When dealing with a 3PL (third-party-logistics-provider), there are a lot of considerations to have in mind. You want your product to be where it needs to be on time, and in perfect condition. Now, most good shipping and logistics companies will do everything that is required for that without you asking them about it. However, when dealing with a 3PL, you are going to want to ensure that your products are going to be handled the way they should be. In order to help you with this task, we have prepared a list of the top 5 questions people forget to ask their 3PL. By asking these questions, you will either figure out that the company is not the right fit for you, or you will be satisfied with their level of service.
Important 5 questions people forget to ask their 3PL:
Here are the most important questions to ask:
- How do they handle your product?
- Can they integrate with your own systems?
- What guarantees do they provide?
- What are their shipping times and warehouse locations?
- How do they deal with the returns?
How do they handle your product?
Now, while this may sound a little ambiguous, here’s what we mean by it: Depending on the size, weight, fragility, and other factors of your product, the company needs to handle it differently. You need to make sure that your shipments are being handled just the right way. Usually, a 3PL company will have its own systems that facilitate the transport of their shipments, which are not really all that easy to modify. This is especially important if you are using logistics services international. What you need to figure out is whether their methods of handling and transportation are fit for your particular product. And speaking of their systems, that leads us into our next question.
One of the important 5 questions people forget to ask their 3PL – Can they integrate with your own systems?
If you already have a few logistics and distribution systems of your own, it is important you ask your 3PL whether they can integrate with them. Normally, logistics providers like to do things their own way. However, what you need to ensure is that their way is compatible with your own. Similarly to hiring relocation services, you need to find out if the company is the right “fit” for your current situation. Explain your own position and your capabilities and ask them how will they integrate with them. Most good 3PL’s will be able to find a good solution, that incorporates the strengths of both companies. In any case, this is a question that you definitely need to ask.
What guarantees do they provide?
This one is really important. You need to know what kind of guarantee you have from your 3PL. Do they offer a full return if something goes wrong? Do they provide you with any other means of reimbursement? How long is that process? You need to ask questions like these before you decide to work with a company. Not doing so only invites disaster in the long run. You never want to be blindsided by your 3PL if you can avoid it. If you are looking for the cheapest way to ship internationally, you may look into some companies that do not have a stellar reputation. It is really important to know exactly what they can, and what they cannot provide. And, of course, you want to have as much guarantee for your products as possible. Therefore, ask your 3PL all about them and do not stop until you have a satisfying answer.
What are their shipping times and warehouse locations?
Moving on, you will also want to know about their shipping times and the locations of their warehouses. This might be extremely important if you are shipping fresh produce, for example. Basically, if your product needs to arrive fresh, this may very well be the most important question to ask. Even if you are not shipping time-sensitive products, you may still want to know about the time it takes for it to reach the customer. That way, you will be able to provide accurate details to your clients. As you know, being honest with your customers is one of the rules of any successful business. Or, well, most successful businesses.
When it comes to warehouse locations, you need to know exactly where your 3PL will be storing your items. That way, you can make more accurate predictions. Knowing where your products are, at any time, is a valuable piece of information, after all. And you want to have as much information as possible when dealing with a 3PL. Always ask as many questions of this kind as you can think of. It will make your business operations a lot smoother and easier.
The most important of the 5 questions people forget to ask their 3PL – How do they deal with the returns?
One question that most people fail to consider asking is how does the 3PL deal with the return of your products? Normally, their job is to get the products to the customers and that’s it. They are not liable for anything that happens after that. Now, your business might actually be just fine with this and you can have your customers mail the items back to you. But in some cases, this is simply not possible. You need to make sure that your logistics partner can do the job that you need it to do. If that means that they have to deal with the return of the products, as well as delivering them, so be it. Do note that returns might incur an additional cost, though.
But what you need to make sure of is that if the original reason for the return is the fault of 3PL, that you do not need to pay extra money. When talking to your logistics partner, always make sure to present as many situations and ask them how do they go about handling them. The more you know in advance, the better.