Stages of a 3PL Fulfillment Process from Online Order Placement to Delivery


customers holiday shopping inside mall

Outsourcing your eCommerce fulfillment processes to third party logistics companies who have expertise in the domain, is called of 3PL fulfillment. 3PL fulfillment is an extensive process comprised of picking and packing orders, warehousing, and shipping orders. 3rd party logistics companies enable brands to focus their undivided attention on maintaining and expanding their business while they cater to order fulfillment.


The Quick Rundown of Third Party Logistics (3PL)


3PL fulfillment companies help eCommerce businesses store, pick, pack, and ship their products. On average, well-established and reliable 3PL fulfillment companies offer storing, packaging and shipping, and returns management among other services.


3PLs are different from 4PLs. 4PL logistics companies provide end-to-end eCommerce and warehouse solutions in addition to third party logistics services. 4th party logistics aid businesses by arranging and managing 3rd party logistics services for them.


5 Stages of E-commerce Fulfillment


To ensure accurate order fulfillment, 3PL fulfillment companies such as ShipBots follow a series of operational stages starting from receiving an online order to delivering it to the customer’s doorstep, and even managing returns in some cases.


Stage 1: Receiving


Before your 3PL company can start working on fulfilling customers’ orders, they need sufficient inventory in their warehouse storage. Therefore, the first and foremost stage in 3PL fulfillment is receiving inventory. At ShipBots, we follow a standard protocol for receiving inventory for quick and efficient order fulfillment. Depending on our client’s needs, we customize our services such as splitting inventory across multiple 3PL fulfillment centers.


Stage 2: Picking


When your customer places an online order, 3rd party logistics providers such ShipBots integrate their digital warehouse with your eCommerce store and assigns the task to a warehouse team who receive a pick list enlisting details of the order and begin their work to collect the items and pass it down the supply chain for packing.


Stage 3: Packing


Once the ordered goods have been picked, the next stage is to properly pack the order items. Packing might be charged separately by some 3PL providers, but at ShipBots standard packing material including boxes/bags, dunnage and tapes are inclusive of our fulfillment services. Reliable 3PLs strive to use the best packing material for secure yet light-weight packaging with affordable shipping costs.


Stage 4: Shipping


Once picked and packed, the customers’ order is read for shipment. As 3PLs strive for strategic warehouse locations such as having warehouses in Los Angeles, it helps businesses with reduced shipment costs and improved dock-to-stock efficiency. Some third party logistics companies prefer shipping companies and use the warehouses of those carriers, for instance DHL warehouse or UPS warehouse are trusted names.


Stage 5: Returns


Although the first four stages are the essential four stages of all orders, not all orders end at those four. Many orders get returned and for businesses with large inventories, it can get quite messy unless they collaborate with 3PLs. A 3PL can streamline the process according to the client’s company policy and take one more worry off their shoulders.


When Do You Need to Partner with a 3PL for E-Commerce?


Unsure whether your business needs to hire a third party logistics provider? Here are a few points to think over, and if your business seems to meet the criteria, you could benefit with some extra pair of hands.

  • Has your business succeeded in securing higher orders daily than it can efficiently manage on its own?

  • Have you run out of warehouse storage space?

  • Are the order fulfillment tasks currently preventing you from taking your business to the next level?

If the answers are yes, it may be time to collaborate with a 3PL so you can focus your time and efforts on growing your business instead.


How Do You Choose a 3PL for E-commerce Fulfillment?


If you are ready to hire a 3rd party logistics company, then take a look at these tips to help you through the tough decision of making the right choice.

  • Consider the 3PL company’s operational hours

  • Investigate the company’s previous track record in terms of client satisfaction

  • Book a visit to their warehouse to ensure their operations are satisfying

  • Book an appointment with a sales team member to learn about their service offerings and software

  • Inquire about customization of services

  • Inquire about their relationships with shipping carriers and their negotiated rates

  • Go through their customer reviews

How Can ShipBots Aid You in Your Fulfillment Process as a 3PL Logistics Provider?


Now that you hopefully have a better insight into the 3PL fulfillment process, it is essential you understand that the offering and quality of services varies from one 3PL to another. At ShipBots, we consider all the ins and outs of eCommerce warehousing and logistics and strive to ensure maximum dock-to-stock efficiency for all our clients.


We take pride in our skills as a fulfillment center, and our stellar services of organizing your merchandise inventory and physical inventory for your eCommerce business. Our skilled and seasoned experts ensure efficient order fulfillment, from picking and packing to shipping your customers’ orders safely and timely to their doorstep. Get in touch with a representative at ShipBots to learn more.