Logistics for On-Line Retailers: 4 Ways a 3PL Helps Distribution

Logistics for On-Line Retailers: 4 Ways a 3PL Helps Distribution

Online retailers have changed the way people shop.  In fact, 40% of males and 33% of females age 18-34; claim that they would buy everything online if possible.  Furthermore, by 2020 U.S. online sales are forecasted to eclipse $523 billion.  Not only are these new e-commerce avenues shaping the way consumers spend money, they are also directly impacting the traditional brick-and-mortar outlets.  Places like Target and Wal-Mart have both made major online overhauls and rolled out different shipping options and packages for their customers. 

One key advantage that e-commerce retailers have over traditional stores is the lack of overhead obligations that accompany a storefront.  However, on the flip side, the well-established national and international brands also have developed supply chains and infrastructure.  This is where a third party logistics(3PL) partner can step in and support an online retailer. 

Here are four ways that 3PL’s help to support fulfillment and distribution for e-commerce companies:

1.) Omni-Channel Fulfillment:  More orders are coming in from more places and across more devices than ever before.  Internet Retailer reported that mobile orders accounted for nearly 30% of e-commerce sales.  A 3PL can manage the operations demanded by omni-channel fulfillment.  Packaging, timing, accuracy, and even returns can all be handled effectively and efficiently.

2.) Access to IT: This sector is technological by nature.  It only makes sense that in order to capture and carry out these orders that an appropriate level of technology is also available.  While investing in high level solutions like a WMSTMS or other warehousing upgrades can be expensive, leveraging a 3PL with this infrastructure can make a lot sense.  Improving visibility and having the ability to integrate with vendors and other operational areas is invaluable.

3.) Human Resource Management: If you have a seasonal business it wouldn’t make sense to staff and support a warehouse or personnel all year long.  However, it also wouldn’t be ideal to attempt to hire and train during your peak season.  A 3PL can optimize a workforce around the order demand your business faces.  This means that you will have a qualified, capable staff when you need it, and you can save money and resources when you don’t.

4.) Supply Chain Management:  Each step of the supply has different challenges and demands.  Keeping up with the logistics side of your e-commerce operation can be a complex responsibility.  A 3PL not only has the expertise and experience in place, they also understand the different, industry-specific responsibilities that are present.

While the e-commerce world shows no signs of slowing down, and consumers continue to become smarter, all while having more options than ever before; supply chain management will only grow in necessity.  Barrett Distribution Centers uses a focus on visibility and technology to oversee and improve e-commerce supply chains.