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3PL Fulfillment Partners: Steps to Success

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If, like many, your brand has expanded during the recent eCommerce boom, you might be considering a 3PL fulfillment partner. The same could be true if you outgrown the capabilities of more basic service providers, or simply need to reassess your relationship with a current fulfillment partner. 

Whatever the reason for making the move, developing a successful partnership can help take your business to the next level. With the right expertise and experience added to an already popular product line, brands can improve customer experience and build a reputation for exceptional service based on frictionless fulfillment.

Nonetheless, as with any good relationship, a successful 3PL fulfillment partnership takes work and requires the right people.  Understanding what makes such collaborations a success will help you avoid partners who can't handle your business and service providers unable to rise to the next level of fulfillment.

3PL fulfillment partners shake hands

Best Practices for a Successful 3PL Fulfillment Partnership

In a recent interview with the MHI Solutions, Capacity CSO Thom Campbell offered advice on the best ways to build a positive working relationship with 3PL fulfillment partners. Of the initial selection process, he offers this advice:

"A small, mom-and-pop 3PL focused on regional shipments is going to be different than a 3PL that has multiple global locations. One isn’t worse or better than the other; each may be perfect for a certain kind of client, but not so good for others."

You can read the full article here, but here are some of the key takeaways:

  1. Find a partner with a similar size and scope to your business (with room to scale as you grow).
  2. Assess potential partners on the long-term value they add to your brand, not just the upfront price. An unsuitable partner can cost your business much more in the long run. 
  3. Try to ensure any partner you consider works hard to understand your business and aligns with your company culture. 
  4. Discuss plans for onboarding, performance monitoring, and issue resolution early on in the selection process. 
  5. Agree clear communication channels and establish regular meetings to assess performance, develop relationships, and encourage transparency. 

Clearly, a lot goes into building a successful 3PL fulfillment partnership and not every service provider is able to make the jump to become a close working partner.

Finding a partner who understands your brand - and following the best practices described above - lays out a foundation for success that can move your brand smoothly into its next phase of growth.