Shipping Options for Online Sellers
Shipping and fulfillment services get your customers their orders quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. Many factors influence customer satisfaction, such as getting the best discount rates, but one of the most important things in ecommerce is the order fulfillment process. When you get that part of your operations right, you'll see it reflected in customer reviews, praising your company for getting orders processed and shipped out quickly. When order fulfillment has problems, you end up getting a lot of negative reviews. It doesn’t matter how great the rest of your customer experience is. If you’re getting the last step in the ecommerce order fulfillment process wrong, then that’s going to be the impression they’re left with.
When you’re starting to scale up your inventory and your B2B or B2c order volume has you falling behind in-house, a 3PL shipping and order fulfillment partner can be one of the best investments available for your business. The primary benefit to using order fulfillment services is to outsource the areas of your company’s operations that are difficult to handle in-house, be it inventory management or order fulfillment. You get to focus more of your resources on your core business that needs your attention, while the 3PL takes over logistics and supply chain for reasonable fees.
The primary services that a 3PL offers to businesses include a customized pick and pack plan for your ecommerce business, which includes single items, full cases, and custom kitting, freight management for efficient use of freight for your products or shipments, and a tried and tested ecommerce supply chain technology center.
Consider that the 3PL’s entire business model revolves around quality order fulfillment services and shipping services. They invest heavily in the 3PL solutions that increase productivity, manage inventory accurately and speed up the average time to ship products in order to meet your needs. For example, with highly advanced order fulfillment services, you get real-time tracking updates on your orders, allowing you to know exactly where a shipment is whenever a customer calls in for help. These types of systems use RF technology coupled with inline quality systems to maintain the accuracy of the solution.
Integration with popular ecommerce platforms: If you use one of the bigger ecommerce platforms, then the ideal 3PL company will already have support built-in for the logistics and inventory management. While custom programming can be an option, you speed up your setup and configuration time when you don’t have to worry about that part of the ecommerce process.
Order processing:Through this integration with your systems, they can pull the orders out of your inventory and begin processing without you needing to manually send over this information. That speeds up how quickly orders get fulfilled while keeping the shipping costs under control.
Customer support:If you don’t have enough in-house resources available to cover customer support for people wanting to track their orders, then you can work with a 3PL that has their own resources for this part of your company’s operation.
Returns management: As if managing warehouse inventory and logistics wasn’t enough, processing returns, and refunds is another battle to win. This part of the process needs better management. The 3PL can include this service with the rest of the ecommerce fulfillment duties that they’re handling for you and your customers.
Fast and flexible delivery options: Your company gets access to more options than your typical standard delivery service without additional costs. The 3PL has relationships with many shippers, often at lower negotiated shipping fees than the ones that you have available.
User-friendly and robust online portal: The backend of the 3PL system should be intuitive and comprehensive in its scope. While you may not do a lot with this side of things, as the 3PL can integrate directly with your company’s system, it’s good to know what the back-end capabilities are and what they can do for your ecommerce business.
Repackaging: If you want to put together promotional packaging or special kits for certain orders or products, it would be best to request this service from the 3PL. They will work with you closely to develop many types of product bundles and promotional materials to make things easier and stress free for you.
Product recycling: What happens to all the packing materials that don’t get used or are headed to the trash? Look for a 3PL solution that tries to use everything it possibly can and makes sure that the disposal of leftover waste is compliant with local, state and federal regulations. It’s one of the best ways to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint.
Custom packing slips and materials: If you have new custom inserts for your packages, the 3PL makes sure that they head out the warehouse door.
Product recall: Product recalls are a massive headache for ecommerce businesses in terms of logistics. You must handle the PR nightmare that you’re in the middle of, while taking on a large loss at the same time. This can be an overwhelming experience. The 3PL makes things easier by taking over this process and meeting the legal requirements for recalling products.
Here are some sales channels that receive significant benefits from getting fulfillment and shipping services filled by a 3PL.
E-commerce stores or business are the obvious choice when it comes to a perfect match for 3PL services. You already limit your overhead by not needing a physical retail location to support your online store, so you can continue that cost effectiveness in many new ways via 3PL.