3PL vs Fulfillment Services

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3PL eCommerce Fulfillment

Is there really such a thing as 3PL eCommerce fulfillment?

3PL eCommerce fulfillment (Third-Party Logistics) is an outsourcing approach where a company outsources its entire warehouse, inventory management, and distribution operations to an outside service provider. The service provider manages the day-to-day tasks of receiving products, executing commercial B2C orders, and then warehousing and shipping to big box retailers.

By using a 3PL, companies can reduce their logistics costs and improve the efficiency of their logistics networks. Moreover, they can focus on core business operations instead of worrying about logistics management.

Third-party logistics companies, or 3PLs, specialize in providing comprehensive and efficient logistics services. These services include transportation, warehousing, inventory management, and distribution of products to retail or big box stores.

3PL warehouses are not typically equipped to provide eCommerce pick-pack fulfillment orders or kitting and co-packing services.

3PL’s vs. Fulfillment centers.

A 3PL’s primary business is warehousing and moving full pallets of material onto trucks to be delivered to retail stores. Fulfillment centers’ primary business is picking individual orders for consumers, putting them in boxes, and sending them directly to their homes. Some 3PLs might offer e-commerce services but not many. Basically, it’s too small of a business for them to take up their resources.

Fulfillment services provide a crucial link between merchants and their B2C customers by taking care of warehousing, kitting, packing, and shipping orders via UPS or USPS. A good fulfillment service also ensures that parcels are handled quickly, accurately, securely, and reliably.

As such, businesses need to assess their shipping requirements before choosing a Third-Party Logistics provider or Fulfillment service. In doing so they can ensure that they have invested in a solution tailored to their specific needs for picking and packing individual eCommerce orders or storing and shipping pallets of products to retailers. eCommerce businesses that successfully sell proprietary products directly to consumers can also benefit from selling them directly to brick-and-mortar retailers. Selling directly to brick-and-mortar retailers allows e-commerce businesses to reach a more extensive customer base with increased product exposure.

Some fulfillment centers offer both warehousing and distribution to B2C customers and retail and big box stores too, which allows e-commerce B2C retailers to expand their reach beyond just one or the other. If not, these e-commerce businesses must find additional resources to distribute their products to retail stores.

It is challenging, but certainly possible, to find a service to manage your day-to-day day e-commerce fulfillment orders for your B2C  customers and warehouse and distribute your products to big box, brick-and-mortar customers.

Keeping your inventory and transactional data in one system is challenging but can also be a great asset. You can better manage and track incoming products and outgoing orders by having everything in one centralized location. This allows for more efficient purchasing decisions and increased accuracy.

One of the primary challenges with using a 3PL for eCommerce fulfillment orders is that the two use different technologies. In comparison, many fulfillment centers utilize in-house order and inventory management systems and Integrate with website shopping carts like Shopify and Big Commerce to receive orders. Most 3PL orders are managed through electronic data interchange (EDI). This is because large retailers often demand EDI for transmitting and receiving order information.

If you are an eCommerce business selling proprietary products to big box retailers, or vice versa, call Chicago Fulfillment Services to discuss how we can help. We have the facilities and technology for success!




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