Are you ready to launch your perishable food or drink product online? In most cases, you’ll need to partner with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) who can help you fulfill your ecommerce orders. Of course, there are many points to consider, so how can you choose the right one to meet your needs? Look at the most important factors below.

1. The Quality of the Customer Service

One of the most important factors you must consider is the quality of the customer service. Your 3PL provider should give you the amount of attention you deserve. They should take the time to answer questions you might have, and they should be able to handle any issues you encounter. The right 3PL provider should ideally be proactive, helping you address any concerns you might have, preventing problems from happening twice. For refrigerated or frozen foods, this is especially important since items need to get to your customer on time and still frozen. They should help you choose the right carrier and help you address any issues with the packaging, insulation and coolant if your customers are receiving thawed shipments.

2. The Reliability of the Company

Your partner must also be reliable. Orders must go out correctly, and they need to arrive on time. If your orders do not ship / arrive on time and still cold / frozen, not only do you lose money, but this also impacts the reputation of your brand. Additionally, you could lose a potentially loyal customer along with their referrals. Word of mouth goes a long way, so referrals are important in growing your sales and customer base. Look at the track record of the company and make sure they are reliable. Talk to a few of their customers, if possible, to gauge their experience. The 3PL needs to be responsive if there are any changes in order frequency or volume as well.

3. The Experience

The right 3PL provider will also have experience in your specific area. For example, many 3PL’s in the food and beverage space specialize in shipping perishable goods. You should partner with a company that has been in business for a reasonable length of time and understands how to handle perishable items, making sure your products are protected while in storage, during pick & pack and in transit. It’s also vitally important they have the right technology to manage all aspects of the supply chain and have an IT support team to help you in the event of any issues. A reliable ecommerce integration solution is an absolute must.

4. The Customization Options

You should not have to pay for services you do not need. Are they flexible on things like order volume? Can you customize your packaging and labeling? Can you control how your orders are picked and packed? If you require specific handling, labeling, packaging, or other requirements, it must be within the realm of expertise of your 3PL provider. Ask about customization options before deciding on a logistics partner

5. The Scalability

As your company grows, your 3PL provider must grow with you. Do you foresee your company handling more orders in the future? If so, you should partner with someone who can handle the increased order volume. It can be a hassle to change 3PL partners, so try to find a company that can easily process your future volume. Furthermore, if you have a seasonal business, you may not have demand during certain times of the year. Your 3PL provider should allow you to ramp up or scale back when necessary.

6. The Facility

A good facility has ample storage space as well as a multiple of temperature zones to accommodate a wide array of products. Ideally, they can store dry ice on the premises as well. Temperature-controlled rooms ensure your product maintains the required temperature depending on our product type. They should also have dry space available to store your packaging and marketing materials associated with orders. You may want to request a video tour or physical tour of the warehouse before you sign a contract.

7. The Location of the Company

Finally, you need to think about the location of your 3PL provider. Location will play a role in both the speed of and cost of delivery as well as the efficiency of order management. 1-to-2-day transit times are critical for temperature-controlled and perishable products being shipped direct-to-consumer, so locations on both east and west coasts will enable you to cover most of the country with ground shipping if you plan to ship nationally. If you are shipping locally or regionally, then it makes sense to find a 3PL that is closest to your customers. Optimizing your frozen fulfillment program and ensuring your products reach your customers in the most cost-effective manner and in the proper condition should be their top priority.

Contact Gray Growth for a Professional 3PL Provider

If you consider all these factors, you should place yourself in the best possible position to find the right 3PL to partner with. At Gray Growth Logistics, we have a tremendous amount of experience helping brands of all sizes establish or scale a perishable logistics program. We have the team, the tech and the talent to assist you from start to finish. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.