Over the last few weeks, you’ve spent countless hours carefully crafting the most important document you’ll use to learn about your potential third-party logistics (3PL) partners: your RFP.
Many times, the RFP is the best chance for you and your potential 3PL partner to learn about each other. Will you receive the types of answers you need to ultimately choose your perfect 3PL partner?
Before you release your RFP, ask yourself these three questions.
1. Do our questions allow each 3PL to differentiate themselves from their competition?
Everyone likes to talk about himself, so it’s a good idea to give each 3PL the chance to do so. Each question in the RFP should be open-ended enough to give you insight into exactly what sets one provider apart from another. Is it a particular service, a way of doing business, or the size of their company? How about the way they treat their customers, or how they would handle the unique situations you face?
Giving each 3PL the chance to differentiate themselves will make it easier for you to understand each company’s strengths, and eventually narrow down your list.
2. Do our questions always connect to our overall strategic objective?
Your objectives are the foundation of your RFP. And you can’t necessarily know the best way to achieve them - that’s what the 3PL is for! Lay out your objectives in the RFP to give each 3PL the opportunity to assess your situation and determine the best way to meet your objectives.
If your questions are grounded by your objectives, each 3PL will be able to provide more focused, clear, and efficient answers. This will make it easier for them to provide you with a clear plan, and easier for you to differentiate between each company and ultimately select your best partner.
3. Are we providing enough information about our project for each 3PL to provide us with a specific plan of execution?
In order for them to show what they can do for you, you will need to tell them a few details about your situation. Each 3PL will handle your needs in their own way. Arm them with the information they will need to create a specific plan of execution that both improves your status quo and meets your expectations.
We recommend sharing information such as your average order profile (number of units, SKU’s, packages, and shipment type), the percentage of international orders you typically receive, and your average number of shipments per day, month, and year. We also recommend sharing as many details as you can about your product – what it is, what it does, and if there is any special handling required.
When you ask yourself these three questions, consider how specific the 3PL’s answers will be. The RFP is the first opportunity for you and your potential 3PL partners to learn about each other so you can make the best decision moving forward.