For years, 3PLs have leveraged relationships to get their foot in the door. But next-generation 3PLs are using technology and innovation, instead of hand shakes, to close deals. Here’s why your B2B company needs a 3PL that can do both.
It’s a lot like the ‘which came first: the chicken or the egg’ debate – what’s most important in finding the right 3PL for your company: the relationship or the technology? While more and more new-age 3PL companies are marketing themselves as digital hubs, using technology to modernize practices and increase speed and frequency, older 3PL companies stand firm on relationship building.
New-age 3PLs started emerging in response to new technologies that were producing faster, more accurate supply chain processes. As these younger companies paved a way for themselves in the 3PL space, it became clear they were positioning themselves as technology hubs focused on innovation and cutting edge automation.
Gary Frantz writes, “These next-generation players and their service portfolios are defined by speed, agility, adaptability, and continuous improvement. They have to operate reliably and seamlessly in an e-commerce-defined world. They are embracing digitization and technology for automating manual processes and creating even more data. And perhaps most important, they’re emerging as an “integration hub” connecting a far more diverse and interdependent set of systems, technology platforms, and data sources across the supply chain than ever before.”
As the demands of shippers and suppliers have changed, 3PLs have had to react with increased speed and agility. The only way to improve these processes and stay relevant was with emerging technologies and strategic, data-driven advances.
As with any outsourced partnership, 3PLs work for the customer and what they’re looking to achieve. So it’s imperative that both the customer and the 3PL are working towards the same goals and desired outcomes. This is done through detailed strategy, planning, and execution. But one of the most important parts of a 3PLs partnership with a client is the relationship that makes the planning and execution possible.
Some more traditional 3PLs believe that this relationship building is the key to their success. Through open communication, aligned interests, and measurable performance metrics, a partnership with the right 3PL will create a sense of familiarity allowing you to focus on other aspects of your business.
“At the core of all successful relationships is communication. You must remember that the company you hired for handling logistics will ultimately affect your bottom line. Communication allows you to avoid mishaps and issues that cause you to lose trust in each other. Communication is more than about asking the right questions at the right time to clarify any existing doubts.”
Finding the blend: technology and relationships come together
It’s easy to see how a 3PL that has digitally transformed processes and technologies can increase your bottom line. Greater throughput with a focus on accuracy and customer satisfaction can lead to greater opportunity and revenue.
It’s also easy to see how trust and communication create strong, lasting relationships with customers. A 3PL that is open, transparent, and working hard to make sure that your company is satisfied lends itself to new opportunities to grow within these partnerships.
Finding a 3PL that can do both, that can merge cutting-edge technology and fast-paced innovation with a level of trust, is the sweet spot B2B and B2C companies are looking for. The right 3PL will build the relationship, put in the face time, and be available when you need them as well as offer modern solutions to your biggest challenges through digitalization. It’s not enough to be one or the other: new-age or traditional. The most efficient and effective 3PLs will do both.
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