Knowing when it’s time to switch 3PLs

Is it possible to outsource fulfillment, and if so, what are the benefits? Outsourcing fulfillment is a step above shipping purchases at home, but it’s vital to choose the right partner. Here are some warning signs that your current 3PL isn’t suitable for your company — as well as lessons learned by other ecommerce businesses who have been

They’re messing up orders

When you outsource any aspect of your business, your reputation is on the line. When it comes to keeping track of and delivering orders in a secure, consistent, and timely manner, your 3PL must get it right for you.

Fulfillment isn’t a science that’s perfect, and mistakes are inevitable, especially while things are in transit. Make sure your 3PL is someone who will fix any problems.

They’re not continuously advancing and improving

3PLs are continually changing, and customer expectations are no exception. Can your 3PL keep up with the constant evolution of ecommerce? If your fulfillment provider hasn’t upgraded or expanded their technology, operations, or facilities since you started working together, they aren’t thinking ahead — and they most likely don’t have your customers’ needs in mind.

“Good enough” is the wrong mentality when it comes to achieving satisfaction, and your technology, processes, and orders are streamlined and scaled for mass production.

Not all 3PLs have the resources to keep technology and operations up-to-date, which means they can’t help you scale. Launch Fulfillment has raised over $62.5 million in funding and uses that cash to provide benefits for its clients.

You’ve outgrown the 3PL (or have plans to soon)

There may come a point when your existing 3PL can no longer support you if your shipping volume is increasing exponentially as your firm expands. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a mom-and-pop store that focuses on small businesses.

Different 3PLs have varying inventory storage techniques in addition to their capacity to expand operations. You’ll also want to make sure they provide deep fulfillment expertise and operate their own fulfillment centers and distribution networks, rather than relying solely on an on-demand warehousing solution. It’s critical to choose a 3PL that has adequate warehouse space for your existing inventory, since your product line and order quantity will expand.

If you’re looking to expand internationally, you may either add more 3PLs to your team or completely convert to a global fulfillment firm (for example, having one 3PL in the United States, one in Europe, and one in Australia).

Global fulfillment company Shipwire, Inc. helps businesses offer more domestic shipping to their customers by providing a global network of warehouses and delivery staff around the world.

You need better support

Do you know who to call at your current 3PL if you have a problem with an order or need inventory updates? Do you receive timely answers from them?

An excellent 3PL will provide exceptional customer service, far beyond simply responding to FAQs. Your 3PL should be a collaborator rather than just a supplier; they should be able to offer you a clear and holistic perspective of your company’s fulfillment operations as well as assist you connect with other ecommerce partners that can help you expand your business.

Their technology is basic or archaic

A 3PL now must have fulfillment software with order management capabilities first and foremost. Full Stop. It’s impossible to respond to client issues or analyze the quality of your customer service experience if you don’t know the status of each order as it goes through the warehouse.

However, being able to monitor orders isn’t always enough. You’re wasting a lot of time if you have to upload orders manually to your fulfillment provider’s system. You should be able to connect your order fulfillment software with your ecommerce platform to automatically push orders as soon as they’re placed.

If you have multiple systems in place to keep things operating, you risk generating inconsistent data or duplicating SKUs or orders. Keeping everything simple and straightforward on one or two platforms can help you avoid clutter and disarray.

Another way your 3PL fulfillment service provider can assist you is by pushing tracking data to your shop as soon as an order leaves their facility. This two-way transmission of information ensures that orders are delivered on time, while also allowing you and your client to stay up to date.

You’re not getting your money’s worth

The cheapest 3PL isn’t always the finest option, but if you’re paying a premium for order fulfillment, the value to your company should be evident. The technology, warehouse management skills, customer service, customizability choices, and geographic presence can all add value above and beyond a regular 3PL.

There may be unforeseen logistics expenses you’re not aware of, such as transport fees to shift goods from a port city to a rural area – just to send orders back out to the seas. These inefficiencies accumulate over time and result in higher costs.

Many 3PLs are notorious for having hidden costs and fees for every little activity. The term “fulfillment pricing” might be difficult to understand.

The cost should be more than worthwhile if a 3PL is the proper match for your organization. Fulfillment by third party services, like Amazon Flex and FedEx SmartPost, can even be a revenue generator for your company because it gives customers with a wide range of delivery choices that can help reduce cart abandonment while also increasing average order value.

Customer satisfaction is suffering

At the end of the day, your clients will decide whether or not your order fulfillment is good enough. If it’s not, they’ll let you know one way or another: through a spike in support tickets, bad evaluations, harsh social media comments, or simply a decline in sales. You’re utilizing the wrong third-party services if your consumers.