Shopify created a (great!) list of questions for finding a 3PL / warehousing supplier.

Our Chief of Operations, Jarred, answers the questions.

The original list can be found by Clicking Here

We’re family owned and run which spreads into absolutely everything we do.
When clients use us, they are effectively entrusting us with a critical part of their supply chain. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously which means setting very high standards for quality and reliability.
Although our growth means we’re one of the larger independents in the UK, we still maintain huge flexibility and customer care.

Pallet storage, e-fulfilment, Amazon preparation, container destuffing, and bonded warehousing.

Multi-channel e-fulfilment, especially for Amazon clients.

Yes, we work primarily by recommendation. We regularly provide direct references for prospective clients with a similar profile.

We have been operating for over 20 years. Checking our references and accounts would be the best way to verify.

This is a very expansive question – there are a huge number of answers here.
We have clients who started with around 20 pallets, growing to 6000+ and Amazon best selling products in a range of categories.
Really, we aim to provide all the tools our clients need and develop with them. Some examples include;
• Integration options
• Systems for multi-channel fulfilment
• Adapting our working practices for SFP (Amazon Seller Fulfilled Prime)
• Ensuring our systems work for courier’s international delivery.

(Trust me on this one!) Owning and running e-commerce warehouses takes enormous financial and physical resources.
Look at a rough example of a client who needed picking and packing areas, and 350 pallet spaces.

Expenditure  Capital expenditure (Capex)  Operational expenditure (Opex)
10,000 sqft warehouse £10,000 £65,000
Business rates £24,000
Pallet racking £35,000
Utilities £5,000
Machinery (FLT / Picking) £6,000
WMS £2,500
Staffing (4, inc manager) £110,000
Total £45,000 £195,500

Using the estimated costs above, the client will be paying an all-inclusive rate of
£10.70 per pallet per week.

This equates to over 3.5 times the rates typical within the industry. (And assumes full occupancy, and still leaves the client exposed if they need to expand further!).

We generally advise clients to use a 3PL unless they have a very large pallet holding (10,000+ pallets) or have a very specialist product range that would be difficult for a 3PL to handle.
Anything bigger than a pallet, very delicate or custom would be examples of this.

Like any business, you need to consider where your focus, time, and money is best spent.

Realistically this should be what you specialise in to grow your business.

0600-1800 Monday to Friday with a limited Saturday shift.

We are shut on public holidays as the couriers generally will not collect from us anyway.

Call or email us. We have real people who are here to assist.

No “support tickets”, no waiting for hours or even days for a response.

We hate dealing with companies who do this to us.

All clients have direct contact with a hierarchy from the Chief Operating Officer (COO) to the warehouse team.

Some clients have a dedicated account manager, but this really depends on the complexity of the account.

6, but all within a 5-mile radius of our HQ in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

All with excellent transport links to motorways and shipping ports.

This isn’t really necessary as each warehouse has specific uses; e-commerce, food storage, bonded warehousing or archiving.

We provide a tour of the most appropriate sites to a prospective client and decide collaboratively.

If more than 5 pallets or a container, deliveries need to be booked in with the warehouse team.

We book goods into our Warehouse Management System (WMS), apply a unique pallet barcode, then locate them within the warehouse.

Clients can see the entire process in real time.

Unless exceptionally complex we book in within 1 working day.

Marked hazardous goods generally cannot be accepted.

Generally goods need to fit within the bounds of a UK standard pallet.

Occasionally we allow oversized palletised goods on a case by case basis.

Our bespoke Warehouse Management System (WMS) has excellent stock traceability in real time.

Should physical stock checks be required, these are usually in a day or two.

Most clients use a range of courier services, so will have a contingency if a particular courier or haulier is disrupted.

Firstly, we work constantly with clients to advise when order volumes are likely to spike and plan resources accordingly.

Luckily our group has a small range of companies that allow us to move staff into the warehouse during peak periods.

Essentially we staff ready for peaks at all times.

Never using agency staff (which is very rare for our industry).

We have policies for both, shared with clients where appropriate.

Always! We act as an extension to our client’s business and welcome representatives into the warehouse whenever required. Being open and transparent is critical.

We give our clients the power to choose their own courier. In relation to packaging, within reason any option is available from small B2C jiffy bags to full lorry loads.

We have standard packaging but also allow clients to use their own (for example branded) packaging.

…By sending them the same day on a next day service…

Cut-off times depend on customer requirements and their courier choice this is normally around 11am but for some clients for example, those who use Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) these can be much later.

Yes, and our online portal has systems to ensure this process is simple.

Our clients use their own, so we work with a mix of different couriers, roughly 10 different couriers collect from us daily.

No, and it is one of our biggest USPs.

Our business model is to allow our client to open an account with their chosen courier (or often multiple couriers). Big Web have automated systems that effectively dispatch on your behalf, directly to your own account.

There is a fallacy that couriers massively discount for high volumes and the 3PL providers holding the account. In reality, it means the margin the warehouse provider takes is a significant commission on each item sent, and pricing is broadly the same if not more expensive. It also ‘locks’ you into a provider that may not best suit your needs.

Our clients get very preferential rates direct from the couriers as they know they are already collecting (sometimes multiple times per day) from our sites.

The main reason we allow our clients to hold courier accounts is the difficulty in there being a ‘middleman’ when a courier loses or damages a product.
If you hold the account it makes this process far more straightforward.

The tracking number is exported into our customer portal and can be clicked for tracking information.

Customers can also run reports on tracking numbers or have automation to deliver tracking details back into their webshop.

We put SLAs in place based on a client’s projected volumes.

The number of orders that do not go out on time is remarkably low. (In the region of 0.01% of orders).

Firstly, we work constantly with clients to advise when order volumes are likely to spike and plan resources accordingly.

Luckily our group has a small range of companies that allow us to move staff into the warehouse during peak periods.

Essentially we staff ready for peaks at all time. Never using agency staff (which is rare in our industry).

As clients have their own courier accounts, they can have delivered duties paid for their deliveries. Also, in regard to tax & duties, we have options for ‘bonded’ warehousing at excellent rates.

This is not appropriate for all clients, but a successful and growing part of our business.

Yes, we mange returns.

The returns process is incredibly client specific. We can essentially do anything from quarantining stock onto a pallet for a client representative to inspect, all the way up to individual product testing and repackaging.

We quote for these services on a case by case basis once we have a clear understanding from the client.

No minimums for active clients.

There is though, generally a minimum of 10 pallets for a new client before it makes economic sense to take a new account on. We do make exceptions for above, but 10 pallets is a general rule.

As previously mentioned above, we work with clients to understand their requirements and constantly flex to ensure we meet them.

NO! What a shoddy way for a 3PL to treat its clients.

No, clients are welcome to use their own.

No, (the client’s chosen) courier may though.

Firstly, we keep pricing very simple, easy to understand and audit.

Our charges are as follows;
-Pallet storage, charged per pallet, per week or part thereof.
-Receipt handling. (Per pallet, one off charge, to cover receiving and booking in).
-Despatch handling (Per pallet, one off charge to cover decommissioning the pallet and loading goods onto the haulier or courier.)
-Picking. Per order, banded by how many units picked.
-Packaging and rework charges, where appropriate.

Above (can) be in contrast to some of the remarkably confusing pricing structures we see from comparative quotes. We are suspicious these complicated structures are designed to bamboozle clients with auditability, being practically impossible.

No, we are essentially a hotel for your pallets. Clients can ‘check in and check out’ whenever they require. Our contract is simple and straightforward with a 4 week notice period.

Proudly, we have never lost a client due to poor performance. Occasionally a client’s profile changes and they choose to go elsewhere or buy their own warehouse.

As long as the account is up to date, nothing, as above.

We have a proprietary WMS system and in-house development team.

This allows us to write software updates dynamically for market and specific client’s requirements.

We have full API Shopify integration as well as options for an integration though approved apps such as Linnworks.

Very simple. Most of our client operate over a wide range of platforms.

What makes us stand out?

Flexible Solutions

With a full range of services available we will be able to help with your business needs.

Technology

We use leading edge technology to manage your pallets and stock within our warehouses.

Personilised Service

You will be allocated an Account Manager who will ensure all of your requirements are met.

Family Owned

A family owned and family run business formed in 1999 so a wealth of experience is at your disposal.

More Questions?

If you haven’t found the answer to your question above please either call 01733 405100, email hello@bigww.co.uk or use this contact form to get in touch.

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Warehousing
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