3pl2.jpgThe emergence of e-commerce and shopping for just about anything being only a click away makes it important to have a well oiled supply chain management system. With endless product lines and delivery times that are faster than ever, online only retailers have become the one stop shops for many. In order to ensure timely deliveries e-commerce stores need to handle issues of inventory, packaging, warehousing, shipping, and tracking.

Logistics are a part of online shopping where complexities can arise and this is why online retailers need third party logistic providers also called 3PL. Outsourcing logistical requirements to a service provider that specializes in different areas such as handling inventory and delivering products.

3PL services include supply chain management, warehousing, consolidation service, and order fulfillment. E-tailers cannot afford to have in-house logistic services to have all the above functions performed for the e-fulfillment of an order or transaction. The e-commerce apparel sites thrive on standing by their promise to deliver as quickly as they can and at the same time ensure the product to be in sound state while it is received by the buyer. The following are a few services 3PL chiefly concentrate in:

Warehousing The number of online only stores are on a rise in the apparel e-commerce scene, which makes having a physical space to store products essential. 3PL services provide warehousing requirements without having to invest in a physical location and take care of the technological needs of running such a place. Moreover, processing transactions with 3PL companies is cost effective, since e-tailers can spread their overheads over multiple clients.

Consolidation Service One of the many services third party logistics provide is of freight or cargo consolidation, where in many small packages are clubbed into one big package. This lowers the cost of shipping significantly. This is done mainly when orders to a specific location are large in numbers.

Order fulfillment In online shopping the key to customer satisfaction is fulfilling the order. There are things that require more focus than just delivering the products. Third party logistics make sure the package reaches at the right place, at the right time, and in appropriate condition.

Value added services 3PL channels today provide the facilities of repacking, sub-assemblies, and just-in-time services to suit the retailer's supply chain needs. Advanced logistics provider use latest technologies like Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Systems Applications and Products (SAP) software for inventory tracking and data processing of orders respectively. Returns management is also an area 3PL handle by providing the facilities of reverse logistics and product lifecycle management services.

Small and medium scale online apparel retailers are making the most of this facility. The apparel e-commerce market is flooding with new companies every day, and hence the matter of delivering products in the shortest span of time arises. If an e-commerce site is unable to fulfill the order in 48 hours, then customers quickly move to another website or prefer buying it from a physical store. Many e-tailers are also providing the privilege of speeding up the process of delivery by giving the option of receiving products ordered on the very same day. Such competitive conditions call for partnering with professional services of 3PL.

The following are the benefits that make 3PL the secret weapon in achieving customer satisfaction:

1. Secure & Reliable: A 3PL system has information of multiple e-tailers and lets them view their mobility with the warehouse. Moreover, the 3PL manages efficiently storage and logistics of a product without any hassle. This lets online retailers breathe a sigh of relief without having to manage the post purchase processing of orders.

2. Transparency: Most e-tailers offer the facility to track and trace the orders to their customers, which can be possible only with the help of a good 3PL company. They also provide the benefit of accessing their data from any place and at all times.

3. Flexibility & Scalability: Third party logistics provide the flexibility and scalability to small, medium and large scale e-tailers. 3PL deliver products both with scale and dependability without compromising on the service or quality.

3pl3.jpgSupply chain is of the utmost importance to apparel retailers doing business online and in-store. Any imbalance in the chain can disturb the product flow, drain profits, and result in customer dissatisfaction. Transport is the biggest challenge faced by minor and major e-tailers everywhere. A third party logistics provider with smart solutions and their efficient management make everything work better.

3PL companies lessen the burden and let e-tailers concentrate on their core competencies, driving efficiency, and supporting more profitable operations. Rising incomes of the middle class in emerging economies and rapid assimilation of e-commerce are posing new charges on lengthening supply lines and inflation in conventional low-cost manufacturing countries. Having an organized, streamlined, and the best possible supply chain operations make 3PL companies the backbone of online shopping.


1.      Logisticsviewpoints.com

2.      Inboundlogistics.com

3.      E-commerce.about.com

Image Courtesy:

1.      Blog.godependable.com

2.      Xllogisticsblog.com