The rise in e-commerce transactions has drastically changed how supply chain managers have helped companies organize and dispatch their products. More specifically, e-commerce has placed unique burdens on transportation as the number of home deliveries and returns has skyrocketed over recent years.
Why Ecommerce Needs 3PLs
There is no doubt big online retail companies like Amazon have influenced the current logistics industry and will continue to do so. Consumers can do one-click shopping for just about anything and have it delivered to their door steps. However, many logistical steps happen before that package ever makes it to the buyer. This is why it is so 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 companies and individuals. To ensure timely deliveries, e-commerce stores need to handle issues of inventory, packaging, warehousing, shipping, and tracking. Choosing the right 3PL is imperative for this process to be successful.
Amazon and Walmart are forcing small and medium-scale online apparel retailers to ensure the delivery of their packages on time. If an eCommerce company cannot fulfill the order in 48 hours, customers find another website offering the same type of product with faster delivery. E-tailers are offering the privilege of faster delivery by allowing buyers to receive products ordered on the very same day. These conditions create an extremely competitive environment in eCommerce and require e-tailers to find partners such as ECT offering professional 3PL services.
Logistics are crucial for online shopping where the complexities can easily happen, and this is why online retailers are required to have a reliable third-party logistic providers (3PLs). Outsourcing logistical requirements to a service provider that specializes in different areas such as handling inventory and delivering products.
3PL services include things such as supply chain management, warehousing, consolidation service, load transfers, and order fulfillment. Most smaller E-tailers cannot afford to have an in-house logistic department to have all the above functions performed for the e-fulfillment of an order or transaction. The e-commerce apparel sites promote their ability to deliver as quickly as they can and at the same time ensure the product to be in a sound state during transit. The following are a few services 3PL chiefly concentrate in:
3PL Fulfillment: Transportation
These strains on transportation require more efficient and reliable route planning that takes into account not only the number of deliveries a driver must make but also the location of each final destination so as to save time and fuel. But other factors must be taken into consideration as well. Traffic patterns throughout the day obviously affect the amount of time it takes the driver to complete all of the scheduled deliveries. Furthermore, unexpected delays, such as severe accidents or inclement weather, can throw a wrench into a carefully planned route.
Many supply chain managers have adapted to use route planning software. These programs allow transporters to quickly input addresses, and the software generates an ideal route. This takes away from the tedious and time-consuming process of manually creating delivery routes. Route planning software can also flag users when an address seems out of place or inconsistent with other data. Such notifications can bring attention to potential typos in addresses.
3PL Fulfillment: Storage Space
Transportation is just one area that needs adjustment as e-commerce continues to surge. As reliance upon e-commerce and home delivery continues to escalate, the supply chain’s need for storage space grows as well. Increases in online orders coupled with rises in returns require companies to have plentiful storage space or warehouses, as well as an efficient system for organizing and locating products as they are turned around for delivery. Without such a system, products become misplaced and shipments miss delivery deadlines.
3PL Fulfillment: Meeting Consumer Expectations
E-commerce has not only had an effect on the process by which supply chains operate, but also has modified consumer expectations. Nowadays, customers anticipate their packages will arrive on the predicted arrival date and rely on tracking notifications to follow the route of their merchandise as it travels from the warehouse to their home or business. Additionally, several customers elect to have their goods shipped the same day or may request that the goods purchased be shipped to multiple addresses. All these new expectations present additional challenges for supply chain managers as e-commerce continues to become a more popular form of consumerism.
3PL Fulfillment: Warehousing
The number of online only stores are on the 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. Processing transactions with 3PL companies are profitable since e-tailers can spread their overheads over multiple clients.
Consolidation Services: One of the many services third-party logistics providers of freight, cold load, or cargo consolidation, wherein many small packages are clubbed into one big package. This process lowers the cost of shipping significantly. It is done mainly when orders to a particular location are large in numbers. ECT is very adept at figuring out the best way to get shipments from point A to point B using consolidation techniques with their drivers.
3PL Fulfillment: Order Fulfillment
In online shopping, the key to customer happiness and satisfaction is order fulfillment. Third-party logistics make sure the package reaches the right place, at the right time, and in inappropriate conditions, especially when perishables are transported.
3PL Fulfillment: Value-Added Services
3PL channels often offer facilities for repacking, sub-assemblies, and especially for the just-in-time services to adequately support the retailer’s supply chain needs. Advanced logistics providers use the latest technologies like Warehouse Management Systems software for tracking loads and data processing of orders. Likewise, returns management is an area that 3PLs handle by providing the facilities of reverse logistics and product lifecycle management services.
Moving forward, 3PLs must continue to adapt to the change presented by the growing e-commerce market. Capitalizing on innovative ways to address the notable transformations and challenges that e-commerce presents will continue to ensure a successful and relevant logistics management company. By embracing the various modifications in supply chain management that e-commerce brings about, 3PLs can continue to serve retailers in these modern times.