7 Questions to Ask a Potential 3PL Supplier

Businesses like yours know that if you can streamline the flow of products from your supplier to your warehouse to your customer, you can increase revenue and decrease costs.

But warehousing logistics can be complicated. You’re tracking multiple moving parts and pieces, equipment, personnel and flows of goods, and the network your business needs is ever changing. Your inventory will fluctuate with the season and market cycles. Add in changes within your company – like expanding to a new market or scaling your inventory – and a process that has worked for you in the past might suddenly need to change.

More and more companies outsource their logistics services from end to end so they can get the benefit of a streamlined supply chain process, while still focusing on what they do best – creating products and serving their customers.

“Hiring a 3PL company is a smart business decision when your vendor can deliver what you need how you need it,” said Greg Tillotson, Citi-Cargo & Storage’s Warehousing Sales Manager. “But if you go with an inexperienced warehousing and 3PL supplier, you could have more of a headache than a help.”

Here are some key questions to ask when you’re comparing 3PL suppliers:

  1. Are they experienced? Years of experience solving other customers’ problems is an win for you.
  2. Are they fast? Make sure they have the connections to build the network you need quickly.
  3. Are they flexible? A good 3PL company can scale services for your business’ fluctuating needs.
  4. Are they end-to-end? A company that offers the full range of chain management services will make your job easier.
  5. Are they convenient? Find a vendor that is located near transport hubs, like railroads.
  6. Are they respected? See what their current customers say about their warehousing, storage, picking, packing, labeling, scanning and inventory management services.
  7. Can they solve your logistics problems? Ask how they’ll handle roadblocks and see if they can anticipate potential problems even before you do.

Companies that use 3PL providers are able to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness, to reduce freight costs, optimize the quality of service and to enhance flexibility in terms of delivery speed and customer service. There are pros and cons to using a 3PL company, but most of the cons can be avoided if you carefully vet your 3PL vendors before engaging with them.

Citi-Cargo offers the experience, flexibility, accessibility and end-to-end services to our warehousing companies for more than 30 years. Learn more about our warehousing and 3PL services.