With there being a rise in online shopping, there has become a greater emphasis on last-mile delivery. Therefore, your business must find the right logistics partner who will be able to fulfil your last-mile delivery. Though there might be some industry-specific factors that you might need to look out for, we will provide you with a guide to some common factors that you need to consider when looking for a 3PL partner.
Last-mile delivery refers to the process where goods are moved from the transportation hub until they reach their last destination, which is usually the customer’s doorstep. The last-mile offering differentiates you from your competitor to the customer, so it is essential to constantly provide your customers with the best possible service. Last-mile delivery is also known to be the most expensive aspect of the supply chain. Therefore, you must choose a third-party logistics (3PL) partner that will not only enable your business to provide your customers with the best service experience but that you are also able to keep your delivery costs low.
Finding the right 3PL partner to assist you in handling your last-mile delivery can be difficult as there are many factors that you first need to consider. The 3PL will represent your company, and they need to offer your customers the best possible service. Without only considering the pricing considerations, there are other factors that you should consider. Below we will offer some questions that you can ask to evaluate a 3PL company effectively.
1. Do they have the necessary training and certification required?
Your 3PL partner personnel will be the ones that will have to interact with your customers, which means that they will essentially be an extension of your brand. Since last-mile is mainly about service, you must choose a 3PL provider that can represent your business in the best light. Suppose the 3PL has specific issues such as having unprofessional attire or demeanour, providing untimely deliveries, or cannot perform installation services like assembly or installation. In that case, customers will have an unpleasant perception of your brand as they will associate the 3PL’s service offering with your brand. Therefore, to ensure that you can maintain your customers’ loyalty to your brand, you should ensure that the 3PL provider offers continuous training to their personnel and that they have current certification.
2. Which technology solutions do they make use of?
In order to fulfil a large aspect of last-mile delivery functions, there needs to be the use of technology. Having the best technology ensures that customers have an excellent delivery experience as they will be able to receive real-time updates regarding their orders. Therefore, the 3PL provider needs to offer advanced technology that can easily be integrated with yours, ensuring that you gain visibility of the process and that you can share real-time updates with your customers. The ability to track deliveries also allows you to rectify any issues that might occur quickly and provides you with insights that will help you prevent those issues from occurring in the future.
3. What is their delivery coverage?
When it comes to online shopping, you might receive orders from customers in different zones. Therefore, you should check the 3PL provider’s zone coverage and that they do not offer limited geography delivery. If the 3PL provider’s service is limited to geography, they would only provide a partial solution for your delivery needs. If you have customers that place orders but fall outside the 3PL provider’s zone coverage, you will be left in a challenging situation.
4. Are they able to provide flexible delivery options to customers?
The most important aspect of the delivery process for customers has to involve having multiple delivery options. Customers expect to receive their orders whenever and wherever they require. Part of these delivery options includes having the opportunity to reschedule orders and choosing the time that they can receive orders. During this time, the chance to have contactless delivery has become popular, and it is essential to ensure that the 3PL provider you choose can handle all these demands.
5. How does the 3PL provider optimise route planning to ensure that they deliver packages quickly?
The key to having faster deliveries is by making use of route planning and optimisation. eCommerce businesses usually have to deliver multiple packages within a day. Having speedy delivery is especially important if you offer time-sensitive products to your customers. Therefore, the 3PL provider must be able to optimise route planning to deliver all these packages in the fastest time during the day.
Before you approach a 3PL provider, you should ensure that you have a guide of what you should look out for. By asking the questions offered above, you can guarantee that you choose the best 3PL provider to handle your last-mile deliveries.
Speaking of 3PL Providers, see 5 Tips on Developing & Managing 3PL Relationships.