When your business or institution grows to a certain size, procuring hardware becomes a little more complicated. Not only do you need workstations for all administrative staff, but printers, scanners, and back counter devices, as well. How can you streamline your procurement management to promote time and cost savings while aligning with corporate strategy?
If you’re looking for a DIY method, check out this guide to choosing the best office equipment.
For many businesses, however, the answer is identifying a third-party logistics partner that can source this equipment for you.
What are Third Party Logistics?
Third-Party Logistics (3PL) is the use of a third party to outsource aspects of your distribution, warehousing, and fulfillment services. A 3PL partner coordinates all aspects of the supply chain, often extending beyond logistics to include procurement services. These operations can be scaled and customized to meet the demands and delivery requirements for your products.
3PL services include:
Procurement is the overarching process of locating and purchasing goods and services for customers. While this may seem like a simple task, those who have managed it before know that it’s not for the faint of heart. From the variety of stakeholders involved to the paperwork and purchase orders, procurement is a full-time job.
As professionals in the purchasing process, 3PL partners have a large network of equipment manufacturers and resellers to draw from. They have a knack for locating hard-to-find parts and products for your business and negotiating pricing on your behalf. If you use a 3PL partner for nothing else, use them for product and parts sourcing.
There are businesses devoted to transportation, but third-party logistics partners help with transportation coordination. When, where and how are your goods to be shipped?
3PL partners can coordinate the pickup and delivery schedules, origin and destination locations, timeframe, and budget. They can also take care of the mountain of paperwork required.
Most 3PL partners can help you with domestic freight. If you’re looking to ship internationally, find a partner who can assist with import/export taxes and paperwork.
An area that many individuals don’t associate 3PL partners with is growth. While your SMB can certainly take on the nitty-gritty elements of branding and packaging, sourcing this work to a third party helps you economize your time and money.
3PL partners can work with you to print and implement branded packaging inserts into your boxes. Branding helps teach your customers about your brand personality, which is essential for smaller businesses with a goal of growth. If you have a fulfillment site, some partners can also help with product catalog management.
The most common type of 3PL partner focuses on warehousing and distribution. They provide warehouse space, ship goods, and handle the return process for you. Many businesses work with a 3PL partner to outsource the tasks that can often be too unproductive, costly, or complex to manage in-house.
Inventory management, for example, is a job that’s simple for the professionals, but potentially difficult for you to manage. With dedicated warehouses, sections, and processes in place, however, 3PLS excel in this area of supply chain management. The same goes for optimized picking lists.
Working with a 3PL for your warehousing, picking, packing and shipping needs can be a smart move for your business to save time and money.
Benefits of 3PL
- Benefit from professional supply chain expertise in inventory management, advanced reporting, and overall visibility of your supply chain to monitor and track processes.
- Leverage a more robust network for procuring products.
- Free up valuable time and capital by eliminating the need to invest in transportation, warehouse space, technology, and staff
- Experience cost savings by hiring a specialist for something outside your speciality
- Utilize flexible and scalable services by offering the resources and capabilities to support growth into new markets and regions seamlessly.
For businesses that don't specialize in inventory management and shipping, FlexForce can help. As a 3PL provider, the FlexForce team can manage every aspect of a business's fulfillment needs, including picking, packing, and shipping.
FlexForce provides comprehensive 3PL solutions tailored to meet each businesses' unique objectives. Regardless of volume or complexity, FlexForce can provide fulfillment anywhere across the continental U.S.