For many businesses, the partnership with a 3PL provider ends with picking, packing, and shipping your products. For others, it can simply be for storage. But, a lot of businesses forget that a 3PL partner can help you focus on other aspects of your business. How? Your fulfillment partner should be almost like an invisible arm of your business operation. It’s good to check in to make sure your products are reaching your customers safe and sound; however, it shouldn’t take up all your time. You can use your newly found free time to focus on things that could improve your eCommerce business, like marketing.
3PLs can help your business improve your marketing in a couple of ways. Like mentioned before, a great 3PL partner can give you back your valuable time which, in turn, can be refocused on marketing efforts, but that’s not all. By having the perfect fit with your 3PL, you have the ability to keep your word when it comes to your marketing efforts. You might think this is a stretch, but in reality, it’s not. In this article, we are going to discuss how 3PLs can help your marketing efforts.
Finding the Right 3PL
To successfully gain back your valuable time, you first need to find the right 3PL partner for your business. There are a lot of things to think about when searching for the right partner, but it first starts with your products. A fulfillment company might specialize in small, lightweight products or heavy and large merchandise. Some warehouses are set up for the proper handling of food products or items classified as hazardous materials.
For example, at Red Stag Fulfillment, we are experts at shipping oversized, heavy, and high-value products. We are perfectly positioned to help your business with the challenges of oversized shipping, including reducing or eliminating dimensional weight shipping charges.
The next thing you need to consider is the reputation of the 3PL provider. You need to consider things like order accuracy, inventory accuracy, and on-time shipment. For example, Red Stag Fulfillment continues to track all these categories to ensure they are providing the best service for their clients.
- Order accuracy: 99.993%
- Inventory accuracy: 99.991%
- On-time shipments: 99.965%
However, there is so much more that goes into finding the right partner. Don’t fret! We have a questionnaire that can help you find out the best fit. If you need additional resources, we have plenty of blogs to help you find out what you need to look for in a 3PL.
Here’s a couple to get you started:
Turning your focus to marketing with a 3PL
For many business owners, saving time in any area to refocus back on your business is essential. Getting back your time by finding the right 3PL partner is often overlooked. By finding the right partner, you can move the constant focus from operations to marketing.
However, time isn’t the only thing you save when working with the right 3PL. The right partner will also save you money in the long run, resulting in more money going toward your marketing campaign. How? Inventory shrinkage and order accuracy are the two big areas that we are going to discuss that can help you save money, allowing you to put it toward your marketing efforts.
In simple terms, inventory shrinkage is when you have less inventory than you should. This means that what you have in your accounting books differs from the physical count of inventory in the warehouse. But how does this save you money? The short answer is it can keep your inventory as accurate as possible. The long answer is that a 3PL should have redundancies and inventory management systems in place to ensure your inventory is as accurate as possible to reduce the need to reorder and the amount of inventory lost to shrinkage — saving you money.
Let’s think about an example. Say your 3PL partner isn’t keeping count of your inventory. They are misplacing products, mislabeling SKUs on products, or neglecting your products, allowing them to get damaged. When you go to the inventory management software that you and your 3PL use, you see your best-selling product is low in inventory, so you order more. The issue is that the warehouse had a bunch of those best-selling products on–hand already, and you just ordered unneeded products. It’s not your fault, but this turns into a waste of money. The money that was used to over-order the best-selling products could have gone to your marketing campaigns to promote that product instead.
Inventory shrinkage can also save your products. How? Inventory shrinkage not only encompasses misplaced products. It involves damaged items as well. We know that inventory shrinkage will happen and damages do occur at any point of the fulfillment and shipping process. A great 3PL partner wants to make that number as close to zero as possible. By doing this, you save money on replacing products.
But it doesn’t stop there. You can gain money from inventory shrinkage as well. By getting your products to your customers safe and sound, you increase brand loyalty. Now, we know the customer isn’t always going to look at the box and think, “Wow, they did a great job delivering this,” but it will make them feel safe enough to order from your business again. Think back to the last time you ordered something, and it arrived damaged. You probably went through the return process and either got a refund or a replacement. Did you feel hesitant to order from that business again? Probably.
By taking this all into consideration, inventory shrinkage within your 3PL partner could make or break future orders. Finding the right 3PL partner can save your money or sometimes gain more money. This money can go to marketing efforts like paid social ads, SEO, or traditional media.
Order accuracy is extremely important to consider when finding the right 3PL partner. The right item goes in the right box and is shipped to the right customer. It seems simple, right? It can be with the right processes in place. At Red Stag, we value the use of the scanning process — essentially, are secret recipe is scanning, scanning, and more scanning. By scanning the product as it enters the warehouse, scanning it multiple times throughout the picking process, scanning it again at the packing station, and once more as it’s loaded into a truck, we can often eliminate an inaccurate order being shipped.
For this process, the money your business gets from an accurate 3PL partner is gained through customer loyalty. Similar to inventory shrinkage, your customer trusts that when they order from your business, the products they receive are accurate. When customers receive the right order, it creates a bit of loyalty and trust that can prompt them to order from your business again. Increasing customer loyalty can turn into additional revenue, and you can put that additional money toward your marketing efforts.
3PL help with marketing efforts already in place
Think about your current marketing efforts. Do you promote fast shipping or accurate inventory on your eCommerce site or ads? What about customer satisfaction? If you said yes to any of these, your fulfillment partner can aid you in those efforts. A 3PL partner can ensure that your products are shipped fast, on time, and accurately. By working with a 3PL partner, you can honor the things that you currently promote.
If you like to use customer reviews to promote your business, accurate and on-time shipping can help boost your reviews. Research from BrightLocal found that 77% of consumers ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ read online reviews when browsing for local businesses. In the same research, 88% of customers are likely to review a business if it went above and beyond to ensure they had an exceptional experience. A 3PL partner can help your business on the final stretch of the customer buying experience.
As mentioned before, your 3PL partner can help your customers know if their favorite item is in stock, they can help your customers receive their products on time, and they can ensure your products make it to your customer’s doorstep safe and sound. Doing this can make a happy customer leave a high-star review, which can help back your current marketing efforts and also increase customer traffic to your site.
So, a 3PL partner can do a lot of things for your business. Aiding in your marketing efforts can be added to this list. Finding the right 3PL partner is essential to help your business. By saving time and money, you can use this to focus on other aspects of your business, like marketing.
If you’re looking for a new 3PL partner, contact us today to talk with one of our 3PL experts.