What Is 3PL Fulfillment? – Jack of all trades and king of none is a phrase that can easily summarize the typical attitude of a small e-commerce business owner. The idea of doing everything on your own seems appealing, but it is just not worth it.
As a business owner, putting your energy into every kind of task and activity can divert your attention from the central aspects of the business. Consequently, this will affect your ability to operate the business efficiently, take important decisions, and direct your time and energies on growing the business.
Therefore, to avoid such a situation and scale your business effectively, outsourcing your distribution and logistics operations, fully or partially, to a professional 3PL service provider is the ideal solution in such a scenario.
What makes a 3PL service credible is its ability to fulfill most orders regardless of the complexity, cost, and expertise involved, also known as 3PL order fulfillment. It encourages 3PL providers to streamline their client’s logistics to efficiently serve the client’s needs and requirements.
As a client, you only need to transport your inventory to the warehouse and connect your e-commerce system with 3PL’s larger order fulfillment framework. In no time, your 3PL provider will start catering to your customers as soon as they place an order with you.
However, before choosing a 3PL provider, you must have complete information about their order fulfillment services. In this article, we will help you understand the typical process of an order fulfillment service offered by many 3PL providers today, and how they can benefit your company. With this information, you will be able to decide whether you need to hire a 3PL service for your e-commerce business or not.
Table of Contents
What is an Order Fulfillment Service?
3PL fulfillment service ensures that the client’s orders are delivered on time. It includes inventory management, warehousing, receiving orders, packaging, and distribution. All these processes are equally important as they are interlinked and interdependent. Therefore, many 3PL service providers prioritize developing efficient and productive ways to decrease the time to finish these steps and streamline all processes along the supply chain.
How Fulfilment Takes Place
Multiple 3PL providers offer a wide range of fulfillment services to their clients as a way to gain a competitive edge over rival firms. Some 3PL services also provide product return management to their clients as a way for the clients to create a better relationship with their own customers.
However, regardless of the different services each 3PL provider offers, a few services remain standard throughout. By understanding these services, you will better understand how 3PL providers execute order fulfillment and if these services can help you upgrade your business to a new level.
Receiving of Inventory
The first step is to provide inventory to your 3PL provider, so they can start shipping the items to your customers. Several 3PL providers ask you to inform them about the type and quantity of inventory you want them to warehouse and distribute for you. This information helps your 3PL provider to prepare logistics operations specially catered to your inventory needs to ensure your customers receive their deliveries on time.
Assembling Your Customer’s Orders
As mentioned before, multiple 3PL providers require you to connect your e-commerce system to their software as a way for them to track your customer’s orders. When your customer places an order with you, your 3PL provider will be notified about it. The picking team present at the warehouse will assemble your customer’s order immediately through this notification.
When the picking team has gathered your customer’s orders from the warehouse, it is time to pack those orders. Products are packed according to how durable the product is; the more fragile the product, the more material is required to pack that product. Furthermore, the cost of packing is usually charged alongside the fulfillment cost; however, additional services are charged separately.
Distribution and Shipment
The last step of this process is to ship the orders to your customers on time. Many 3PL providers offer multiple modes of transport for you to choose from. Regardless of what method you select, your 3PL provider will ensure that your customers receive their orders on time.
The Bottom Line
In today’s highly competitive marketplace, the most valuable asset of a business is its customers. Hiring a 3PL provider to handle your logistics and order fulfillment is a great way to retain customers and maintain customer loyalty. At this point, you have basic information as to how a 3PL provider conducts order fulfillment, allowing you to decide if you want to hire a 3PL provider or not.