Creating an in-house shipping and logistics operation can be costly and exhausting. Luckily, 3PL services can help you avoid the burn out and help streamline your business’ operations.
Quality 3PL services offer simplicity and resources you need to continue seeing growth in your business. 3PL companies have incredible benefits to offer businesses and it can seem too good to be true, but thankfully, it’s not! Utilize a 3PL to take a few tasks off your plate.
What Is a 3PL?
A 3PL, or a third-party logistics, is a third-party company that handles the distribution services and logistics operations for other businesses. A 3PL will cover the full range of logistics services including inventory management, order fulfillment, shipping solutions, and much more. When you work with a 3PL, you can save money and simplify your logistics with ease thanks to their premium services.
How Do 3PL Services Work?
Essentially, 3PL services cover distribution with varying lists of available services. However, they will generally all revolve around shipping and the logistics involved with the distribution.
When you send your inventory and necessary items to a 3PL, they will ensure your packages are shipped to your customers as needed. You must ensure your 3PL has received your inventory so they can properly fulfill your customer’s orders. With your inventory in house, the 3PL can then pick, pack, and ship your order without hassle.
Example of 3PL Services
Thanks to 3PL services, the need to store and distribute your own inventory is no more. 3PL companies offer varying services to meet the demands of a wide range of industries like the following:
- Ecommerce businesses
An online business owner can send their products to a 3PL company and expect to have their products received and stored in the 3PL’s warehouse(s). When customers place their orders, the 3PL company will pick, package, and ship your products to your customers.
Benefits of 3PL Services
Additionally, 3PL services are ideal at helping grow your bottom line. Keep reading to learn more about the advantages of working with an experienced 3PL company.
Storage and Warehousing
With a 3PL, you no longer need to store your own inventory. Many 3PL companies will have warehouses in multiple locations helping you maximize your fulfillment services with faster shipping times and lower shipping costs.
Distributing your inventory without added cost and hassle is a cinch when you’re working with a company that offers the right 3PL services. Ensuring that the 3PL you choose has enough storage space to keep your items stored in an organized manner is critical to an efficient operation.
Because many of the best 3PL companies have multiple warehouses spread throughout the country, they are able to offer improved shipping speeds. Customers expect their products in a timely manner and two-day shipping has become the norm. When you’re working with a company that has the 3PL services you need for your business, your customers are likely to appreciate the speedy delivery they receive.
Inventory management is one of the greatest advantages of utilizing 3PL services. It allows you to view your inventory in real-time and efficiently keep track of your inventory, staying ahead of any demands. Inventory management tracks what items are being sold and how frequently, with the ease of reordering right at your fingertips.
Shipping internationally can be a struggle and completely bog up your operations with customs, if you don’t have a plan in place. Also, 3PLs are ideal for international fulfillment by removing the hassle of international shipping while reaping the rewards. Keep in mind, not all 3PL companies offer international shipping and this is a major factor to consider when looking to utilize them.
Also, 3PLs are able to offer advanced analytics that can help you streamline your operations and increase your profit. With usage summary analytics, you can adjust inventory as needed. Seeing the details of your average cost per order can help you determine if a product is worth offering.
Knowing what the current transportation costs are can help you adjust prices accordingly. The list goes on, warehouse logistics are a major advantage of working with a 3PL and should be highly considered when looking at your options. Know what standards are and what companies are doing it right when it comes to data analytics for your company.
Kitting and Customization
Kitting services are very common amongst successful 3PLs. When you send separate items to their warehouse, they can package them together with other items in one single group to ensure ease of picking and packing when an order is placed. This is done before the orders are made to streamline the process down the line.
With eCommerce businesses thriving, custom packaging has also become a common service for many 3PL companies. You can customize everything involved with the shipping of your items, including:
- Custom packages
- Branded labels, inserts, and packaging options
- Gift notes
- Customized letters and thank you cards
- Custom wrapping for additional protection
3PL services are for far more than online businesses. B2B fulfillment involves fulfilling orders for retailers and businesses rather than individual consumers. This allows those in the medical field, construction industry, and other industries to centralize their multichannel inventory management and fulfillment demands. B2B fulfillment can be complex, making a 3PL ideal for these services.
Additional 3PL Services
Not all 3PL companies are alike. While many will offer the same base services, some will stand out with their additional offerings that will only help you run an efficient operation.
Freight forwarders are essentially a middle man between the shipper and receiver or consumer. They organize and manage the shipment for businesses. 3PL companies go beyond moving goods and offer a long list of other services that can suit your business needs.
Moving Goods, Consolidation & Deconsolidation
Oftentimes in shipping, your shipment may require a change in type of transportation. 3PL services allow for this. Whether it’s cross-docking or intermodal transport, your shipment will get where it needs to without concern when you’re working with a dependable 3PL company.
Cross-docking allows the shipment to be consolidated or unconsolidated if necessary. Goods from multiple shipments may be consolidated into one, or larger shipments may be split into smaller shipments.
Cross-docking also makes unloading, transferring, and loading easier. Intermodal transport involves utilizing shipping containers. These containers are meant to seamlessly integrate for ease of transportation.
With reverse logistics, the 3PL handles the return management process. This means the customer can return the product and the 3PL will receive the item, deal with any refunds, forward products onward if necessary, or deal with the disposal or management of unwanted inventory. Some of the best 3PL companies have perfected their reverse logistics and this is a major appeal and factor when looking to use one.
With the unbelievable number of goods being transported, it’s no surprise that certain items and products will require special transportation in controlled environments.
Varying vehicles are designed and equipped to allow for the following:
- Temperature control
- Humidity control
- Light level control
- And more
3PLs manage quality control and oversee everystep of the fulfillment and transportation process for you.
Ease Your Workload and Let Logistics Work For You
3PL companies offer a long list of services that can be optimal for the growth of your business. These 3PL services cover all shipment logistics helping to save your resources.
Logistics are the veins of a business, with a 3PL handling yours, you can ease your workload while letting the logistics, tools, and resources you have work for you. Put your focus where it matters and make it a priority to grow your business while keeping your customers happy. Let a 3PL do the dirty work while keeping your operation running smoothly.
3PLs play a vital role in supply chain management as they handle all distribution and logistics involved with the supply chain. Inventory management and additional reporting tools from a 3PL will help you stay on top of your business.
A freight forwarder can be considered a 3PL if they operate their own warehouse and offer additional services.
Contract logistic companies will arrange transportation and necessary routes for transportation. A 3PL goes far beyond that with their wide array of logistics services.
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