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5 Ways a Third Party Logistics (3PL) partner can help you unlock the potential of your supply chain

Published in InsideLogistics Magazine

If you’re moving goods from point A to point B, you know all too well that supply chain costs account for a huge proportion of operational expenditures. Not surprisingly, they’re always under scrutiny. And for good reason. There are almost always ways to boost efficiency, streamline processes, and extract waste.

That’s where a Third Party Logistics (3PL) partner that integrates closely with your organization can be a game-changer. Case in point – 3PL Links focuses on building close personal relationships with its customers.

As a result, the company knows its client’s businesses like its own and understands the market conditions impacting them. With this insight, the right 3PL partner can recommend strategies for increasing agility, cutting costs, and improving efficiencies.

5 ways a 3PL partner can help you transform your supply chain:

1. Consolidating shipments & optimizing timelines
A good 3PL works with you to consolidate shipments, either within your organization or with another company with complementary shipments. Consolidating shipments, tuning timelines, and occasionally re-routing shipments can reduce moves – and dramatically reduce costs and improve delivery times.

2. Finding the perfect transport method for every shipment
One of the biggest mistakes some companies make is using one shipping method they’re comfortable or familiar with.

Whether it’s by vehicle, plane, train, or container ship, the transport mode that’s right for one shipment isn’t ideal for another. Each method has pros and cons. Air is the fastest long-range shipping option. It’s also more vulnerable to delays from adverse travel or weather conditions. It’s also usually the costliest option.

On the other hand, trains are less expensive. They’re the fastest method of ground transportation – but not as fast as air. And with either air and train, you still have to use trucks to get products to the final destination.

Likewise, there are pros and cons to vehicle and marine shipping solutions. An experienced 3PL can select the best solution for every shipment to help you save money and get your products to their destinations in the most efficient way.

3. Optimizing delivery routes to drive efficiency
When you work with a 3PL partner, you can tap into efficiencies that aren’t available otherwise because they have insight and expertise most companies don’t. That goes beyond choosing the best transportation mode. It includes optimizing routes and carriers especially if you move goods across borders.

For example, the most direct route isn’t always the most cost-effective or even right for your time frame. A 3PL routinely assesses and optimizes available routes and negotiates volume rates with select carriers. They have the visibility into the networks and constantly monitor every variable to customize the right solution for each unique shipment. Bottom line: If you’re flexible about transportation modes, routes and carriers, you can save a lot of money.

4. Harnessing technology to automate processes
When it comes to cutting costs, data and technology are your best allies. Many companies waste time and money on man-hours sending and tracking shipments

That’s where a 3PL can help. With access to state-of-the-art software, they can help you consolidate shipments and add transparency to your supply chain. They can automate supply chain operations, especially if you ship across borders or use multiple shipping modes – all with end-to-end visibility.

That might mean resolving issues in real time. Improving billing accuracy. Consolidating invoices from various modes with complete backup and accountability. With a 3PL partner, you can count on the accuracy and immediacy of the data, freeing you to focus man-hours where they really count.

5. Help you track and manage inventory in real time
Do you know exactly how much product you have this minute? Can you fill your next order in time – without keeping excess inventory on hand that increases your storage costs? Will you have to pay a premium to ship express?

You can’t make informed inventory decisions for your business if you don’t have access to up-to-the-minute, accurate data.

This is where a 3PL partner shines. A good partner can assess your inventory requirements and storage methods and identify opportunities to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Are you storing or reporting data manually? A 3PL partner offer the tools, processes, and programs you need – for instant, accurate inventory reporting and measurable time savings.

It all adds up to significant savings in time and money …

Just about every business can benefit from the best practices 3PL providers bring to the table, whatever your industry. They have the resources, knowledge, and experience you need to expand your reach. These 5 suggestions are just the start.

Looking for clarity or insight into where you can streamline your processes, consolidate supply chain steps or reduce operational and administrative costs? Consider a 3PL partner — like 3PL Links — with the experience and expertise to help you help you compete smarter and maximize your investment.

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