5 Ways Your 3PL Can Help Meet E-commerce Challenges
With unlimited e-commerce potential on the horizon, it is worth exploring if an experienced third-party logistics (3PL) provider can help you accommodate growth and ensure an optimal customer experience.
If you've just launched your e-commerce channel or are striving to make that channel more seamless, scalable, and cost-effective, an experienced 3PL can be a valuable resource. Here are five common e-commerce challenges that a 3PL can help address.
1. Facilitate smooth start-ups. Change is the only constant in e-commerce. A smooth startup is critical to help maintain your speed to market, control costs, and uphold service levels.
Handling this transition on your own is difficult. To avoid putting your business at risk, consider external support. An experienced 3PL puts processes in place and has the resources and expertise to guide your startup.
2. Stay on top of technology. Sophisticated technology solutions are fast becoming prerequisites for the optimal omnichannel customer experience. Technology provides enterprise-wide visibility and the ability to pull from multiple fulfillment sources. It also offers real-time information about product availability, order status, and shipment tracking.
Implementing technology solutions with internal resources requires expertise, financial investment, and ability to scale. By outsourcing to a 3PL, you can bypass these requirements.
3. Improve order accuracy. Handling an increase in volume without impacting order accuracy requires continued focus on process and quality. Successfully implementing Lean Six Sigma methodologies can help optimize fulfillment processes and deliver consistent, measurable results. Fulfillment automation solutions further improve order accuracy.
As with technology, these initiatives require investment and expertise. A 3PL with experience in continuous improvement methodologies can custom engineer processes, incorporate proven best practices, and leverage advanced fulfillment automation.
4. Provide cost-effective shipping. E-commerce customers demand fast, free shipping. To minimize transportation costs, strive to provide competitive service using economy shipping options whenever possible. With strategically located distribution centers, it's possible to reach more than 98 percent of the United States within two business days via ground service.
This heightened service level requires an established distribution network and sufficient buying power with carriers. With a network of facilities around the country, a 3PL can offer convenient locations to help control shipping costs. Their established carrier network gives you flexibility to select the optimal mode/level of service for each shipment at the best price.
5. Accommodate business growth. E-commerce sales growth can be explosive and unpredictable. You need to react quickly to order volume increases, changing customer demands, seasonal promotions, and business fluctuations. You'll need sufficient warehouse space and staff to accommodate peak demand. Unfortunately, you're left paying for the excess space and labor when volume slows.
By offering scalable space, flexible staffing, value-added services—such as gift set assembly, embroidery, coupon insertion—and a variety of transportation options, 3PLs provide the flexibility to meet the peaks and valleys in your business without the associated overhead investment.