Fulfilment

The Pros and Cons of a 3PL and how to pick the right one

hiring a 3pl
Hiring a 3PL can be extremely beneficial to your business. It can save you time, money and improve your service helping you to grow your business. People often overlook the real advantages of hiring a 3PL, however there can be some cons too. Generally, if you hire a reputable 3PL you shouldn’t see any of the cons we are going to outline in this article, so we’re going to also give you some top tips on how to choose the right one in order to ensure you only see the benefits.

The advantages of hiring a 3PL

Let’s start with the advantages of hiring a 3PL…

Work with the pros

The first and arguably the biggest advantage of working with a 3PL is that you get the knowledge of the pros. You will know your business inside out, but you’re obviously not expected to also be a pro when it comes to your fulfilment process, so leave it to someone else! The ins and outs of the fulfilment process are complicated and take a long time to learn but hiring a 3PL you skip out the step where you have to learn everything. Also, if you’re working with experts your process will be much smoother and more efficient - improving the overall success of your company. 

Save yourself money

Another huge advantage of heading for the 3PL option is that you can actually save yourself lots of money. How? You ask. Well, if you think about it, without a 3PL you’d have to hire staff, hire warehouse space and invest in skill training and learning. When you hire a 3PL, all of those things already exist. Also, you can opt for seasonal storage space, if for example you know you sell more during the summer months, you don’t have to occupy the same warehouse space for the whole year - which you may not be able to do if you sort your own warehousing space out. There are many other ways that outsourcing your packaging and fulfilment can save you money too, you can read our previous article about it here.

Expanding is easy with a 3PL

If you want to expand your business, a 3PL can easily help and facilitate that. For example, if you want to expand to international sales, the processes involved with international orders can be time consuming and complicated but having a 3PL on your side can make this much easier. They already have the tools and expertise in order to assist you! It’s a no brainer really, if you’re looking to expand you need to be thinking about a 3PL. The other, obvious, point to make is that it frees up your time to make more sales and make your business grow if you’re not bogged down by the fulfilment process. This is particularly true for startups, here at Complete Packaging we actually offer a special service for startups - find out more about it.

Other advantages

We could literally write pages and pages of other advantages of hiring a 3PL, not least the flexibility it provides your business, improving customer satisfaction and saving you so much time but we also want to discuss the potential disadvantages of hiring a 3PL too. 

The potential disadvantages of a 3PL...

Now, we’d like to start off by saying that hiring a 3PL without properly researching them is a bad idea and a big risk to take and many of these disadvantages will only exist if you choose a 3PL that isn’t up to scratch. Here are some of the risks and how to avoid them.

Hidden costs

For example, some 3PLs may charge high set up fees and this can come as a surprise. Hidden costs are not fun and shouldn’t exist. 3PLs should be transparent about the cost to the business, especially when working with startups and young companies who may have less to play with. Make sure you’re clear about all the costs involved in hiring your 3PL before you sign as contracts. Make sure you don’t skim over any parts of the contract and ask as many questions as you need to! 

Hidden responsibility

A package didn’t turn up? You still have to deal with the complaint regardless of whether it was your fault or not and this can be frustrating. Whilst we would stress that this is likely to happen very rarely if you’re working with a reputable company but obviously these things can always happen and if you don’t have a good relationship with your fulfilment provider it may be hard for you to get to the bottom of this. Our advice would be to check the procedures in place for eventualities like this. How can you find out what may have happened? And what processes does your 3PL have in place? Again, ask the question to get the answer! 

Control over your stock

If your fulfilment centre is far away, it could be hard for you to keep track. However, this is only the case if your 3PL does not use up-to-date and real-time tracking technology. If you need to feel in control of your stock at all times, make sure you pick a 3PL with the right technology for you and your business needs. 

The right 3PL partner can make or break your company or startup. Trusting someone with this part of your business can be hard, but it can also be the best decision you make. Talk to us today about all your fulfilment needs. 

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