Whew! You have designed and either built or sourced great products. You have efficient manufacturing partners and your marketing is scaling. Customers are finding you online and orders are rolling in steadily. But the big question is: can you be — or do you want to be — the one to fulfill and ship all of those orders?
The time may come at some point in your e-commerce business to consider outsourcing some or all of your operations to a third-party logistics — or 3PL — provider. According to Shopify, a 3PL provider is a link in the supply chain that companies use to outsource part or all of distribution and fulfillment. Additionally, 89% of companies in the Fortune 500 and 96% of those in the Fortune 100 rely on 3PL providers.
WHY 3PL GROWS YOUR BUSINESS
Let’s face it: You cannot do it all alone. You need a trusted partner to receive inventory from your manufacturers and ship it to customers — whether those customers be retailers, wholesalers or individual consumers.
A 3PL provider can warehouse the products, ship them and even handle returns. The investment needed to rent warehouse space and hire workers to carry out fulfillment is usually far beyond the reach of small to mid-size e-commerce companies. Another reason to consider 3PL is that your customers need not know that another company is actually handling the fulfillment and shipping. It’s your brand from start to finish.
Ultimately, a 3PL provider delivers your orders with a seamless experience. Let’s have a closer look at some of the services offered by a typical 3PL provider.
The most common type of 3PL provider stores, ships and handles returns. When considering a provider, ask if it has relationships with a larger warehouse network. The more warehouses in the network, the closer your products will be to your customers, which means faster shipping and happier customers.
TRANSPORTATION AND DISTRIBUTION
A 3PL provider may also operate its own transportation network for even easier and faster access. A provider that has a transportation component might transport inventory between its warehouses and your factory or between you and your wholesale customers. This service is especially important for e-commerce businesses that primarily sell to retailers.
SHIPPING AND RECEIVING
Larger 3PL providers with warehouse networks can often use their size to negotiate deeper discounts than you can — and that provides a tremendous advantage. However, you might have better shipping rates than the 3PL you’re considering. If so, ensure your warehouse partner will accept them. Also, you want to factor in insurance and daily cutoff times for fulfillment. These may not seem important, but they can impact the delivery windows within which your customers receive your products.
WHY TAYLORED SERVICES
Taylored Services is a fully integrated 3PL provider specializing in wholesale, retail, and direct-to-consumer unit fulfillment. The company operates 1.5 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space within close proximity to the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach in California, and the Port of Newark, New Jersey.
E-commerce businesses need a partner with significant investments in systems and technology, along with established long-term relationships with other interim suppliers along a box’s “shipping journey.” Clients of Taylored Services can track their merchandise at every step through and from the warehouse to multiple points of destination.
Warehousing & Distribution
Supply Chain Management
Value Added Services
Working with a full-service, integrated logistics provider, such as Taylored Services, not only helps e-commerce businesses of all sizes to service customers more efficiently, but it also allows them to scale when necessary without significant investment.
Jake Wengroff writes about technology and financial services. A former technology reporter for CBS Radio, Jake covers such topics as security, mobility, eCommerce, and IoT.