The Third Party Logistics (3PL) FAQ

Not sure exactly what a 3PL entails or how it could benefit your business? We have compiled the EC Group 3PL FAQ to help you cut to the chase…we are committed to helping our customers achieve the very best logistics support. 

1.What exactly does a 3PL do?

A third-party logistics (3PL) company specialises in logistics and supply chain management. Your organisation may derive significant benefits from outsourcing your distribution, warehousing and fulfilment to a specialist 3PL.

2. What are the main benefits of using a 3PL?

It is no secret that the logistics industry is notoriously challenging but using a specialist will open up opportunities for you to:

  • enjoy greater scalability and flexibility
  • offer more services and service options
  • improve turnaround times and service levels
  • eliminate fixed overheads and reduce variable costs
  • benefit from discounts and economies of scale on shipping and packaging costs

It will also free up time for you to focus on aspects of your business where your expertise is most needed.

3. What specialist services does a 3PL offer?

There are many services that can fall under the 3PL umbrella including order processing, pick and pack, warehousing and inventory management, national and international distribution, reverse and return logistics, IT tracking and reporting, and customer service and response handling.

Be sure to check that the 3PL you’re looking to use has the right skill set and scale to meet your requirements.

4. Is outsourced logistics right for my business?

Many businesses benefit from outsourced logistics. Is managing costly inventory storage space a problem? Do you see spikes in activity that are difficult to manage? Are you concerned about the operational efficiency and cost of your current operations? If the answer to any of these question is yes, it is time to speak to the experts.

5. What industries does a 3PL (generally) serve?

Some 3PLs specialise in specific sectors, e.g. chilled products, pharmaceuticals or foodstuffs, and can offer niche add-ons such as flow-wrapping or bottling to complement their offer. At EC Group we handle a wide variety of ambient products including books, clothing, campaign and promotional collateral, exhibition materials, perfumes and toys. Our clients come from sectors including automotive and transport, agency, advertising and sales promotion, banking and finance, charity and not-for-profit, eCommerce, education, healthcare, regulatory, retail, environmental, and luxury goods. Our commitment and knowledge allow our clients to focus their valuable time and resources on their core activities and day-to-day business – confident that their customer service, logistics and fulfilment is in safe hands.

6. Can a 3PL offer an eCommerce solution for my business?

The boom in eCommerce has dramatically altered the logistics industry. Not all 3PLs are experienced or competent in handling the challenges associated with end-to-end eCommerce fulfilment. EC Group offers professional customer services and a secure eCommerce capability combined with expert warehousing, pick and pack, mail order fulfilment, comprehensive reporting and a commitment to meet the most rigorous service level agreements.

7. When should I enlist a 3PL?

Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed with orders and growth. In the eCommerce world, ongoing customer satisfaction is inextricably linked to efficient fulfilment. If you’re spending in excess of £150 per week on fulfilment, EC Group would be delighted to discuss your requirements.

8. How should I choose a 3PL provider to partner with?

There may be plenty of logistics companies offering to streamline and revolutionise your operation, however, not all of them will be a good fit. Check financial stability, what services are offered, what territories are covered and go and visit their site(s). What customer support, visibility, tracking, IT integration and reporting and help are offered once you ‘sign-up’? Ask for customer referrals and review case studies to validate their sales pitches.

9. How long does it take to implement a 3PL solution?

Implementation times will be influenced by a number of factors including scale, complexity and the time of year. A very simple one-off distribution solution can be implemented in a few days. A more complicated ongoing fulfilment solution can require six to eight weeks. Bear in mind that it’s unlikely that implementation can be undertaken in the period leading up to Christmas as most 3PLs will be pretty much flat-out during that period.

10. How do we get in touch?

If your business would benefit from the expertise, knowledge, coverage and cost-savings that EC Group provides, we would love to hear from you. We provide agile fulfilment, handling and delivery solutions – ensuring you keep your promises and meet your deadlines. With over two million cubic feet of secure storage space and highly skilled warehouse and customer service team, our business is looking after your business.

For advice on how we can support your operation, please get in touch with one of our experienced account managers.