3PL logistics partner in poland

How to find a reliable 3PL logistics partner in Poland?

It is not that difficult, as long as you keep in mind few hints:

Location.

Should we first start searching for the right partner or right location? Well, it depends on if your focus is more on B2B or rather B2C business. For B2B location is not that important, as long as the service warehouse is located next to good road infrastructure. If you focus more on B2B, Warsaw seems to more optimal solution.

Lodz, Poznan or Warsaw?

Most of European companies, searching an external service warehouse partner for their expansion in Poland (and possibly Czech, Slovak, or Baltic states), focus on proximity. From the western perspective ideal location seems to be next to Polish western border, e.g. Poznan. However, as there are in fact no borders, so what is more important, it is the courier forwarding basis and logistics centers proximity. In B2B it could be Lodz either Warsaw, for B2C Warsaw seems to the best choice.

Courier proximity.

It is a real issue in B2C. Most of couriers focus their infrastructure on one country. It is due to country specifics, regulations like transport limitations or language barrier (valid mostly for labelling). There are of course couriers offering trans-border logistics, but anyhow they need next-to-border re-loading facilities. It is slowing down the process and/or increasing the total price. From this perspective it is cheaper to have local courier partners then international ones. It is the case especially when the market size seems to be big enough, what is a case in Poland.

Possibility to personal visit.

Is it really necessary to consider company employees visits to the warehouse? The lesson from experience is that in fact it is necessary to pay a visit from time to time. For example in ecommerce there are returns, sometimes reaching as much as 30% of parcels sent out. Then paying a visit to have a look at returned products and decide, how to handle them, seems to be a must. Sometimes it is also necessary to check the goods delivered from e.g. Far East. From this perspective, the location should be located not far from the airport, offering frequent and convenient flight connections. In Poland the obvious choice is Warsaw.

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Warehouse size.

In a large scale operations, you will always be one of many customers, who must adjust to rigid logistics operator requirements.

Small, but dedicated?

The warehouse is always too big (from the beginning) or too small later on. Companies change their size of operations (preferable because of grow), and the warehouse facility should grow together.

Sales and delivery variations.

There are also seasons, promotions and such, so you need a partner able to handle peaks in sales. Before season the in-deliveries accumulate, requiring more space, both on the samp as well as in shelves. Then you need flexibility in labor force, to handle promotions and sales peaks.

Solution.

The solution is an external partner serving many customers not fully occupied. The sales peaks of different companies are typically at different time, some customers find another partner, go into bankruptcy etc. So there will be always extra space and extra capacity to offer.

Experience required.

Once the contact is set, time for decisions. What gives extra advantages to your potential partner? Of course location, size and previous experience are vital. But what counts the most?

International partners.

Co-operation this international partners is a proof the language barriers is not a case anymore. But it proves also the 3pl operator is familiar with international standards when comes to in-deliveries, signage, documentation and systems.

Different size partners.

It is not very common the co-operation starts full scale just from the very beginning. Most often the volumes grow slowly, sometimes the company decides to move only part of its operations. For this you need flexible logistics partner. Best if he is familiar with different size customers, ready and able to grow together with the business.

E-commerce experience.

Traditional, pallet oriented logistics is a different pair of shoes then e-commerce. E-commerce logistics is very price sensitive, as margins in Internet are thin, what is efficiency driven on the side of the logistics operator. Cheap means effective operations require infrastructure and experience. And it is not only suitable equipment, trained personnel but also procedures and measuring system. Last but not least such operations require right IT system able to handle preparation and dispatch of small size, but numerous parcels, with often sales peaks. Such infrastructure means:

Picking locations.

E-commerce require many small picking locations for many SKUs in small quantity. If the 3pl partner has just regular metal pallet size shelves, it will always be inefficient and expensive to handle e-commerce. Best are flexible carton rucks with numerous shelves of different sizes.

Picking efficiency.

It is a final stage of e-commerce. To make it efficient, your partner needs specialized IT solution, planning and tracking the picking path. But he also need specially trained and experienced personnel. Such staff needs to be managed properly, what, among other things needs measuring tools (individual efficiency tracking) to manage them correctly.

Sunday shifts.

Seems easy, but it is not very common. To prepare parcels for Monday, your partner needs to prepare them on Sunday. Not every service warehouse work on Sunday, so a partner with such possibility has a plus.

Returns handling.

Returns are a nightmare of e-commerce. Customers return items as they like, when they like and in the condition, which on the other hand nobody likes. A 3pl partner who has experience with reception, handling and returning goods to shelves has very big advantage.

IT integration.

E-commerce means many small orders. Manual order handling is expensive, so you need to integrate IT systems.

The IT connection is veins of the modern business.

Here you either can use the 3pl partner, usually ready-made interface or build the individually customized one.

Web service.

The easiest way to connect with external logistics partner. You can use the Internet accessible web service of your partner, convenient especially at the first stage of co-operation.

Web integrator, such as Baselinker or Integriser.

A partner with experience in such interconnectivity always has an advantage.

Dedicated solution.

Not very often required, but sometimes could be a plus. In such a case it is good to have experience with such solution, preferable also a company able to build such interface.

Special competences.

Language barrier.

You need not only a dedicated key account, but also able to communicate in English over the phone. Google translator is not always a solution!

Customs clearance.

There is not customs clearance in EU. It may sense only for imports from the Far East. But it is anyhow handled by Customs office, so the need for the customs warehouse is very often overestimated.

Forwarding services.

A 3PL partner with own forwarding facility is a big plus. You by the very end operate in another country, so flexibility of transport is a big plus.

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