Business basics: What is a 3PL?

By Oleg Mikhailenko
Published in Solutions
July 06, 2022
3 min read
Business basics: What is a 3PL?

Are you in that awkward adolescent stage of growth in your business where you’ve been managing everything in-house, but sales are beginning to outstrip your capacity to keep up with them? Have you noticed that your garage, office, or kitchen is absolutely full of boxes waiting to be shipped out? Do you spend multiple hours of your day every single day packing orders, to the point where it’s beginning to take over your life? Unless you plan to do everything all by yourself forever, at some point in your ecommerce journey you’ll need to engage the services of a 3PL fulfillment partner. 3PL, or third-party logistics, ensures that sellers like you don’t need to go out into the world and found their own warehouse in order to sell or be competitive in the stiff competitive world of online shopping.

But what is 3PL in supply chain operations, and how do you choose a good one? How do you make sure that your merchandise is in the right hands for the job, and your customers will receive their items as quickly and smoothly as possible? Read on for an overview of third-party logistics  companies, the kinds of services they offer, and how to make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck in an age of uncertainty and annoying supply chain disruptions.

What is 3PL and 4PL?

First of all, it’s helpful to define what e-commerce warehousing actually is. Strictly speaking, it’s the storage of physical goods while they wait to be sold online. Goods have to be safely and securely housed and their locations carefully managed to make sure that nothing is lost and that inventory is correctly tallied at all times. Daily operations include the training and management of warehouse staff, building relationships with shipping carriers, and recording all inbound and outbound shipments. It’s a lot to wrap your head around, especially if you’re just starting out on your e-commerce journey and have no idea on how to run a warehouse.

3PL and 4PL services handle all that for you. The main difference between a 3PL and a 4PL is that a 4PL will handle all parts of the fulfillment process for you wholesale. This means that they’ll make the sorts of everyday decisions that you might normally have to make yourself as a business owner, leaving you with more time for product development, marketing, and customer service. Many 3PL and 4PL services provide a number of benefits to their companies, including but not limited to access to their warehouse inventory template and the assurance they’re conforming to warehouse layout best practices checklist. This means you never have to worry about how to organize warehouse inventory. It all gets handled for you. They also very often support direct integration with a number of selling channels, meaning that every order is automatically sent to the provider so that it can be packed and shipped without any special intervention from you. This also means that inventory is automatically synced between your 3PL partner and your online store, preventing “phantom inventory”, or when products that aren’t actually available for purchase are shown as available on your website.

3PL examplesof service

So what exactly do 3PL services do? Everything from inventory intake to organization to picking and packing fall under their purview. Oftentimes they can even arrange for your preferred courier service to pick up the completed parcels and send them on their way as speedily as possible. Kitting and bundling are no problem, and most services are even capable of handling the headache that is customer returns, which means if a shopper isn’t 100% satisfied with their item for any reason, they can send it back and it will all be handled without you having to personally get involved.

In conclusion

P2Pseller wants to partner with you to bring about the ecommerce revolution. Our featured warehousing, fulfillment, and 3PL partners are the best on the market, meaning that no matter where you are in your ecommerce journey, we’ve ensured you never have to worry about a thing. Our open and democratized market ensures that instead of being forced to do business with companies that see you only as another number, you can be sure to keep your hard-earned dollars in your local community and give them to hard-working people who really deserve them. Register a free account with us today in order to browse all our offerings and see how we can help you scale infrastructure, sell more, and grow your business. All with zero stress and zero phone calls.


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Oleg Mikhailenko

Co-Founder, CEO P2Pseller

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