You may have found a great product that you want to sell and a ready, willing target market of buyers for it.
There’s just one issue: you’re not quite sure how to ship it.
With all the other issues that you need to handle while running your business, you shouldn’t have to worry about how to ship products that require special attention. Instead, consider selecting a fulfillment partner who has experience in the intricate shipping and handling of certain items.
Such fulfillment partners are usually referred to as third-party logistics (3PL) providers, as they handle much more than just packing and shipping. You can outsource some or all your operations to a 3PL.
Each 3PL entity is unique. Some providers specialize in particular products (i.e., food and perishables) while some offer additional support services (i.e., a warehouse network). It’s important to determine whether the 3PL has experience in handling products like yours and whether the 3PL can handle future demand for your product.
Let’s have a look at some of the considerations surrounding the shipping of products that require special attention, and how a 3PL partner can help you succeed.
Expertise in Products Like Yours
Not all 3PLs are created equal. Each has a specialty and few can handle multiple product lines. For example, a 3PL for perishable foods normally cannot also handle furniture or bulky industrial machinery.
It’s important to determine that the 3PL has experience in handling your product. Determine which types of packing material are used and the methods for storing and shipping the product in order to avoid loss or damage.
If the 3PL provider does not have experience in your product but is desperate to seek your business, there may be all sorts of surprises awaiting you. These might include charging you extra for additional, special packing materials.
Space and Capacity for your Products
The big draw of a 3PL is its facilities. The provider’s space needs to be organized in such a way that it can properly receive your products from your manufacturer, warehouse or store them, and then prepare them for shipping to your customers.
Ask the 3PL provider if they have the capacity to add your products to their existing operation. Additionally, ask whether the company has the capacity to grow as your business grows. This may not be feasible, as special products like refrigerated items need additional space, equipment and electricity. Rapid growth in a furniture business could quickly require a lot of space.
On the flip side, you also want to know whether the 3PL provider can handle a temporary or seasonal slowdown in your business. Ask the 3PL provider whether there are any minimums that be must be maintained.
Discounts and Insurance
The cost of shipping is one of the biggest challenges for any e-commerce business, regardless of size and volume sold. Customers expect items to be shipped to them at the lowest cost—regardless of the product’s special shipping needs.
You may have negotiated a special discount with a shipper of your choice. However, that discount may not be viable for the special items you now want to ship, or the carrier may be incapable of shipping those items.
A large, experienced 3PL not only has negotiated deep discounts with several shippers but also knows which shippers can handle your special items.
Insurance is also an important consideration, especially for products that can easily be damaged or perish en route to the recipient. Lean on a 3PL with fair terms regarding credits and replenishment of damaged products.
Special Warehousing and Transportation Network
If your product is a food item that is fragile and can perish quickly, proximity to customers is important— your product requires rapid delivery. Inquire about the number and type of warehouses (i.e, are they refrigerated?) the 3PL owns and whether the 3PL has relationships with other 3PLs or a larger warehouse network with the same features. The more warehouses in the network, the closer your products will be to your customers.
For even faster movement of perishable items, some 3PLs operate their own transportation network. Relying on a 3PL that has a transportation component may allow transport of inventory between your manufacturer and the 3PL’s warehouses, or even between you and your wholesale or retail customers.
Taylored Services-The Ideal Resource
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 proximity to the Gateway Ports of Los Angeles / Long Beach and Newark, NJ.
E-commerce businesses need a partner with significant investments in systems and technology and established, long-term relationships with other interim suppliers along a product’s “shipping journey.” By using Taylored, clients can track their merchandise at every step through the warehouse and to multiple points of destination.
Warehousing and distribution
Supply Chain Management
Value-added Services and Merchandise Rework
Transportation Management Services
Working with a full-service, integrated logistics provider like Taylored Services not only helps e-commerce businesses of all sizes to service customers more efficiently but also allows such businesses to scale when needed without significant investment.
Author, Jake Wengroff writes about technology and financial services. A former technology reporter for CBS Radio, Jake covers such topics as security, mobility, e-commerce, and IoT.