A partnership with a 3PL should be about more than simply handling e-commerce and store deliveries. A good 3PL partner will offer you other services as well, simply to add value to the relationship. Essentially, if they’re capable of doing small projects that you frequently have to do in house—and they should be—then they can do it for you, allowing you to focus on other aspects of running the business. Let’s explore value added services.
More often that not, no two requests from a retailer—or multiple retailers—will be the same. Whatever problem needs to be solved will require a solution that is unique to the retailer and to the situation. That requires the 3PL partner to often think creatively and quickly, all while maintaining quality. Any kind of product rework, whether it’s combining two items into a gift basket or building a 4’ by 4’ display unit loaded with 100 different pieces containing 15 different SKUs in a specific diagram, the 3PL provider has to be quick on its feet. When you’re looking for a 3PL partner, look at other services they’ve completed for their existing customers to see specifically what they’re capable of doing.
A Manual Process
Of course, being able to provide value added services takes resources on the part of the 3PL provider. They have to have space in which they’re able to perform these services, as well as employees available to dedicate themselves to these projects. When you’re looking for a 3PL partner, space and employees are very important aspects to look for in value added services.
Some projects require space and time that are difficult for an automated service, whether that’s your own in-house system or that of another 3PL partner. For example, say that a certain product doesn’t have the right tag for a department store to accept it. You could either send it back, which necessitates a 20-day return, or you could simply have your 3PL partner take care of it immediately and save money on return costs.
Any value added services take dedicated time as well as personnel. Many projects require a quick turn-around, and it’s imperative that a 3PL partner is able to meet deadlines on these projects. The more a 3PL has been able to complete projects similar to what you would request, the more likely they are to have the ability to gather the products necessary to accomplish your projects. Again, employees are a huge factor here: can your 3PL get an extra 20 people together in a day’s notice to finish your project on time?
Value added services are meant to give you the time to focus on other aspects of your business. It’s important that you can trust your 3PL partner to do precisely what’s right and exactly what you request. When you’re looking, be sure to ask. Those who offer these services will stand out from the crowd.