Any eCommerce owner knows the importance of order fulfillment. It is an integral part of your operations and requires synchronisation of your supply chain strategy. As your ecommerce business expands into new countries and customers, in-house service becomes impractical, and you will start exploring cross border 3PL providers with the goal of scaling up your global fulfillment strategy.
Many businesses opt for outsourcing fulfillment to a third-party logistics (3PL) company. In the case of the supply chain, there are no one size fits all solution, but the best solution for your business depends on the unique needs of your business to determine you are willing to take on.
WHAT IS A 3PL?
Getting your order fulfillment right requires several considerations. Third-party logistics (or 3PL) is a term used to refer to the outsourced eCommerce logistics processes that your business offers to a logistics specialist.
They carry out all the operations of delivery, such as inventory management, warehousing, and fulfillment. 3PL providers relieve eCommerce merchants from using tools and infrastructure to automate retail order fulfillment.
WHAT DO 3PLS DO
The main responsibilities of the 3PL provider include:
- Receive and store your inventory: The 3PL company cannot ship without an inventory on hand. Therefore, they start the inbounding process, recording and storage of incoming inventory from the manufacturer
- Monitor and track the inventory levels: Different warehouses have various storage capabilities. A 3PL will provide you with real time visibility of your inventory levels at any of their global warehouses to ensure goods are shipped out as per your designated warehouses that matches the consignee order profile
- Pick, pack, and prepare orders for shipment: Once a consignee makes an order, the 3PL fulfillment process begins. 1 click integrations between your shopping cart and the 3PL platform enables the online order to transition from your shopping cart to the 3PL order fulfillment platform (pro tip: the platform should also enable batch upload orders should you specialise in doing drops). They will pack the orders and get them ready for shipping to the next station. They have their preferred career partners that will take the orders to the end-user.
- Returns: The 3PL also coordinates the return processing. There should be auto lable generation, as well as options to restock, dispose or quarantine the items depending on their policies and your preferences.
3PL vs IN HOUSE
Outsourcing your order fulfillment to a reliable 3PL company offers several benefits such as:
- Prevent long-term lease agreements: In-house order fulfillments require the business to enter into long-term lease agreements with several other financial commitments to operate smoothly. You can avoid all these costly expenses by getting a reliable partner to take care of the storage of goods.
- Keep your business structure lean: Logistics is a labor-intensive process that gets complicated with the growth of a business. You will need to employ extra staff, train them, pay them, and purchase all the necessary tools to carry out processes such as picking, packing, and shipping orders without hassle. It takes money, time, and space you may not have. Reduce your staff costs and use the money for buying equipment for other business-critical activities.
- Focus on growing your business: By outsourcing order fulfillment, you have time, resources, and money to focus on better business growth as others handle the area that could overwhelm your staff. You can trust the 3PL companies since they have trained staff and resources to breeze the delivery process.
- Reduce shipping costs: The 3PL company fulfills every order with its resources and money. Through their global networks, carrier connections and aggregated volumes, they can negotiate for more competitive shipping rates and times
5 THINGS TO ASK A 3PL
1. How Many Carriers do They Have
Every carrier has unique strengths in its different regions of operation. When you are looking to ship to other areas like countries, your partner should have multiple carriers to smooth the process. Every carrier may have a different pricing strategy and value. However, choosing a suitable 3PL company will guarantee to find the right carriers for your products.
2. Customs & Duties Management
Complying with customs documentation and paying the correct import and export duties can be extremely challenging. Failing to do this process leads to goods getting held at Customs, or the customer gets hit with unexpected costs to get their package released. You want to make the delivery process seamless and satisfactory. So, ensure the company you look for has appropriate customs and duty management strategies.
It would be best to have robust and straightforward returns. However, it is challenging to make returns whenever you are crossing borders. You need to have the proper documentation on hand as proof of payments or risk charges. Technology can come in handy to help with this process. You will get a seamless return experience for the customer and reassure the retailer of its compliance.
4. Real-Time Parcel Tracking
Real-time parcel tracking is inevitable to ensure excellent customer service. When selling internationally, customers want to know where their parcels are and when they will get them. Let them track the journey of their goo to improve their experience, increasing their chances of buying again.
5. Easy To Use Software Platform
When you need to manage multiple logistics partners simultaneously, you may need software that makes the entire supply manageable in one platform. It would help if you looked into a strategy that reduces shipping costs and makes the process as simple as possible.
Good software provides an addition to an online dashboard that enables a simplified delivery of orders in the most hassle-free way. It will take out the complexities of managing your logistics.
HOW FLOSHIP CAN HELP
Floship is a cross-border logistics company that caters to a global network with over 50 international carriers and warehouses on three continents. With an extensive team, we offer the quickest and most competitive routes that enable the transfer of goods to customers in 180 countries and 250 regions.
Whenever you want to boost the service of your 3PL provider, you may need to provide them with the best strategy for shipping, packaging, and consulting services. Reach out to us at Floship to discover how we can help.