3PL Questions: Should Businesses Ask for Custom Logistics Solutions?

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="224"]dovetail joint from enWP: 05:42, 17 August 200... Think of your 3PL like a dovetail joint; the  closer the connection, the sturdier the solution! (Talk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption] Earlier this month we recommended eight questions to ask a potential 3PL when you decide to outsource some or all of your supply chain operations. As some of those questions warranted a deeper dive, we'll be looking more closely at the considerations to make and what to listen for when you ask them. Today we look at services or processes specifically designed for your business and why it's wise to ask your 3PL for some custom logistics solutions.  

The Benefits of a Custom Logistics Solution

As we said in the previous post, it's vital that your supply chain partners give you the confidence that comes from understanding your industry. More importantly, you need them to have a good handle on your business itself and the inevitable quirks that come with your order fulfillment process. A good logistics partner who knows how you work will be able to make suitable recommendations about supply chain improvements that better serve your customers. This could be anything from consolidating a variety of processes into one unified shipping solution,  to improved packaging practices that reduce damage potential and customer complaints. Some of the advantages of probing for these custom logistics solutions include:
  • Cost reduction from driving out supply chain inefficiencies.
  • Open your eyes to new technology solutions which may be commonplace to your 3PL but that you hadn't considered (or even heard of!)
  • You flag any potential misunderstandings about how your existing business processes work before you're up and running, at which point they're more costly to resolve.
  • Closer integration with your logistics provider by "learning on the job" and making incremental improvements on the fly.
  • Greater business trust between both parties, as you have confidence that they improve your operations and the aforementioned integration gives your 3PL a significant stake in your success.
 

Know Your Limits

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="192"]Dont be a Bottleneck. Beat the Promise - NARA ... Beat the bottlenecks before they begin... (Photo credit: Wikipedia)[/caption] The original question, "what custom service can you recommend for my business?" also helps both parties to understand any limitations that your logistics partnership will throw up. Discussions around customization tend to dig into the details of what can and can’t be done. If you're making a decision to outsource for the first time, this could throw up some show stopper issues. If you're in the middle of a relationship, the question still has value in drawing out the limitations of your current provider. Even simple misunderstandings about what is possible can lead to expensive disagreements further down the line, so it's always better to get on the same page as your suppliers as soon as you can. If you have any more questions about how custom logistics can help your business, we're happy to help!
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