3PL Partners: Turning Today’s Benefits into Long-Term Value

Running a successful business in today’s fast-paced, global economy requires creativity, quick decision-making and nimble action. For many businesses, access to flexible, cost-effective shipping is a crucial component of maintaining a competitive edge and can often make the difference in staying on track with growth, retention and competitive share goals.

As a small or mid-sized business, you may be pressed into focusing on short-term shipping issues in order to stay ahead of immediate customer or competitive demands. The good news is that with a strong 3PL shipping partner, you can stay competitive in the short-term while setting yourself up for even better results in the long-term. In essence, your business gets the best of both worlds: immediate benefits and even greater accrued value over the long-haul as those short-term advantages accumulate over time.

Short-Term Results
Generating long-term value starts with having the right foundation in place for delivering sustainable shipping results. A strong 3PL shipping partnership should include these key components:

Combined volumes across a large customer base. Lower shipping rates for smaller business shippers are possible by combining their individual volume with many other small shippers to obtain volume-related reductions. A 3PL shipping partner with a large base of small and mid-sized customers can more effectively drive these cost savings for all their customers.
Access to multiple carriers. 3PL partners with deep relationships with multiple reputable carriers are in a position to obtain the best rates and service available for their customers. This includes access to national, super regional, regional and local carriers.
Access to multiple shipping modes and services levels. The ability to access multiple shipping modes and service levels in one place saves time, confusion and effort. This includes small package, LTL, FTL and other specialty shipping modes – particularly international.
Capacity optimization. Access to multiple shipping options and carriers ensures delivery schedules are met and the best rates are obtained.
Ability to scale up and down. Shippers with seasonal or fluctuating shipping needs can scale up and down as needed to maximize efficiencies and reduce cost.
Unified, automated technology system. A robust technology system brings all shipping information to one place and simplifies order entry, reporting, tracking and insurance handling.
International coordination and/or consultancy. Working with a 3PL partner can simplify international shipping by greatly reducing the time, expense, complexity of international shipments, including regulations and paperwork.

Long-Term Benefits
With a high-value foundation in place, shippers can leverage even more compelling benefits through a long-term partnership with a strong 3PL shipping partner. A close, enduring partnership allows the 3PL partner to understand your business and shipping needs in detail and work with you to fine-tune and customize solutions to generate even deeper value. These outcomes include:

Low-cost accrued benefits. Benefits accrue year after year without the shipper having to invest in costly infrastructure.
Continuous improvement. A strong 3PL partner will continue to fine-tune and improve shipping processes for their customers. Over time, this generates greater cost savings and efficiencies specifically tuned to each shipper’s needs.
Sustained performance. Continuously improved shipping and delivery translates to better customer service and competitive pricing, improving a shipper’s ability to out-grow and out-maneuver competitors.

Like many other small and mid-sized business shippers, you may discover that building a firm foundation for meeting your short-term shipping needs actually blossoms into unexpected benefits in the long haul. The trick is a creating a lasting relationship with a 3PL partner who has mastered the art of leveraging short-term foundational strengths into long-term advantage.