Third party logistics (3PL) provider, Yantra Fulfilment, has published its top 10 tips on what to look out for when selecting a fulfilment partner.
The Midlands-based firm has highlighted the 10 key areas that companies should be focussing on when considering how to provide an ‘Amazon-style’ fulfilment service.
Commercial director for Yantra, Steve Smith (above), said: “Effective fulfilment must be fast, accurate and flexible enough to meet evolving customer demands.
“In short, goods need to be in the right place at the right time and it is only by having a trusted 3PL partner that this can be consistently achieved.”
Yantra’s Top Tips for selecting a fulfilment partner:
1. Range of capabilities – Look for a partner that can serve all the channels you wish to serve – there is no point in picking a provider that does e-commerce really well but cannot serve your B2B customers with the same level of service.
2. Technology – Find out everything you can about the systems the 3PL uses. What is the uptime and do they have disaster recovery planning within their business, are questions that need to be explored.
3. Integration – Ensure that the 3PL can link seamlessly with your own systems and the major e-commerce platforms so that you have visibility of your orders and stock levels at all times.
4. Scalability – You are likely looking for a 3PL partner as your business is growing fast and the logistics element is taking up too much of your time. Look for a 3PL partner that has the ability to scale with you and offers distinct advantages in location(s) that suit your business that will ultimately cut your delivery costs.
5. Despatch and delivery insight – When it comes to customer satisfaction, this is one of the most crucial measures of all. Whether your 3PL partner does the final mile delivery themselves, or uses chosen couriers/hauliers, ensure that they have the ability to provide you and your customers updates on deliveries. Research shows that the vast majority of customers want to be kept informed and updated of their delivery.
6. Continuous Improvement – Is your 3PL partner innovative, or happy to just continue with current processes etc? Your 3PL partner should always be looking for improvements, be that through automation or robotics or general process improvements and should be able to inform you of their plans in this area.
7. Visibility of stock availability – A single view of stock is vital for most retailers today. Knowing exactly where stock is and in what numbers is vital for speedy, successful fulfilment of orders and ensuring customer satisfaction. Ensure that your 3PL partner can give you this information at all times.
8. Flexibility – Customer-focussed companies need a 3PL partner that can adapt to an evolving market place. Flexibility is a staple requirement to meet changing customer needs as well as trading peaks and troughs. Your 3PL partner should be able to flex its operations to meet your business needs, whether that flex is up or down.
9. Product accuracy – Many companies still accept low level order accuracy of around 90 percent but this is simply not good enough in today’s market. A 3PL partner that is using a good WMS and scanning process should be able to provide a figure much closer to 100 percent.
10. Value for money – Maintaining healthy margins can make a huge difference to the bottom line, which is why companies should only ever pay for what they actually use. The 3PL market is no different and charges should be based on actual monthly storage and activities rather than a non-specific fee.