Put simply, Third-Party Logistics (3PL) is a way of outsourcing a company’s logistical operations to a fulfilment centre with the expertise and the facilities to handle them – just about everything that takes a customer’s order and turns it into a successful delivery. As we’ve covered elsewhere, the benefits of using a logistics service provider are various and can be too good to ignore – reducing costs and time, optimising your logistical operations, maintaining good customer relations, among others – and with the explosion in ecommerce that has taken place over the past many years, a lot of businesses find that 3PL solutions are a convenience they can no longer do without: as many as 86% of Fortune 500 companies in the US use them!
But enough generalising: you want to know just what a fulfilment centre like Tricord can do for you. Let’s take a look at a few of the services we offer:
3PL ecommerce fulfilment gives you access to better supply chain visibility and keeps your finger on the pulse of what happens “down the chain”. This is vital for making informed decisions around things like product availability, order processing speed, expected delivery times, etc, and the ability to make effective use of existing technology is a growing interest for many clients: according to a 2022 study, “Shipper’s survey responses pointed to a sharply rising interest in robotics and data analytics and, overall, a desire for mailing houses to leverage technology to drive value.” 3PL gives you the utility of information – collected, analysed and safely stored with cutting-edge methods.
For a business that has a lot of physical stock to manage, one of the great attractions of a fulfilment centre is the benefit of safe and reliable off-site storage. From additional warehousing and specialist storage (for example, controlled storage for food or other perishables) to comprehensive inventory management, logistics service providers not only have the extra space you need, but also accurate and professional stock management services as well.
Personalisation & Design
Logistics partners like Tricord have a heap of experience with targeted direct mail campaigns – newsletters, voucher promotions, Christmas cards, you name it – and they know better than anyone that personalised, rather than generic, content helps to build customer relationships and boost engagement. Logistics partners can include personal information in each unit, such as marketing based on related purchases, personalised images, etc, to make each unit as unique as the customer it’s bound for.
And that’s not all – logistics partners also have in-house experts ready to lend their help to the design of your materials, bringing whatever you need to the table: creative flexibility, or accurate adherence to received specifications.
Nowadays, most logistics partners are equipped with sophisticated IT systems which are capable of integrating fully with your ecommerce platform. This means that, where once you had to manually enter the details of customer orders, these are now sent directly to the fulfilment centre the moment they’re placed, streamlining the whole process and taking it out of your hands. These are then compiled into a list of items, quantities and locations by the fulfilment centre’s warehouse professionals, who can then get to work picking the items off the shelf within minutes of the customer placing their order. Simple!
Once the items have been picked, it’s time for them to be packed according to your preference. mailing houses like Tricord are able to integrate the use of customised and branded packaging – so that the packages you send out, stand out – as well as the full range of standard packaging options, including unbranded boxing, polywrapping, polybags, envelope machines capable of processing hundreds of units in minutes, and of course, a dedicated team of professionals able to work to a deadline by hand if necessary…should a personal touch be required!
Shipping & Delivery
Logistics providers either employ their own fleets or else take on the responsibility of outsourcing shipping to reliable carriers for quick order fulfilment, giving you peace of mind when it comes time for dispatching – even better, most are able to offer 2-day delivery. Just a few years ago, this was a competitive advantage available from industry leaders, but in tandem with the rise in ecommerce customers have increasingly come to expect fast delivery and 3PL ecommerce fulfilment has generally risen to meet the challenge across the board.
As we’ve seen, most of the services offered by mailing houses like Tricord are geared towards streamlining ecommerce and direct mail functions for the sake of your convenience, and returns management is no exception. Most mailing houses offer processing services for when a customer returns an item, and are able to restock or dispose of the item according to your preference as their client, or their own policy. This saves you the bother of handling returns in-house, and when you consider the IT integration on offer nowadays (mentioned above), it can also help to streamline the returns process without sacrificing visibility on your end.
3PL fulfilment is all about filling in for all the logistical functions that companies often outsource as they grow, and so providers offer a diverse range of services relating to targeted direct mail campaigns and ecommerce fulfilment, including:
– supply chain data collection and analysis,
– appropriate warehousing and physical storage of goods,
– flexible design capabilities and personalised mail, even for bulk orders,
– full integration with your online ecommerce platform,
– speedy Pick-and-Pack fulfilment with full packaging flexibility,
– quick and reliable delivery times,
– a streamlined returns policy that you don’t have to handle in-house.
The amount of time and money you could save with a logistics partner like Tricord is down to the vast range of services they offer with both confidence and competence so that you don’t have to. So if your business could benefit from the best up-to-date supply chain data, reliably quick delivery or distributed storage in the hands of experienced professionals, then drop us a line and let’s get the conversation started