You may not know it yet, but the best partner for your small eCommerce business may very well be a third-party logistics firm.
As your company grows, being partnered with a 3PL can lighten the load — and since they only charge you based on the resources you use, their cost can be minimal compared to the increase in business. Of course, that’s not all — it never is, is it?
Here are some ways that a 3PL can be a small business’s best friend:
Moving the warehouse out of your house. There’s only so much of your own space you can afford to fill with merchandise as your business grows. Eventually, you’ll be forced to find somewhere outside of your home or small retail location in order to store your products and properly do your order fulfillment. A good 3rd party logistics company has no such problems and offers a variable amount of space, depending on your needs and budget at the time. Your warehousing can shrink or expand at will without wasting space or destroying your budget.
Shipping packages at top speeds. It’s hard enough for you to get your packages boxed and labeled on the same day your customers place their orders, let alone convince anyone to move them fast enough from your West Coast location to your customers in New England. That’s not a problem for your 3PL, though. They have warehouses strategically placed so that your orders always make it out the door quickly and arrive on time, no matter where your customers happen to be.
Handling your product returns. There are few things that affect customer satisfaction as dramatically as how a company deals with product returns. Of course you want to do right by your customers, but sometimes order fulfillment takes priority over product returns. When you have a 3PL by your side, they can handle the reverse logistics and the returns process according to your specific instructions. If you want to provide a paid shipping label, they’ll make sure your customers get one — all you have to do is say the word.
Monitoring your shifting inventories. Believe it or not, a 3PL is a pretty advanced place where your products are stored with great care. As new inventory is brought in or existing inventory goes out, your 3PL uses bar code scanning to track each and every item. This way, your inventories are always up to date and you never run out of merchandise. If you let them, your 3PL can even reorder items for you as your stock runs low, saving you even more time and trouble.
Running a small business can be a stressful undertaking, especially if you’re mostly going it alone. There’s no reason you have to be a one man army, though, when you partner with a 3rd party logistics company. They give you a great opportunity to expand your operation limitlessly without having to hire and train a huge staff — it’s a win-win situation for everyone.