3PL Warehouse Meaning in E-commerce

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As more business went online, there was speculation that brick-and-mortar stores might eventually fail. Everything would allegedly shift online. However, fulfillment—an essential component of the e-commerce recipe—was left out. This fulfillment issue is resolved by third-party logistics (3PL) for e-commerce. In order to execute transactions, third-party logistics—the coordinating of people, products, and facilities—uses businesses other than the buyer and seller.

Yes, you could buy a pair of gloves online rather than in a shop. However, the gloves would need to physically get to you. Therefore, concerns with storage, inventory, packing, shipping, and tracking would still need to be addressed. In a physical business, you can just hand the buyer the goods.

With e-commerce, you must, however, extend your tentacles considerably further. Delivery is your responsibility as the online retailer. In the event that the goods are returned, you will need to manage a completely different realm of reverse logistics.

Yes, e-commerce has a lot of benefits. But as one transitions from traditional retail to online shopping, complexity rises in several areas, like logistics. That presents a strong argument in favor of using a third-party logistics company.

Third-Party Logistics

Third-party logistics providers are service providers who you hire to handle your logistical needs on your behalf. These service providers are often known as professional 3PL providers in industry jargon. Participants in the e-commerce paradigm can undertake jobs that are specific to their areas of expertise, which is one of its main advantages. Therefore, using a third-party logistics company for outsourcing works well with the e-commerce ecosystem.

Services Offered by a 3PL

All of your logistical needs should be handled by a full-service 3PL. Their offerings would consist of:

Supply Chain Administration

An efficient supply chain is the foundation of a successful e-commerce company. The 3PL has done a decent job if your inbound freight delivery standards are met.


Even if an online retailer might not have a physical storefront, actual goods nevertheless need to be housed somewhere. Typically, a 3PL will handle all of your warehousing needs. It will make an investment in the equipment and area needed to manage a warehouse effectively. Given that a 3PL can divide its overhead costs among several clients, one would anticipate that its warehousing services would be more economical.

Reduction Service

Online retailers frequently ship a large number of tiny items to the same address. The shipping costs could be significantly reduced if we combine all the little things into one shipment, a circumstance where the whole may not equal the sum of its parts. Consolidation services, also known as freight consolidation or cargo consolidation, refer to a supplier of services that sends a number of small parcels as a single large package. One of the numerous services offered by a third-party logistics supplier is this one.

Order Processing

An online retailer has not taken any action if the order has not been filled. And completing an order involves more than just ensuring that the buyer receives their purchase. The consumer must receive the correct goods in a timely manner and in acceptable shape. All of this may seem straightforward, yet order fulfillment errors are a common problem in e-commerce. Your order fulfillment needs could be handled by a reliable third-party logistics service provider.

The Benefits of Third-Party Logistics

A few typical justifications for selecting a third-party logistics supplier are as follows:

Scalability and flexibility

Not all online stores are like Amazon. Many of them must begin modestly. Creating one’s own logistics division could involve too much fixed cost. You might start small and scale up as needed with the help of a third-party logistics supplier.

Efficacy and specialized knowledge

You should focus all of your efforts on selling to customers if you are skilled at it. You won’t be effective at a task unless you specialize in it.


Logistics is a sector of the company that is always changing. Equipment, software, and hardware are always being upgraded. As logistics is their primary business, a competent third-party provider would stay current.

Every firm experiences highs and lows, so it’s impossible to predict what lies ahead. When you work with a 3PL warehouse company, you can reduce some of the uncertainty because you are aware of what you are getting into. Additionally, it helps your finances.

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