The following is a guest post by Deliverr, Inc.
Murphy's Law is the theme of supply chain management for 2022 and the next few years. The New York Times says we’re unlikely to see a normal supply chain this year, and according to Fast Company, we shouldn’t expect issues like paralyzed ports, higher freight rates, and mass worker exodus to resolve anytime soon.
Tides are shifting on the consumer side as well. In a recent survey, 80% of online shoppers expect to track their in-transit packages. 70% would be “very upset” if their delivery was late, and 47% are happy to spend more if it means faster shipping.
Add the aftershock of COVID-19, a string of natural disasters, plus a $5.5 trillion eCommerce market, and it’s the perfect storm of chaos and opportunity. While many of these instances are beyond your control, agile solutions like partnering with a 3PL (third-party logistics) provider can help you weather any supply chain storm and strategically position your inventory close to your demand.
How a 3PL Can Protect Your Supply Chain in 2022
A 3PL is a company providing outsourced transportation and related logistics services to eCommerce businesses. They are distinct from 1PL and 2PL providers in that they provide a range of services necessary to move products from point A to point B, including:
- Warehouse and storage
- Inventory management
- Packing and repacking
- Freight forwarding
- Order fulfillment and distribution
- Consulting and information technology
3PL providers help mitigate supply chain issues both now and in the future. Here’s how a strategic 3PL partner beats navigating challenges on your own:
1. Take the Stress Out of Freight Management
The current freight ecosystem is broken (and has been for years) as it requires a lot of coordination, offers limited visibility, and lacks guarantee for your business.
As an eCommerce merchant, your logistics needs go beyond fulfillment. You need to get your inventory from ports, store pallets of inventory, and ship that inventory to businesses. With Deliverr Freight, you can streamline your entire freight system through a simplified solution offering hassle-free service, clear and competitive pricing, and fast and predictable transit times.
Within the Deliverr Freight service, you can mix and match the following services to customize your logistics infrastructure:
- Drayage and Transloading
- Time Guaranteed LTL
- Truckload Services
During these processes, Deliverr does all the work, so you don’t have to. This includes selecting the best carrier, optimizing routes, managing paperwork, negotiating for lower rates, and providing you with a single point of contact for any issues that may arise—saving you time and money so you can focus on your company's core competencies.
2. Unlock Scalable Solutions and Flexible Pricing
All businesses grow over time, but not every business grows at the same rate. For example, if your eCommerce business experiences a surge in profit each year during a particular season (e.g., the winter holidays), you don't want to pay for services that you only need one month out of the year. You also want to be prepared for spikes in demand by positioning your inventory and replenishment close to demand or having options to move inventory quickly where needed.
A reputable 3PL provides flexible pricing solutions so that your business is paying for exactly what it needs at each stage of growth. This is often more cost-effective than hiring your own employees or outsourcing to an agency, which may or may not meet your company's needs all year round.
3. Leverage State-of-the-Art Inventory Tracking
Advanced inventory tracking is one of the keyways a 3PL can help you reduce supply chain issues. For instance, you get access to sophisticated warehouse management systems (WMS) for real-time monitoring. Know when your products are being loaded onto a truck, where they're in transit, and the moment they arrive at your customer's doorstep.
Smarter demand forecasting is another advantage of having a 3PL partner. No more guessing when you need to restock inventory. Using historical sales data and analytics, you’ll know exactly how much product you need, when you need it, and minimize deadstock along the way.
Finally, some 3PLs also offer automated reordering and restocking. When you get close to running out of a product, their system can automatically generate an order so it’s ready when you need it. This helps you avoid stock-outs while also reducing labor costs associated with manual reordering processes.
4. One-Click Integrations
Modern eCommerce businesses rely on a plethora of software, from eCommerce platforms to CRMs and order entry. A strategic 3PLpartner should provide customizable, one-click integrations with some of the most popular sales tools, such as direct sales channel tools like Amazon, Walmart, and eBay, inventory management systems like Ecomdash and Listing Mirror, and listing tools like SellBrite. This provides your business with a 180-degree view of your sales and supply chain.
5. Keep Your Supply Chain Compliant with Federal and State Regulations
Regulatory compliance is another invaluable benefit of working with an experienced 3PL. They can help you make sure that your supply chain complies with all federal and state regulations—even as those regulations change over time. For example, if you’re within the CPG category, a 3PL like Deliverr can guarantee that all perishable items are temperature-controlled from the time of pickup through final delivery.
For other industries, they can also help make sure your shipment does not exceed certain weight limits or that it’s properly marked as a hazardous material if need be to avoid any legal issues.
6. Avoid Lost Production Cycles with Inventory Prep Services
With no signs of supply chain issues improving anytime soon, it’s now more important than ever to ensure your inventory is accurately prepared for downstream fulfillment to avoid costly lost production cycles.
If an item gets damaged, is non-compliant, or is rejected by your downstream fulfillment provider, you risk lost inventory—especially if supply chain constraints are keeping you from inbounding more inventory.
Utilizing a 3PL like Deliverr for your prep services, you have a team of compliance experts to prepare products for downstream fulfillment to ensure you don’t face:
- Lost production cycles
- Provider rejections
- Non-compliance fees
- Constrained inventory
7. They Help Store Excess Inventory for On-Demand Use
In a modern logistics infrastructure, you need the flexibility to adjust to rapidly changing market conditions in the supply chain.
Storing excess inventory at a 3PL warehouse allows you to have on-hand inventory “just in case” to avoid stockouts when demand is at its highest. With Deliverr Reserve Storage, for example, all combinations of inbound and outbound get taken into account for an inventory flow so flexible it’s a competitive advantage for your business. Your products will get to their destination way faster and at a much lower cost than with multiple 3PLs. Whether you’re using Deliverr’s fulfillment network, FBA, B2B, or your own warehousing, Reserve Storage connects your inventory to your demand across any channel, anytime, anywhere.
8. 24/7 Supply Chain Support
Finally, the peace of mind 3PL providers bring to the table is absolutely priceless. Whether it’s 3AM on a Sunday or Christmas Eve, you can be sure that someone’s taking care of your shipments. A strategic 3PL partner will offer support services via a chatbot, email, video/phone call, or help center articles at no extra cost to you.
With the right partner, no task is too big.
All in all, teaming up with a 3PL for eCommerce fulfillment is one of the best ways to future-proof your business in 2022 and beyond. They can help you secure the weak links in your supply chain, keep your customers happy, and stay competitive in the face of global instability.
Deliverr provides modern logistics and fast fulfillment to help companies of all sizes achieve 1- and 2-day delivery and simplify their operations.
With a vast network of more than 50 warehouses and best-in-class logistics technology, Deliverr helps you meet customer expectations with fast 1- and 2-day fulfillment. We are directly integrated with your eCommerce marketplaces and channels and manage the entire fulfillment process across all your eCommerce channels for maximum visibility.