Basic Guide to Third Party Logistics

Order fulfilment is a big part of the e-commerce industry. When you are a start-up business, customer orders will be carried out in-house and the inventory will also be on your own property. But when you are expanding, it will no longer be feasible to carry out all of these activities in-house and you will need to look into third party logistics or 3PL.

In 3PL, an e-commerce company outsources their logistics to a third party business. It is not only logistics that are included; there is also warehousing, order fulfilment and managing inventory. There are so many services provided by 3PL that you can read more about. The entire supply chain that includes the above services is referred to as 3PL. The company will be informing the 3PL regarding which products are being sent to the warehouse so that they can start organising the inventory. The inventory is stored in fulfilment centres and the method of storage will depend on the nature of the product. You can choose a 3PL company based on the storage capacities they offer. But you also need to look at their scalability. If you find a 3PL that can scale along with your business, that would make your operations easy. Once a customer purchases an item from your online store, the fulfilment process starts. You can integrate the 3PL software with your e-commerce platform so that they can be automatically notified. The picking team at the warehouse will be notified of this order and they will collect the items to be shipped. Higher levels of integration allow for better inventory tracking and faster order fulfilment.

Once the products are picked, they need to be packaged. The form of packaging will depend on what you have agreed with the 3PL company. You need to consider how best to protect the items within and also optimise the volume so that you can ship more items in one go. Some of the packing materials that you can use are bubble wrap, boxes, packing tape and poly bags. The aspect of shipping is what will set you apart from your competitors. When you select the right 3PL company, you will be able to deliver orders quickly and guarantee customer satisfaction. Some 3PLs will buy and print the shipping labels. There will be preferred carrier partners depending on the company. But you can also choose a company that selects carriers based on costs. You need to choose what is affordable for your company and ensures effective shipping.

The carriers will pick up the orders from the 3PL company and deliver it to the customer. There is also integrated software that will allow the customer and you to track the item and be notified of additional details. Another service that is offered by 3PLs is handling returns. If a customer is not satisfied with the product, they can ship it to the 3PL so that it can be restocked or disposed of depending on the reason for the return. You can also choose a 3PL company that offers return shipping labels to the customer making it more convenient for both the customer and you.

Delsie Leff
 

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