Eighty-six percent of shippers say that using a 3PL helps improve customer service, according to the 2017 Third-Party Logistics Study. With that high level of confidence, it’s clear that a third-party logistics provider must offer a number of advantages, but what are they?
5 Reasons Why Customers Like Your 3PL
Here is a closer look at some of the top benefits of outsourcing…
1. Seamless service. Today’s customers expect a seamless shopping experience – online, mobile catalog, etc. Studies show that 90 percent of consumers expect a consistent customer experience across channels and devices when they interact with brands. They’re also looking for a variety of delivery and store pick-up options.
A 3PL with a robust order management system (OMS) can help you deliver. They can optimize inventory, allowing you to fulfill orders from multiple sources (DCs, stores, vendors). That makes it easier to offer customer-friendly services like buy-online/pick-up in store and order online from store.
Their omnichannel experience and knowledge of best practices also help to ensure that your customer enjoys the same experience whether they’re shopping in store, online or by phone.
2. Improved visibility & order accuracy. When customers shop online, they expect to see if products they want are available – in store and online – and when they will receive them. In fact, 80 percent of consumers are less inclined to visit a retailer’s physical store when the website does not include current product availability. When orders arrive, customers expect to receive the item, quantity and color they requested. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
A 3PL can help here too. With an OMS, they’ll be able to provide accurate, real-time inventory information so you know what’s available to purchase, what’s on back-order, etc. They’ll also have up-to-the-minute order status and tracking information.
A quality-minded 3PL will pay careful attention to solution design and incorporate proven processes to help ensure order accuracy. They’ll leverage methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma to identify opportunities for improvement, so your service level keeps getting better.
3. Fast, low-cost deliveries. It’s no secret that today’s shopper wants products in hand quickly and cost-effectively. Almost 90 percent of consumers consider free shipping to be even more important than fast shipping, but, still, 45 percent expect delivery within two days and 35 percent will be looking for their orders within three to four days, a new Deloitte study shows.
How can your 3PL help achieve that kind of turnaround? That trusty OMS will help them to process orders more efficiently and identify the fulfillment source closest to the customer for faster deliveries. In addition, they’re likely to have automation systems and material handling equipment in place with proven processes to speed order turnaround times.
Chances are, your 3PL also will have a network of strategically located facilities that can put your products within an easy, two-day ship time from your customers using lower-cost ground service– especially when you use multiple DCs. Their buying power and established carrier network will offer the flexibility to select the optimal mode/level of service for each shipment at the best price. They also can help you save on outbound freight costs by negotiating rates as well as pooling parcel packages and leveraging postal work-share options like presorting and drop-shipping.
4. Customization. Personalization is one of today’s biggest perks. From specialty packs and gift wrapping to embroidery and engraving, customers want to make their purchases unique. If you can deliver, you’re likely to increase sales, build customer loyalty and differentiate yourself in the marketplace. Special touches like these can be labor intensive, however. This is another great opportunity to tap your 3PL.
With a wide array of value-added services, your third-party provider can help you expand your product offerings without excessive inventory. With their flexible space and labor, a 3PL can delay product configuration until the last minute, enabling you to respond more accurately to customer demand. Strategically located facilities can also move these services closer to the customer to increase speed in hand.
5. Responsive service. Customers expect top-notch service. In fact, 65 percent of customers have cut ties with a brand after a single poor customer experience, a Spark response study shows. With that kind of pressure to perform, you need all the help you can get.
A 3PL can be a valuable ally. Their extensive resources (space, labor, technology, locations) will give you more flexibility to handle increased order volume without missing a beat – even during peak sales periods such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They may offer a call center to help handle customer issues faster, and their OMS to streamline returns. As part of their commitment to quality management, they will always be on the lookout for new ways to improve operations and delight your customers.
Now, of course, you can provide all of these services on your own. To do so, however, requires a level of investment, time and expertise that can quickly tax your resources and divert your focus from the core competencies required to build your business. It just might be time to work smarter instead of harder. Consider partnering with an experienced third-party to satisfy your customers today.