Switching 3PL Providers: 3PL Center’s Ten Crucial Steps


If you are a business that has decided to switch 3PL providers or you are still debating whether to do so, there are a number of important steps to bear in mind. Making the change can be quite daunting, especially when you consider the ramifications it can have when the correct measures are not taken into account.

To help you with a seamless transition, this article will cover 3PL Center’s top ten crucial steps to take when deciding to switch 3PL providers. After taking these into account, you can expect a relatively easy and simple transition, meaning minimal disruption to your business, your workers, and, most importantly, your clients.

How do I know it is time to switch 3PL providers?

While growing businesses should definitely look to outsource to a 3PL provider, you may need to change if your current one is falling behind. Here are some clear signs that it may be time to switch your 3PL provider

  • They are constantly making mistakes
  • You are not receiving enough support
  • They cannot provide sufficient scalability options as your business grows
  • Other customers are constantly leaving bad reviews
  • They are increasing their costs with extra services

If your 3PL provider is consistently showing several of these signs, then it may be time to consider switching.

Moving forward with the switch

Now that you are considering switching fulfillment providers, you should take into account these ten crucial factors before doing so. These will help you to identify any potential areas where issues may arise and deal with them accordingly:

1. Start a full inventory count

The first step is to ask your current 3PL provider for a full inventory count and audit. You want the most accurate figure for your inventory so that your new provider is aware of the amount they will be taking on.

This is an important step as it will help to iron out any potential discrepancies between your expected inventory numbers and the warehouse’s actual numbers.

Once this is complete, you can begin a plan on how best to move your inventory.

2. Check the current packing situation

Alongside a full audit, you will need to check how your product is currently packed. That way, your new provider will know exactly what to expect and how best to deal with it.

For example, your product may already be on pallets ready to go. Alternatively, it could be on pick racks and require packing.

The reasoning for this is working out, logistically, how manageable this is for your new partner.

3. Confirm with your new provider

Once you know how your product is packed, you will need to inform your new provider. They should then give you feedback on the best way for them to receive it.

Your new 3PL provider may struggle to receive your product due to its current packing, so you will need to discuss how your current provider can adapt and help smooth the transition.

While most providers can likely adapt and handle products in a variety of different packing forms, it is still important to inform them beforehand so they are aware and ready. This will minimize any potential delays when they onboard it.

4. Discuss an exit strategy

Based on your conversation with the new 3PL provider, you will need to discuss any changes that need to be made for packing with your current provider. Your current provider should be happy to oblige and change the packing to help with your transition.

5. Allocate your inventory and develop a strategy

You will next need to decide the best way to move your inventory and how to allocate it. The best way to do this depends entirely on the way your business works and which products have priority.

For example, one method is to prioritize items that take up a majority of the inventory. Alternatively, you may want to move the items with the slowest turnover as this will have the lowest impact on your sales during the initial transition. Another method is to move some of your inventory while keeping the rest with your current provider so that shipping remains unaffected.

Once the new provider is fully set up, you can then move the rest of your products over. Once you turn off your old provider, they can pack the rest of your inventory and transport it over.

Importantly, the optimal method of moving your inventory depends on your business needs. Consult with both your new and old providers to gauge their opinion too. They can offer helpful insights on how to best move your inventory swiftly and effectively.

6. Set up preliminary tests and integrations

It is important for you to run preliminary tests and set up all the new software before making the move over to your new provider. This will give your team the chance to see how the process will run on a day to day basis. It is also a good time to teach your team how to use the new software during these tests so they can familiarize themselves with it.

Moreover, tests should highlight any issues that you didn’t originally predict. If you identify certain issues during testing, this allows you to come up with solutions before fulling switching

7. Meet the new team

Introducing yourselves to the new provider’s team is a great way to start building a relationship before switching 3PL providers. They need to understand how your business works so that they can provide the best quality service.

If your business operates differently from industry standards, now would be the best time to inform the team so that they can prepare and adapt to your needs.

8. Discuss specialty requests

After meeting the team you will be working with and discussing the way you operate, you should let them know of any specialty requests your clients may have. That way, they can plan ahead of time to cater to these needs.

For example, one of your clients may want their product packaged a certain way. Or you may work with a client that sells subscription boxes that require a specific packaging. Your new provider can then make the necessary arrangements to adhere to these speciality requests.

9. Review future forecasts

One of the most important steps when switching 3PL providers is giving them a future forecast for the next six months. This number gives the new team ample time to prepare and allows them to allocate higher numbers of workers to help out in months that have higher forecasted volume.

Transparency is always important when partnering with a new 3PL. Being honest with your figures and keeping the new provider in the loop can allow for a seamless transition and a good experience for all sides.

10. Ensure old bills are up to date

Before cutting ties with your old provider, make sure you pay all your old bills and leave on a positive note. You should conduct your exit in a polite and professional manner so that they can assist with your transition in the best way possible.

By ensuring there are no outstanding payments before leaving, it keeps bridges open and ensures that if you do require their help or services again in the future, they will be happy to oblige.

Switching 3PL providers: make the change with 3PL Center

At 3PL Center, we offer an unmatched suite of services that can propel your business to new heights of success. With a proven track record of excellence, 3PL Center is the optimal choice for all your fulfillment and supply chain management needs. 

Our team of experts oversees a comprehensive range of services, including order processing, inventory management, pick and pack, and shipping, all tailored to meet your business’s unique requirements.

What truly sets 3PL Center apart is our unwavering commitment to transparency and customization. We understand that each business operates differently, meaning we craft personalized solutions that align with your specific goals. By entrusting your fulfillment and supply chain management to 3PL Center, we can offer expert scalability and technological solutions to your ever-growing business.

If you are thinking about switching 3PL provider, call or email us now and we can get your transition started.


Learn more about some our awesome services at 3PL Center:

Pick and Pack

Discounted Carrier Rates

Ecommerce Fulfillment Services

24/7 Web Based WMS System