With a long list of 3rd Party Logistics providers for prospects to choose from, how do you stand apart from the rest? As of 2022, according to IBISWorld, there are 14,302 Third-Party Logistics businesses in the US, which is up by 1.4% from 2021. Not only is it essential for growth to bring on new customers, but you want to keep your customers happy in order to expand services in the future and to have good references for prospects.
1. Market your Strengths
When marketing your business, it is important to think about what kind of prospects you want to attract. Are they in a particular type of industry, for example consumer goods, electronics, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, or nutraceuticals? Do they have certain types of requirements, such as tracking expiration dates or temperature requirements? Do your company’s strengths align with the type of customer you want to attract? Do you have existing customers in this market for references? Evaluate your strengths whether it is in high volume order fulfillment, cold storage, kitting, returns, etc. and see if these align with the prospect you are trying to attract. It may mean adjusting your marketing strategy through your website, online listings, web search campaigns, or social media; but more information to come on that topic.
2. Price & Value
Do you have shipping software that allows you to shop different carriers to find the best price? By cutting shipping costs, you can pass some of those savings on to your customers. Although price can be a major factor in a 3PL search, there are other important factors for them to evaluate as well such as customer service, expertise, technology, and location. Prospects are looking for someone they can trust with fulfilling their customer’s orders. They are looking for reliability, efficiency, affordability, and visibility throughout the fulfillment process.
Expertise takes time and money to acquire. Showcase your talents; you’ve worked with many different clients and figured out the best way to handle inventory efficiently, so be sure to highlight that in your messaging. Focus on ways that the customer can save money – not needing the staff or equipment to do the orders on their own. Do you have multiple locations? If the locations are more centrally located to their customers, it can cut down on shipping costs and provide shorter transit times. It can also provide opportunities for them to expand their current customer base to new areas.
By working with a 3PL, companies are offered more flexibility when it comes to spending and products. They are able to dedicate more time, attention, and talent on other areas of the business, by handing off the fulfillment part of the business. It also allows them to increase/decrease space dedicated to certain products depending on the season and demand.
3. WMS & Technology
It is essential to not only have the capacity and workforce to take on new customers, but you have to have the technology to support these efforts. Does your warehouse include tools to help you automate your operations such as a WMS, mobile RF scanners, conveyor belts, or robotic carts? Do you have a seamless process from receiving to shipment? Does your WMS do 3PL billing, so you can track what activities are taking place, in order to accurately bill your customers?
If you find yourself having to turn away business, because you aren’t able to meet new customer requirements, it might be time to invest in a new Warehouse Management System. A best-in-class WMS should be able to handle a variety of customer requirements and offer real time visibility into the inventory. Through the use of mobile RF technology, you can eliminate manual entry errors to ensure the right item is picked and shipped to the customer. A WMS can also help you run reports to find the slow-moving inventory, so you can encourage customers to reduce stock of these items. Although, there are some storage fees involved, you are making more money when products are moving, so you should implement price increases for long-term storage which will urge customers to only keep quickly moving inventory on hand. This could also free up some much-needed space for new customers.
Are your warehouse systems integrated to allow for accurate and real time information to flow through your Warehouse Management System, accounting or ERP system, shipping or Transportation Management System, or Labor Management System. By having proper integrations in place, it avoids manual entry and allows you to pull reports and analytics across multiple processes in the warehouse. In addition, with the rise of Ecommerce, being able to integrate with shopping carts is not just a nice to have, but a must have if you want to remain competitive in the market.
4. Customer Experience
Online shoppers today expect to receive shipment alerts when the order has been placed, shipped, delivered and if there are any shipment delays. This is also providing a great customer experience. Your customers are going to want visibility into your warehouse process as well, being able to see in real time what is being packed and shipped out. They will also, want to see what inventory you have available, to see what items need to be replenished.
Strive for outstanding customer service by responding quickly to customer inquiries. Also, be fast at addressing returns and order inconsistencies. Account Managers should be in touch with customers on a regular basis to touch base on their business requirements to evaluate opportunities for growth and any new services that could be added to better assist them. Although it’s important to send one on one emails, you can also send out quarterly newsletters to keep customers informed about your latest news and updates. Furthermore, you can send out surveys to receive customer feedback on support and services. You want to be able to address any customer issues early on, before they start looking at competitors.
5. Make Yourself Known
While face to face sales can still be effective including cold calling and trade show events, it is crucial to market yourself online as well. A lot of prospects will do their research before even attending a trade show or industry event by narrowing down a list of people they want to talk to when they get there. If you aren’t visible online, you might miss your opportunity before you even get to the trade show.
Reviews and word of mouth are extremely important. An outstanding customer review is going to help you win new sales, whereas a bad one is going to turn people away pretty quickly. Not only are reviews great for new business, having a good relationship with your current customers and making sure you are exceeding their expectations is important as well. You want to be shown in a good light if they are talking to potential prospects. You want them to recommend you. It doesn’t hurt to ask either. You can reach out to your customers to ask them to fill out a review online or offer a referral program with an incentive for them to recommend you to others.
Your website should be easy to navigate, highlighting the services you offer and your location(s). It also should include contact information and Calls to Action (CTA’s), so if they are scrolling the different pages they have an easy way to contact you. You can include forms to ensure you receive some details about their business, instead of just a name and phone number. That way, you can do some research on them before you contact them.
How visible are you in the market…when it comes to online? You want to be ranking high for the keyword searches your prospects are using in their search browsers. It is important to be ranking on page 1 or 2 when a prospect is searching for a 3PL…they aren’t likely going to find you if you are on page 10. Are you ranking for search terms such as “3PL near me”. In today’s market, location is key. Prospects want to find a 3PL that is close to them and even better close to their customers. You can also list your business location on Google and Yelp, so they can easily find you.
You can optimize the content on your website as well as by using Pay Per Click ads to get your name higher on the list in Google searches. Just be sure you are using negative keywords, so you can exclude the unwanted traffic. You can purchase ads through social media sites as well. Find out what social media platforms your key market is using, and focus your energy on those. You don’t want to take the time to post on all the different sites if your target customer isn’t even using that platform. Be sure to create a strong presence on social media platforms by regularly posting new content whether it be blogs, press releases, or case studies. By doing this you are engaging with current customers and prospects; sharing the latest updates with your business….showing strength through growth and new opportunities. You don’t want your business to look stagnant, but constantly improving through new customers and features.
In conclusion, prospects and customers are looking for stability, a good track record, and a 3PL they can grow with. Be sure to market your strengths including your Warehouse Management System capabilities. Do you often find yourself having to say no to prospect requirements? It might be time to invest in a new Warehouse Management System. Contact the WMS experts at Cadre Technologies to help you find a solution that is best for your business.