The term "eFulfillment" includes all the methods and technology needed to get an online order delivered to the customer.
eFulfillment providers manage everything from processing orders at checkout to after-delivery services. As B2B and B2C fulfillment are fundamentally different, you can find providers that cater specifically to these needs.
Why do I need a fulfillment services provider?
If demand outgrows your capacity to handle order fulfillment, then it is time to consider outsourcing your business logistics.
At this stage, some eCommerce businesses prefer to handle inventory management on their own in order to save money on order fulfillment costs.
However, this could be bad for business because:
- Inventory can become disorganized due to the lack of manpower required for handling it
- Time spent on fulfillment cuts into your time needed to work on business growth and marketing
- You don't have access to the resources needed to run a centralized and computerized warehouse on your own
Warehousing is a tedious job that requires not only experience, but technology and workforce too.
What does 3PL mean?
"3PL" stands for “third-party logistics”. They are fulfillment services providers who manage all aspects of order fulfillment for you. 3PL services do everything from storing, pick and pack, shipping, tracking the shipment, all the way to the delivery of items. Some can even manage returns for you.
As these companies will be responsible for an important part of the customer experience, it's best to thoroughly evaluate your options to ensure they can solve the issues that you are facing.
What should you look for in a 3PL services provider?
Here's what you should consider when interviewing a potential 3PL provider.
- Costs. Are they affordable for you? Do their services cater to your business needs? Are they transparent in their pricing? For example, some fulfillment services charge per item, while others may have monthly and yearly billing statements. Learn more about the common order fulfillment costs you can expect to find.
- Peak volume handling. If you are extremely busy during certain seasonal periods, you should ask your potential provider how they handle peak order times and how accurate they are in fulfilling these orders.
- Technology. eCommerce demands your service to be technologically advanced. If a potential 3PL services provider is using outdated technology, you can face issues like loss of tracking, mishandling of orders, and more.
- A warehouse visit. While inquiring about services over the phone or via email is a great way to get information, it's even more beneficial to actually do a warehouse visit. You can see for yourself if this warehouse meets your personal standards, and ask important questions about maintenance, labor force, and more.
While doing your research, reading our post on warehousing mistakes you should avoid can help you be better prepared in finding the right 3PL for your business.
If you've made the decision to outsource your fulfillment process, we do offer third-party fulfillment options at Easyship. We've taken the time to completely vet our warehousing partners to ensure they provide quality services and simple pricing. Learn more.