How to Find a Great 3PL For Small Business in 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, finding the right third-party logistics (3PL) partner is crucial for the success of small businesses. A great 3PL partner can take charge of your fulfillment needs, handling everything from inventory storage to shipping. The scope of 3PL services extends beyond the obvious, offering solutions you might not be fully aware of. 

Whether you’re a startup, a small e-commerce retailer, or even a significant player in the sector, a 3PL can be crucial to streamlining your operations. This article will guide you through the process of identifying and selecting the great 3PL service for small businesses which tailored to meet the unique needs of your small business. Let’s explore how to find a great 3PL for small businesses and how they can benefit your company.

Understanding the Importance of 3PL

A 3PL is a business that is mostly focused on managing your fulfillment procedures. This includes collecting and storing inventory, picking and packing goods, and making sure orders are delivered quickly and effectively.

Why 3PL Matters

At its core, a 3PL is a company dedicated to managing your fulfillment processes. However, the utility of 3PLs extends beyond mere shipping. Here are some key services they offer:

Warehousing Solutions: 3PLs frequently offer affordable warehouse solutions as an alternative to expensive Amazon storage costs.

Labeling and Inspection: 3PLs handle a variety of detailed jobs, from labeling goods to reviewing returns.

Mail Handling and Address Services: Some 3PLs also provide mail scanning or forwarding services, serving as a virtual address for your online communications.

At SPExpress, we offer warehouse and fulfillment solutions to divide costs among numerous customers. As a result, you have more freedom in how to utilize our services with smaller investments, reduce risk, and free up more money for your company’s core operations.

Looking for a great 3PL for your small business? Contact SPExpress today to find out how can we help!

How to Find a Great 3PL For Small Business in 2023

How to Find a Great 3PL For Small Business

Although e-commerce is gaining a lot more competition in recent years, outsourcing logistics has been around for a long time. The sheer number of 3PLs might be overwhelming, and they sometimes have a weak or nonexistent internet presence due to former business practices. While trustworthy, large 3PLs might treat you like a number, whereas smaller ones might provide personalized assistance but might have scaling issues.

Large 3PLs will find it easy to manage high-volume orders or increase demands in Black Friday and Christmas order onslaughts. The drawback is that nobody will know your products and everything will just be a barcode. They might also demand you to interact with their system so your products need to have clear bar codes.

In turn, small 3PLs have the advantage that someone within the business will be aware of and interested in what you are selling. The drawback is that they frequently lack the capacity to handle the seasonal fluctuations in logistics adequately. Around the major holidays, they might have trouble getting orders dispatched on time or have trouble obtaining storage space for your goods if they’re overstocked.

Whether you are partnering with small or large 3PLs, the key is to focus on your business needs, let’s dive into some quick tips for finding a great 3PL for your small business.

Assessing Your Business Needs

Begin by understanding your specific logistics requirements, you will have guidance on evaluating your business’s current logistics capabilities and determining the specific services required from a 3PL provider. What services do you need? Is it warehousing, transportation, distribution, or a combination? Clearly outlining your needs will guide your search.

Identifying Key Challenges

Recognizing the challenges your business faces and how a 3PL partner can address and overcome these obstacles. Keep in mind that your business is likely to grow, so choose a 3PL that can scale its services accordingly. A flexible provider will adapt to your changing needs without compromising quality.

Researching 3PL Providers

Defining the essential criteria to consider when researching and selecting a 3PL for small business. Opt for a 3PL close to your location, facilitating convenient visits and a hands-on approach to your inventory. 

If your operations extend beyond borders, opt for a 3PL with a global presence. This ensures a seamless supply chain across different regions, mitigating potential challenges.

Reading Reviews and Testimonials

Utilizing customer reviews and testimonials to gauge the reliability and satisfaction levels of potential 3PL partners. Look for 3PL providers with a proven track record in your industry. Check for client testimonials, case studies, or any available reviews. A reputable history indicates reliability and competence.

Negotiating Contracts and Agreements

Breaking down the components of a typical 3PL service agreement and negotiating terms that align with your business objectives. Highlighting the importance of effective communication and collaboration with your 3PL partner for optimal results.

Remember, the right 3PL isn’t just a service provider; they are a strategic partner in your business’s success. Taking the time to thoroughly evaluate potential providers will pay off in the long run. 

How Pricing at a 3PL Works

Exploring different pricing models and selecting the one that best suits your budget while ensuring quality service. A 3PL will charge you for a wide range of various services. Understanding the cost structure of a 3PL is crucial. The most common 3PL charges may include:

  • Receiving Inventory Fees: Covering the acceptance and unpacking of incoming inventory, especially crucial if shipping from overseas.
  • Pick and Pack Fees: Typically ranging from $1-3 per item, contingent on your order volume.
  • Storage Fees: Monthly charges for storing your inventory.
  • Labeling and Pallet Assembly Fees: Additional costs for specific services.

It’s imperative to discuss shipping costs and inquire about any initial setup fees during negotiations.

Other Considerations Before Selecting a 3PL For Small Business

Handling times and the reliability of inventory management are two important factors that require consideration. Inquire about guaranteed handling times and how they handle increasing demand, especially during the busiest times of the year. Examine their compensation practices as well as their history of product loss.

Here’s a checklist of questions to guide you in finding a great 3PL for small business:

  • Do they guarantee handling times, and what happens if deadlines are missed?
  • Do they hire additional staff during peak shipping periods?
  • Can they handle various tasks like labeling, inspecting returns, and custom packaging?
  • How seamlessly can they integrate with your e-commerce platform?
  • Are they familiar with Amazon FBA and capable of handling a range of order sizes?

In conclusion, finding a great 3PL for small business is a strategic move that can significantly impact the success of your small business. By understanding your business needs, thoroughly researching potential providers, and effectively negotiating and integrating services, you pave the way for improved efficiency and growth.

Read more:

Shift From In-House To Outsourced Fulfillment – When it’s Better & How to Do it Right

How Third-party Logistics Services Can Ensure E-Commerce Growth?

The Top 6 Reasons For Outsourcing in Supply Chain Management For Your eCommerce Business

At SPExpress, we offer services from order fulfillment to supply chain management services that include freight forwarding, transportation, warehousing, picking and packing, inventory and supply chain management, and order fulfillment. We work closely with our customers to ensure their 3PL needs are being met properly. Since we understand how valuable working with a reputable 3PL provider can be, and how it can help our customers to focus on growing their businesses. 

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