How 3PL Warehouses Can Better Serve Their Customers

Date: August 6, 2020


Tips for Customer Retention in Your Warehouse

Third-party logistics (3PLs) warehouses need to take care of their customers in the same way that humans need to eat. It’s not a nicety, it’s a necessity to survive in the world of logistics, because if you don’t take care of them, they’ll find another warehouse that will. Without your customers, the warehouse is just a big empty building.

But how exactly can you not only take care of your customers, but deliver them a better service experience? Three service categories have risen to the top of the list as what our customers have noticed their customers appreciate. Find out how you can replicate their success.

Category #1: Improve efficiency (and process orders faster)

This seems obvious, but it’s crucial to every 3PL-customer relationship. Amazon changed the game with the notion that next day or two-day delivery is standard, not a premium. And any warehouse who doesn’t have the operations to accommodate the shipping demands for consumers will go the way of the dinosaur.

So how does a 3PL become more efficient? The lowest hanging fruit is implementing a warehouse management system (WMS) to help optimize the warehouse workflows. A WMS kicks off the fulfillment process the moment a consumer places an order online from their computer. Make sure your WMS integrates seamlessly with shopping carts and other marketplaces where your customers sell their products. This ensures the quickest transfer of information so that the second an online site registers an order; your warehouse registers it too. In turn this reduces lag time between different workflow process and assists in getting the customer the product as soon as possible.

Other ways to become more efficient are to optimize workflows within the warehouse. FAST warehouse workflows provide best in class warehouse setup, to help prevent bottlenecks in warehouse operations. With FAST principles applied to your warehouse, the speed at which orders can go through the pick, pack, and ship process can increase dramatically and keep your customer happy in the process.

Category #2: Communicate regularly and be transparent

In any healthy relationship, business or personal, communication is key. And transparency is just the next step in a proactive communication style to let your customer know the status of their inventory at all times. However, if you answered every request that came in via phone call or email, it would be hard to get any other work done. That’s why having a self-service portal that allows customers to check the status and count of their inventory at any time- day or night, is such a game changer. The customer can check inventory 24/7 on their own, the 3PL follows best practices for transparency, and no extra labor hours are spent answering emails about product counts/statuses on a daily basis.

Communication also comes in the form of automatic notifications. When product is received and stocked, when inventory is put on hold or adjusted, or when orders go out for delivery; these are the small little extras that customers love to know about their business. The peace of mind that comes from knowing everything is running smoothly and on time is a beautiful feeling and setting up automatic notifications at each and every point in your warehouse management system does not go unnoticed by customers.

Furthermore, you can set up automatic communication for when inventory runs low. It’s a huge opportunity to show your value to the customer, as reordering a hot moving item could be the difference between a quarter in the red vs. a quarter in the black. When online alcohol sales increased 500% in late April of this year, knowing which spirits were running low in the warehouse would have been a major game changer for alcohol businesses to know.

Category #3: Act as a partner

Think of going into business with your customer like starting a partnership. When they succeed, you succeed. So, what actions tell a customer that you view the relationship as more than transactional?

Noting seasonality and trends of products as they move in and out of your warehouse represents very valuable information to a business. Similar to the automatic notifications of lower on-hand inventory, keeping a watchful eye out for industry trends, or product movement among your customers could be valuable to the whole group. When a customer signs up with a 3PL they also sign onto your entire business’ knowledge and expertise. Taking knowledge of trends observed from one customer and providing insight to another provides value as an authority and leader in the space.

Also, utilize the network of available carriers to rate shop the best deals to deliver goods and save them money. Rate shopping is a severely underutilized function many warehouses don’t opt into. In a recent survey, only 26% of 3PLs actively perform some sort of rate shopping to receive improved shipping rates. This provides value for you and your customer. Both parties can save money, and when both parties save money, a true partnership is formed.

Better Serve Your 3PL Customers for Continued Success

At its core, all the suggestions listed above alleviate your customer’s potential worries and help their business grow and succeed. And a lot of these actions can be achieved with the right WMS. One that will be efficient and increase productivity. One that will provide transparency and communicate notifications to the customer. And, one that will partner with you so that you can better partner with your customer. If you are interested in taking these actions to better improve your relationship with your customer, reach out to one of our 3PL experts here, and we will assist you with solutions to make these ideas a reality for your 3PL warehouse.


Daniel Zimmerman

Written by Daniel Zimmerman

Daniel is an experienced digital marketer, having formerly worked for some of the biggest digital marketing agencies in Southern California. Now tackling the logistics industry, he specializes in utilizing the right medium to find and show customers WMS solutions to pain points they face every day.