Author: Elizabeth Korda

As an ecommerce seller, managing your business and DIYing (Do It Yourself) fulfillment and shipping can be incredibly challenging to keep up. The logistics side of your business may take up all your time as you’re trying to figure out the right packaging, labeling, and shipping options for your item, which may cause your focus to be spread thin on the customer-facing side. If this is your dilemma, considering a third-party logistics (3PL) provider may not be a bad idea.  

What Is a 3PL and How Does It Work? 

A 3PL is a service that handles logistics and fulfillment operations for e-commerce businesses. 3PLs liaison between the business and the shipping carriers. They can manage inventory, store inventory, pick and pack, label, and ship. Many fulfillment companies have the ability to handle returns and provide a level of customer support to your customers.  

However, all 3PL providers can operate differently. They have their own warehouse management systems and warehouse processes for how everything is received, stored, packaged, and shipped. For this reason, business owners need to be aware of the four types of 3PL providers:  

  • Standard Service – There are some providers who provide a standard service by offering services like transportation and storage.  
  • Service Developer – Next, the service developer supplies the same services as the standard provider but adds information technology (IT) management, security, and compliance management.  
  • Customer Adapter – Further, the customer adapter manages much of the client’s business through marketplace integrations, the entire fulfillment and shipping process, handling rate maintenance, and negotiating with carriers on best deals. This provider’s goal is to be as compatible as possible to match what the seller needs.  
  • Customer Developer – The fourth type of provider is the customer developer. This provider holistically manages and develops the client’s business and develops it for the client. This option can quickly become expensive because the 3PL manages everything from the client’s website and product marketing in addition to the fulfillment and shipping process.  

Things To Consider  

Doing everything yourself can prove difficult considering that it’s usually a team endeavor. You might want to consider making it easier for yourself and your business by allowing the 3PL experts to help. There are five reasons why a 3PL might be the best investment for you. First, it might be worthwhile to consider a 3PL provider if you ship 50-100+ orders a month. Second, a 3PL will be able to aid you with inventory storage, especially if you no longer have room in your personal storage. Third, if you decide that your business is ready to compete with companies that offer 2-day shipping then it might be worth meeting your current customer expectations. Fourth, while the 3PL is helping with logistics management, you will have more time on the marketing/customer-facing side and more control over the total customer experience. Fifth, if your business is booming, but you need help with supply chain management, a 3PL can keep it all organized and coordinated. Most 3PLs have software systems that help manage most aspects of your business, internally and externally (customer-facing).  

Before choosing to go with a 3PL, an ecommerce business owner needs to consider significant factors like price models to fulfillment processes to warehouse locations. Many 3PLs have a pricing chart on their websites and some require you to call to receive a quote. As for the fulfillment processes and warehouse locations, much of that information can be found on 3PL company websites. Please reference the following list for a complete overview of what you (seller) should consider: 

  • What is the shipping time? Is 2-day shipping offered? 
  • Do they have a custom packaging service? 
  • Do they provide customer support on behalf of the seller and process returns? 
  • Is there a minimum number of items a seller needs to fulfil? 
  • Is there a monthly subscription for this 3PL? Any other additional fees excluding fulfillment and shipping? 
  • How many warehouses do they have? Where are they located? 
  • Which marketplaces are they partnered with? 
  • Is their fulfillment software able to integrate with the seller’s website/marketplace? 
  • Are there any testimonials/reviews available from clients who used the service previously? 

Benefits of a 3PL 

As previewed above, there are many benefits to using a 3PL provider. Depending on which 3PL you choose, business time and money will be saved. Further, it is much easier to focus on developing your business and profits when you allow a provider to supply you with logistics and shipping management. In the end, it’s all worth it because when you use a 3PL you can reach more customers and expand your business market. For example, a 3PL like ShipSage has an automated software system which can integrate your product in omnichannel fulfillment with partners like Amazon, Walmart, Chewy, Shopify, Ebay, Wayfair, and more.  

Advantages of ShipSage 

ShipSage offers an end-to-end fulfillment solution through fulfillment by merchant (FBM) and fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). As previously mentioned, ShipSage’s services include warehousing, order fulfillment, omnichannel e-commerce and custom software integrations, shipping, and returns and transfer processes. As a customer adapter, ShipSage’s mission is to customize our services to fit your business needs.  

Because we try to meet our client’s needs as closely as possible, we have no monthly subscription fees and no minimum on order quantities. Further, we also provide 2-day shipping and custom packaging, plus a negotiated deal on shipping costs with major freight carriers. Please refer to the price model below for ShipSage’s FBM costs:  

Fulfillment Service Pricing Model Expenses 
Monthly Fees None  No Reoccurring Monthly Fees 
Receiving Fees Per Pallet/Carton $15.00 per pallet/$2.00 per carton 
Storage Fees Charged only for space used $.60 per cubic foot 
Pick and Pack Fees Per Pick $1.50 per first pick/$.40 per additional pick 
Standard Packing Fees Per Packaging Type ShipSage’s Dynamic Packaging Optimizer chooses the best packaging options for safe and secure delivery  
***Dunnage included within packaging types 
Shipping Fees Specific to the order Varies based on destination, weight, dimensions, carriers, etc.  
Minimum Order Quantities None Ship as little or as much as you want! 

 Furthermore, ShipSage has warehouses all over the United States for convenient distribution of your product to your customers. Please reference the warehouse locations below: 

  • Tracy, CA: 90,000 sq. ft.  
  • Southaven, MS: 90,000 sq. ft. 
  • Allentown, PA: 112,000 sq. ft. 
  • Bolingbrook, IL: 230,000 sq. ft.  

When you find yourself in a bind or juggling too many responsibilities, please reach out! We are equipped with extensive software and manpower to help make the fulfillment and shipping process easier for you. Additionally, once we are in the picture, you will have more time and energy to focus on growing your business. We are glad to be part of the behind-the-scenes process and make it worthwhile for your business. ShipSage has simple pricing, speedy onboarding, and scalable end-to-end solutions. Leave your fulfillment to us!