August 2011 | Commentary | 3PL Line

Enjoying the Perks of 3PL Order Management

Tags: 3PL, Retail

Clyde Mount is president, 3PL Worldwide Inc., 203-567-1099

All too often, the third-party logistics (3PL) sector views order management as an operations tool—a method of capturing and processing customer orders, optimizing them through the distribution network, and, finally, delivering goods to the customer. A more holistic view of this procedure includes client-side order processing, which presents opportunities to add value and profit, and control risk, as opposed to simply reducing cost.

Here are a few ways shippers can benefit from 3PLs' order management capabilities.

  • Manage consumer and retail orders efficiently. Keep track of who ordered what, where it was shipped, and when it will arrive. Allowing your customers to track their order status provides an opportunity to cross-sell, up-sell, and increase revenue.
  • Capture sales information and provide marketers with real-time data. Report multi-channel performance and deliver to marketers and inventory planners intelligence such as statistics on orders placed via phone, Web, your affiliate network, or your interactive voice response (IVR) system. Real-time demand information can also help to quickly identify potential shortages before they become costly problems.
  • Manage and report on call center performance. Examine agent and/or IVR performance, average call times, or the general success of a campaign. Order management allows shippers to evaluate and compare sales channel performance and trends, and identify and remedy problems in marketing, sales, conversion, and customer service.
  • Provide intelligent payment processing alternatives that can increase sales. Partner with a 3PL that offers alternative payment methods such as multi-pay or installment billing. And don't underestimate the impact of being able to adapt and change payment options and shipping quantities when a client needs an adjustment.
  • Help manage merchant account relationships to prevent disruption and chargebacks, and keep customer satisfaction high. Customer dissatisfaction, returns, and refunds affect all parties in the supply chain, but merchants are affected the most. They run the risk of losing not only a customer, but also their merchant account if too many refund requests pile up. Streamlining the returns process and cutting your risk is a necessary and attainable goal. Partner with a 3PL that has the order management experience, programs, and tools necessary to ensure your customers walk away satisfied—product in hand or not.
  • Manage rapid returns and customer refunds. The right 3PL will not only process and track returns and refunds quickly, but use the situation as an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction by providing an up-sell or cross-sell opportunity to the consumer.
  • Detect fraud quickly, before goods are allocated and shipped. Once an order has made it to the shipping floor, it's difficult to back-track—but your 3PL provider can test for transactional elements that allow you to prevent credit card fraud before it reaches this point.

When you begin to collaborate with your 3PL provider on order management, you will see you're not working with just another vendor, but with a value-adding, risk-cutting, profit-boosting partner you may have unknowingly kept in the dark for far too long.