A third-party logistics (3PL) provider can be a real lifesaver for businesses. These companies deal with all aspects of procurement, distribution and transportation so that businesses can focus on their products or services without getting bogged down by other details.
3PLs can help to streamline sourcing and manufacturing, or procurement. They might be tasked with sourcing raw materials or production facilities, developing products, or scheduling manufacturing.
They can also help with transportation. There is a lot involved in inbound shipping, and many businesses are happy to have the experts deal with tasks such as finding carriers, streamlining paperwork, and meeting schedules. A 3PL can help to arrange freight brokers; imports and exports as well as the associated duties and paperwork; and overseas shipping.
3PLs Shine in Distribution
However, one area where a 3PL can really shine is in distribution. Ecommerce companies often make use of fulfillment 3PL services such as efficient good storage and shipping items out to customers. One of the biggest benefits of this approach for many companies is the fact that 3PL fulfillment can scale quickly and easily to accommodate bursts of rapid growth.
Because 3PL providers are essentially spreading out their warehouse and staff expenses across several clients, they can often get better rates than individual businesses, and they won’t suffer when orders slow down.
They can handle all aspects of warehousing and inventory, from receiving, tracking and sorting goods to tackling special handling needs like climate-controlled storage or storage for goods with a high value.
They can also make quick work of order packing, with many guaranteeing order accuracy and appropriate packaging. When it comes to order processing, they can receive and process online orders and those that come in using other types of input. Many companies also turn to 3PLs to deal with managing the items customers return.
If your small business is considering outsourcing, start by determining which functions your in-house team can handle and which you need outside help with. Then you can focus on the 3PLs that specialize in those areas. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to lower costs and greater efficiency.
This blog post was based off of an article from FitSmallBusiness. Read the full article here.