Let’s start with a brief introduction of third-party logistics! As known as 3PL, the term refers to all outsourced logistics services. In most cases, a 3PL solution provider handles the entire eCommerce fulfillment process, covering procurement, inventory, and shipping activities in the ordinary course of business without the ownership of goods.
eCommerce fulfillment (or order fulfillment) is crucial to a successful eCommerce business to achieve an extra competitive edge over competitors. Establish the backer base in crowdfunding campaign? As mentioned in our last blog, how an order is being fulfilled greatly affects customer experience, trust, loyalty, and ultimately their purchase intention. Hence, e-retailers feel the urge to compete and add value with a smoother-than-ever order fulfillment strategy, giving rise to the prevalence of outsourcing eCommerce fulfillment to 3PLs.
In case you have no clue about what to look for and expect from a beneficial 3PL eCommerce fulfillment integration - here’s our insider advice:
1. An Established Service Network with Abundance of Resources
Working with a reliable 3PL company should grant you access to its existing logistics network, as in you can utilize its established relationships for a broader service outreach and business development - so do look for a logistics partner with a good reputation, business scale, and stability!
As an expert in the industry, a 3PL company must have an abundance of resources that you can take advantage of, such as its customer base, distribution system, and global warehouses. Given its logistics demand in a large volume and a high frequency, it usually has exclusive discounts and greater bargaining power with carriers worldwide, resulting in a significant cost reduction in logistics and transportation services.
Partnering with a 3PL company should save you money on infrastructure investment from the cost of renting a warehouse, buying facilities, paying for labor and insurance to integrating technologies - the list goes on.
On top of the hardware, a 3PL provider excels with its expertise and industrial experience that enhances supply chain management efficiency for your eCommerce business. At the same time, your logistics partner can be your consultant who knows best about your business, and correspondingly how to grow your logistics network in a professional and budget-friendly way.
3. Scalability & Responsiveness
Just one question to evaluate if a 3PL is a good fit:
Can the 3PL provider scale its operations to accommodate your project needs and respond to potential changes?
The number of online orders vary day by day, and sometimes out of your expectation no matter how considerate you are, and how well you forecast and plan. Imagine handling a sudden strike of 500 orders (while you can only support 50 daily outputs) - a professional 3PL provider would be your lifesaver capable of handling the upsurge in demand for eCommerce order fulfillment.
4. Technological Innovation
Technological integration is key to elevate eCommerce fulfillment services as a whole. A strategic, forward-thinking 3PL solution provider should be at the forefront of logistics, continually looking to revolutionize its solutions with robust technology: warehouse management system (WMS), transportation management system (TMS), real-time order tracking, data analysis and reporting tools, route and consolidation optimization tools, etc. - which altogether minimize human error and enhance operational efficiency.
5. Top-notch Customer Experience
While a qualified logistics partner helps ensure orders to be handled and delivered on time, a quality logistics partner pursues more than just a fulfilled order. Thinking from shoppers’ perspective, we all love fast and easy shipping, and ‘exclusivity’ is surely a value-adding idea.
While some 3PL companies provide branded packaging, other 3PL companies offer all-rounded eCommerce fulfillment solutions through a store-pick-pack-ship spectrum. It’s how they gain competitive advantages on the battlefield, and you’re getting the full benefit out of their war!
Why bother to invest and work in fields that you’re not specialized in? Feel free to leave it to the professionals!
Leveraging a 3PL partnership is all about the synergy created between you and your logistics partner that saves your time, efforts, and resources. So you can strive for further excellence in core business activities like marketing, product innovation, and business development.
Clearly, there is no shortcut to the top, but why bothers to trailblazer when there’s a hiking trail with stair climbs?