Skip to content
All posts

Stay Competitive: Leveraging a 3PL for eCommerce Growth

eCommerce can quickly pull your attention in many directions, causing important details to slip through the cracks. One area that cannot stumble, though, is your logistics. Whether you’re overwhelmed and need help or simply want to lessen the burden on your shoulders, a third-party logistics (3PL) provider can offer you invaluable assistance. 

By outsourcing certain supply chain operations to a 3PL, you can focus on securing sales and growing your brand. To maximize the potential of these logistical services, we’ll dive into their various aspects and how they can become the bedrock for exponential eCommerce growth.

The Role of 3PL in eCommerce

When people think of 3PLs, they might initially picture warehouses filled with products or trucks transporting goods. However, their role in eCommerce is both wide-reaching and intricate and plays a crucial role in the supply chain.

The strategic implementation of 3PL can transform how an eCommerce business operates and scales.

Scalability on Demand

Every eCommerce entrepreneur dreams of booming sales, especially during prime shopping seasons like Black Friday or major holidays. 

However, with this surge in orders comes the logistical challenge of storing, packing, and shipping out products rapidly and efficiently. Can your business weather this storm, or will it become overwhelmed?

Enter: 3PLs. These logistical partners are built for high-demand scenarios. They have expansive storage solutions, streamlined picking and packing processes, and robust transportation networks to ensure that, even when orders pour in, each customer receives their purchase on time. It's like having a logistical safety net ready to expand as your needs grow.

Industry Expertise

Navigating the logistical landscape can be challenging, as it's a dynamic field with ever-changing regulations, evolving best practices, and emerging trends. The last thing you want is to break a shipping regulation or miss out on a cost-saving trend simply because you were unaware.

This is where the expertise of a 3PL provider proves invaluable; they're constantly updated, trained, and equipped to handle the multifaceted logistics challenges. 

Whether it’s understanding cross-border shipping intricacies, adapting to new warehousing technologies, or optimizing last-mile delivery, a 3PL partner ensures your eCommerce business is always on top of logistical fluctuations.

Economies of Scale

Consider the sheer volume of operations that a 3PL provider manages; they handle logistics for many businesses besides yours. 

This scale of operation grants them significant negotiating power, whether it's securing prime warehousing space at competitive rates, enjoying bulk shipping discounts, or accessing quality packaging materials without the hefty price tag.

Sharing the wealth, those cost benefits then cascade down to you. By partnering with a 3PL, even smaller eCommerce businesses can access the kind of logistical rates and advantages typically reserved for industry giants.

Global Reach

eCommerce has built a global marketplace: A customer in Paris might eagerly await a product from Tokyo, and vice versa. This is a golden opportunity for your online business to tap into international markets and diversify your consumer base. 

The challenge lies in the logistics.

How do you send a product halfway across the globe efficiently, cost-effectively, and within regulations? 

With their international networks, partnerships, and local warehousing solutions in multiple countries, 3PL providers make this daunting task feasible. They understand the nuances of international shipping, customs clearances, and local delivery mechanisms, ensuring your products reach even the farthest corners of the globe.

Strategies for Choosing the Right 3PL Partner

Choosing a 3PL provider is only the first step — you then have to harness that partnership strategically. Below is our advice for maximizing your eCommerce business's growth potential through a 3PL partnership.

Choose the Best Fit

Each 3PL provider possesses its own strengths, specializations, and solutions. Consider the nature of your products, the scope of your operations, and your target audience before beginning your search for an appropriate partner. 

For instance, a boutique business selling handcrafted items would have different logistical requirements than an electronics retailer. Research, vet, and select a 3PL provider that closely aligns  with your business model and objectives.

Embrace Technological Integrations

The logistics realm has undergone a technological revolution: Advanced 3PL providers now harness the power of AI for demand forecasting, employ blockchain for transparent tracking, and use IoT devices for real-time inventory management. 

These technologies don't just enhance efficiency on the business end — they also elevate the entire customer experience. Ensure your 3PL partner is tech-forward and facilitates seamless integration with your existing systems.

Diversify Distribution Channels

While the omnipresence of eCommerce behemoths is undeniable, there's a vast world of other lucrative online marketplaces, platforms, and channels waiting to be explored.

With the expansive distribution network of a seasoned 3PL provider, you can diversify your sales channels to minimize dependency on a single platform and break into untapped customer segments.

Engage and Communicate

Although 3PL providers are outside entities, think of them as an extension of your team. In that regard, you should foster a culture of transparent communication. Regularly review performance metrics, share feedback, understand their challenges, and align future strategies. This symbiotic relationship ensures both parties are consistently united in their pursuit of growth.

Look Into Value-Added Services

Beyond the basic warehousing and shipping, many 3PL providers now offer various supplementary services. These include kitting, bundling, specialized packaging, handling returns, and even managing customer inquiries related to shipments. 

Added services can significantly enrich the customer experience, in turn driving loyalty and repeat purchases. When considering a 3PL partner, evaluate these extended offerings.

For instance, MyFBAPrep specializes in product preparations for FBA sellers but also integrates seamlessly with 3PL strategies, particularly if you're leveraging Amazon as a primary sales platform. 

Overcoming Potential Roadblocks With a 3PL

All strategic endeavors face challenges, and the same holds true for a 3PL partnership. Anticipating and preparing for these hurdles can make the transition smoother:

  • Data security concerns: Sharing intricate details about your inventory, sales patterns, or even customer information with a third party might cause you to hesitate. Limit your potential 3PL providers to those who employ robust data security, utilize encryption, and adhere to global data protection standards.
  • Perceived loss of control: It's natural to feel some apprehension when handing over a segment of your operations to an external entity. Overcome this uncertainty by establishing clear contractual terms, setting explicit expectations, defining KPIs, and holding periodic check-ins.
  • Navigating the transition phase: Transitioning to a 3PL-centric model isn’t a simple switch you flip. It's a phased process, and initial hiccups are par for the course. 

A comprehensive change management strategy, clear communication with stakeholders, and contingency planning can help smooth out the initial wrinkles of a 3PL partnership.

Give Your Business a Leg up With a 3PL

In the fluctuating world of eCommerce, a reliable partner is essential for success. By working with a logistics partner, you can reduce costs, improve scalability, and leverage their expertise to achieve your business goals.

When choosing a 3PL, select a company aligned with your business goals and values. Look for a partner with a proven track record of success in your industry who can offer you the services and support you need to grow.


About the Author

Rachel GoRachel Go is the marketing director of MyFBAPrep, an eCommerce warehouse network for Amazon aggregators, enterprise brands, and top Amazon sellers. Operating a global network of more than 100 warehouses and 85-million-square-feet of operating warehouse space, MyFBAPrep offers a full suite of ecommerce 3PL services including Amazon wholesale and private label, direct-to-consumer (DTC) fulfillment, and B2B retail. Powered by its SaaS technology platform Preptopia™, sellers get access to unified billing, analytics, business intelligence reporting tools and real-time inventory views across multiple warehouses in the network. The company provides FBA Prep automation, modern robotics item picking, and a dedicated account management team. Based in Coral Springs, Florida, MyFBAPrep moves over $1 billion in Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) and processes over 10-million units annually.