How to Choose the Right 3PL Partner for Your Business

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The rise of eCommerce and virtual storefronts has made 3PL a popular buzzword. Is a 3PL the solution to your operational challenges? Here’s a look at what a 3PL can and can’t do and how to make the right choice for your business.

What Is a 3PL?

Simply put, a third-party logistics company, commonly referred to as a 3PL, handles a wide range of services that make up the supply chain. This generally includes operational functions before and after the sale, such as warehousing, transportation and order fulfillment.

A business can outsource their entire operational “department” to a 3PL or engage the 3PL only for specific functions. According to a study by research and consulting firm Armstrong & Associates, Inc., as much as 86 percent of domestic Fortune 500 companies use a 3PL for an average of just under three different services.

Why Use a 3PL for Shipping and Fulfillment

• When you turn operations over to a 3PL, it frees you up to focus on sales, which is the lifeblood of your business.

• Money you don’t spend on warehouse space and staff can be invested in other areas of your company. In addition, 3PLs can negotiate much better rates with freight carriers than you can as a small or mid-size independent retailer.

• With same-day and next-day shipping becoming the norm rather than the exception, a 3PL’s expanded distribution network allows you to meet customer delivery expectations.

• While the 3PL handles shipping, you are still the face of the company and so retain control over your brand.

• You can leverage the locations of the 3PL warehouse to your benefit. For example, Medallion has an East Coast and a West Coast location – allowing for fast shipping nationwide when you store merchandise at both locations.

• Hiring a 3PL can be made easy when using the right partner. Even small businesses can benefit from using a 3PL partner such as Medallion Fulfillment – who has a special program for startups.

Tips for Choosing the Right 3PL Partner

1. How will you find the answer if you don’t know what the question is? Define your needs and expectations and how you will measure them. You’re sure to come across a few 3PLs that are perfectly fine providers, but if you’re not on the same page, a partnership is pointless.

2. Do some due diligence regarding potential 3PL providers. How long have they been in business? Are they financially stable? What does their performance over the last few years look like? If you commit to a 3PL and they suddenly go sideways, the whole bottom could drop out of your own business.

3. What is the 3PL’s reputation in the business community? Social media and online review sites make it easier than ever to get “word of mouth” reports on companies from a customer’s perspective. You can also solicit recommendations from your peers who may have experience with various 3PLs.

4. Does the 3PL demonstrate a willingness to address customer service issues? Some providers feel no responsibility to go outside the bounds of their specific duties. When a 3PL works with you to solve problems, that indicates desire to be a true partner.

5. Technology continues to progress at a rapid pace. Is the 3PL keeping up with current advancements, or are they content to hobble along on an outdated platform?

6. Where do you expect your company to be next year? In five or 10 years? Look for a 3PL provider that can scale along with you.

Coast-to-Coast Warehousing and Fulfillment Services

Medallion Fulfillment and Logistics has what it takes to be the right 3PL partner for your needs.

Whether you’re a small startup or a thriving eCommerce vendor, we have a program that fits your needs, including our innovative Amazon replenishment warehousing service.

Contact Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics to learn more our customized fulfillment options.

International Fulfillment – How to Reach More Customers Worldwide

Cross-Border eCommerce

The world of eCommerce knows no boundaries. Consumers in the US want access to foreign products without currency conversions and lengthy shipping times. Outside of the US, consumers want American products without surprises and delays. As a business owner, you want to reach a larger market with ease. Your fulfillment partner plays a big part in making international eCommerce sales flow smoothly.

Cross-border online consumer purchasing is increasing 25-30% a year and is projected to reach $1 trillion this past year, according to market statistics. These sales account for over 17% of all eCommerce sales worldwide.

How Fulfillment Can Help

Navigating the intricacies of cross-border commerce is no easy feat. It takes a lot of time and research to understand how to facilitate a smooth purchase and shipping process. There are different carriers, documents, regulations, and certifications to consider. The most important part is the keep the customer happy and increase your sales. To save time and money, choose a fulfillment partner with experience in these areas.

Services to Look for in Your Provider:

• Customs documentation
• Drop shipping
• Freight consolidation
• Overseas carrier relationships
• Multiple warehouse locations

If you are already selling on Amazon, you can easily expand to their Canadian and Mexican platforms, as well as other countries. You may need to upload documents or approvals, depending on your product category.

If you are using FBA, Amazon will fulfill and ship the orders. But if you are fulfilling orders in house, you will need to tackle the process yourself. If you are new to international shipping, this can be a big project that takes time from your marketing and growth efforts.

Global Seller Benefits

Whether selling in small quantity to consumers outside of the US, distributing overseas, or sending products the US for sale to American consumers, this is a prime opportunity to work with a 3PL. A strong global fulfillment house offers experience in both B2C and B2B international eCommerce situations. These partners truly offer multi channel support. No boundaries.

International Seller Benefits

• Reach US customers quickly
• Avoid customs holdups
• Compete with US sellers
• Freight consolidation

US Seller Benefits

• Reach international customers efficiently
• Offer smooth customs process
• Understand export sales factors
• Expand your market reach

Multiple warehouses are not appropriate for every business. Maintaining more than one inventory location can be too much for many businesses as this tends to increase the cost of the service and divides your inventory. Without a large volume and solid historical stats to decide how to break up the inventory, it can actually hurt a business to spread out inventory at this level.

Companies with large volume, fewer SKUs, or a wide and even geographical reach will benefit from multiple locations. This is a big consideration when choosing a fulfillment partner. Medallion has two warehouse locations one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast. Use our two locations to grow your business.

Businesses that prefer one location can still achieve worldwide distribution. The key is experience. Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics and Sprocket Express can help any business create a seamless process to overseas shipping. By increasing your market reach, you can grow exponentially as you create brand awareness in new locations and in new markets.

Medallion and Sprocket Express Have the Experience You Need

An experienced 3PLs like Medallion and Sprocket Express can help you immensely when shipping overseas. Greg Kent, our President, is well-versed in using fulfillment systems reaching a global market. He can help international sellers with US eCommerce, as well as help US companies sell better abroad.

All of our clients benefit from our custom-built portal that offers real-time inventory and shipping information. Businesses and customers alike receive tracking information directly and immediately. We can provide same day shipping across a variety of carriers. Talk to us about international shipping and see if we can help you expand your geographic reach.

Tips for Writing Blog Posts that People Will Actually Read

If a blog post lands online and no one is there to read it, does it really make any noise? There are more than 152 million blogs on the Internet, and with the number growing by one every half-second.

The good news is that the sheer number of blogs shows that people are regularly reading them. Use these tips to create valuable blog posts that keep viewers coming back for more.

1. Start with a Compelling Premise

Just as a beautiful flower grows from a tiny seed, a great blog post begins with a small but powerful idea. People sometimes make the mistake of starting with the points they want to make and then looking for a theme to hang them on. Come up with a timely and relevant idea and your content will flow organically.

2. Know Your Audience

When you try to be all things to all people, your message ends up so vague and watered-down that it doesn’t appeal to anyone. If you don’t already have a buyer persona, create one and use it as the target for your writing.

3. Make It Readable

Readability involves more than just language, words and tone. With only 10 to 20 seconds to grab a viewer’s attention before they leave your site, be sure to make your post as visually appealing as possible.

• Break up large chunks of text into smaller bite-size pieces of no more than five lines. Forget what your English teacher told you: One-sentence paragraphs are no longer frowned upon.

• Include short but punchy subheadings that convey your message at a glance.

• Use bullet points, boldface and other formatting that make the post “skimmable.”

4. Add Graphic Interest

Did you know that 65 percent of the people who visit your website are visual learners? That’s one of the reasons why infographics and videos are such powerful formats. Pictures, GIF’s, videos and other graphic content make your message more powerful and increase the shareability factor for a greater reach.

5. Craft an Attention-Grabbing Headline

First impressions always count. No matter how vibrant, topical and thoughtful your content is, no one will read it without a catchy headline to draw them in.

6. Proofread and Proofread Again

Would you have confidence in a person who showed up for a business meeting with soiled clothes, greasy hair and grimy fingernails? Readers will have the same reaction if your blog post is riddled with misspellings, poor grammar and inaccurate facts.

A California Fulfillment Warehouse for All Your Inventory Management Needs

Why invest time, money and labor into building and maintaining your own fulfillment warehouse? Contact Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics to learn more about our fulfillment warehouse services that are scalable to accommodate your specific needs.

How Fulfillment Service Impacts Customer Satisfaction

“If people are failing, they look inept. If people are succeeding, they look strong and good and competent. That’s the “halo effect.” Your first impression of a thing sets up your subsequent beliefs. If the company looks inept to you, you may assume everything else they do is inept.” – Daniel Kahneman

When you work with a fulfillment partner, it is easy to oversimplify their involvement. True, a fulfillment house picks and ships orders. How could that hurt customer satisfaction?

Final Hands

Simply put, they are the last hands to touch your products and they are responsible for delivering the final product to your customers. To see where you stand, ask yourself a few questions:

• When your customer receives an order, how does it look?

• What packaging materials are used?

• How quickly does it arrive?

• How is the tracking information transmitted?

• How are returns handled?

If you have not audited the results in a while, it may be time to check your fulfillment results. Check our Guide for Fine Tuning Fulfillment for more tips and remember: A great fulfillment provider increases customer satisfaction, while a poor provider can actually damage satisfaction.

Case Study

One of our clients moved from a different 3PL because of customer dissatisfaction. The business started receiving complaints that orders were arriving in junky old boxes with newspaper used as packaging. Many orders were incorrectly shipped, leading to reshipments and delays.

If customers had not reported these issues, our client would not have known the impression their former 3PL was leaving on the customers. You have spent time and money making a good impression on customers. The last thing you need is a lousy box or a packing error to erode your credibility.

Errors Undermine Credibility

Mistakes not only cost money and time, but they damage customer trust. Medallion and Sprocket Express have a 99.9%+ accuracy rate and exceptional customer service personnel. In the case study above, errors and complaints stopped after the business switched to Sprocket Express for fulfillment for East Coast servicing. Customers almost never received incorrect items again, and the clean uniform packaging made a great impression on the recipients. The client added a packing tape printed with their logo, for a complete branded solution.

Speedy Delivery

When we first opened, our CEO used to joke that someday customers would hit the “buy” button and then check the mailbox. Ironically, we’ve nearly reached that point!

With Amazon leading the charge, customers continually have a higher expectation of speed (and shipping cost). To answer the call, most 3PLs expect to provide same day delivery within the next 5 years. And 40% say they anticipate 2 hour shipping by 2028. Interestingly, when Amazon offered 1- and 2-hour delivery in select markets, many customers preferred the free 2-day shipping instead. Speed is not everything, but shipping value is essential. The best shipping strategies offer a few options with a range of costs.

Knowledge is Satisfying

Immediately after placing an order, most website systems generate an order confirmation email. The more transparency a business provides during the order process, the more confident a customer can feel when interacting with the company. Therefore, as soon as an order is released to a carrier for shipment the tracking information should be communicated in real-time.

Both Sprocket Express and Medallion Fulfillment & Logistics sends automatic tracking information to your customer. And we can brand the email with your company information for a consistent image. We ship the same day and we also offer rush and special services.

We Are Here When You Need Help

These are just some of the ways that your fulfillment service partner can affect customer satisfaction. We strongly encourage you to call references when choosing a fulfillment provider and ask some of these questions. Your choice will be representing your business in public view, so it’s no easy decision.

Whichever partner you choose, we invite you to connect with us to share challenges and ideas via email or social media. To learn more about our services and our low industry pricing, see “What We Do”, or get a quote today.