3Pl Evolved From Transactional to Relational

3PL is third party logistics – the shipment, delivery, tracking, packaging, and fulfillment of goods. This is a service that is becoming increasingly important in the digital age of ecommerce – where people regularly purchase goods online and then wait for them to arrive at their doors. Then there are all the B2B relationships that require the same fulfillment when exchanging goods, materials, and supplies.

But with this increase in volume and importance, and thanks partly to newer technologies, this is also an industry that has evolved. In broad strokes, the 3PL service has moved from a 3PL transactional to relational one. So what does that mean?

Transactional to Relational

Transactional business/selling is all about selling items in the short term. In other words, your goal is to take something that you want to sell and then to encourage people to buy it there and then to make immediate profit. Relational or “relationship selling” on the other hand, is about building longer term relationships with your customers. That means thinking about the entire customer experience, how it makes them feel, and what value you are able to provide.

Imagine that you have a website that sells eBooks. To take a transactional approach might mean to try and jack up the prices of your books, to make them sound amazing, and to do the minimal amount of work to produce them. You then pay for advertising, and you try to get as many sales as possible.

The relational approach on the other hand might involve lowering the prices of the books, and only selling a few that are fantastic quality with lots of added value you don’t advertise. You might then send a follow up email to ask if the reader enjoyed the book, and you would probably market it by providing free, high-quality content.

The benefit of the latter approach of course is that the experience has been so good for the second buyer, that they are MUCH more likely to buy again from you in future.

Relational Selling in 3PL

So what does all this have to do with 3PL?

As a service business, a logistics company has a huge incentive to ensure that its clients have a positive experience when they work together. It’s important to think of this as a partnership and not just a one-off gig. If you get this right, then your business can potentially provide fulfillment for another company for decades! The “customer lifetime value” here is off-the-charts.

How do you get to this point with relational business strategies? You do so by charging a fair amount for your services, you do it by continually upgrading your service to include new features and tools (parcel tracking for instance), and you do it by being ready and eager to solve issues as they arise – even if that means your profit takes a small hit.

You can also take advantage of modern technologies here, by finding ways to measure your own performance and feed that back to the client. Use data to provide accurate forecasting and budgeting too. Finally, make sure to invite your clients for on-site visits whenever they like.

Do all this and you will build a true relationship with your clients, which in today’s world of eCommerce, could just prove to be extremely valuable.

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