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Did you know that 96 of the Fortune 100 companies use third-party logistics (3PL) providers? The fact that Third Party Logistics services (3PL) are employed by thousands of businesses around the world is a testament to the efficiency and effectiveness of these services. But many moderately-sized companies wonder whether the use of a 3PL company is truly advantageous on a smaller scale. The truth is that 3PL services can benefit businesses of all sizes, and they are a great way for a company to take itself to the next level.

Five benefits of using a 3PL provider:

1. When you take the burden of actually getting your product to your customers off of your shoulders, you are able to focus on what you do best. Very few people go into business simply because they enjoy managing inventory and shipping products. However, these processes are a necessary part of doing business. As you may have already learned, however, managing your storage, shipping, and returns can quickly take over your already-busy schedule. Seeking the assistance of a 3PL company allows you to delegate these processes to professionals so that you can go back to focusing on the true purpose of your business, while knowing that your customer’s needs are being met and that your products are being professionally inventoried and shipped.

2. Outsourcing to a 3PL means hiring a team of professionals who specialize in logistics. You do not waste time or money navigating your way through the intricacies of shipping processes. The logistics provider takes over the inventory, shipping, and returns portions of your business and allows you to immediately hit the ground running by implementing their skills and experience to your advantage. When you hire a 3PL provider, you immediately gain their years of knowledge and ensure that your shipping policies and practices are the very best available.

3. As with nearly every aspect of our daily lives, technology is changing at an incredible rate. Technological innovations in the logistics arena are no different, and with the ever-increasing power of the online consumer, tech-driven shipping platforms are now an essential part of conducting business. If you decide to manage your own shipping in-house, that means purchasing and implementing an IT platform yourself. The result is that you are essentially required to learn—and manage—an IT system for which you may or may not be trained. At the same time, you will need to continuously check for updates to this system to ensure that you are serving your customers with the most recent shipping and inventory management systems available. By outsourcing these functions to a 3PL provider, you are delegating the responsibilities of managing a shipping IT platform to a company which is specialized in this arena. For the 3PL company, shipping is what they do (along with a number of other functions), but maintaining their IT processes is simply a part of their daily business, allowing you to entrust this responsibility to the experts. Because the 3PL provider relies upon these technologies to keep its business alive, you can be assured that your products and customers will always receive the benefits of the most comprehensive shipping-related IT available.

4. When you enlist the services of a 3PL provider, you are putting the power of all of that provider’s clients to work for you. Rather than packing and shipping your products individually, the 3PL company is able to combine your products and needs with those of its other clients, giving you greater shipping optimization. This means that your 3PL provider can combine your freight with that of other companies to increase your shipping efficiencies. Also, 3PL providers are able to use their contacts in the shipping industry to find solutions that benefit all parties, such as combining with another company’s private shipping options to save them empty miles and to cut down on your expenses. Essentially, the 3PL provider has negotiating and buying power that you, as a private company, simply do not have.

5. 3PL companies provide a continuously improving service. Just as you are constantly striving to improve the buying experience for your customers, the 3PL provider is constantly improving on its own services to benefit you, their customer. A 3PL company can always improve by offering faster, less expensive shipping options, simplified and cost-effective return strategies, etc. With the assistance of a 3PL company, you know that you, and therefore your customers, are receiving a continuously-improving shipping platform, which benefits your bottom line.

How these benefits provide actual savings to your company

As every business owner knows, time is money. By hiring a 3PL provider, you are freeing up time that you would otherwise have to spend on the shipping and returns aspects of your business. This means that your time can be spent more efficiently, increasing its value to you. In addition, unhappy customers and delayed shipments can be costly. By entrusting your company’s shipping processes to a 3PL provider, you are giving your customers the very best shipping options available, resulting in fewer delays and complaints. Outsourcing your shipping and inventory processes to a 3PL provider is a simple move that can result in vast savings and improved efficiencies for businesses of any size.