The financial hardware and technology industry is booming and only growing more each day. The rapidly evolving technology options are both exciting and challenging to manage.
Excellent supply chain management is crucial for delivering an optimal customer experience. While you may handle fulfillment at first, it can be very difficult as your business scaled.
In many cases, working with a third-party logistics provider is the key to staying on top of fulfillment and delivering the best possible customer experience.
How do you know when it's time to consider a warehousing partner? Read on to find out when a 3PL makes sense and what to look for in one.
Do You Need a Third-Party Logistics Partner?
Providing equipment throughout your geographic area can be a challenge. Banking technology continues to evolve rapidly, which can only make it more challenging to manage in-house. How do you determine if you need a 3PL partner?
Evaluate these core areas to find out.
The first step of purchasing is fulfillment. You must obtain the right technology and hardware to stay current. However, this is not something that all organizations can do in-house. Evaluate the following:
- If your fulfillment staff can handle purchasing.
- If you have the budget to meet staffing needs.
- If your current staff has the necessary purchasing knowledge based on technology advancements and trends.
- Tools and information you must provide your staff with to purchase effectively.
Storage and Maintenance
The equipment takes up a lot of warehouse space, and you need knowledgeable staff to tackle inventory management. Having the best up-to-date equipment won't matter if it gets lost in the warehouse.
It's vital to have a robust maintenance and repair system in place. You will be the first place customers turn to if they have problems with the equipment they bought from you. You must have your internal equipment in top shape as well as the equipment you supply to customers. The top fulfillment teams also handle the maintenance required. Consider the following:
- Can your current space accommodate current and future technology?
- Can your staff repair and maintain the hardware?
- What is your educational plan for maintaining future hardware?
- How do you report maintenance issues?
- Can you fulfill the promises you've made to clients in SLAs?
Delivery is the primary avenue of fulfillment. It's all about how you deal with the input and output of equipment. Getting the correct product in front of the corresponding brand is a craft that requires skilled technicians.
Ask yourself the following:
- How sustainable is your current delivery system?
- Can your people and system effectively manage delivery?
- Based on your organization's size, how many hours a week must you dedicate to delivery?
- Can you afford to devote the allotted time to delivery?
- What is the current wait time on your delivery vs. the industry standard?
- Does your hardware ordering system work across your organization?
Installation and Training
One of the essential back-of-house details is customer-facing installation and training. To do this effectively, you need the right staff in place. Without proper installation and training, your clients will never obtain the true value of the equipment you supply or the full benefit of your services.
Consider the following:
- Can our existing IT staff handle this?
- Do we have someone in our organization dedicated to developing this sector?
- How can we leverage new technology into staff training?
To get paid for the equipment and services you provide, you need an excellent billing system in place. The organization must charge for the equipment or track the transaction in some way.
Assess these key considerations:
- What is your internal system for cross billing units?
- How do you bill clients?
- Can you bill purchases, deliveries, maintenance, installation, and training the same way?
- How do you monitor billing and payments to ensure accuracy?
- Is your current billing system scalable?
Based on the critical information and considerations above, you can assess if a third-party warehousing partner is right for you. If you spot several challenges in your current fulfillment method and are not sure how to fix them, there's a good chance that you should consider a third-party fulfillment vendor.
Benefits of a Third-Party Logistics Partner
Working with a 3PL provider can give you the help you need for several critical aspects of warehousing. Some of the top benefits a third-party logistics partner offers to include:
Adaptable Storage Options
Inventory changes throughout the years, and it's not always easy to predict how your needs will change. Fluctuating seasonal demand and other alterations result in varying needs for storage space. The flexible storage solutions a 3PL providers are incredibly beneficial.
When working with a 3PL warehousing company, you can leverage their expansive network of warehouses around the country. You also get the advantage of their massive warehouse square footage, which provides flexible storage options for your fluctuating demands.
Running out of stock can be costly for businesses. Third-party logistics providers help mitigate the impact of inventory delays with "safety stock." Safety stock is a backup stock that offers a buffer to prevent running out of inventory. It's beneficial for dealing with natural disasters, pandemics, and other unplanned delays. With backup stock, you'll have peace of mind that you can handle unexpected events.
Accurate Inventory Management
Inaccurate inventory management can have a negative impact, whether you have too much or not enough stock. It's crucial to properly manage inventory so as not to waste money storing products that you do not sell.
Overstocking, or carrying too much inventory, costs you more money to store. On the other hand, low inventory puts you at risk of running out of stock, which can directly cost you potential sales. Property inventory management prevents overstocking and understocking.
A third-party logistics partner will simplify warehouse management through real-time inventory tracking. The top warehousing partners offer several helpful tools for improving inventory management. With the help of a 3PL, you can verify inventory on-hand, keep track of how many units you sell per day, and keep your website up-to-date with any "Out of Stock" notices.
Streamlined Supply Chain
Having a lean supply chain ensures your operations are efficient and cost-effective. Third-party logistics providers help you run a lean supply chain. Their goal is to quickly deliver products to customers with the least amount of waste possible.
With a lean supply chain, you can deliver the best value to your customers. Through an optimized supply chain, you can reduce delays and respond quickly to customer needs. Ultimately, a lean supply chain provides optimal predictability to customers, which improves the customer experience.
Choosing the Right Warehousing Partner
Choosing a third-party logistics partner is a big decision that will drastically impact your business in several ways. Here are some top four qualities to look for in a logistic partner:
Back-End Fulfillment Tasks
Look for a quality third-party logistics partner that handles all critical back-end fulfillment processes. These processes include:
- Maintenance services
When you choose a warehousing provider that handles back-end fulfillment, you can count on them to deliver a turnkey solution for all of your warehousing needs.
Hardware Neutral Approach
Choose a partner that recommends services and hardware based on your unique needs. Top 3PL providers supply shipping and storage services on the equipment you already have as well. A hardware-neutral approach ensures that the 3PL is working for you and has your best interest in mind.
You need a 3PL partner that simplifies and streamlines your operations. The ultimate goal is to limit downtime and frustrations to keep your business running smoothly. A great single-source warehousing provider helps you strengthen client relationships with an approach that lets you focus on your core competencies.
A high-quality 3PL provider can make a world of difference in your fulfillment process and business as a whole. If your business currently grapples with any of the challenges discussed above, it's time to evaluate working with a third-party logistics provider. Use these tips to find a reputable provider today.