In the competitive and complex world of logistics, there are various resources businesses can capitalize on to optimize their supply chain. One such service is a third-party logistics (3PL) provider.
A 3PL service provider can offer an array of logistics services such as warehousing, inventory management, order fulfillment, freight forwarding and transportation services. These partners play a critical role in helping businesses maximize efficiency and manage customer orders. In fact, the global 3PL industry is predicted to reach a value upwards of $1.3 trillion by 2026.
For e-commerce businesses, outsourcing supply chain management to a dedicated 3PL partner is a crucial decision. Use this guide as a starting point to understanding everything 3PL companies have to offer, whether your business can benefit from one and how to select the best logistics provider for your business.
What is a 3PL Service?
3PLs are companies that provide outsourced logistics services to other businesses, especially e-commerce merchants. This can include a wide range of tasks such as warehousing, transportation, supply chain management and order fulfillment.
Many businesses choose to work with 3PL providers because it allows them to focus on their core competencies without having to worry about the logistics aspect of their operations. A 3PL provider can bring expertise, resources and technology that a business might not have in-house. By outsourcing order management to a specialist, businesses may be able to maximize efficiencies and cut costs.
Many different 3PL providers are out there, and they can serve a wide range of industries and businesses of all sizes. Some 3PL providers specialize in certain areas such as e-commerce fulfillment or international shipping, while others offer a more comprehensive suite of logistics services.
Working with a 3PL provider can be a great way for businesses to streamline their operations and grow their bottom line.
Benefits of Working With a 3PL
3PL services are designed to help businesses handle various functions of logistics so they can focus on core activities and achieve greater efficiency, productivity and profitability. Take a look at some of the most notable benefits.
One of the biggest benefits of 3PL is cost savings. With 3PL, businesses do not need to invest in expensive assets such as warehousing facilities, transportation vehicles and technology systems. 3PL providers also have economies of scale that can help businesses reduce their logistics costs, including consolidation of shipments, better inventory management and optimization of transportation routes.
Another advantage of 3PL is improved service levels. 3PL providers are specialized logistics service providers that have dedicated teams of logistics experts who provide personalized solutions for businesses. 3PL providers typically have access to the latest technology systems and software, which help in tracking items and shipments in real-time.
3PL providers also offer greater flexibility and customization to meet the unique needs of different businesses, allowing them to offer better service levels to their customers.
Scalability and Flexibility
More importantly, 3PLs can help businesses stay agile and competitive in their respective marketplaces. By outsourcing logistics functions to specialized and experienced 3PL providers, businesses can focus on higher-valued goals. This can include developing new products or services, innovating and staying ahead of the competition.
As supply chain dynamics continue to evolve and become more complex, a trusted and reliable 3PL provider can help businesses adapt and grow in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment.
The 3PL Order Fulfillment Process Explained
Third-party logistics providers each maintain their own processes for managing fulfillment. Print Bind Ship, for example, is a 3PL provider that works with companies and e-commerce merchants to offer a customized set of solutions — some even beyond the 3PL space.
At a glance, here are the main types of services you can expect from a 3PL company.
Warehousing involves the storage of goods in a warehouse until they are ready to be shipped or distributed. Businesses outsourcing their warehousing to a 3PL provider can focus on other aspects of their operations while still enjoying the benefits of efficient storage and distribution.
At Print Bind Ship, for example, we keep your inventory in our warehouse so it’s not taking up your space or requiring extra shipping steps. We have dedicated storage solutions that are highly organized and set up for efficient picking, packing, stocking and shipping. Our trained team is dedicated to warehousing, yet again taking the hassle off of your hands.
Fulfillment involves the process of receiving an order, picking the requested items from inventory, packaging the items and shipping them to the customer. This can involve a range of tasks, from managing order volumes to ensuring accurate labeling and documentation.
Print Bind Ship keeps inventory organized and has a dedicated picking process to ensure that all orders meet our high-quality standards and arrive at their destination looking as good as when they left.
Packaging and Labeling
Packaging and labeling are critical aspects of the fulfillment process as they ensure that products are protected during transit and that they are compliant with relevant regulations. Together, these services can help businesses streamline their supply chain management processes, reduce costs and improve the customer experience.
At Print Bind Ship, we often work with e-commerce merchants and brands to generate unique, custom packaging that engages consumers.
Inventory management is the process of tracking, managing and optimizing your inventory levels to maximize profitability and increase efficiency. Effective inventory management ensures that a business has enough stock on hand to meet customer demand while minimizing excess stock and associated costs. This also allows data to be used to forecast future demand and determine optimal levels of inventory to maintain.
At Print Bind Ship, we constantly track and manage inventory levels to ensure that they never run too low. Whether you have a designated stock in mind or you want our help figuring out what you should have available, we can work with you to find the right solution. Our integrated technology will make it easy to integrate with e-commerce and track your orders.
Some 3PL partners will take care of finding the best freight rates and making sure that whether you need full truckload (FTL) or less-than-truckload (LTL) transport, you have the right option. Working with a 3PL may even give businesses access to volume discounts they can use to save on shipping costs.
At Print Bind Ship, we process reverse logistics, shipment returns and other transport. This will ensure that your products get to the right place on time. This can all be done with little to no effort on your part — that’s the beauty of outsourcing your shipping logistics.
We also handle all of your order shipping, materials receiving and anything else you may need. With 60-plus years in the industry, we have relationships with the biggest providers and can pass our savings on to you. Today’s customers expect free or cheap shipping on everything; when you work with us, you can afford to give it to them.
Is Working With a 3PL Right for Your Business?
Even though you may be considering working with a third-party logistics company, it’s normal to assess your business needs and determine whether it’s the right choice. Take a look at the following factors to help you make your decision.
Consider Your Inventory Volume and Logistics
If you’re a small business or just getting started, it may not make sense to partner with a 3PL provider. But if your business is growing rapidly and you’re struggling to keep up with logistics demands, 3PL can be a smart solution. Likewise, if you’re looking for ways to optimize efficiency or cut down on costs, partnering with a fulfillment center may be a worthwhile investment.
Consider Your Supply Chain
The complexity of your supply chain will ultimately influence whether or not you should outsource fulfillment. If you have multiple locations, deal with international shipping or have unique handling and storage requirements, 3PL may be able to provide expertise and resources that you don’t have in-house.
Consider the Costs
It’s also important to consider the cost-benefit analysis of using a 3PL provider. While outsourcing can save you time and money in the long run, you’ll need to weigh the costs of working with a 3PL against the benefits. While many businesses find that partnering with a 3PL company allows them to operate more efficiently and reduce expenses – you’ll want to make sure your business will benefit as well.
Reach out to Print Bind Ship for a custom estimate of your inventory management and logistics needs.
What to Look for in a Dedicated 3PL Provider
Now that you understand more about the value of finding the right 3PL partner, here’s what you should be looking for from the best.
Print Bind Ship has over 60 years of experience in the printing and fulfillment business. We know how we can help your business grow through optimized supply chain management and know what to do if a problem arises. We’ve worked with all types of businesses across all major industries. Most importantly, we take a proactive approach to every client and order and make sure that we’re always working with your best intentions in mind.
We offer faster, more efficient shipping by doing everything in one place. Instead of having to wait for your orders to go from the printer to the warehouse and then onto shipping, it’s all done right here, and we can ensure that all of your shipping and freight transport is done as affordably and efficiently as possible.
Speaking of affordable, having the ability to handle so many of your logistics by working with one 3PL partner like Print Bind Ship gives you the cost-effective solution you’ve been looking for. We’ll work with you to create a custom solution, and you’ll only pay for what you need. Plus, you’ll get the best rates and when we find savings, we’ll pass them on to you.
The modern world of order fulfillment cannot function without virtual integration. Our integrated technology solutions will allow you to connect to your e-commerce platforms and other sites so that you can consistently monitor your inventory, provide accurate stock levels to customers and keep everything streamlined for easy order and inventory tracking.
Depending on your business and your specific needs, you may be looking for a partner that offers more than just a fulfillment center. Other companies may be able to warehouse and deliver your goods or even produce and ship them on demand, but what else can they do for you? The more parts of your supply chain you can assign to one person or partner, the more streamlined your operations will be.
At Print Bind Ship, we offer a variety of services that go beyond a basic warehouse management system. We actively partner with brands to manufacture and print custom merchandise and products.
For instance, we have the most advanced, high-quality printing machines and methods to ensure your materials come out looking perfectly professional every time.
If you need assistance with printing or producing, we have solutions for you. Take a look at some of the additional services beyond the 3PL space that Print Bind Ship offers.
- Hardcover and softcover book printing
- Spiral-bound book printing
- Package design
- Custom-printed boxes
- Subscription box fulfillment
- Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) provider
- Direct mail campaign management
- Warehouse storage
- Next-day air service
- Large-format printing
- Product launch kits
- Kitting services
- Book printing and binding
- Pamphlet printing
- Promotional product printing
And all of this is in addition to our full-service logistics solutions that will save your business time and money in so many ways.
Partner With Print Bind Ship for 3PL Success Every Time
Print Bind Ship is a leading third-party logistics provider that also offers a variety of services to help your business improve efficiency, break into new markets and scale. While you could hire one logistics partner and a different manufacturing company, it can be even more cost-efficient to choose a company that can do it all. That’s exactly what you get when you partner with Print Bind Ship.
If you are ready to expand your operations at a fraction of the cost and get a lot of the work off your plate, Print Bind Ship is ready to help. We can handle everything from printing small runs, large runs and printing on demand to warehousing, shipping and distribution. We also can help with marketing and other fulfillment solutions.
Our professional teams understand what it takes to deliver efficient service with high-quality results, and we’re ready to get started, so call us today.
3PL, or third-party logistics, refers to outsourcing e-commerce logistics to a third-party business. A 3PL will take over inventory management, warehousing, fulfillment and more, saving your business time and money.
3PL providers offer a range of services, including transportation management, inventory management, order fulfillment, warehousing, customs brokerage and packaging and labeling.
3PL services can help businesses reduce costs, improve efficiency and focus on core competencies. They can also provide access to a wider network of carriers and resources, advanced technology and expertise in regulatory requirements.
Businesses should consider factors such as experience and reputation, services offered, technology and infrastructure, geographic reach, pricing and fees and customer service and support.
Although most people imagine 3PL partners are primarily for e-commerce businesses, they can also be used by companies across various other industries, including healthcare, manufacturing and entertainment.