September 16, 2023

What Does an Agile 3PL Look Like?


The recent Weber Logistics eBook, Supply Chain Agility: The New Logistics Superpower, describes the importance of having an agile 3PL partner that can anticipate disruptions and help you meet them head on. This ready-for-anything approach to logistics can keep your business responsive to changing markets and customer needs.

But what does an agile 3PL actually look like? In this article, we’ll review the people, systems, and logistics infrastructure that enable true supply chain agility.

 

PEOPLE

supply-chain-agility-crop-1Experts who optimize, as well as execute, the work. Agile 3PLs see the big picture. They employ a holistic view of your supply chain ecosystem and leverage data to identify potential issues before they escalate. For example, an agile 3PL will have a dedicated team that diligently monitors compliance with retailer routing guides. This proactive approach, funded by the 3PL, can save clients up to $100,000 annually in chargeback penalties.

In-House IT experts. Agile 3PLs understand the importance of swift project execution. They maintain an internal IT team capable of handling tasks like systems integrations rapidly – within days or weeks, not the lengthy waits you might see with external software companies and developers.

 

SYSTEMS

Automated warehouse processes. With warehouse labor scarce and turnover high, it’s hard to rapidly scale distribution and fulfillment in a manual environment. You need an agile 3PL willing to invest in automation on your behalf. For example, a mid-market consumer brand that had sold exclusively to mass retailers was launching a new eCommerce channel that promised significant increases in both revenue and operational complexity. After being briefed on forecasted sales growth, the company’s 3PL made a multi-million investment in new pick modules and pack-out stations. If a spirit of partnership and trust exists between brands and logistics partners, it’s far easier to scale operations to support business growth.

Analytics and reporting. An industry-wide crawl toward digitalization leaves brands unable to access crucial data needed to anticipate change and make better, faster decisions. Agile 3PLs will give you direct access to the data you need from their operating systems and provide user-friendly reporting that can be customized to your exact data needs.

 

INFRASTRUCTURE

Warehouse and transportation assets. An asset-based 3PL can more readily commit capacity to scale distribution operations – with trucks and chassis for drayage, warehouse space, or its own delivery fleet. The most agile 3PLs may even go the extra mile by building or leasing new warehouses to fulfill client commitments for future growth.

Integrated services. An agile 3PL will integrate multiple services to create a faster, seamless product flow – from the port to the store shelf or end consumer. For example, let’s say you have a back-ordered product sitting on an inbound container from China. An integrated 3PL provider can help identify the hot container, arrange immediate pick up with its own drayage fleet, bring it back to its own warehouse for immediate unloading and processing, and then handle direct delivery to area retailers using its own drivers and trucks. That response is much tougher if you’re piecing together the solution with different providers. With one logistics partner, communication is fast and streamlined, data moves on a single system and status monitoring is real-time.

 

The Power to Say “Yes”

One underappreciated advantage to working with truly agile 3PLs is their ability to confidently commit to time deadlines. Think about the power that affords you in your logistics role.

The power to say ”yes.”

  • Marketing wants to know if you can double order throughput to support a week-long summer promotion. YES.
  • Your biggest retail customer asks if you can create 25,000 kits in 2 weeks for a holiday gift promotion. YES.
  • Purchasing asks if you can find 10,000 square feet of space to support a short-term inventory build-up. YES.

 

Turn to Weber for Agile Logistics from the West Coast

If the above 3PL characteristics sound good to you, why not partner with a truly agile 3PL that checks all of these boxes? Weber Logistics has the people, systems and infrastructure in place to keep your operations ready for anything. We’re big enough to get things done, but nimble enough to provide focused attention to your business. To learn more about working with an agile 3PL from the West Coast, contact Weber Logistics today.

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