When a large business needs to ship products, it can call upon massive resources to move goods quickly and inexpensively. When a small business wants to ship products, it has to think smart and maneuver nimbly— unless, of course, it has partnered with a capable third party logistics provider.
For small businesses struggling to compete against larger chains, joining forces with an experienced third party logistics provider (3PL) can tremendously help level the playing field. The right 3PL can help a small business find ways to ship products efficiently and cost effectively to keep pace with larger competitors.
The trend of small businesses partnering with larger partners is increasing across multiple industries.
"Using 3PLs can be very effective for small companies," says Peter Foley, a counselor for a training partnership program with the U.S. Small Business Administration. "3PLs have the logistics experience, knowledge, and software a small company does not have, and they cost less than hiring employees with such expertise. [They] can cut through red tape quickly to get a final answer, change a program, or massage a product."
A 3PL's international footprint, bargaining influence, and shipping optimization technologies means they can more effectively strike deals with carriers and other service providers that would be impossible for a small business to achieve on its own. For example, many small businesses turn down international orders, such as shipping from Canada to the US, because they are unable to handle the necessary documentation. Having a capable partner handling key logistics tasks and pallet shipping allows smaller businesses to focus on their core issues.
3PLs can supply small businesses with logistics insight, negotiating power, and technology tools that would otherwise be unaffordable-- but need to benefit from the relationship as well. A rapidly growing small business with plenty of expansion potential is more likely to find a highly interested and effective 3PL partner than a company that's simply puttering along. As with any partnership, 3PLs are looking for partners with ideas that will lead to growth and provide steadily climbing revenue for both parties.