Dependable relationships with the right 3PL partners can streamline your supply chain and drive more shipping value.

To remain competitive in an increasingly complex and demanding marketplace, many companies outsource specific aspects (or their entire) shipping programs to third-party logistics (3PL) providers. However, it’s important to remember that not all 3PLs are created equal — the key is finding a partner with the connections and infrastructure needed to handle any shipping challenge. Whether you’re looking for help in managing your supply chain or need support with warehousing and distribution, a 3PL can do the heavy shipping and logistics lifting so you can focus on what’s most important: running your business. Here’s how to identify a partner that will drive long-term value — not just short-term savings.

How the Best 3PLs Create Value for Their Partners

First of all, it’s important to understand what we mean by “long-term value.” When 3PLs focus on lowering upfront costs, that typically means they’re not going to be able to offer the level of flexibility, customization, and customer service that a complex, constantly changing industry like shipping and logistics requires. A quality 3PL actually strives to understand your unique organizational culture and objectives, which enables it to operate semi-autonomously and identify new opportunities to generate savings and foster growth.

Take distribution as an example — by identifying distribution centers located near your primary customers, your 3PL can increase warehousing efficiency and shorten delivery timelines, helping you keep shipping costs under control while simultaneously boosting reliability and customer satisfaction. What’s more, tech-forward partners can leverage their WMS, ERP, and TMS systems to boost supply chain transparency, efficiency, and help you stay on top of your program with minimal effort.

Put simply, your partner should have the requisite level of experience to understand what your business needs from its shipping program to foster sustainable success and growth in its target markets. Whether that means streamlined order fulfillment, ROI-boosting intermodal transportation strategies, or EDI compliance to grow your network of trading partners, make sure you evaluate what potential 3PLs can bring to the table.

Key Questions for Evaluating a 3PL

One of the main reasons to consider partnering with a 3PL is what you actually get back from that investment. When you hire staff to handle shipping and logistics internally, you’re paying for the knowledge and capabilities of one or two individuals. A 3PL brings the expertise, capacity, and skill sets of its entire staff to bear, not to mention its organizational resources, international partnerships, and existing relationships with carriers (which can often result in reduced rates and/or special treatment). In other words, you now have increased flexibility and leverage in negotiations, opening the door to better rates and routes that might not be available to you on your own.

For this reason, it’s important to evaluate a 3PL’s level of experience and organizational depth before making your decision. How many years have they been around for? How extensive is their trading network? What kind of results have they managed to achieve for their partners in the past? Have they received any awards or recognition from reputable organizations?

Go for the Gold

At the end of the day, investing in a relationship with a 3PL can get you a lot of bang for your buck — you just need to make sure you and your partner are a good fit. The best 3PLs are more interested in long-term partnerships than high client turnover rates, and they’ll be honest about whether they’re the right fit for you and your business.

Primary Freight has been successfully operating in the international shipping and logistics market for more than 20 years. We’ve consistently set ourselves apart from other shipping and logistics providers by focusing on customer service, creative problem solving, and lasting relationships. If you’re interested in outsourcing any and/or all of your shipping and logistics strategy, get in touch with us today and we’ll help you decide whether or not we’re positioned to help you achieve your objectives.

If you’re interested in learning more about our award-winning services and support, give us a call today at (800) 635-0013.