Using 3PLs to Keep Up With Increasing Fulfillment Demands


There is a lot of pressure on retailers today. Consumers expect their desired item to be in stock—in the right size, the right color, and right now. They expect shipping to be free (or at least very low cost to them) and they consider themselves patient for waiting more than two days to receive their orders.

Retailers are doing their best to buy, build, or piece together back-end systems that enable them to run efficient businesses that can support these rising expectations, but there are still many obstacles between efficient and seamless. From decades of experience in serving customers in the ever-evolving retail space, here are several reasons why outsourcing logistics can vastly improve your operations and ultimately, your customer experience.

Leverage the Experts

It’s important for retailers—especially growing companies and startups—to spend their time making business decisions that ultimately affect their bottom line, and not on processes and procedures that could be easily outsourced to experts. As a third party logistics (3PL) provider, DCL Logistics aims to serve as an extension of our retail customers in that they depend on us to fulfill their backend operations. These include retail fulfillment, direct-to-consumer fulfillment, kitting, and/or freight management and coordination. That is a lot for retailers to think about in addition to product development, marketing, sales, finances, and everything else that goes into selling great products, building a memorable brand, and providing a seamless customer experience.

At DCL Logistics, backend operations are our bread and butter. With our expertise and best-in-breed technologies, retail customers benefit from the economies of scale that come with outsourcing to a seasoned 3PL.

Centralized Data

One issue we consistently see with our retail customers occurs when they implement solutions ill-fit for the size of their business. When a solution is too large, retailers are spending resources custom building to accommodate for their many platforms—ERP systems, inventory management solutions, order management systems, data platforms just for best shipping rates, etc.—each of which contains its own data. In an attempt to find many solutions to solve all their problems at once, these retailers are creating a web of disparate systems that they will later have to untangle.

It’s important to start with one system, like Stitch Labs or DCL’s inventory management software (eFactory), which has strong inventory management and order integration and also integrates with 3PLs, and try not to overcomplicate other data platforms. This initial solution should accomplish about 80% of what the retailer needs. Twenty percent may still be manual, but as they continue to grow they can select additional platforms that integrate seamlessly with their central hub. With data all in one place, you’ll save yourself time and money while having at your fingertips the information you need to make smarter  business decisions.

Focus on Your Core Competencies

There are many moving parts when it comes to running a retail business— the number of which only increases as your business grows. With so many considerations for retailers, many aspects of successfully executing on logistics often fly under the radar. For example, the many compliance regulations companies must follow when shipping items is probably not something most retailers have time to think about regularly (which is important because they are always evolving). At DCL Logistics, we have an entire department dedicated to compliance as well as a quality assurance group tasked with ensuring that we’re following all the rules. Additionally, we have the newest and most efficient warehouse technologies and an API that supports partnerships with the top data platforms for order integration, eCommerce, and inventory management. For small to mid-sized retailers, these probably aren’t areas into which you’ve poured time, money, and expertise. So, we’re happy to handle them for you while you exert your efforts into your core competencies.

Bottom Line

We understand the complexities of the retail industry and what it means to run a successful business in the rapidly evolving retail ecosystem. While there are many factors to consider when thinking about outsourcing to a 3PL, there are many reasons outsourcing logistics will save you time and money while helping your business grow.

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