Linton Talks Fulfillment, Brand and Handling Growth
- Best Shipping Software for eCommerce
- How to Ship Your Products
About the Author
Jennifer Rubin is a Partner Marketing Manager at ShipStation in Austin, TX. She has worked with partners in the ecommerce industry for years, with the primary goal of helping merchants build and grow their businesses.
ShipStation is the leading web-based shipping solution that helps ecommerce retailers import, organize, and ship orders quickly and easily—wherever you sell, however you ship.businesses.