What is a Third-Party Logistics Provider (or 3PL)?

Understanding Third-Party Logistics Providers and how they can help your small business
third-party logistics provider or 3PL warehouse

As your eCommerce business grows, it might be a challenge to keep fulfillment in-house. When that time comes, you may want to think about outsourcing fulfillment to a third-party logistics provider (or 3PL, as they are commonly called).

What Does a Third-Party Logistics Provider (3PL) Do?

A third-party logistics provider takes on the packaging, kitting, postage purchasing, and shipping of your product(s). These companies generally offer a suite of services. Such services include kitting (putting your products into shipping containers, such as boxes, mailers, or on pallets) all the way down to providing discounted shipping quotes. Some of these partners will even deliver your products to your customers! However, you should keep in mind that most 3PL’s use USPS to complete their last mile delivery.

Here at Shipping School, we’re big fans of keeping your fulfillment in-house for as long as possible. That way, you gain valuable experience and the knowledge to effectively communicate with a 3PL when you choose to start outsourcing fulfillment.

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