Choosing the right third-party logistics (3PL) provider is an important decision for e-commerce startups, as this partnership will greatly impact your costs, customer service, and supply chain.

First and foremost, finding the right fit involves choosing a 3PL with a culture that matches your company’s own, as well as one with capabilities and pricing that work for your business’ size and needs.

It’s also important to keep in mind the following considerations when selecting a 3PL for your e-commerce startup that can streamline your logistics operations, enhance customer experiences, and drive growth.

The 3PL’s Experience In E-Commerce

Look for a proven 3PL with the experience and longevity to back up its capabilities.

Founded in 1996, Customized Distribution Services (CDS) remains a privately held company led by a team of seasoned logistics professionals, committed to building long-term, sustainable relationships with our customers, employees, and communities.

CDS has the experience, bandwidth, and capabilities to tailor unique solutions to our clients’ logistics challenges. Our leaders engage directly with client representatives to truly understand customers’ needs and then develop custom, value-driven solutions.

The 3PL’s Ability To Handle Growth Without Disruption

Rapid growth can bring supply chain challenges. After all, more business means more inventory to keep track of and less room for error as orders increase.

CDS will meet your increased inventory needs, customer demand, and quality standards with our cost-effective, flexible, data-driven, and scalable logistics. You can focus on your growing business while we take care of scaling your company’s space, labor, and transportation according to exactly what services are required.

The 3PL’s Technology Solutions

Cutting-edge 3PLs are on top of the advances happening in the industry. They take the time and resources to invest in new technology so you don’t have to. This frees you up to focus on growing your business while still being able to benefit from technology that will make your supply chain more efficient.

CDS has added to its systems capability functionality designed for the e-commerce space, as well as enhanced portal functionality to provide insight into product inventory and activity. We provide real-time tracking, inventory visibility, and order processing automation. We also use autonomous mobile robots in our warehouses to scale our productivity, allowing us to get orders turned around in less than 24 hours.

CDS systems can directly integrate with shopping cart software like Shopify, Amazon, Magento, and WooCommerce, and parcel carriers such as FedEx, UPS, USPS, and DHL. Standard EDI interfaces are also available.

The 3PL’s Inventory Management Solutions

An experienced and innovative 3PL will offer solutions like inventory tracking and management to help keep a close eye on stock levels and replenishment needs.

At CDS, our goal is simple: to flow product through our distribution centers safely, accurately, and efficiently. Our role in your supply chain is to ensure that your product is received accurately, stored and tracked efficiently, and shipped without error. We do this through a combination of facility and equipment, process and procedure, and inventory management systems. E-commerce customers have access to real-time inventories, shipping and receiving information, and automated reporting.

Finally, since new products come in different shapes and sizes — and inventory storage must change to manage them effectively — CDS has innovative solutions to provide inventory storage for your e-commerce business.

The 3PL’s Location And Distribution Network

Distribution center placement is critical to minimizing costs and reaching customers. After all, the geographic location of distribution centers can impact transit times, shipping costs, and the ability to provide fast, reliable deliveries.

CDS offers seven main distribution centers across the United States that provide highway access and major market proximity to optimize product storage and shipment. We’ll also help you grow your e-commerce business globally with international shipments.

The 3PL’s Ability To Provide Custom Solutions And Flexibility

E-commerce startups should look for a 3PL partner that offers custom packaging, order processing workflows, specialized shipping methods, industry-specific certifications, and more, depending on their needs.

When it comes to product storage and material handling, CDS provides many options. We’ll work with you to develop the optimal strategies for your inventory, all of which take place in our clean, secure, and controlled distribution centers.

We work with clients to find a customized fulfillment solution to meet their needs. Options include LIFO, FIFO, and FEFO, with the ability to pick and ship by batch, best-by date, or code. CDS also uses every shipping method available to get your product safely delivered on time and on budget.

The 3PL’s Cost Efficiency

Since managing costs is vital to startups looking to grow, a 3PL’s pricing structure must be transparent. It’s important to partner with an organization that can offer you cost savings and operational efficiencies.

CDS offers the following benefits to help our customers control costs:

  • Proximity to customers and buyers, plus having a breadth of geographic locations, keeps parcel delivery costs down.
  • Keeping optimal inventory levels ensures you only pay for the space you need while reducing extra transportation costs associated with having too little inventory.
  • Having adequate space to meet your needs as your e-commerce business grows.
  • Offering the ability to participate in large volume shipping rates to garner savings for their clients.

The 3PL’s Customer Service Model

You need a 3PL partner that is accessible, knowledgeable and offers customized solutions.

The CDS customer service group, your key point of contact, provides dedicated or non-dedicated customer service support representatives; communication by email, SMS services, or phone; and web portals and automated reporting for quick answers and self-sufficiency.

As an ideal 3PL partner, CDS helps e-commerce startup clients streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and drive growth. The result is a partnership that delivers strategic support and customized services to help you deliver on time and on budget for your customers.

To find out how CDS can help you manage the complexities of today’s supply chain so you can start proactively growing your business, contact us today or reach out to request a quote.