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6 Questions to Ask Yourself For Long-Term Success with a Logistics Partner

When your e-commerce business is growing rapidly, it often feels like you are trying to build the plane while you are flying it. Although this is a familiar feeling for many small to medium sized businesses, it can often lead to snap decision making – because when you need help, you need it, well, yesterday. Looking for a partner to support your growth is not only necessary for your short-term management and success, but it can be beneficial to your long-term profit and sustainability as a business. So when it comes to finding a fulfillment and logistics partner to support your business needs, consider the following questions.

1, Where in my supply chain do I need support?

You are likely well-versed in your business’ supply chain, but it’s important to put it on paper. From the moment an order is placed, what are the steps that your inventory moves through until it reaches your customers’ door and which parts do you need extra support? Key areas you may want to consider could include: inventory management, warehousing and storage, transportation and logistics, delivery and more. It may be helpful, especially if this is the first time you’re considering working with a partner, to flag each stage of your supply chain by different priorities. Such as:

  • Yellow = Need support within the next year
  • Orange = Need support within the next six months
  • Red = Need support within the next 90 days or as soon as possible.

Knowing your “red flag” gaps will help you prioritize what to look for in a logistics partner.

2. Should I work with a partner who is familiar with e-commerce? 

The number of third-party logistics businesses in the U.S. continues to grow. As of 2023, there are over 21,000 third-party logistics businesses and that number is only expected to increase in 2024. The good news is, it gives small and medium size businesses a lot of options when it comes to choosing a US-based provider. The bad news is, it gives small and medium size businesses a lot of options when it comes to choosing a US-based provider. How can you narrow this down? For starters, consider a provider who is intimately familiar with ecommerce and the unique challenges your business faces. For example, while all businesses are affected by the holiday season, planning ahead during this critical time for your business is an important part of your business strategy and having a partner who manages – and understands – this could potentially make or break your business.


3. What technology is available and how will this benefit me?

If you can’t trace your one specific product in size extra-small and color neon green from your digital database to the warehouse to your customer’s front door, then how can you possibly know how to build a business strategy and increase profit? Thankfully, in 2024, you almost need to wear blinders if you don’t want to see the ins and outs of your business. But it’s also important to work with a partner that uses the latest technology to continue this level of transparency throughout your supply chain. When your partner is not only working with the latest technology trends, but also provides recommendations on how to use that technology to support your business, you end up winning in more ways than one.

4. Will this provider be able to grow with my business?

Businesses come and go – that’s true of any industry. However, losing a strategic partner while you’re in the middle of your busy season is not ideal for anyone. This is when longevity and a proven track record speaks volumes. It’s certainly important to work with a company that has the background and experience to support you, but it’s equally necessary to work with a company that isn’t too far entrenched in their processes that they can’t be flexible to your growing company’s needs. Especially if you are experiencing a high rate of growth, you need to know that whoever you are  building a relationship with has the infrastructure in place to grow with you.

5. Is my logistics provider following security and compliance protocols that protect my company?

According to Yahoo! Finance, there were more people affected by cyberattacks in the first nine months of 2023 than in all of 2022 (roughly 360 million people). Facing a cybersecurity attack as a business is not only a legal and financial nightmare, but it’s a huge blow to customer’s trust and your reputation. Even though people know “this stuff happens,” they may think twice before giving you money. Knowing that, do you have partners who take on security protocols similar to your business? This becomes especially important when you are transmitting important data across the globe where there are potentially multiple points of entry for a cyber criminal to infiltrate you or your parnters’ systems.

6. How important is communication to my workflow?

Finally, consider how involved you want to be in your supply chain on a regular basis. Almost nothing can be more frustrating than not having clear, consistent communication from your partners. When it’s impossible to walk down the hallway and knock on someone’s door, a partner that is available via phone or email is crucial to your sanity and (let’s be honest) your bottom line. Because if you’re constantly in the dark on your supply chain, your business could be dead in the water. Think about what works for your leadership style and the level of trust you want or need in a logistics partner. Better yet, do you have accessibility to the right person (like the business owner) should something go sideways? Hiccups and emergencies will naturally happen, and knowing you are not alone in the trenches, and that your phone calls will be taken – and taken seriously – are paramount to building long-term trust with a business partner.

Whether you are in the market for a reliable, experienced logistics provider, or are just curious about which options are available for your supply chain, get a free Supply Chain Checkup from our team. We’ll look at everything from operations and shipping to your marketing and vendors. From A-Z, we’ll help your team shine a light on the opportunities for your 2024 success.

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