The eCommerce world has come a long way over the past decade. While it is assumed that anyone can set up a Shopify store and make a million dollars in a week selling sea turtle tea kettles, the truth is that eCommerce is not as simple as plug-and-play. Today’s savvy online shoppers demand efficiency, from the ease and security of shopping on an eCommerce platform to receiving their products quickly and always as guaranteed by the shipper. Due to these facts, several eCommerce professionals reach out to 3rd party shipping companies to oversee their logistics programs; especially when overseas shipping is a daily part of their supply chain.
Noted below are four specific ways that a 3rd party shipping company can help an eCommerce business navigate the complex and often convoluted world of the global supply chain.
A 3rd party shipping company is also referred to as a 3PL or third-party logistics provider. They help individuals who navigate the supply chain in multiple verticals with their logistics needs. From simply completing freight invoice audits to overseeing and managing their complete supply chain operations, a 3PL is a scalable option that can help any industry with their shipping and receiving duties.
Although there are different levels of eCommerce businesses, from drop-ship exclusive to those who maintain all inventory in warehouses, there are several ways a 3PL can help their business with their logistics platform(s) but also help their business grow and become more profitable.
An eCommerce business by definition is designed to operate with very thin operating expenses. One way that many eCommerce companies save money is by using what they assume is the lowest-cost carrier that can deliver based on promises they make to online shoppers. However, what they don’t realize is that their best cost is often higher than it should be. A 3PL maintains strong relationships with carriers from LTL to parcel and overnight providers. They use these relationships to negotiate shipping rates that are often much less than the eCommerce company can earn on their own merit.
However, beyond cost, the 3PL can also ensure the eCommerce company uses the right carrier. Sometimes it makes sense to pay a premium cost for more consistent deliveries – especially when it comes to surpassing the expectations of their customers who order online. When an eCommerce company makes a customer happy with their service, they are likely to tell 10 of their friends about their successful transaction. When they make a mistake, especially on shipping, it’s never the fault of the carrier in the consumer’s mind – it’s all about the eCommerce company. When online shoppers are dissatisfied with their shipping methods, they’ll post on their social networks, negative reviews on the eCommerce store’s site, and other platforms. Using the right carrier will help an eCommerce company improve customer service – even if it costs a few pennies more.
A reality of most eCommerce providers is dependence on international vendors or suppliers for many of their products. This can be exceptionally profitable to the eCommerce provider, especially if they can purchase products at discounted rates from China, Mexico, or other international ports of origin. While individual or drop-shipping is typically hassle-free, larger volume or repeat shipping with overnight or express shipments that customers demand today are not as simple to navigate. An experienced 3PL can help an eCommerce company understand the regulations and rules for shipping and receiving products internationally.
Communication is critical with eCommerce shipping. While many eCommerce businesses set up automated notifications with plug-ins used on their platform, it’s not too common for these notifications to include delivery updates through the device of the customers choosing. A freight forwarding company or 3PL can set up CRM’s for the eCommerce business that allows them to create customized consumer profiles that include their cell phone numbers, emails, and even access to desktop alerts. They can set up automatic notifications from the carrier delivering their goods to update the customers on delivery status, any delays, and expected delivery time.
If a 3PL is handling your complete logistics network, from shipping and receiving to inventory control, customer returns and more, an eCommerce or other retailers can focus on driving sales, marketing, and providing better customer service. The modern 3PL has services that are scalable, allowing you to expand your service offerings based on the expansion and needs of your business.
While all eCommerce businesses are unique and have different platforms for buying and selling products, in the end, everyone has to deal with shipping products to their customers. Working with an experienced 3rd party logistics company can save any-sized eCommerce business money, reduce overhead expenses, improve customer service, and ensure they continue to operate as efficiently as possible.