Warehousing and order fulfillment require a lot of the time, effort, and money. Therefore, many shippers are choosing to outsource their key functions to third-party partners who offer logistics value-added services. Third-party logistics providers (3PLs) will optimize your supply chain and give you a competitive advantage. A strong partner can help you overcome supply chain disruptions and maintain efficient shipping operations.
Flex Logistics offers a variety of value-added services that we think you should familiarize yourself with. The below services will help you optimize your supply chain.
What is Logistics?
First, let’s get some definitions out of the way. Logistics is that part of supply chain management that plans, implements and controls the efficient, effective flow and storage of goods, services and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption in order to meet customers’ requirements. It is about getting the right product, to the right customer, in the right quantity, in the right condition, at the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost.
There are many elements that play key roles within a logistical structure, for example, prices and volumes are reviewed to make sure they fulfill what it is being required. Quality assurance deals with the precision of what is being acquired and shipping and handling regulates and control the time that takes to move the items from the shipping point to the delivery point.
Logistics play a crucial role to ensure high levels of productivity, since it can reduce the time it takes to get what is being demanded in the hand of those that are manufacturing or delivering the goods and services to the final customers.
What is 3PL?
3PL, which stands for third-party logistics, is a service that gives eCommerce businesses the power to focus on key aspects of their business by outsourcing operational logistics from warehousing through delivery.
With a 3PL, you get to focus more on your company’s core competencies, and less on the nitty-gritty of fulfillment and shipping. Since 3PLs handle the logistics, your time is freed up for more important matters.
Choosing 3PL services for your online store still gives you complete control. Unlike fourth-party logistics where someone else handles your 3PL services, you retain the power to manage everything so that your business still feels like a small operation; your customers will feel the personal difference while still receiving first-rate service and fast shipping times.
5 Best Value-Added Services
Value-added services refer to the addition of something that is not required to a product or service that may add additional value, determined by the difference between the cost to make a product and the revenue it brings in. Value-added services within supply chain logistics could include specialized or customized administrative or physical services such as kitting, bundling, re-branding, customization, re-packaging, returns management or work-order processing. These additional services are a way of maintaining the business of valued clients.
Kitting and Assembling Products
Kitting is an inventory management strategy in which individual pieces, parts, or items are bundled into a kit. Basically, when individually separate but related items are picked, packaged, and supplied together as one part number. This “kit” is tracked, used, and even sold as a single piece of inventory, even though it has several (or many) parts.
Repackaging and Rebranding
Repackaging is a type of value-added service that takes place whenever a change or reconfiguration needs to be made to a product. Most 3PL warehousing and distribution providers offer some level of repackaging, though not all do so for the same reasons. One of the more common reasons for repacking a product is to move it into your company’s personal branded packaging rather than use what the manufacturer sends it in. Other possible reasons can include making adjustments based on unique customer requests or to make a change to any pre-assembled kits your warehouse makes use of.
To serve its customers with their packaging and branding needs, a 3PL offering this value-added service must keep a variety of specialized packaging in stock and take extra care during the packing process to ensure the branding of each package is accurate. 3PLs offering repackaging and rebranding as value-added services go the extra mile to offer the best consumer experience for their customers, helping them build brand loyalty and standout among other retailers.
Managing Recurring Subscription Boxes
Subscription fulfillment refers to the shipping of products from an ecommerce merchant to a customer on a regular, predetermined basis. Recurring subscription boxes are a huge trend from ecommerce retailers ranging from food and beverage to beauty and wellness to nutraceuticals to clothing and more. These shipments can be the same each month, such as razor cartridge refills or a different selection of curated products each time.
Subscription boxes that follow the latter are much more complex and are often best fulfilled in-house, or assembled before shipping to a third-party logistics (3PL) company for distribution. Consumers expect their subscription boxes at the same time each month, so 3PLs must be diligent when fulfilling these orders to ensure packages leave the warehouse on the right day to reach the consumer by the desired date. Furthermore, because these subscription boxes are ongoing, the 3PL must have a detailed system and the right technology in place to manage this process month after month. This system includes having the infrastructure to complete large wave picks as well as high-volume batch generation and printing of shipping labels.
Cross-docking services reduce handling times, inventory levels, and labor costs by consolidating and sorting products before they’re loaded onto an outbound truck. This value-added service saves shippers a lot of time and money by only using one truck. This service also lowers the chances of your product being damaged in transit.
Consider outsourcing some of your logistics functions if you are unable to manage your shipping operations entirely on your own. 3PLs will provide value-added services, allowing you to focus on the other aspects of your business.
As the rate of returns increase, so does the need for value added services within the reverse logistics process. Reverse logistics is a major component of omnichannel fulfillment strategies because ecommerce also creates returns that companies must process. 3PLs need to accept and process returns no matter how or where the consumer made the purchase, and consumers are looking for easy returns methods as well. 3PLs that offer returns processing can help their customers save time and money meeting consumer demands with consistent warehouse processes and technology that can track orders and handle returns regardless of the source. Many returned products require special attention before they are ready for resale, and we are proud to offer standard services like relabeling, repackaging, and refurbishment, as well as complex regional solutions like returns avoidance, proactive diagnostics, and in-store repair.
The FLEX Logistics Team is Here to Help!
Our team understands the importance of getting your products to the market. That is why we aim to understand your business and build lasting relationships with you and your team. Whether you are looking to add a new warehouse to your existing operations, growing and need to increase your distribution efforts, or starting a new company, FLEX has the solutions to meet your supply chain needs.
Contact us today to discuss your current and future warehousing and logistics needs. We will work together with you to understand your requirements and develop a solution that will set you up for future success.