Making a 3PL relationship work

Philip Pages, a co-founder of STNGR, a direct-to-consumer brand of hunting and tactical gear, says delegating order fulfillment to a third-party logistics (3PL) company has significant benefits for online retailers. But for STNGR, the fit wasn’t right.

The retailer tried using a 3PL but eventually decided to bring fulfillment in-house, a process he says was “a significant undertaking involving securing warehouse space, hiring a packing team, developing procedures for receiving shipments and many other tasks.

“The main reason we brought fulfillment in house was because of the complexity of our products, which aren’t easily managed by a 3PL,” Pages says. “A lot of individual product components are produced by different manufacturers and come to us for final packaging and assembly.”

Online retailers say third-party logistics providers can help them focus on the core of their businesses — functions like merchandising, marketing, and product development — while leaving warehousing, packing and shipping to specialists. Finding the right provider is not always easy. Retailers say it’s vital to carefully consider whether their product lines allow them to outsource their logistics operations. And after that, the next step is to thoroughly vet potential service providers to ensure a good fit.

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