3pl eCommerce Fulfilment – Everything You Need to Know

If you’re brand new to the idea of outsourcing your order fulfilment, it may seem like a world of the unknown to consider working with a third-party logistics (3pl) provider such as The Delivery Group. Luckily for you, this helpful guide pulls back the veil on the entire 3pl eCommerce fulfilment services process to help you create and sustain a thriving eCommerce business.

So, when your customer decides to click ‘submit order’ on your online store, what happens at the 3pl eCommerce fulfilment centre? This article aims to shed light on the ins and outs regarding 3pl fulfilment centre operations that take place between the moment your customer checks out their order on your online store, and when their order arrives on their doorstep. 

A Breakdown of the 3pl eCommerce Fulfilment Process

Within a third party fulfilment centre, there are many important activities that occur that assist in the daily running and operation of multiple online retailers. From picking and packing items to shipping orders the same day, here are the primary operational activities that occur in a Delivery Group fulfilment centre. 

Receiving

If your 3pl eCommerce fulfilment centre doesn’t have your inventory, they can’t ship your orders. Your number one priority with your online store when using a 3pl logistics service is to ensure that they have your inventory. This must take place before we can start fulfilling orders for your online store, otherwise, there will be a lot of unhappy customers without their products. Receiving refers to the acceptance of inventory, followed by the appropriate and efficient storage of each item. 

Whilst each 3pl logistics service acts differently when receiving and storing client inventory, we require our clients to fill out a warehouse receiving order. This helps us know which products, and how many, we’ll be receiving at the warehouse so that we can prepare accordingly – helping us to stay organised and efficient when receiving your items, completing inventory management quickly and effectively, and getting your orders shipped as soon as possible. 

From the moment our fulfilment centres across our global fulfilment network receive your inventory shipment, we store each item in a storage location that is dedicated to a specific Stock Keeping Unit (SKU), this could be on a shelf, a bin, or a pallet. 

Picking

Now that the storage of your items is out of the way, your customer has placed an order. This is when the fulfilment process begins. Contrary to other eCommerce fulfilment 3pl logistics services that require you to manually upload orders to their system, here at The Delivery Group, you can fully integrate your online store and automatically push orders to our system. How efficient! 

With the help of this fulfilment software, you can check on your orders, shipments, inventory levels, and more, all in one place. No more faffing around and extending the time it takes to do these menial tasks, our system allows less time doing the long-winded things so you have more time to focus on growing your business. 

Once we receive an order from your online store, depending on the size of the order, it will be assigned to a warehouse picking team or a sole picker. The picker, or team, receives a picking list of the items, quantities, and storage locations within our organised facility so that your picker can collect products from their locations quickly and efficiently. 

Packing

Once all the items within an order have been picked, it is time to get them securely and safely packed up so that they arrive in their optimal condition to your customers. Some third-party logistics (3pl) services will charge for packing materials as a separate line item, whilst others include them as a part of their fulfilment services. 

In order to keep things cost-effective on your end, plain and standard packing materials, such as brown boxes, white poly bags, packing tape, and other essential items, are included as a part of our service. We always provide quality packing materials to ensure that your products arrive safely, and achieve the lowest practical dimensional weight so that shipping costs are also kept as low as possible. 

If you wish, we can also package items in your own custom packing materials, putting your branding front and centre. However, this does come at an additional cost that can be discussed with your personal account manager. 

Shipping

Finally, it comes to shipping your order. Whilst most third-party logistics (3pl) services will purchase and print shipping labels on your behalf, others are partnered with their preferred carriers, and some compare shipping costs from a wide range of carriers in order to secure the best deals. 

We do the latter. This ensures that you always receive the most affordable, and cost-efficient, shipping pricing possible; along with the best possible delivery speeds that your customers have chosen. 

From our 3pl eCommerce fulfilment centres, carriers such as DHL, UPS, and Royal Mail pick up orders to ship them to your customers. Once the order has been shipped and is on its way, you will automatically receive the tracking information from us, from there, you can forward it to your customer. 

Contact The Delivery Group for Quality 3pl eCommerce Fulfilment Services

Interested in expanding your business across the UK, and internationally, with the help of outsourced fulfilment? Get your products out of your basement or spare room and into our 3pl eCommerce fulfilment centre, we can help ship your customer orders quicker than ever before; ensuring you have more time to focus on growing your business, and less time picking and packing customer orders. 

Interested? Speak to our customer services team today to discuss your needs. 

Get in touch with The Delivery Group today.  

FAQs

Below, we have the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about third-party logistics services, and our fulfilment process. 

What is 3pl eCommerce fulfilment?

Third-party logistics refers to the outsourcing of the retail order fulfilment process to a team of experts at The Delivery Group. This involves the receiving of your customer orders, picking and packing items, inventory management, shipping, and effective warehousing. When you outsource fulfilment to a 3pl like The Delivery Group, you will be able to spend less time fulfilling orders yourself, and more time on helping your business grow through marketing or other avenues. 

What is outsourced fulfilment?

Outsourced fulfilment refers to the hiring of a 3pl company, like The Delivery Group, to handle all of your order fulfilment tasks. From receiving inventory to shipping orders, this service comes with multiple benefits – including time and cost savings, an optimised supply chain, and the ability to ship to customers domestically or globally more efficiently. 

What does a 3pl eCommerce fulfilment service do?

A third-party logistics service can go beyond just the fulfilment of orders, but not every 3pl is the same. Depending on the provider, fulfilment logistics can include services like storing and managing eCommerce inventory, next day shipping, distributed inventory, analytics and reporting on fulfilment, returns management, customer services, and more. 

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