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3rd Party Shipper: What You Should Know

There are many benefits of using a 3rd party shipper

  • Written by Ellie Kwon
  • Published on December 7, 2023
  • Time to read 9 minutes

Finding the right 3rd party shipper makes or breaks the potential for exponential growth. To find the right fit, these are the things you must keep in mind.

What Is a 3rd Party Shipper?

A third-party shipper (3PL) is a company that provides logistics and shipping services to businesses. These companies specialize in transporting, storing, and distributing goods for other businesses. This allows them to outsource these functions and focus on their core competencies.

A 3rd party shipper can offer various services, including order fulfillment, warehousing, transportation management, and freight brokerage. They may also provide value-added services such as packaging, kitting, labeling, and quality control.

The benefits of using a 3rd party shipper include increased efficiency, reduced costs, and improved supply chain management. By outsourcing logistics and shipping functions, businesses can leverage the expertise and resources of 3PL providers. This streamlines operations. This ultimately improves customer service.

Third-party shippers play a critical role in the global supply chain, helping businesses manage their logistics and shipping needs more effectively and efficiently.

The Service Menu

3rd party shippers often specialize to fit the needs of the merchant. There are industry-specific fulfillment options. For example, there are 3rd party shippers who work specifically for the needs of apparel, beauty, electronics, or sporting goods. 

There are also 3rd party shippers specialize in big and bulky, hazmat, or FDA-approved specialities. 

Also, if you need certain capabilities, there are 3rd party shippers specific to that. These may include branded packaging, subscription boxes, B2B fulfillment, return processing, kitting, EDI, subscriptions, etc. Different 3rd party shippers offer these different capabilities.

Next, when it comes to handling and storage, different 3PLs offer different services. There are 3PLs for temperature control, secure storage, cross-docking, humidity control, and more. 

3rd party shippers are not one-size-fits-all. It’s about finding the 3rd party shipper for you and your needs. 

A graphic illustration depicts a 3pl fulfillment warehouse, along with shipping trucks being loaded for delivery.

How are 3rd Party Shippers Different From Outsourced Freight

Regarding logistics, knowing the difference between third-party shippers and outsourced freight is vital. Both options involve hiring a third party to handle shipping and logistics. However, they differ in the level of services provided. 

A 3rd party shipper can offer a wide range of services. They are often specialized in a specific industry or type of product. For example, some third-party shippers specialize in apparel, beauty, electronics, and sporting goods. They may also offer more abilities, such as branded packaging, subscription boxes, B2B fulfillment, return processing, kitting, EDI, and more. 

In contrast, outsourced freight typically refers to transporting goods from one location to another. It does not include services such as storage, packaging, or fulfillment. 

Ultimately, the choice between third-party shippers and outsourced freight depends on the business’s specific needs. It’s essential to evaluate the available options carefully. This way, you can choose the one that best fits the company’s unique requirements.

How Do You Choose The Right 3rd Party Shipper?

Choosing the right third-party logistics provider (3PL) is a critical decision that can impact the growth and success of your business. Here are some key factors to consider when evaluating potential 3PL partners:

Experience and Expertise

First, look for a 3PL with experience and expertise in your industry or product type. Check their track record and reputation in the market.

Service Capabilities

Next, evaluate the range of services the 3PL offers. Make sure they align with your business needs. Consider factors such as fulfillment options, handling and storage capabilities, shipping methods, and technology solutions.

Scalability

Then, ensure the 3PL has the resources and capacity to accommodate your business growth. They should be able to handle changes in demand and scale up or down as needed.

Communication and Transparency

Finally, look for a 3PL that values communication and transparency. You should be able to access real-time data and reports on inventory, order fulfillment, and shipping status.

Cost

Evaluate the cost structure and pricing model of the 3PL. Make sure you understand the fees involved. Also, be aware of any minimum order requirements or volume commitments.

Do you need help looking for a 3rd party shipper? eHub’s vetted 3PL network gives you access to a team to find you your best-fit 3rd party shipper at the lowest cost. 

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