Shopping for 3PL’s is as much an art as it is business modeling. There are 5 critical questions to ask of your own products and potential partners when researching warehouses. This article explores what typical 3PL requirements have for FBA Sellers.
Will My Product Work with 3PL Requirements?
3PL’s come in many shapes and sizes – much like the cartons they service. So it’s important you find one that caters to you as their Ideal Prospective Client. This will give you more negotiating power. Where does your product and its packaging fit within the 3PL space? For example, are you shipping furniture? Or are you shipping ice cream? This will determine what type of warehouse to target. From there, you’ll have a modest list of warehouse providers to review requirements from. And from there, you can pitch yourself to them as their ideal client, in an attempt to secure lower warehousing rates.
Do I have enough Product to Meet 3PL Requirements?
A lot of 3PL’s employ a basic product minimum to render their services. For example, they do not want 100 clients with 10 cartons or less. They’d rather have 1 client with 1000 cartons. Operationally – this just makes sense. If you can service just one client’s need one set of products – why would you create x10 more work for yourself by juggling nine other client requests?
So make sure you inquire as to product minimums when scouting 3PL partners. A small note, FbaZoom started as sellers, who now support sellers with our warehouse. We learned how to scale our e-commerce business. That means we do not have the same 3PL requirements that other warehouses put on newer sellers.
Is my Product Oversized Per 3PL Requirements?
Per FBA guidelines, an oversized carton extends beyond 25″ in Length, Width or Height. How does your current carton sizes measure up to that? Additionally, heavy cartons require extra documentation. Any case over 50lbs requires a label that declares “Team Lift Required”. Any case over 100lbs requires a label that declares “Mechanical Lift Required”. If you’re products are extra big – makes sure to ask about 3PL requirements related to oversized cartons. They might have stricter limits or capabilities compared to Amazon’s warehouse.
What Type of Product Prep do I Need?
Understand what is required of your product. Ask yourself, which products will need different prep at different times. What labels do your master cartons need? What barcodes do your products need? Does your product need safety or expiration date stickers? Are you bundling two or more products together? These are big questions if you are both wholesaling or private labeling. And a 3PL team needs to offer this prep if your products may require it.
What Type of Services Does a 3PL Offer?
- Warehousing and Distribution: 3PLs often provide storage facilities for inventory and handle the distribution of products to retailers or end customers.
- Order Fulfillment: This includes picking and packing orders, as well as shipping them to the final destination. 3PLs can streamline this process to improve efficiency.
- Transportation Services: Some 3PLs offer transportation solutions, managing the movement of goods between different points in the supply chain.
- Inventory Management: 3PLs help optimize inventory levels, reducing the risk of overstock or stockouts. They may use advanced software systems to track and manage inventory.
- Returns Management: Handling product returns can be complex. 3PLs often have processes in place to manage and process returns efficiently.
- Technology Integration: Many 3PLs use technology solutions to enhance visibility and control in the supply chain. This may include real-time tracking, data analytics, and order management systems.
- Customs Brokerage and Compliance: For businesses involved in international trade, 3PLs can assist with customs clearance and ensure compliance with regulations.
- Value-Added Services: Some 3PLs offer additional services, such as product labeling, kitting, or assembly, adding value to the supply chain.
- Cross-Docking: This involves transferring goods directly from inbound to outbound transportation with minimal or no storage in between. It helps in reducing handling and storage costs.
- Reverse Logistics: Managing the process of returning goods from the customer back to the warehouse, including disposition of returned items.
Ask yourself which of these services you need. Because if you sign on with a warehouse partner who charges a higher premium for access to these services – you may be doing yourself a disservice. Often times less can be more. There’s no need to complicate services if you are still scaling up your brand and volume.