As an ecommerce business, you have a lot on your plate. From creating and marketing products to fulfilling orders and providing customer support, there are a million things to keep track of. Shipping and returns can be a big headache, especially if you try them yourself.
That's where a third-party logistics (3PL) provider comes in. A 3PL is a company specializing in shipping and logistics, so they can take care of your nitty-gritty details. But what are the specific benefits of using a 3PL, and how to choose the right one for your business? Let's take a closer look.
2) What is a 3PL or Third Party Logistics?
A Third Party Logistics provider, also known as 3PL, works on behalf of another company to manage its supply chain and logistics. In other words, they are responsible for handling the storage, transportation, and delivery of goods. They offer a complete end-to-end solution that can cover all aspects of your shipping and logistics needs.
3) The top 10 benefits of using a 3PL for shipping and returns
There are many benefits of using a third-party logistics, but here are some of the most notable ones:-
When you try to do everything on your own, it can be quite expensive. You have to invest in storage space, transportation, and manpower. With a 3PL, you can outsource all of these tasks and only pay for your needed services. That can help you save a lot of money in the long run. Through economies of scale, Third party logistics can often offer their services at a lower cost than if you were to do it yourself.
3.2) Increased efficiency and accuracy
When you work with a 3PL, you can confidently handle your shipments efficiently and accurately. 3PLs have the experience and expertise to get the job done right. They also have access to the latest technology, improving their efficiency. As a result, you can focus on other aspects of your business while leaving the shipping and logistics to the experts.
3.3) Access to technology and infrastructure
3PLs have access to the latest technology and infrastructure, which can benefit your business in several ways:
It can help to improve the efficiency of your supply chain.
It can provide you with real-time visibility into your shipments.
It can help you to better manage your inventory levels.
These things can ultimately lead to reduced costs and improved customer satisfaction.
3.4) Improved customer service
When you work with a 3PL, you can be confident that your customers will receive the best possible service. That is because 3PLs are focused on providing their clients with high-quality service. They also have the resources and infrastructure to support their customer service efforts. As a result, you can be sure that your customers will be taken care of if they have any problems with their orders.
3.5) Increased flexibility
Another benefit of working with a Third party logistics is that it can help increase your business's flexibility. That is because 3PLs offer a wide range of services that can be customized to meet your specific needs. In addition, they can scale their services up or down as needed, giving you the flexibility to respond quickly to changes in demand.
3.6) Enhanced scalability
One thing that all businesses strive for is scalability. Growing your business quickly and efficiently is essential for long-term success. Fortunately, working with a 3PL can help you to achieve this goal. 3PLs can provide you with the resources and support you need to scale your business quickly and efficiently. In addition, they can also help you to avoid the costly mistakes that can often be made when expanding too rapidly.
3.7) Risk management
Another benefit of working with a Third party logistics is that they can help you to manage risk. 3PLs have the experience and expertise to help you identify and mitigate risks associated with your supply chain. In addition, they can also help you to create contingency plans in case of disruptions. It can help to ensure that your business remains operational even in the face of unexpected challenges.
3.8) Improved time management
We all know that time is money. And when it comes to business, that's especially true. Working with a Third party logistics can help you save time by taking care of tasks that would otherwise consume valuable resources. It can free your team to focus on more strategic tasks to help grow your business.
3.9) Streamlined operations
For any business, large or small, streamlining operations is essential to success. A 3PL can help you to do just that by managing your inventory, shipping, and other logistics-related tasks. Since a Third party logistics is focused on logistics, they can help you to optimize your operations and make the most of your resources. That can help to make your business more efficient and improve your bottom line.
3.10) Increased sustainability
A 3PL can help you to reduce your carbon footprint by managing your shipping and logistics more efficiently. They can also help you recycle and reuse materials, which can further reduce your environmental impact. Lastly, working with a 3PL can help increase your business's sustainability.
4) Best practices while using a 3PL for shipping and returns
Regarding shipping and returns, using a 3PL can be a great way to improve your operations. However, there are a few best practices that you should keep in mind.
4.1) Define your needs
Before you start working with a Third party logistics, it's important to define your needs. What are your shipping and logistics goals? What are your timeline and budget constraints? By defining your needs upfront, you'll be able to find a 3PL that is a good fit for your business. It will help you avoid working with a 3PL that doesn't meet your needs and can save you time and money in the long run.
4.2) Do your research
Research is key when finding the right 3PL for your business. In addition to reading online reviews, you should also ask for references from businesses like yours. Once you have a list of potential 3PLs, take the time to reach out to each one and ask questions about their services. That will help you narrow down your options and find the best fit for your business.
4.3) Consider the total cost
When considering a 3PL, it's important to look at the total cost of their services. It includes not only the price of shipping but also any additional fees that may be associated with storage or other services. Make sure to get a detailed quote from each 3PL so that you can compare shipping costs and find the most affordable option.
4.4) Get everything in writing
Before you start working with a 3PL, it's important to get everything in writing. That includes the terms of your agreement, the services they will provide, and the price. It will help you avoid any misunderstandings down the road and protect your business in case something goes wrong.
4.5) Set up a trial run
Before you commit to working with a 3PL, setting up a trial run is a good idea. That will allow you to see how they operate and if they're a good fit for your business. Once you've decided to work with them, sign a contract to protect both parties.
4.6) Have a backup plan
Things can still go wrong even if you've found the perfect 3PL. That's why it's important to have a backup plan in place. That could be another 3PL that you can use if your first choice cannot fulfill your orders. Or, you may want to consider using a mix of both in-house and outsourced fulfillment to hedge your bets.
Using Third-party logistics can be a great way to grow your business without investing in your fulfillment infrastructure. From cost savings to increased efficiency, there are many benefits to working with a 3PL. Just be sure to research and choose a provider that will fit your needs. And, don't forget to have a backup plan if something goes wrong. Rest assured, with a little planning; you can make 3PL fulfillment work for you and your business.