What Is A 3PL Provider?

Scaling your eCommerce business comes with growing pains—especially with logistics. It’s not always feasible to handle a surge of orders in-house. 

Third-party logistics (3PL) providers exist to take the logistics of selling online out of your hands. You’ll ship stock to their warehouses and sync your eCommerce store with their inventory. Any items ordered online get picked, packed, and shipped by your 3PL electronic commerce fulfillment center.

A 3PL is a partner that helps with an eCommerce store’s supply chain. Instead of having owned warehouses and doing distribution in-house, you have your stock stored in a vendor’s warehouse. Items are automatically shipped from the warehouse to your customer when they’re purchased online. 

Because the process is simple and seamless with a 3PL, customers never think twice about the handoff between received orders and fulfillment. That leaves eCommerce companies the capacity to do what they do best: manufacture and sell products.

When choosing a 3PL warehouse, determine how many distribution centers you’ll have access to. You’ll need a larger network of warehouses if you promise customers expedited delivery. Shipping speed hinges on warehouses being geographically close to your customers. You’ll also need to accurately forecast inventory levels to appropriately stock warehouses in your network.

As an ecommerce business owner, your specialty probably doesn’t lie within logistics. It’s your job to get products in front of target customers, refine products, and deliver positive experiences that convince people to return.