Communication is one of the most important aspects to have with a business partner. Your third party logistics provider plays a critical role in the success of your business. In many ways, your 3PL company is a partner to your business, and if both parties do their part, the relationship will flourish.
Proper communication is needed from everyone involved in the shipping process. 3PL communication needs to be quick, consistent and around the clock. By keeping communication open and reaching out for needed information, from the shipper and carrier, the 3PL is able to maintain a level of excellence.
It’s critical for each party to ask each other the right questions to identify possible issues that might not be so apparent on the surface. And as the relationship continues to bloom, ongoing communication from both parties is essential to the continued health and success of the partnership.
What is Logistics?
Logistics is that part of supply chain management that plans, implements and controls the efficient, effective flow and storage of goods, services and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption in order to meet customers’ requirements. It is about getting the right product, to the right customer, in the right quantity, in the right condition, at the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost.
There are many elements that play key roles within a logistical structure, for example, prices and volumes are reviewed to make sure they fulfill what it is being required. Quality assurance deals with the precision of what is being acquired and shipping and handling regulates and control the time that takes to move the items from the shipping point to the delivery point.
Logistics play a crucial role to ensure high levels of productivity, since it can reduce the time it takes to get what is being demanded in the hand of those that are manufacturing or delivering the goods and services to the final customers.
What is a Third-Party Warehouse?
A third-party warehouse is a storage facility owned by a commercial provider outside your company. Providers of third-party warehouse services go through several steps to serve your needs. Your third-party warehouse keeps up with all the details and logistics of receiving inventory from your suppliers. They must know your standards for accepting inventory and what to do when your supplier’s services do not meet the terms of your business. The third-party warehouse must make sure it can accommodate the many complexities of your business, both in receiving your merchandise and in sending it to your customers.
Shipping third-party fulfillment can achieve considerable reductions in shipping costs. UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the trucking companies all offer price breaks when they can send an empty truck to a warehouse and drive it away full. Maybe your retail business generates enough sales that you can take advantage of reduced rates for shipping. Maybe if it does not now, it eventually will. But in the meantime, your lowest shipping costs are available through third-party fulfillment warehousing.
Providing third-party warehouse services is about more than just providing a building. It is about more than just fulfilling orders. The use of a third-party fulfillment and warehousing provides essential services at lower cost. And it provides essential information for the business decisions you make that grow your company.
The Critical Role of Communication in 3PL
Communication is an essential element for successful 3PL management. Establishing proper communication brings transparency between the logistics provider and the company. Communication can also extend in the form of a contract enclosing the expectations of services to be provided, goals to be achieved, targeted milestones, escalation process, and point of contact information. It is advised to have dedicated staff in place to handle the entire communication with the provider. Also, clearly defining the contract’s escalation process helps avoid any confusion in case of missed, late, or damaged delivery.
5 Points to Communicate
- Set Expectations: Expectations must be clearly communicated. You must define what you want so your 3PL will know your exact needs and can set up an attack plan to accomplish them. Having clear expectations will create accountability, which is critical to any relationship.
- Define Your Pain Points: Too often we do not like to share what hurts our business most but the 3PL relationship should be no different than a personal relationship in which each person shares their fears and pains. If a 3PL knows and understands your pain points, they can work with you to focus on the issues and takes steps to properly conquer them.
- Question the Contract: Companies repeatedly find themselves in a situation where they do not fully understand what they are agreeing to. If you signed the contract then you are agreeing to the terms. When receiving a contract, it is crucial that you fully review the details and discuss it with the 3PL so that there is no ambiguity later down the line. It is better to ask questions at the beginning if you are not 100% clear. Clearing the air through communication will set a great platform before service begins.
- Share Long Term Goals: This is a dialogue of sorts between the solutions provider and the company that has outsourced to them. It is not simply reporting metrics. This is where many 3PLs drop the ball. This is where you have ongoing communications about what is going on in the operations on a day to day basis. At a tactical level, there is generally a manager talking to a single point of contact every day about operational issues. Just as important, there is a strategic conversation that must take place, at least monthly, between a senior executive from the 3PL and the executive decision maker. These strategic discussions will ensure alignment between the two entities and it will also ensure expectations are clearly understood and performance is explained.
- Performance Evaluation: Reviewing the progress made and the current status of the relationship between your company and the 3PL provider is essential. You need to know if the agreed conditions and deliverable have been made. Additionally, changes in the market, laws, and strategies may affect the logistics going forward. Evaluation enables you to update your plans together and eliminate any potential for disputes down the line which can affect the 3PL relationship.
The FLEX Logistics Team is Here to Help!
The primary goal is to deliver any order at any cost. On occasion, this might even be done through individual shipments. Therefore, flexible fulfillment has become a logistics strategy seen more often in firms in sectors as diverse as the consumer goods, food and retail industries. It is time for your distribution centers to work in unison to deliver more orders.
Make fulfillment stress-free for your customers, and win both new and repeat business. This past year saw a number of customer engagement trends accelerate. E-Commerce took off as consumers became comfortable shopping for more, and more types of, goods from their homes. Manufacturers learned how to sell directly to consumers, and many traditional retailers doubled down on their already effective omnichannel approaches.
Our team understands the importance of getting your products to the market. That is why we aim to understand your business and build lasting relationships with you and your team. Whether you are looking to add a new warehouse to your existing operations, growing and need to increase your distribution efforts, or starting a new company, FLEX has the solutions to meet your supply chain needs.
Contact us today to discuss your current and future warehousing and logistics needs. We will work together with you to understand your requirements and develop a solution that will set you up for future success.