3PL Services and How Your Business Can Benefit
How deeply do you understand the supply chains that keep your business running? For most small and medium businesses, this task may seem daunting or too time-intensive. You have plenty on your plate without becoming a logistics expert, which is why most businesses could benefit from acquiring logistical expertise for their team.
The easiest way to do this is to enlist the help of a 3PL company. They can help you tackle logistical challenges and grow your business.
What is a 3PL?
3PL stands for "third-party logistics." A 3PL provider is a company that handles the management of supply chains and logistics, which you can outsource to a 3PL. Because they specialize in managing inventory, organizing distribution, warehousing and fulfillment, using a 3PL can empower businesses to keep up with larger companies and stay competitive in challenging markets. With a 3PL, you get access to high-level logistical resources at an affordable price.
3PLs provide value to businesses through the implementation and management of a wide range of services. With such a large number of available services, you can customize how you use your 3PL to get the most effect out of investment. Here are some of the most common 3PL services and products:
- Less than truckload (LTL) shipping
- Truckload (TL) shipping
- Small package shipping
- Air cargo
- Ocean shipping
- Intermodal shipping
- White glove shipping
- Tradeshow shipping
- Rail (train)
- Reverse logistics
- Supply chain analysis
- Invoice analysis
- Logistics / transportation consulting
- Import / export / customs
- Transportation management system (TMS)
These are just some of the things that a 3PL provider can handle. If there is anything related to logistics that you need, you can find a 3PL that covers it.
What companies benefit from having a 3PL provider?
Third-party logistics services have long been understood as essential services in many industries. These include: high-volume retailers, medical provisioning, pharmaceuticals, manufacturers, restaurants and many others. But, a 3PL service can help any business that is challenged by one or more of the following kinds of issues. If any of these describes a problem in your operations, your business may benefit from 3PL services:
Having Trouble with Carrier Capacity
The shipping industry faces a capacity crunch with high demand and increased prices brought on by difficulties of the pandemic making it challenging for businesses to get their products to customers promptly. A 3PL can help businesses work around this issue by providing additional capacity through their vast network of local, regional, and national carriers. A 3PL can also provide customers with real-time tracking of their shipments with a transportation management system (TMS). A TMS lets customers know the status of their shipment without needing to reach out for support. A business may also create additional capacity if you can avoid shipping on peak days and by scheduling evening pickup.
Inventory is Inaccurate and Bloated with Outdated Items
Carrying costs for excess inventory can significantly impact profit margins. Operational inefficiencies may include inventory inaccuracy, a lack of supply chain visibility, shipping errors and other serious problems. These can lead to erroneously increasing stock as safety buffers.
Overstock drives up carrying costs and promotes the buildup of obsolete inventory, which nets a financial loss and leads to shortages of warehouse space. It can also lead to packaging and product damages, safety hazards and productivity problems.
Using a 3PL service can achieve operational efficiency, advanced analytics, and the visibility of processes necessary to control your inventory levels ideally.
Your Logistics Technology is Outdated
Smaller businesses that spend $5 million to $10 million annually on freight — have traditionally relied on spreadsheets and other manual methods to manage transportation. But now, cloud-based logistics solutions are making it more affordable for these smaller companies to invest in a transportation management software (TMS). Top 3PL companies feature transportation management software that plays a pivotal role in planning, execution and order visibility from the instant the order for fulfillment is received to the moment of delivery.
Your Operating Costs Keep Increasing
Of course, it's exhilarating to experience your company growing even faster than expected. However, rapid growth often comes with a surge of unforeseen logistical challenges that can quickly spiral out of control. Operators of growing businesses often find themselves unexpectedly struggling to keep up with rising costs of material handling, inventory, shipping and other functions.
The role of a 3PL is to help systematize your logistics with scalable solutions. Their purpose is to free your time to focus on high-value activities that directly serve your company's mission.
Benefits of Using a 3PL
3PL logistics can help businesses, and the range of benefits is massive. Below are a few compelling reasons worth discussing.
More Shipping Options at Your Fingertips
If you're using one carrier to ship parcels and another for shipping freight, utilizing a 3PL company is a better option. A 3PL can handle all of your shipping needs under a single umbrella. Whether you want to ship FTL, LTL, small packages or internationally, a 3PL gives businesses access to multiple modes of shipping through a single provider. Plus, all these shipment types are billed under a single invoice to help you keep billing a breeze.
Save Time and Money
Your 3PL provider can give you access to competitive shipping rates through their combined buying power. They do the research. They compile the information. All you have to do is choose the option that is best for your business. This saves you tons of time in sourcing shipping options. It also directly saves you money by providing comparative pricing and delivery times at a glance.
This is just one example. The logistics of your operation will constantly be challenged. Partnering with a 3PL outsources the effort you would normally have to devote to overcoming those challenges. The 3PL expends all of that effort, and it saves you time and labor so you can stay focused on what you do best.
Logistics is a complicated topic with numerous intricacies and many moving parts. You would need to devote a lot of time to stay up to date and gain adequate knowledge in supply chains and logistics to handle it independently. Instead, you can consult with seasoned experts with decades of experience in the field. They will work directly on your behalf, and with access to their expertise, you can make calculated, informed decisions to build and execute your logistical operations.
Your 3PL handles logistics for a number of businesses. They have resources to take care of shipping and logistics in many different areas. If you want to expand your outreach, such as shipping to a new territory, they are already primed to make that change. You can adjust your business strategy quickly and efficiently with your 3PL's support. It gives you substantially more flexibility in how you run and grow your business.
Why partner with a 3PL?
Bringing a 3PL provider on board may seem too cumbersome and costly to integrate, but it's neither. By shifting to a 3PL service:
- You reduce labor costs and overhead, while also avoid implementing inhouse technology
- You unload the burdens of billing, paperwork, staffing and ongoing improvements.
- Experts improve logistical systems management to reduce your overall costs.
- AI-enhanced logistics technology and industry best practices elevate your systems.
- Advanced metrics and reporting provide greater visibility in process monitoring.
- It's a lower-cost solution than developing and running in-house logistics operations.
Contact Unishippers, a 3PL Company for All Your Shipping Needs
Unishippers is a leading 3PL company. We have developed a vast network of national, regional, and local shipping carriers to serve businesses. Our customers also benefit from the savings made possible by over 121,000+ shippers that we serve. You can depend on Unishippers logistics experts to provide the best possible transportation solutions for your small business by truck, boat or plane.