A good third-party logistics (3PL) relationship improves supply chain efficiency, contains costs, and enhances overall customer service. They're hardly one size fits all, however, with several boxes to check off when shopping for the perfect 3PL to complement your business. As alternative solutions, such as digital platforms and carrier-bred logistics services, continue to be introduced to the market, choosing a logistics partner is also becoming increasingly complicated.
Keep in mind the following five factors when selecting your next 3PL partner:
1. Customer Service & Reliability
According to industry research firm Eye for Transport’s 2018 Global Logistics Report, service logistics customers demand significant improvement in Customer Experience (22.22%), an area second only to Visibility (27.16%). As SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms continue to be introduced to the market, shippers are learning the hard way that a piece of software simply cannot deliver the level of service and attention human beings offer. Carriers are also beginning to offer forwarding services, but lack of expertise leaves service levels lacking, too.
If the timing of your shipments is sensitive, or if you just never want to be in a scenario where you can’t receive assistance in the (frankly, inevitable) event something goes wrong with your shipment, a high level of customer service should be a minimum prerequisite when considering potential 3PL partners.
2. Financial Stability
Without a doubt, the world of international shipping is ever-changing. To ensure your 3PL can grow and adapt with the times, look for a logistics partner financially stable enough to go along with you for the ride. Blockchain technology stands to fundamentally alter just about every aspect of global trade, but for now, you can size up a 3PL’s tendency toward innovation by assessing the quality of their TMS (Transportation Management System) and WMS (Warehouse Management System).
Rocker Joan Jett is supremely cool, but she wasn’t trying to build a retail business. When sifting through potential logistics partners, you should care a lot about a "bad reputation," too. After all, your own reputation stands to be affected by the competence, or lack thereof, of your supply chain, and nothing dashes hopes for success like negative word-of-mouth among your customers. On the flip side, a good reputation is a better marketer than any salaried marketing professional—and it’s free. Look for positive reviews, testimonials, and longevity to confirm your choice 3PL provider has earned a solid reputation.
4. Area of Expertise
Most 3PLs specialize in a certain type of logistics, either by industry, mode of transport, region, or some combination of the three. CAF Worldwide, for example, can coordinate the transportation and customs clearance of any sort of freight, including refrigerated goods, but they specialize in moving wearing apparel and footwear. There is a different skill set and understanding associated with moving apparel and footwear (think: counterfeited goods) than, say, dangerous chemicals.
Arguably the most important tenet to consider when looking for a new logistics partner is their existing relationships, with steamship lines, port officials (longshoremen), and other forwarders. That’s because, for a 3PL, a strong network of preferred partners is the backbone of consistent, stellar customer service. Without trusted go-to partnerships, it could become difficult to keep pace with cargo volumes, and you could get stuck with unfavorable carrier rates.
CAF Worldwide: Here, There, Everywhere
So, what of CAF Worldwide’s credentials? We’re glad you asked.
For starters, CAF Worldwide is proud to be part of Global Logistics Associates (GLA)—a nonprofit corporation of independent freight forwarders and customs brokers. This is one of CAF’s greatest competitive advantages. Membership grants CAF invaluable access to industry-leading partner offices, giving CAF the global reach necessary for accommodating even the most diversified shippers.
Then there’s the in-house team: CAF Director of Operations Torie Coleman has more than 30 years industry experience, beginning with the legendary Pan American World Airways (Pan Am). Founder and CEO Joe Barry has been a licensed customs broker for more than 20 years, and COO Liz Barry gained global customer service executive experience working with acclaimed luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co.
As aforementioned, CAF specializes in the footwear and apparel industries. Complete pricing transparency and 24/7 service are just some other differentiators setting it apart from all the rest.
Ready to get started? Contact us, today.
Topics: Freight Forwarding, Footwear and Apparel, Logistics and supply chain management