Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Ecommerce Fulfillment and Solutions Guide

3pl-ecommerce-fulfillment

Order fulfillment is one of the most integral aspects of any online storefront. As an ecommerce business manager, setting up an efficient and cost-effective fulfillment strategy is essential to scale your business and satisfy your customers. 

However, some ecommerce businesses must rely on additional shipping support from outside their internal resources to improve operations and improve ROI. One of the most prevalent solutions for enterprise businesses is to utilize third-party logistics (3PL). Let’s discuss how third-party logistics works and some of our top ecommerce fulfillment solutions. 

What is 3PL Fulfillment?

3PL (third-party logistics) fulfillment is when an ecommerce business uses an outsourced entity to handle retail operations, including receiving orders, inventory management, packing, shipping, and storing products. Some organizations leverage 4PL to free up additional bandwidth from their organization. 4PL allows enterprise ecommerce businesses to have another party handle coordinating with their outsourced shipping and end-to-end supply chain management. 

Why 3PL is Important?

3PL is important for many growing businesses because it helps alleviate time-consuming internal operations so companies can spend more time growing their business. The most appealing advantage of 3PL is that it not only frees up time but that it’s the most cost-effective solution to coordinate, store, and ship inventory to customers. 

How Do 3PL Companies Work? The Stages of Ecommerce 3PL Fulfillment

Every 3PL partnership is different, but third-party logistics primarily includes storage, shipping, packing, and fulfillment. A 3PL partner can consist of several different entities, including warehousing companies, distribution centers, or fulfillment services. 3PL partners can help lower shipping costs, improve shipping times, optimize logistics, manage returns, and provide better customer service. 

3PL partners are essential for many growing businesses to scale their business. Handling inventory management, storage, and shipping can drain a lot of a company’s internal resources, so an outside partner can free up significant bandwidth to save an organization’s time and money. Let’s break down the entire 3PL process from start to finish. 

Storage

A business first must coordinate sending their inventory to their 3PL provider so that they can have their products at their disposal. Typically, a company will fill out a Warehouse Receiving Order (WRO) to document the quantity and product names they plan to send. Once a business records its inventory and transmits it to 3PL partners, they will store the items at their fulfillment centers either on shelves, pallets, or bins. They will categorize and label inventory accordingly to have it ready for when customers place orders. 

Orders

When a customer places an order online, the 3PL will begin the fulfillment process. The most efficient 3PL ordering processes integrate the online store with the fulfillment center. As soon as a customer places an order on the company’s website, the 3PL party is notified and sent the necessary information to complete the order. A warehouse packing team member will collect the order from storage and send it to the packing and shipping division. 

Packing and Shipping

The warehouse team will begin to package the item. Businesses can specify how to package their products based on costs and weight. They can also customize the packaging material to highlight the brand. The 3PL will place a shipping label on the product and have their daily inventory ready for carrier pickup. 3PL partners will send an order and shipping confirmation to their partners, and the 3PL can handle any possible returns. (PS: You can help reduce ecommerce return rates with our helpful guide.) 

6 Best Ecommerce Fulfillment Solutions

There are many reasons why businesses choose to leverage a 3PL partner. Whether it’s handling the fulfillment, storage, or supply chain management, a 3PL can be the MVP for your ecommerce business. Here are some reasons why you and your business could benefit from third-party logistics:

1. Time

You probably didn’t get into fashion retailing to spend hours packing orders. Working with a 3PL gives you the time you need to focus on your big-picture business strategies. There are countless tiny details involved in order fulfillment. Contracts with transportation drivers, tracking lost orders, figuring out how a storm on the East Coast may affect deliveries to the region—these are the kinds of small but important details you no longer have to worry about with a 3PL in place.

2. Money

When an outsourced provider handles your order fulfillment process, that can cut down on expenses. For instance, a 3PL with a warehouse means you don’t have to spend money on your own storage facility for excess inventory. You also don’t have to hire and pay extra staff members to handle fulfillment on your end. Plus, if you work with a 3PL with multiple other clients, it can often translate to lower shipping rates for everyone because the 3PL is shipping at high volume.

3. Convenience

Using 3PL is a terrific e-commerce business solution because it can handle every aspect of order fulfillment. Your vendors can ship merchandise directly to the 3PL warehouse, where it can be synced to your in-store inventory to keep everything organized for you. When orders come in, the 3PL handles all of the packing, labeling, and shipping. If an order is returned, the 3PL takes care of restocking. An experienced company that professionally and reliably administers all these logistics can be a game-changer for your business.

4. Customization

A 3PL can cover every aspect of order fulfillment for you. But 3PLs can also offer customized solutions tailored to your specific needs. Are you focused on adding next-day or same-day shipping to your e-commerce site? Find a 3PL with those capabilities and the warehouse network to support that. Do you want to provide gift-wrapping services or need temperature-controlled packaging? There are 3PLs out there that can handle every kind of fulfillment issue. The best firms will listen to your needs and develop a comprehensive plan to optimize your order fulfillment.

5. Flexibility

A 3PL boosts your company’s responsiveness to e-commerce demands. Suppose you’re planning a huge holiday sale, for instance. In that case, your 3PL company can adjust accordingly and make sure it has enough transportation solutions and fulfillment staffers in place to meet that higher order volume. Conversely, you don’t have to let go of your workers if there is a lull in orders; the 3PL can quickly ramp down, depending on your needs. 

This scalability is especially valuable if you are at a crucial stage of growing your e-commerce business. There are few things worse than not being able to meet increased customer demand—it can tarnish your brand’s reputation. Plus, taking advantage of a 3PL’s warehouse means you may be able to carry a higher volume of inventory, so you can save money by buying merchandise in bulk and serve more customers with more orders, which can benefit your bottom line.

6. Quality Assurance

By doing your homework and partnering with a trusted 3PL company, you are leaving order fulfillment in the professionals’ hands. These intricate, heavily detailed logistics are their bread and butter, and you can be assured that your fulfillment process is in the best possible position to benefit your e-commerce business. A well-oiled fulfillment process reflects well on your business and enhances customer satisfaction and your brand’s reputation.

Let Us Take Care of Your Coordinating Your 3PL Operations

The decision to work with a 3PL can be a wise one, but only if you use a company focused on meeting your ecommerce needs and can provide you with quality service and practical solutions. We’ll help you improve your entire business operations so you can not only meet but exceed your ecommerce KPI goals. 

Connect with us and learn more about our global logistics solutions to optimize all of your ecommerce operational needs. Schedule a quick time to chat with us below, and we can discuss the best solutions for your business. 

In the meantime, learn more about how to improve your ecommerce business using our informative guides:

Nogin New Client Announcement: Sanrio

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Sanrio Partners with Nogin to Deliver New Online Shopping Experience Designed to Delight and Inspire Guests Across the Globe 

  Sophisticated Design Paired with Advanced Analytics and Personalization Features, Drive Consumer Engagement for the World-Class Lifestyle Brand

LOS ANGELES – Sept. 30, 2019Nogin, a full-spectrum ecommerce partner and leading provider of customized, end-to-end digital commerce solutions for retail brands, today announced its partnership with Sanrio, Inc. to revamp the beloved brand’s online store. The remodeled, direct-to-consumer sanrio.com and its underlying technology enable a more fluid and personalized shopping experience.

“As consumer demands continue to evolve as quickly as the online shopping industry, it is vital for brands, both young and iconic, to stay current on ecommerce trends while exceeding customer expectations,” said Jan-Christopher Nugent, CEO of Nogin. “With the updates, we have incorporated into the new website, Sanrio is set to scale quickly and continue to carry the torch as a multi-generational cherished brand.”

The unveiling of Sanrio’s new online shopping experience is the latest step in its evolving ecommerce strategy, concentrated on streamlining business operations and propelling direct-to-consumer sales. Along with delivering the technology backbone and design for the retailer’s store, Nogin is providing full-service support including creative and marketing as well as development, logistics, and fulfillment. Additionally, the new site leverages Nogin’s unique Shoot Sheet Management tool, which enables the Sanrio ecommerce team to manage the entire photo production lifecycle from one central dashboard. The time-saving feature gives individuals visibility into timelines at each stage of production; custom shot list management; image and swatch verification; and search by Product Information Distribution Services (PIDS), stock-keeping unit number (SKU), product name, or universal product code (UPC).

Nogin understands that story and magical experiences are the foundation of Sanrio and its beloved cast of characters.  The brand’s official online destination plays a big role in building and nurturing connections with millions of fans across the globe and we are excited about the fun, new interactive shopping experience the site delivers.

To drive engagement and encourage new purchases, personalization and discovery are at the core of the new site design, which features playful imagery and content crafted to delight and inspire. Mobile-friendly design, integration of Nogin’s robust underlying analytics platform, and a fresh, new user interface, ensure a seamless guest experience from discovery to purchase.

Following the reveal of Sanrio’s new online destination, the team will soon unveil an official new site for Hello Kitty, where fans will be able to explore her cheerful world and access the latest trends and exclusive deals.

For more information about Nogin, visit https://nogin.com, and experience the new look of Sanrio at www.sanrio.com.

Nogin New Client Announcement: Spyder

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Spyder Teams with Nogin to Bolster Cross-Channel Operations, Fuel Overall Revenue Growth

 Leading Performance Apparel Brand Reports Increase in Customer Leads

Media Contact:
Jack Scullin
jscullin@nogin.com
(949) 864-8136

 LOS ANGELES – Feb. 14, 2019 – Nogin, a full-spectrum ecommerce partner and leading provider of customized, end-to-end digital commerce solutions for retail brands, today unveiled its partnership with Spyder, the world’s most recognizable and trusted performance apparel brand. In less than three weeks, the companies successfully rolled out the new, comprehensive digital commerce channel on Nogin’s next-generation Encore platform.

Nogin offers a unique set of services and technology solutions that enables Spyder to easily and effectively manage commerce across all channels and to intelligently utilize data to offer the polished, curated experiences their customers desire.

Spyder selected Nogin based on the company’s deep roots in digital commerce and proven track record of leveraging technology to enable brands to consistently outpace the industry-standard ecommerce growth rate. Spyder’s new commerce platform features full electronic data interchange (EDI) integration, a single catalog to serve both wholesale and retail orders, and simplified management of marketing and data analytics across all channels.

“Today’s retail environment is changing rapidly and becoming more complex; to remain relevant and profitable, brands must be nimble and evolve their cross-channel operations to accommodate a wide array of new customer and partner requirements,” said Jan Nugent, CEO of Nogin. “We are thrilled with the results already achieved since the launch of Spyder’s new platform – a 62 percent increase in orders and overall reduction of operational costs – both of which position the brand strongly for continued growth and enable the team to focus on what they do best, crafting iconic, elevated performance apparel that customers around the globe love.”

In addition to building and managing Spyder’s digital commerce platform, Nogin is handling the company’s order processing, product photography, warehousing and fulfillment, email and retention marketing, and related promotional campaigns, all supported with its world-class customer care.

For more information about Nogin, visit https://nogin.com, and view the latest from Spyder at www.spyder.com.