It's no secret that eCommerce sales are the way of the future. With over three billion packages shipped in the 2020 holiday season alone, retailers, suppliers, and couriers are scrambling to keep up with demand – which means scaling up their businesses in more ways than one.
The good news? eCommerce brands are perfectly primed for rapid growth and success. The not-so-good news? As your business grows, so does your list of roles and responsibilities. You need to balance growth-driven marketing and sales tactics with the internal ones that quite literally keep your business running behind closed doors: warehouse management, order fulfillment, and retailer relations.
The best way to scale your business effectively and wave goodbye to that ever-growing workload? Let an external provider manage your logistics operations, so they don't stunt your growth.
An outsourced logistics partner, also known as a third-party logistics provider (3PL), can handle all of the backend operations so that you can focus on expansion, marketing, and the heart of your business. A right-fit 3PL will bring years of expertise to the table, but they'll also adapt their strategies and services to complement each phase of your organizational growth.
In this post, we'll highlight five ways an outsourced logistics partner can support business development and keep your fulfillment operations running smoothly.
Accuracy is the cornerstone of a practical order fulfillment process; sending the correct products to the correct recipients is make or break. Unhappy customers won't give you repeat business and will likely share their negative experiences online, making it even more challenging for your brand to bounce back from a mishap – or a mis-ship.
However, order accuracy goes far beyond sending a box to the right address. It includes highly regulated packing, handling, and shipping protocols for every order that leaves the warehouse — which only gets more complicated as you introduce specialized services. A third-party logistics partner can manage order fulfillment processes for:
The best part? A 3PL can simplify complex processes by introducing best practices into your existing operations, such as retailer documentation or detailed assembly guides to make fulfillment processes even clearer.
Manual processes may work for emerging small businesses, but growing brands need a more efficient way to manage inventory, track order statuses, and keep up with regulations.
Partnering with a 3PL makes the daunting process of going digital much more achievable. The 3PL you choose should employ a flexible Warehouse Management System (WMS) that ensures each aspect of your logistics operations is clear, effective, and error-free. With a reliable WMS, you can:
When leveraged by an expert team of logistics specialists, these software tools can future-proof your fulfillment practices and set your teams up for success. 3PLs don't simply monitor critical operations and alert you to any concerns. They also have the industry expertise to remediate errors and inform future strategies based on your system data.
As your business grows, it can be tempting to introduce new processes ad-hoc – sending each carton separately as orders come through or using the same sized pallet for every retail shipment. However, this approach won't benefit your wallet in the long run.
Instead, you can tap into a 3PL's robust resources and knowledgeable team of experts. Logistics providers typically have access to larger warehouses, newer technologies, and deeper data than an individual supplier. Plus, they can define the most cost-effective options for order fulfillment by identifying which packing, picking, and shipping options will deliver the best end product while still keeping your profit margins high.
3PLs know when to use master cartons, opt for bulk packing, or add a new vendor to your source list. Plus, they ensure each cost-saving initiative won't impact customer experience, retailer handling, or industry regulations, which means you can employ new processes with the peace of mind that your partner will see them through to success.
As you build brand awareness across new markets, how do you keep that momentum going on the backend?
Top-tier 3PL partners can ensure you satisfy customers even as you expand beyond your local network by leveraging their centrally located fulfillment centers. That way, you can reach domestic retailers and consumers in two days or less. Unlike shipping from your local post office or with one-off FedEx labels, shipping through a 3PL improves delivery times for recipients far beyond your home state or local network.
Reliable ship times don't just impress your end-users; they also improve retailer relations. Most retailers have strict requirements on when and how they'll accept deliveries, and missing the mark can damage your rapport with these valuable business partners. However, when you deliver accurate orders on-time, every time, retailers are more likely to place larger orders or start carrying your products at more locations.
The right 3PL partner will take the time to understand the ins-and-outs of your business before sending over a contract. As a result, they'll feel like an extension of your organization.
A 3PL partner can also offer adaptable solutions as you scale, like value-added services to support new markets, product lines, and long-term strategies in line with your overarching business goals.
As you start your search, look for an outsourcing partner that's well-versed in industry practices and committed to your business beyond just your logistics operations. From there, they should work with you to define a custom solution, then offer reliable support every step of the way.
Whether you've just acquired your first retailer or you're taking a profitable local business country-wide, Materialogic can help.
We offer end-to-end 3PL services, backed by decades of logistics and eCommerce expertise, a robust WMS, and a deep commitment to our clients' success. Reach out to our team of experts today to explore our solutions.