What is the secret to a successful shipper/3PL partnership?
Three fundamental pillars define a successful partnership: a direct application programming interface (API) integration, a shared target customer, and a partnership mentality focused on solutions. When any one of these pillars falter, the client suffers and that is unacceptable. As a 3PL, it’s our responsibility to help clients mitigate pain points and enable growth.
VP of Partnerships
It’s three simple keys: great communication, working with culturally like-minded vendors, and building a strong network to support our shippers’ needs. Making sure you are proactive and not reactive when having a national network is important. Building confidence with your shipper so they know you have their back 24/7 is critical.
Agility is key for forging successful relationships between shippers and their 3PL partners, with the ongoing over-the-road supply chain uncertainty. If a 3PL can turn on a dime and provide out-of-the-box solutions—such as intermodal alternatives—shippers will experience fewer disruptions and delays in delivering their products.
SVP, Global MLS & Client Services
Odyssey Logistics & Technology Corporation
Set clear expectations on the processes and costs of the service up front, and then communicate regularly. 3PLs must communicate if they’re having labor or capacity shortages, and the shipper must provide good forecasts of inbound and outbound volumes so the 3PL can plan.
Simple and easy would be the two words I would use; not many have the technology capabilities but it is the secret. There are a lot of moving parts and when it is easy for both parties to work together that is where the magic happens. Easy to communicate, easy to request quotations or information, easy to use technology. It is really that simple.
A thorough and flexible request for proposal (RFP) is imperative for a successful partnership between shippers and 3PLs. Market trends and consumer demand fluctuate, directly influencing capacity and rates. The RFP must entail proactive blueprints for agility and steadfast communication among all parties in the midst of (un)expected variances. Everyone’s bottom line will benefit.
—Brock Romano, M.S.
Sr. Logistics Specialist
Total Wine & More
The strongest relationships are built on mutually beneficial partnerships that leverage access to rich data and nimble business models. When a shipper is armed with powerful analytical tools and data and a 3PL is delivering service in a non-asset-biased, collaborative model, the alliance will unlock savings and improved service.
Having clear service-level agreements with mechanisms and technology in place to monitor successes and opportunities for improvement, as well as having a deep understanding of the shipper’s end-to-end supply chain and vertical industries. The secret to a successful shipper/3PL partnership comes down to these factors.
Chief Revenue Officer
Adapting the 3PL support to the shipper context, maturity, and specific needs over time is key. It means for the 3PL to provide a drawer offer customizable to each client, and for the shipper to recognize where they are relevant—what they can do and what to have done.
Both the shipper and 3PL must communicate openly and be transparent for a successful partnership. This can mean integrating systems, sharing data, discussing industry changes, identifying retailer compliance requirements, and beyond. In practicing transparency, the partners will gain a better understanding of one another’s operations, which in turn builds a resilient supply chain and a strong, lasting partnership. Transparency creates trust, accountability, agility, and ultimately business growth.
RJW Logistics Group
Trust, but verify. Set appropriate expectations upfront, and then monitor deliverability and billing on an ongoing basis. A tracking API/service can help ensure the 3PL is fulfilling orders in a timely manner. Additionally, using your own carrier accounts can sometimes help, but often the 3PL will have better rates.
A clear management structure, the right technology in place, and continual monitoring of agreed KPIs ensure the business side is set right for growth. Not less important are softer factors like regular communication and mutual trust which are key to building and maintaining a successful partnership with your 3PL.
Vice President Global Business Development
Arvato Supply Chain Solutions
Flexibility and trust. It’s our job to help clients grow business and profitability through a scalable, stable, configurable, affordable, and API-friendly solution. Any successful partnership also requires the ability and willingness to continually improve and work with clients on a proactive and honest basis, to arrive at workable solutions together.
Chief Product and Delivery Officer
It starts with a strong foundation built on trust. As the saying goes—nothing will last if it is built on sand. Successful partnerships that are built to last share the same goals and work tirelessly to meet them.
Head of Business Development USA
DACHSER Americas Air & Sea Logistics Corp.
A successful shipper/3PL partnership is built on trust. This is not just a buyer-seller relationship. The 3PL works together with the shipper to solve problems. The best partnerships start with the shipper’s business plan, objectives, and desired outcomes in mind. The 3PL then aligns its strategies to produce measurable results.
President, Managed Transportation
It’s all about trust, and building an "open book" relationship. This is much more easily achieved when the 3PL is able to be 100% integrated into the supply chain from end to end. That gives you full visibility of performance and spend, so you can negotiate fees accordingly.
Trust. If a shipper knows that you truly care about keeping them satisfied, a true relationship is built. Going the extra mile to make that next move happen, even if it means sending them to your competitor, establishes that trust.
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