What to Expect When You’re Expecting… a 3PL

The decision of whether or not to outsource various business activities is a never-ending debate with excellent points for each side of the argument.  “You’ll save so much time and money by leaving it to the professionals.”  “You would really give up that much control of your business to save a few bucks?”  The real question you should be asking yourself is, “How is outsourcing these services going to positively impact me and my business?”
If you don’t have a list of reasons supporting the use of a 3rd party logistics company, that’s a good indicator it may not be for you. The goal of this article is to discuss some of the various services that 3rd party logistics providers offer, so you can determine if partnering with one is the best decision you.

If you’re not sure what 3rd party logistics is, I encourage you to check out another article of ours, “What the 3PL is Order Fulfillment?!”  With the assumption that you have a basic understanding of what 3rd party logistics is, we’ll begin:

Fulfillment Services

Fulfillment services are the bread and butter of 3rd party logistics companies.  These services can include activities such as receiving and storing inventory, order processing, picking-packing-shipping, and inventory management.  Basically, any time you make a sale, we make sure your customer receives exactly what they ordered and expedite the process so customers can get their purchases faster.

Shipping

3PLs are experts in the area of shipping.  They ship large amounts of packages on a daily basis, which generally gives them access to significantly discounted shipping rates.  Besides saving money on shipping costs, you get to take advantage of packaging expertise and better distribution networks which can be crucial if you are selling frozen, or perishable goods.  Shipping with a logistics provider is a guaranteed way to increase efficiency and improve the end-user experience.

Value-Added Services

As the logistics industry has matured, companies have been adding additional services to help distinguish themselves from competitors.  Some of the value-added services commonly provided by 3PLs are kit assembly (gift boxes), product labeling, retail, and custom packaging.  Some providers like eGourmet Solutions even offer enhanced tracking services which feature real-time weather information, customized alerts, package tracking and status updates.

Technology

3rd party logistics would not exist without the use of some pretty amazing technology.  The logistics company you pick should be able to seamlessly integrate your website’s shopping cart, help you track your orders, perform inventory management, and be able to provide you with analytics that you can leverage to increase your own productivity.  Additionally the technology used by logistics companies allows them to operate with a very low margin of error, which benefits everyone in the supply chain.

As you can see, there are a myriad of reasons why a business would want to partner with a logistics specialist.  They say that sometimes the hardest part is letting go, which can be especially true with business owners that prefer a lot of control over their operations.  To that I say, it takes teamwork to make the dream work, so let the experts help you along the way!

Please share your thoughts below in the comment section!