The process of order fulfillment starts from the moment an order is placed till it is delivered to the customer. Order fulfillment also has a decent hand in defining customer experience. Consider your product being delivered to your customer 2 days late or in a damaged condition – what kind of impact would your brand leave? Therefore, many companies turn to third party logistics companies, like ProConnect Integrated Logistics, for their order fulfillment – this is essentially 3PL Fulfillment.
What is 3PL Fulfillment?
Order fulfillment involves receiving inventory, processing the order, picking and packing goods as per the order and shipping it to the customer. All of these steps need to be well planned to ensure these are carried out in the most cost efficient and time sensitive way.
A 3PL, third party logistics company, are companies experts in organizing and handling supply chain aspects of other companies. These include shipping, clearance, warehousing, fulfillment, distribution, and many other value-added services.
As 3PLs are experts in their domain, many businesses prefer outsourcing their fulfillment to them, as they optimize the process, help in cost reduction and provide many value-added services – this is essentially known as 3PL fulfillment. When appointing a 3PL for your fulfillment process, you are actually entrusting them with all the functions and responsibility that comes with order fulfillment – which also provides you with possibly lesser freight forwarding and storage costs, better IT system capabilities and skilled warehouse staff.
Services Offered By 3PL Fulfillment
A 3PL, like ProConnect Integrated Logistics, undertakes not only all the processes that come under fulfillment, i.e inbound and outbound operations, but also offers more than just that. Here is list of activities that 3PLs undertake for fulfillment operations –
Receiving Goods – A 3PL can only ship your products to the customers when they have stock available. The 3PLs receive goods in their warehouse or storage facility on your behalf, do the required quality and quantity check, label the product and put away the items in their assigned storage location.
Inventory Management – WMS enabled, integrated IT system, which the 3PLs usually have, help in keeping the inventory levels in check, provide stock reports, stock replenishment signals and even help in accelerating the process of fulfillment. 3PLs also sort the received inventory in different SKUs and put away in shelves, racks or bins.
While with some 3PLs, it is required to upload orders on their system manually, these days many 3PLs integrate their system with yours – this helps in reducing the fulfillment time and making it seamless.
Picking and Packing – The actual fulfillment operation starts once a customer places order of your product. The picking team is assigned with a picking list that details the SKUs, their quantity and the warehouse location, to pool all the ordered items.
Once all the items are pooled, the packing process starts as per the order. The items are packed as per your guidelines and allow you to highlight your branding on the package as well. The packing material used depends on the SKUs and per your guidelines – it could be corrugated boxes, bubble wraps, packing tape, dunnage, or even customized packing material.
Kitting and Assembling – You may have bundle offers or multiple SKUs to be sent to a single customer, in such cases, 3PLs offer Kitting and Assembling service to pack multiple items as a bundle and ship them. Eg. When a customer orders multiple SKUs of apparel, or orders an apparel and an accessory from your brand – they can be easily kitted together and packed.
Shipping – Once the items in the order are picked and packed, the next step is shipping. A 3PL first undergoes the quality check, generates labels, AWB, manifests and sends out the item for shipping. Many 3PLs have their own shipping partner network or favorable carriers to undergo this step while many evaluate several quotes and choose the most suitable one for shipping. Once your products are shipped, the 3PL shares the tracking code with you / your customer, depending on the system integration.
In case of last mile delivery, a few 3PLs have their own fleet of last mile delivery vans, while others choose to partner with a last mile delivery company to fulfill orders.
Reverse Logistics – This is an important operations step if you deal in e-commerce biz. Reverse logistics function involves product returns from your customers. Many 3PLs also handle reverse logistics on your behalf. This involves accepting and picking returns, quality check of the returned items and adding the items back to the inventory, which if in good condition, can be repacked and sold again.
At large, these are the operations undertaken for 3PL fulfillment, however the services and benefits of 3PL fulfillment may differ from company to company,
ProConnect Integrated Logistics For 3PL Fulfillment
Whether you are a startup, small or seasonal business or a big business with large number of orders, 3PL fulfillment companies like ours can be the right choice for you. In addition to our expertise in the domain, we also help you with the best possible shipping rates through our extensive network, hassle free custom clearance process, and end-to-end logistics services. All our 21 warehouses and distribution centers across UAE and Saudi Arabia aim to provide fast fulfillment and distribution solutions across the regions in best delivery times along with our value-added services. If you are looking for a 3PL fulfillment partner, talk to us!