Why Food Manufacturers Need a 3PL Provider That Can Adapt to Change
If the last few months have taught us anything, it’s that you can never rely on things to stay the same. That is to say you can never prepare for every eventuality, but you can look for a 3PL provider that can adapt to change. This is the unfortunate reality of business. While you might try to plan for every contingency, there is simply no way to account for every possibility. How many businesses predicted Coronavirus?
All you can do to prepare for the unexpected then, is to invest in adaptability and flexibility. You need every arm of your business to be able to change with the times, to adapt to change, and to thrive during challenge and uncertainty.
And a large part of this is your 3PL solution.
In short, companies that chose the right 3PL solutions – those capable of change and adaptability – will have continued to thrive during lockdown. Those that did not, will have faced unsurmountable challenges.
But what does it mean to have a flexible 3PL company? Let’s find out.
What Does a 3PL Service Offer?
The precise services offered by a 3PL service can vary tremendously. This is the first way in which your choice will impact on your ability to weather any storm. The idea of a 3PL business is to package together many of the separate services associated with fulfillment. Any business that requires fulfillment services will normally rely on a combination of different services which may be provided by different companies.
For instance, warehousing services may be required to simply store and hold onto items. From there, you may also need order processing in order to check stock when an order comes in and to begin the fulfillment process if it’s available. Other steps include:
- Cross docking
Freight forwarding is the process of importing and exporting products. If your items are coming from a Chinese factory for example, then they will need to be handled by cargo companies to bring them to the correct country. The freight forwarder is the broker that will arrange different services in order to send and receive items overseas.
Freight forwarding is a form of 3PL, but the term is more typically used to describe businesses that provide the service themselves. In other words, a 3PL business might handle the entire import and export process alongside all of the reporting, tracking, packaging, etc.
The Inherent Flexibility of 3PL
Simply using a 3PL business that provides all of these disparate services as a single package will instantly provide you with a level of flexibility that might otherwise be missing.
Think about it: if you are relying on the interaction of 3 different companies simply to get your product from overseas and into your warehouse, then you have 3 different points that could fail. If any one of these businesses should fail or be unable to operate, then your operation collapses.
Conversely, if you use a 3PL, you will have everything handled in a single place. The company will be able to track your shipments at every stage of the journey and manage the interaction at each stage in that journey. Moreover, they will be able to communicate seamlessly at each point in this interaction. This can be a big issue otherwise, especially when the companies are overseas and may not speak the same language.
3PL can drastically reduce the number of missing items and other errors. By handling everything in-house, 3PL companies always have their “eye on the ball” so to speak. There are no dark spots for things to go wrong, and they have contingencies in place for each scenario.
But More Flexibility is Key
While adaptability is built-in with a good 3PL service, not all 3PL businesses are made equally. For instance, some 3PL companies will have more than one option when it comes to freight forwarding – they may be able to outsource the process when necessary and have a number of third parties that they work with.
Similarly, the technology used by 3PL companies can make a big difference to their ability to handle missing items, returns, and other issues. If your company is comprehensive when it comes to tracking shipments, then it can find and prevent gaps in its system.
If you want to make sure that you are working with a 3PL provider that can adapt to change and face challenges head on, try speaking with the business and asking how they would cope with various situations. Discuss what contingencies they have in place, how they have adapted in the past, and what systems they use.
By working with 3rd parties that are highly adaptable, you make your business more resilient and flexible by extension. Take the time to stress-test the systems you rely on every day, and you’ll be ready for the unexpected.
Nebraska Warehouse One-Stop-Shop | Technology Enabled 3PL Value-Added Services Warehouse | Freight Broker | Logistics
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