Once you’ve determined that a 3PL provider is the best choice for your order fulfilment, it’s time to settle on the right partner.
Choosing to outsource your beauty fulfilment – whether for the first time or when moving to a new 3PL provider – is a big decision and one that is crucial to get right.
But how do you go about choosing a partner amongst the swathe of available options? What added value services should you look out for and what can you learn about a potential 3PL’s capabilities based on those early touchpoints with them?
In this blog, we aim to answer these questions and give you a plan of action for settling on the ideal 3PL partner for your beauty brand.
How to Find the Perfect Beauty 3PL Provider
Below are ILG’s 4 top tips on finding your perfect fulfilment partner. As a 3PL provider ourselves, these are the factors that, in our experience, contribute to a fruitful, long-term partnership.
1. Look for a shared alignment of values
Outsourced logistics management is more than just a service – it’s a partnership that is strengthened when both parties have shared values.
For this reason, it’s important to approach choosing your 3PL as you would any other business partnership. After all, your fulfilment partner will serve your customers as a major point of contact with your brand; they will be responsible for fulfilling orders in a way that aligns with your values and expectations.
Your brand values should be respected and upheld by your 3PL, so make sure they fully understand who you are as a business – for example, if sustainability is something you’re passionate about, ensure your fulfilment partner has the means to help you achieve it, whether this relates to packaging, recycling or renewable energy sources.
Find reviews and case studies of other businesses like yours that have worked with a given 3PL company in the past. You can find ILG’s beauty case studies here to see examples of brands that already work with us.
2. Look further than size and cost
While the affordability and size of a given 3PL are key considerations, they’re not the only ones – and, depending on your business’ needs, they may not even be the most important.
The difference between a good fulfilment company and a great fulfilment partner is often found in the smaller details – the qualities of working with them that aren’t apparent at a glance. These qualities can show up in your first conversations with a potential partner and can be summarised by a willingness to ‘go above and beyond’ in the pursuit of a successful business relationship.
Ask these questions of any 3PLs on your shortlist:
- Do they show a genuine interest in my business? Are they asking the right questions in order to understand us fully – and are they a ‘good listener’?
- Do they actively make intuitive suggestions that can save my business money in the long run – such as adjusting the packaging process and cutting shipping costs?
- Is there capacity for this 3PL to scale with my own business? Can they meet the needs of order spikes on the fly?
If communication with your fulfilment provider is subpar, their warehouse size and service offering won’t matter. Choose a partner that is easy to get hold of and communicate with, and one that shows a genuine interest in serving your business needs from the get-go.
3. Choose technology solutions that mould to your needs
When it comes to technology in fulfilment, bigger isn’t always better. Flashy technology can flatter to deceive and doesn’t always equate to improved efficiency.
The idea of automated warehouse procedures may sound like a good deal on paper, but in the beauty business, a level of personalisation is important for giving your end users an experience that feels tailor-made. For example, automated packaging sounds like a great timesaver, but it can prevent your orders from having that ‘handpicked’ feel, reducing the level of personalisation possible during packaging.
So, consider a 3PL that offers practical solutions that enhance a personalised fulfilment approach without overriding it with overly involved tech.
4. Look for flexibility as you scale
We’ve touched on this already, but it’s worth expanding as a point on its own. As your business grows and enjoys the benefits of a fruitful 3PL partnership, it’s important to know that your fulfilment operation can flex and scale as you do.
Your brand experience is not a static thing – chances are your packaging and unboxing experience needs will change with time, so it’s vital your 3PL can accommodate this.
Furthermore, you want your 3PL to not only be flexible at your request but proactively test their own process and methods in order to continue to enhance your business’ fulfilment process. Is there evidence that your fulfilment partner is actively looking to improve their processes for the benefit of your account? Are you kept appraised of their processes through insightful updates that show a willingness to improve at all times?
Again, it’s all about ‘going above and beyond’, and finding such a 3PL isn’t a pipe dream; it’s achievable whether you require distribution to retail or fulfilment of D2C beauty sales.
Choose a 3PL Provider that Understands Your Beauty Business
At the end of the day, proficiency and reliability are crucial. But it doesn’t end there. On top of these vital indications, be sure to partner with a 3PL that shows a dedication to the brands under its care, and a track record of excellence when it comes to beauty fulfilment.
Find Out More About 3PL Beauty Fulfilment at ILG
ILG is proud to be CEW’s preferred logistics partner.