There are thousands of transportation and warehousing companies in Canada, with each one claiming to have advantages over the others, and all of them competing for your business. However, if you’re going to trust such critical aspects of your business and the satisfaction of your customers to a third-party, you’re most certainly going to want to choose a partner that is a true expert in the field and can deliver on the needs of your business. This is why it’s essential to know exactly what factors go in to making a true expert in the field of third-party logistics (3PL), especially in Canada where there are many unique challenges that must be met. When you choose a partner, you’re going to want to choose wisely.
That’s why we’ve crafted this article. Here, we will explain the multitude of factors that 3PL companies must be able to provide in order to offer a complete range of 3PL services in Canada, and to ensure that your business is able to provide an exceptional customer experience every step of the way. We will examine the wide range of services that fall under the 3PL logistics umbrella, as well as explore many of the critical questions that you should consider when evaluating your options. This is a decision that will impact the effectiveness of your entire supply chain, so choosing the right partner can ensure your company gains and maintains competitive advantage now and in the future.
What services are offered by 3PL companies?
First, it’s important to understand the vast array of services that fall in to the category of third-party logistics. While many companies claim to offer a complete range of 3PL services, very few are able to actually deliver on the true meaning of that statement. Let’s take a look at how these services are generally organized.
Warehousing & Distribution – One of the core elements of logistics is the ability to store and organize large volumes of products, materials and supplies as they flow through the various stages of the supply chain. True 3PL experts will have a wide network of warehousing and distribution centers in strategic locations across the country in order to ensure that products are always available in your core markets at the time when you need them. Since Canada is such a massive country, your supply chain operates much more efficiently if you can service distant markets with shorter lead times, and your customers benefit from faster delivery.
3PL warehousing resources are also scalable, meaning that they will be able to accommodate surges in order volume as your company grows or sales cycle ebb and flow throughout the year due to seasonal trends or product releases. This means you avoid the problems associated with overcrowding and under-capacity by maximizing every inch of space.
Transportation Management – Of course, to get those products across the country and in the right places at the right time, you need an efficient method of transportation. 3PL companies that possess the best fleet resources are able to move products through the supply chain quickly and efficiently, as well as providing flexibility and adaptability to serve growing markets and remote locations that may be out of reach for other transportation companies.
As with warehousing, 3PL transportation services are scalable and can adjust as your order volumes change. Whether you’re in need of an LTL shipment for a short haul, or multiple full truckloads going coast-to-coast, you can be sure that your expert 3PL partner will be able to meet your transportation demands.
Inventory Management – In addition to managing the storage and movement of goods throughout your supply chain, 3PL experts can also provide advanced inventory management services to help further optimize your operations. By tracking and monitoring stock levels, and leveraging automation technologies, 3PL inventory management helps speed up order processing and reduces risk of error, and provides transparency into inefficiencies, saving your business time and money.
Packaging & Fulfilment – As products move throughout your facilities and are getting ready to ship, proper packaging is crucial to ensuring that they arrive in perfect condition each and every time. 3PL packaging and fulfilment services provide enhanced consistency and efficiency during these stages of the logistics process, further reducing risk of errors and resulting in shorter turnaround times.
Reverse Logistics & Returns – Another critical part of the customer experience is being able to deliver a smooth and problem-free returns process. Time and time again, it’s been proven that customer satisfaction and repeat business are significantly impacted by their experience when things don’t go exactly as planned. When a customer needs to return a product for any reason, 3PL logistics experts will help provide a seamless and simple returns experience. This helps remove friction points from your logistics operations, saves costs, and can have a big effect on customer loyalty.
Customer & Technical Services – For many businesses, reaching multiple markets across large distances with effective customer service and technical service solutions is a major obstacle. The ability to provide on-site service no matter where the customer may be is critical and 3PL experts have the resources to make it happen for your business. Handling customer issues and providing technical services may seem like something that should be handled internally, however partnering with the right 3PL expert can alleviate a great deal of pressure you’re your internal resources and actually improve the overall customer experience.
How can I know that a 3PL is a true expert in Canada?
As you can clearly see, there’s a lot more to being a true 3PL services provider than simply warehousing and trucking. There are very few companies in Canada that can accurately claim to be a complete end-to-end 3PL logistics provider, and when your company begins to evaluate the different options in search of the right strategic partner, it’s important to ask the right questions. Consider these questions when evaluating your choices.
“Where is the company headquartered?”
Knowledge of the Canadian market comes from being immersed in it, so a Canadian-based 3PL provider can deliver a lot of advantages.
“Do they have coast-to-coast coverage?”
A location in Toronto and one in Vancouver doesn’t cut it when talking about complete coverage of the entire country. You’re going to need to look for companies with multiple facilities for distribution and transportation in strategic locations throughout Canada.
“Can they handle the complete range of logistics functions?”
For companies looking to grow, you need to know that your 3PL partner can deliver the resources you need every step of the way. For example, you may not need additional resources to manage returns processing today but planning for the future requires a broader view. Look long-term when choosing partners and find the ones that will grow alongside you with a complete range of services.
Once you start asking these questions, you’ll undoubtedly start to realize just how much value 3PL logistics companies can provide to your business. Canada can be a very challenging place for businesses of all types. Partnering with a 3PL expert that knows the market, understands what it takes to streamline your supply chain, and has the resources to make it happen can be the factor that ensures your success.
Choosing a 3PL partner is not a decision to take lightly, so the team here at SCI would like to help by answering any questions that you may have about how 3PL services can help your business.
Contactour team of experts today and let’s start a conversation. We’re looking forward to speaking with you!