When you started your business, you had no idea how quickly it would grow.
What began as a few orders a week turned into a few orders a day and now you’re spending more time packing boxes and hanging out at the post office than you do updating your website. You’re not alone — it’s a problem many small business owners face as their reach expands and their brands start seeing a great deal of success.
You’re going to need some help if you expect to keep your growing customer base happy for long — that’s where a 3rd party logistics company comes in.
How a 3PL Can Help
There are many kinds of 3PLs out there, but if you want one that caters specifically to eCommerce or small- to medium-sized retailers, you’ll need to find a full service logistics company.
These companies have the manpower and capacity to take over from the moment your customer places their order. This can be handy if you’re still a very small business, since it frees you up to focus on maintaining your website, marketing and reordering inventory.
Here are a few things a 3PL can do for you:
Accepting shipments. Looking for shipments and dealing with damaged boxes can take a big chunk out of your day. Instead of waiting for the UPS guy, your 3PL can arrange for delivery of your merchandise straight to their warehouse — no muss, no fuss. Their relationships with various shippers make it easier for a 3PL to get guarantees on delivery times so they don’t waste a moment of the day.
Scalable warehousing and distribution. As your business grows, you need a partner that can grow with you. That’s why a 3PL makes such a nice addition to your team. Their expansive warehouses and well-trained employees can easily handle one or one hundred of your boxes. Since you only pay for what you use, the cost isn’t prohibitive to hold a little extra stock back or to start shipping more packages.
Literature fulfillment. You’ve probably thought about having a print catalog or some glossy fliers, but never really had the time to put them together. Every small business has those pet projects that don’t quite come to pass, unfortunately. Literature fulfillment is a service many 3PLs offer to their partners, allowing them to send out catalogs, coupons and mailers without the tedious process of creating and packaging it all.
Reverse logistics. Returns can make or break your customer service experience. When you get too busy to handle your customers’ returns, products that are re-sellable go out of fashion or expire, costing you even more. Having someone else handle your reverse logistics means that your customers will get better, faster service and your products have a chance to be resold before they’re old news.
Finding a 3PL solution for your growing business might just be the best move you’ve made to ensure that your company has a long and fruitful future. By partnering with a knowledgeable logistics company that can fill various roles regular employees would have played, you’ll save money, too.