Outsourcing Warehousing: Improving End-to-End CX With the Right 3PL Partner
If the world has learned anything about the fragility of supply chains over the past few years, it’s that any pain point in a link of the supply chain — from raw material suppliers to last-mile delivery — can lead to bottlenecks, loss of revenue and unsatisfied customers. One important link within this long and complex chain is warehousing, an essential step in the supply chain for many.
The increasing demand for warehousing and fulfillment needs is due in large part to many shippers shortening their supply chains in order to be closer to their end customers. However, outsourcing any aspect of a supply chain is a huge step for shippers, and finding a third-party logistics (3PL) company that's a good fit requires research and dedication.
One Provider, Many Benefits
For shippers looking to alleviate logistics concerns and improve their overall end customer experience, it's vital to find a 3PL that's nimble enough to care about unique and niche needs, but still established enough to get the job done. A good 3PL partner will have extensive warehouse knowledge and experience.
Logistics service providers that have warehousing expertise grant the framework to prioritize savings initiatives and develop process improvements that go beyond what a business can achieve on its own. The right 3PL partner can provide shippers with a plethora of warehouse logistics services, including:
- just-in-time (JIT) order fulfillment;
- quality screening and sampling;
- order consolidation;
- dedication transportation;
- inbound and outbound logistics;
- order fulfillment and replenishment; and
- manufacturing support.
Digitizing Drives Efficiencies
From an effective transportation management system (TMS) to a robust warehouse management system (WMS), the right 3PL will have interconnected technologies that ensure timely delivery, due diligence, consistent inventory tracking, and e-commerce capabilities, including fulfillment by the merchant. Warehousing is a complex industry that requires the implementation of advanced technologies offering insight into current and future company needs.
Digitizing the warehouse not only optimizes speed and accuracy, but presents the visibility required to make precise logistics decisions in real time. Technology, data and digitization alleviate historical blind spots in the supply chain to drive efficiencies and allow shippers to focus on what matters most: meeting and exceeding customer satisfaction.
Before reaching out to a potential 3PL partner, it's critical to gather as much accurate data as possible. Poor quality or missing data is a leading cause of ineffective logistics execution and can lead to difficulties like incorrect pricing and mistakes.
With the right technology and expertise, data silos can be eliminated and transformed into digestible data lakes, providing actionable information to utilize and gain efficiencies throughout the shipping and handling processes.
Leaving Logistics to Logistics Experts
It wouldn't make sense to go to a mechanic for heart surgery, and the same is true when it comes to outsourced logistics. Instead of attempting to coordinate logistics processes in-house, utilizing a 3PL partner that knows the ins and outs of all supply chain processes can ensure optimal storage, packing, inventory control, value-added services, and real-time insights with delivery deadlines that are met every time. The 3PL should act as an extension of your company.
A high-value 3PL provider should have dedicated and multiclient sites all over the country, with the willingness to open dedicated sites wherever shippers need them. Regardless of any potential warehousing, fulfillment or other logistics needs for either B2B or B2C business models, an expert 3PL provider can be a true business differentiator for the better.
David Bowers is vice president of warehouse operations at TA Services, a full-service third-party logistics provider.
Related story: 5 Opportunities to Help Retailers Build Resilient Supply Chains Throughout 2023
David Bowers brings creativity and well-heeled systematic process approaches to TA Services fulfillment and distribution facilities across the country where he directs a team of Operations Excellence Engineers to drive performance well beyond customer expectations. David’s Engineering background versed him in applying methodical and systematic approaches to solving problems and improving processes and has played a key role in his 25+ year career in Operations. Early on in his career, David was a Process & Manufacturing Engineer for Japanese companies in the automotive sector, where he was well trained in lean practices, process improvement, and elimination of waste. He has applied these practices throughout his career in roles in the areas of Production Control, Material Management, and Warehousing, driving performance to best in class levels. He understands efficiency and how to best implement it in TA Services warehouse operations.
David is creative by nature and would prefer to make something before purchasing it or try to do it himself before paying someone else to do it. He believes the best way to learn something is to do it – failures can be the quickest path to sustained success. David has a B.S. in Engineering from Purdue University. He has a love for vintage Mustangs and the original (only) Star Wars series.