With the rise of ecommerce, and today’s on-demand business needs, more 3PLs are offering special services often called value-added services (VAS). They range from small, short-term projects that enhance the customer experience (like gift wrapping or custom messages for the holiday season), to long-term and in-depth projects to help streamline a brand’s overall supply chain strategy (like procurement or vendor managed inventory).
There are two main benefits to working with a 3PL who offers VAS:
- Improved customer satisfaction: by adding nuance to your fulfillment, you’ll send customers exactly the experience you desire.
- Overall business efficiencies: when your 3PL does more than just pick, pack, and ship, they will help you streamline your business (improve supply chain strategy, overall cost reduction, simplified processes, and more).
Ecommerce companies with a lot of competition need to stand out in their field. To do so it comes down to the finer details in product delivery and order fulfillment.
Value-added services can include anything from specialized distribution to custom labeling or final assembly. If you’re on the fence about asking your 3PL to implement some VAS special projects, here are some reasons to do it sooner than later.
Differentiation: Make Your Ecommerce Business Stand Out
Have you ever opened a package and been really impressed by how personal the experience felt to receive your new product? The unboxing experience is very important to some brands (more often high-value goods, and one-time purchase items). It all starts with how those products are placed in their box.
The best way to give your customers a great unboxing experience is to customize your fulfillment with VAS. Whether you want to make sure certain products will be taken out first, or you want to ensure the brand name on your product is facing the customer when they open the carton, these are kitting instructions that need to be specified in your work instructions. Using eco-friendly packaging or branded tape on the outside of the box are also considerations that fall under value-added services.
If you want your boxes to stand out from all the others, you’ll need a 3PL with a willingness to help set your brand apart. Value-added services will be the differentiation you need to stay competitive in the market.
Make sure you plan your VAS ahead of time. Sometimes it may take a few months to set up the operations properly. Here’s a list of value-added services perfect for peak season to start planning now.
Cost Reduction: Save on Shipping Fees
You may think value-added services means adding another line-item to your 3PL’s monthly invoice. While it will cost you extra, you must weigh the cost with the benefit. In some cases, outsourcing special projects to your 3PL might save you money in the long run.
For example, special storage is considered a value-added service. Ask your 3PL if they have the capacity to receive more products from you and store it until it should be moved into active inventory.
If your products don’t have to be moved from an assembly center to a warehouse for postponement work, and then to the fulfillment center to get packaged and shipped, that’s going to save you a lot in transportation fees. By reducing the movement of your product, you’ll save money in the long run.
Efficiency: All Projects Will be Done by the Same Team
If your 3PL can set up multiple special projects for you (for example, light assembly, returns management, and product disposal), you won’t have to find another partner to outsource that work to. You’ll have a one-stop-shop for your entire inventory management and order fulfillment flow.
By consolidating operations, you’ll benefit from the efficiencies that naturally come from keeping all projects under one roof. You may find your order fulfillment runs more smoothly because your 3PL will is managing all aspects.
Simplicity: Work with One Team for All Fulfillment Projects
Beyond operational efficiency, you will also have administrative simplicity. You will have one team to go to for questions about all aspects of your fulfillment and logistics.
Your one provider will be able to help solve problems in every area that they manage. They may be able to streamline and simplify on your behalf. After all, one of the major benefits of outsourcing fulfillment to an expert is that you won’t have to deal with the details of day-in, day-out process management.
Better Visibility: Get More Data and See Problems Sooner
If you can get most of your forward and reverse logistics consolidated under one fulfillment partner, you’ll have a much more integrated operation and more visibility into each step of the process.
Greater visibility benefits you in the following ways:
- Seeing problems sooner can create faster resolution.
- Notice trends that may help inform more accurate forecasting, hiring, or your growth strategy.
- Navigate seasonal peaks more fluidly.
For example, if you start getting customer complaints, or more returned items, a 3PL who manages your labeling, kitting, special packaging, and returns will be able to provide the data to show where things went wrong. They will help provide solutions to fix the problems.
Flexibility: Stay Competitive in the Market
After seeing so many supply chain bottlenecks arise from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become clearer that doing postponement and assembly work closer to the customer crates a more agile and flexibly supply chain.
By working with a 3PL who offers many value-added services, you’ll be able to react quicker to the market (customer demands, supply shortages, etc). Even if you don’t think you’ll need these things now, you might sooner than you know.
There’s also growth to think about. A 3PL with customizable fulfillment solutions will be a better partner to scale with because they will be able to pivot and grow with your brand needs.
Faster Turnaround: Speed Up Order Processing
When you have a flexible supply chain, meaning you can switch between asking your manufacturer or your 3PL to do postponement work, you’ll have the ability to stay agile if any supply chain issues arise. Speed up your order turn-around time by asking your 3PL to manage specific aspects of your forward or reverse logistics.
Ask about the VAS called rework, it means sorting, inspecting, and repackaging returns to be put back into sellable inventory. If your 3PL can take on this complex and intricate part of your returns management process, they will be able to get returned merchandise back into “good stock” more quickly than if you outsourced rework to another company.
Better Customer Satisfaction: Send the Best Product Possible
Quality fulfillment ultimately equals customer satisfaction. When your products are well packaged your customers will reward you with more purchases and word-of-mouth referrals. If you don’t have quality fulfillment (like expert kitting, or use of special packaging) your products are more likely to arrive damaged or not as you intend them to look.
Aside from the special VAS projects that add the bells and whistles (like customized messages and branded packaging), a 3PL should be able to help you achieve the unboxing experience you desire and overall improved customer satisfaction.
If you’re looking for customized fulfillment, DCL Logistics provides our high-growth brands with many value-added services. Reach out for a quote, or read about the special projects some of our customers have executed.