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What is a 3PL and when you should hire one for your E-commerce Business?

You have set up your e-commerce store, started your marketing through Facebook and/or Google Ads and business is booming. However, inventory is stashed everywhere in your home, and you have officially outgrown your garage warehouse. What do you do now? What you need is an e-commerce shipping expert.

A company that ships for an e-commerce business are a 3PL. 3PL means third-party logistics. Logistics is the commercial activity of transporting goods to customers. As an entrepreneur, you have many hats. As you start growing you want to make sure your customers are receiving their purchases fast and have access to great customer service. According to the top three reasons shoppers are abandoning their shopping carts:

1. Their discount codes did not work.

2. Shipping cost too much.

3. Orders take forever to ship.

What does this mean? This means your business needs to make sure your discount codes work, your shipping cost are economical, and you get purchases to customers fast. By outsourcing your shipping to a 3PL you can almost ensure your products are being handled with care and being shipped efficiently and one time. Even if you are a small business, fulfillment is a major part of maintaining a good reputation. You can have a great product but if it takes forever to get to the client, no matter how great it is, you can almost guarantee you are not getting that 4-star review.

For example, a company called Shopbop had a great Black Friday and Cyber Monday, sounds excellent right? Shopbop had a partnership with one of the largest 3PL’s and they still couldn’t process and ship their products on time. In fact, they had a wave of shipping problems and warehouse delays that held up orders for days and others for weeks. To make matters worse the shoppers were “ghosted” by customer service. In other words, customer service was nowhere to be found. Large businesses are not immune to these logistical nightmares. Logistics king Amazon had holiday delays, and according to the Wall Street Journal, the delivery giant UPS had to admit that even though they hired extra drivers they were struggling to handle the surge in shipments from online shoppers. Read more about that story here.

There are two lessons to learn from Shopbop’s logistical nightmare:

1. Customer service is critical when a problem arises with shipment.

2. Bigger doesn’t mean better. Shopbop was utilizing Amazon and still couldn’t get their products delivered on time.

Enough of the scary stories, here are some of the logical reasons to outsource to a 3PL:


1. Saving Money: Setting up your own logistics can require too much fixed expense. A 3PL like Packaging Materials and Supply, offer prices like $1.50 per basic fulfillment offering you peace of mind and peace in your wallet.

2. Customization and Efficiency: You know your product and know how to sell to your customers and that is what bought you to where you are now. Focus on what you are good at and let a 3PL focus on logistics’ which is what they are good at.

3. Software and Technology: A good 3PL will have the latest logistics technology that should integrate with your online store, like Ship Station and make the process of shipping and returns easy for you. Again, always check first to make sure your 3PL provider works with the software that integrates seamlessly into your e-commerce store.

If you have more questions on how a 3PL can help scale your ecommerce business Packaging Materials and Supply has been helping businesses scale for over 50 years and we are here to help. Contact us today!

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