What Is B2B 3PL Fulfillment?

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An ECommerce B2B 3PL fulfillment provider is a mouthful, but it boils down to a service ships products from one business to another. The ECommerce company sells their products to other businesses and the 3PL simply ensures order move quickly, efficiently, and accurately.

From the 3PL’s standpoint, there is little difference between a B2B and a B2C order. So, it can use the same fulfillment warehouse to provide both B2C and B2B fulfillment services. You’ll likely call it a B2B 3PL based on your needs and the special touches you require, such as how B2B sales can be in bulk or at freight levels, while B2C generally aren’t that larger. That means there’s more to your business, and a good B2B 3PL relationship, than meets the eye.

B2B fulfillment

Here’s a guide to understanding B2B fulfillment.

What is B2B 3PL order fulfillment?

B2B (business-to-business) 3PL order fulfillment is the process of having a partner that ships your orders to business customers. Among the most common types of B2B fulfillment is shipping wholesale orders, which ship to retailers for resale to consumers. Some B2B warehouses operate more like distribution centers than traditional logistics companies.

However, wholesale orders are just one part of a B2B 3PL’s efforts. For example, your company will likely make bulk orders of supplies they need for their operations. In this case, the 3PL would break down freight into smaller (but still large) quantities of products and send these to your location. If you buy a wide range of office supplies, for example, the B2B 3PL serving the seller could combine all those small orders into a single container or freight shipment and get it to your HQ.

The B2B aspect of these shipments also applies for smaller orders. You might just get a few cases of sanitizer or office snacks each month. These shipments would look like a normal eCommerce order that anyone could expect on their doorstep at home.

However, you’ll want a B2B 3PL to handle these to ensure that they select a carrier product that delivers during business hours. You wouldn’t want a box supplies sitting outside an office all weekend long.

A B2B 3PL lets you outsource a critical segment of your supply chain. Your B2B order fulfillment provider can handle the burdensome requirements of wholesale or business delivery like a pro. That gives you the confidence to pursue wholesale accounts with companies that can turn your business into a big success.

B2C order fulfillment definition

B2C (business-to-consumer) order fulfillment is what most people think of as eCommerce fulfillment, which ships order to retail customers. Both B2B and B2C start with shipping inventory to your fulfillment centers in bulk. B2C orders usually come in through your online retail store or eCommerce platforms. Your 3PL processes your B2C orders, shipping packages from the warehouse to your customers.

B2C fulfillment

What are the distinctions between B2B and B2C fulfillment?

B2C fulfillment usually involves smaller packages and larger numbers of orders than business-to-business logistics. Most B2C fulfillment involves packages weighing 10 pounds or less because the most common consumer order weighs 1 pound or less.

Don’t worry if your products are larger or heavier, though. While Red Stag works with companies and products of all sizes, we’re your big, bulky, heavy, and high-value experts.

Save on shipping with Red Stag Fulfillment

For B2B customers, you will generally ship bulk orders. Most B2C orders ship by common carriers such as UPS, FedEx, or USPS while larger B2B orders typically ship via LTL (less than truckload) freight. Your fulfillment center may ship palletized products to your B2B customers. You may use some of the same carriers, but there are also regional and smaller partners specifically designed to move your freight.

ECommerce shipping is an integral part of B2C order fulfillment. Free shipping, in particular, helps boost retail sales. B2B customers, on the other hand, expect to pay for shipping. In B2B fulfillment, the cost of shipping per item is often lower than B2C shipping when you ship products in bulk. But with B2B shopping now mirroring much of B2C sales, you might want to consider free shipping and other deals to entice smaller companies that may buy in lower quantities.

B2B 3PLs go beyond bulk

But bulk shipping isn’t the only difference between B2B vs. B2C fulfillment. B2C packages get dropped off at a customer’s address, with or without a delivery signature, while B2B orders can be more complex. 

B2B fulfillment

When your B2B 3PL ships a wholesale order to a retailer, that shipment must meet the retailer’s requirements. This could include finicky specifications for labeling, coding, and invoicing. Your B2B fulfillment warehouse needs to have the systems in place to meet these requirements. In addition, your wholesale clients may require your fulfillment to use EDI or Electronic Data Interchange. This is a system for the electronic transmission of business documents. Large retailers often use EDI to receive shipment documentation.

Large retailers are very strict about receiving. You may get charged a penalty or even have your shipment returned if it doesn’t follow the retailer’s protocols. If your eCommerce business ships wholesale orders to larger retailers, it’s vital to have a fulfillment partner that is set up to process these orders.

Does your eCommerce business need a B2B 3PL?

Does your eCommerce company need specialized B2B 3PL fulfillment? That depends on your customer mix. If you ship mostly to consumers, you probably need a traditional third-party logistics service.

Perhaps you ship a few wholesale orders a month to small shops. In that case, you might not need a warehouse that specializes in B2B fulfillment. Small stores aren’t likely to have strict inbound freight requirements like big-box retailers do. And, if your products are small, your wholesale orders can ship via a common carrier. In this case, your B2C fulfillment center can probably handle this B2B fulfillment.

The good news is that partners like Red Stag can help you handle all types of orders, so you don’t have to fill limited to either B2B or B2C sales channels.

B2B fulfillment

You might need B2B fulfillment services if you ship LTL or full truckload (FTL) orders. And, once you land an account at a large retailer, you’ll need to develop a B2B fulfillment protocol. It’s essential to get the paperwork right — and costly to get it wrong. If your business plan includes selling to large chain stores, put your B2B fulfillment plan in place even if you don’t have those accounts yet. That way, you’ll be ready to jump in once you land a big wholesale account.

The potential of wholesale

Wholesale eCommerce is a growing market. Many online retailers are adding online wholesale stores to more easily reach the wholesale market. While wholesale margins are lower, you make up for that with larger orders. A few successful wholesale accounts can give a significant boost to your bottom line. B2B sales generally require less customer service. Plus, a satisfied B2B customer will reorder regularly, saving you the sometimes-steep customer acquisition costs for retail customers.

Do you want to grow into the lucrative B2B market? Outsourced logistics companies help you take your business to the next level. In the long term, the effort to set yourself up for B2B fulfillment is a good investment in your business.

Finding the right B2B 3PL

Some fulfillment centers handle only B2C or B2B fulfillment while others can process both B2B and B2C shipments. When you’re choosing a B2B 3PL, make sure it offers the fulfillment service or services you need. Errors in preparing B2B shipments can cost you money — you might even lose the big wholesale account you worked so hard to land.

logistics warehouse

At Red Stag Fulfillment, we primarily provide B2C and B2B services for our clients. We can also palletize products and ship LTL freight. Red Stag works hard to find the most efficient and least expensive shipping options for every order. Our efforts include leveraging freight services that deliver your B2B orders quickly and economically.

Additionally, we provide add-on fulfillment solutions that can help you meet the needs of your B2B customers. We offer kitting and light assembly, so we can customize orders for your wholesale or business clients. Red Stag Fulfillment also provides same-day shipping for B2B and B2C orders. We provide on-time delivery you can rely on and fulfillment solutions that will lead to greater customer satisfaction.

What shipping services do you need? Give Red Stag Fulfillment a call to discuss your options. We’d love to provide you with the excellent customer service we give all our clients, B2B and B2C alike.

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