Order fulfillment plays a pivotal role in business operations. As a business grows and expands, however, it may become increasingly challenging to perform order fulfillment in-house. Instead of laboring over picking and packing, or letting boxes take up valuable workspace, consider using 3PL services from external providers like Alpacka.
How do 3PL Services Work?
3PL or third party logistics involve outsourcing your logistics operations to an outside entity that is separate from your organization. A 3PL will handle multiple processes on your behalf, including fulfillment, warehousing, and inventory management. By leaving these aspects of the heavy lifting to them, you’ll be able to spend more time and resources on handling your organization’s business-specific needs. Having someone else handle the shipping of your products can improve your operational capacity, allowing you to take your business to the next level. While the concept of 3PL has been around for a while and has existed in various forms since the 1970s, it has rapidly evolved to become far more expansive and ubiquitous. The internet and e-commerce boom of the 1990s and the early 2000s has allowed for seamless integration between transport services and warehousing operations.
How 3PL Services Can Enhance Your Business
Choosing a reliable 3PL provider like Alpacka may benefit your business in the following ways:
- Distributed inventory: 3PL providers that utilize multiple warehouse locations can divide inventory between them, which means products can ship from the warehouse that is closest to the customer. Additionally, certain technology tools enable order fulfillment to be automated through robust algorithms that route packages to the most ideal fulfillment center by design.
- Returns management: Returns are handled by 3PLs; in fact, some even utilize return management software to improve the return process, which involves quarantining, discarding, and refilling returns.
- Inventory management: Managing your inventory entails more than just warehousing merchandise. The impressive capabilities of inventory management include monitoring inventory levels as they change in real time. You’ll also be able to readily sync your online store inventory and reorder inventory proactively to avoid stock shortages. After the 3PL receives and saves the inventory, you can verify the amount on hand as well as the units sold daily for each item.
- Two-day shipping: Expedited shipping like 2-day shipping is in high demand and is a feature that is typically only offered by the most competitive businesses. A reputable 3PL will strategically store your inventory so it is always in close proximity to shipping destinations, ensuring that your clients routinely get their packages within forty-eight hours. Additionally, many 3PLs maintain arrangements with carriers that enable them to negotiate discounted rates.
- Work with experienced experts: Each business specializes in a certain field. For a reputable 3PL company, their area of specialization would be logistics. They are the experts when it comes to management, documentation, transportation, and distribution of goods. Partnering with them allows means working with professionals who know the ins and outs of the industry like the back of their heads. They know exactly what to do to ensure seamless operations. They are also experienced in handling and solving any logistics issues.
- Focus on what you do best: Packaging orders and organizing inventory are just two of the many time-consuming tasks that business owners have to worry about. Outsourcing logistics requirements to a 3PL free up space, time, and energy. You no longer have to juggle between tasks. Instead, you can focus on your core competencies and devote your resources to optimizing other business processes and improving customer services.
- Scale up or down easily: 3PL companies handle dozens to thousands of order fulfillment daily. They are flexible and able to adjust according to your demands. So, whether your business has to process low or high orders, you can still take advantage of their resources.
Industries That Benefit from 3PL Companies
3PL companies serve a wide variety of industries, including:
- Retail: E-commerce businesses heavily rely on logistics companies for deliveries. By partnering with 3PL companies, they can save space, manage the distribution of products, and ship customer orders seamlessly. They greatly benefit from the efficiency, accuracy, and speed that 3PL companies offer.
- Medical and health companies: 3PL companies can move devices and samples from laboratories, pharmacies, and other medical companies. They are experienced in handling fragile items or temperature-sensitive products. They have the right equipment to ensure the products are protected in transit.
- Manufacturing: The manufacturing industry relies on 3PL companies to move the raw materials they need to keep their operations running efficiently. The manufacturers use their services, including transportation, warehousing, materials procurement, and inventory management.
- Construction: Construction companies use the services of 3PL companies to transport materials and equipment for their projects. As with manufacturing, timing is also crucial in construction. A project can be halted due to a lack of materials. The efficiency of 3PL companies helps builders stay on track and under budget.
Customization, Kitting, and B2B/DTC fulfillment
Every business wants its customers to have the best experience possible. 3PLs help you deliver a unique unboxing experience by providing things like customized packaging, unique gift notes, and kitting. This allows packages to be wrapped, sealed, or branded with your distinct company logo.
3PLs also play a vital role in Direct to Consumer (DTC) and B2B fulfillment, which allows organizations to use multichannel logistics. Drop shipping, wholesale shipping, and developing tight partnerships with renowned retailers are all within a 3PL’s wheelhouse.
Learn more about how to gain a competitive advantage in your sector when you contact Alpacka today!