We often consider third-party logistics (3PL) as one of the final jigsaw pieces in the expansion puzzle. Once you’ve done the first 5 steps in our success pathway, your business and products are compliant, you’ve launched into the EU, optimized your listings and started promotion. You might want to look at getting that little bit extra out of your international eCommerce venture and maybe getting some cost savings to really eek out the highest profit margin you can.
Shipping goods directly from China or the US into the EU is not a cost-effective way of doing it – especially with Amazon’s increasingly restrictive inventory storage limitations, the lowering Inventory performance index (IPI) mean you have to regularly send small shipments which is just too costly and take too long.
Another benefit of 3PL Storage Facilities and Fulfilment Centres such as those we have in the UK and EU are it allows you to ship direct from the marketplace or your own website direct to the customer. While Amazon has its own storage and fulfilment centres that handle this, other platforms such as eBay, Etsy, OnBuy your own Shopify or other web store and others do not. While you can get by storing goods out of your garage and sending to your buyers yourself as orders are low as you grow doing this regularly to keep up with the demand is not feasible and you’ll need to find a proper warehouse solution to store and fulfill products.
A good 3PL should be set up with software that can assist you with this, able to pull in stock information from all your different marketplace platforms as well as when orders are made to make appropriate picks of the relevant products and pack them off to be fulfilled. This is really key, the transparency of the stock you’ve got in a warehouse, you can see it at any point in time you’re able to glance into your dashboard and find out what stock is available. So that you can make sure you’ve got enough, you can plan ahead, you can project your sales, and make sure there’s enough stock in the warehouse, and that you’re able to sell and this software can be linked to your marketplaces. This is perfect if you’re looking for greater stock control and flexibility.
A good provider should be able to bring in the returns, they can work with you to get those back into inventory, and maximizing your sales in the marketplace. And they should also offer a quality check on the arrival of the facility from the supplier. So there may be issues with as they’ve come over maybe damaged stock, damaged some of the boxes, so you can be notified of that and again, and get us to solve the problem quickly and get your stock back into the inventory. we would then work with the client and talk them through it. We would then take pictures and show them what we’ve learned. arrived, and we would quality check if there was any major damage with boxes
You’ll also get more of a tailored solution for your business, for example you might decide that you want to create a bundle so that you’re selling and reacting to the market needs quite quickly. So you can create that bundled listing within the eCommerce platform, and then work with your account manager to create those bundles within the warehouse so that they can start getting shipped right away. With a platform like Amazon, you wouldn’t be able to bundle existing goods within an FBA centre as they are unable to repackage items and it would effect the stock levels of the individual SKU’s being bundled. Instead, would have to have another pre-bundled shipment sent into a Amazon. Another thing 3PL providers would be able to do is with your assistance create product inserts that they can include in the packaging of products as they fulfill them that can include all sorts of information. From asking for feedback, offering a discount code etc so long as it abides by the terms of service of the platform you’re selling on, product inserts can be a really powerful strategy you can’t do with most providers such as Amazon.
So hopefully we’ve given you some information as to why you should consider a 3PL Storage facility and fulfilment center. It’s really key that as you grow, you’ve got a provider you can trust and build a relationship with and that you can help you to expand. You don’t want to have to change warehouse every year because of Amazon’s ever-changing limits causing you to run out of space. But above all, you need a team that delivers amazing service. So if you are looking for 3PL then we would love to quote you and give you a price and talk about what that looks like for your individual business.