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Order fulfilment

Why a 3PL Partner is a must for a D2C brand's growth

Versha Kamwal
November 28, 2021
7
mins read

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The newest trend in the ever-changing ecommerce landscape is the shift towards the D2C (direct-to-consumer) model. According to research, India’s D2C market is estimated to reach $100 Billion by 2025.

This massive movement across India is enabling ecommerce brands to bypass the intermediaries and reach customers directly. Ultimately, offering them lower prices, quality assurance, and better policies.

However, keeping up with the constant increase in demand and customer expectations is not easy. Here most of the D2C brands fail to grow and scale. Especially, if they don’t have a seamless order fulfilment strategy and an experienced fulfilment partner.

In this blog, you'll learn what is a 3PL, what are the signs your D2C brand needs a 3PL partner, and how does a 3PL partner helps D2C brands grow their business. ‍

What is a 3PL?

A 3PL stands for Third-party Logistics. It is a service that allows ecommerce brands to outsource operational logistics from warehousing, fulfilment to delivery to a third party. Thus, ultimately enabling ecommerce brands to focus on their core business.

3PL service providers help ecommerce brands to meet their specific needs while maintaining a seamless supply chain by streamlining complex processes and bringing considerable expertise to the table. 3PL providers offer a multitude of benefits that enable ecommerce brands to save money and time by providing a ready infrastructure, technology, and geographic footprint across India with multiple fulfilment centres.

What are the signs your D2C brand needs a 3PL partner?

Your order fulfilment capabilities can either drive you towards success or hold you back. It is important to shift from in-house fulfilment to an outsourced fulfilment (3PL provider) at the right time. Here are some signs you should look for:

  • You are not able to offer fast and free shipping

While selling online, your customers can be from anywhere across the country. This means, you have to ship orders across India. While keeping in mind that high shipping fees and slow shipping speed are the biggest reasons for shopping cart abandonment. But in self-fulfilment, you don't have access to discounted shipping rates or multiple courier partners. This means you cannot offer lightning-fast shipping speed to customers across all the zones while reducing shipping costs.

Let’s take an example, you are fulfiling your D2C orders in-house from one or two warehouses. You have your warehouse in Karnataka, and you received an order from New Delhi. You can either choose standard shipping to deliver that order within a week or choose express shipping to deliver that order in 2-3 days. However, today's customers expect a speedy delivery, that leaves you no choice but to go for the second option—the costlier one. You can also outsource order fulfilment and offer fast, affordable shipping to your customers.

  • Your delivery standards are deteriorating

If you are observing that your order accuracy is declining—customers are delivered incorrect or damaged products, you should outsource your fulfilment to a fulfilment partner or lose your customers. According to a study, 84% of customers don't shop from a brand again after one negative delivery experience.

  • You are experiencing cyclical or uneven sales

If your order volume fluctuates throughout the year due to seasonality or flash sales, your inventory levels, storage requirement, and manpower requirement also changes frequently. If you upgrade your entire facility when order volume is at peak, you would incur huge costs of additional storage, SKUs (stock keeping units) and staff once it lowers down again. In such scenarios, it's best to outsource fulfilment to get access to scalable infrastructure and manpower— and pay for what you use.

  • You are lacking expertise

When you fulfil your D2C orders on your own, you simply pick, pack, and ship—not necessarily in the most efficient and cost-effective way. Here a 3PL partner's expertise comes into play. A 3PL partner can streamline complex processes and unify your fulfilment to achieve greater cost savings and increased efficiency.

  • You are experiencing high order volume

If your daily order volume is increasing constantly, it might be the time to outsource fulfilment to a 3PL provider. Otherwise, this can result in missed deadlines, poor standards, and overworked staff. With a 3PL provider, you can ensure fast deliveries, increase your manpower and storage capacity to handle the increasing order volume.‍

  • You are not able to focus on your core business

Selling online usually means juggling between numerous activities. While order fulfilment is crucial, it is not the reason you started your business. And as your ecommerce business grows, order fulfilment takes up more and more of your time. You can outsource your fulfilment to focus on high priority business objectives like product design, branding, marketing, sales generation, and more.

How does a 3PL provider help D2C brands scale their business?

1. Scalable fulfilment infrastructure

During an expansion spree of your D2C brand, you require an infrastructure that is flexible enough to manage the increasing order volume, i.e. adequate manpower and storage space at all times. Additionally, the requirement for automation also arises to minimise the need for manual operations—which are time-consuming and not so cost-effective. By partnering with a 3PL provider, you get access to scalable infrastructure that grows with you.

Moreover, your inventory levels fluctuate based on seasons, flash-sales, discounts, and more. With a 3PL provider, resources are allocated according to your current order volume.

You can leverage Eshopbox's established fulfilment infrastructure to effectively manage the increase in sales or variability in sales while ensuring a branded experience for your customers.

2. Efficient order processing

Order processing is extremely labour intensive and time-consuming. If you are experiencing an increase in order volume, order processing can become difficult. 3PL providers leverages powerful technology in the entire order fulfilment process, such as barcode scanners, conveyor belts, and more. Additionally, the streamlined pick and pack process of 3PL providers ensures quick order processing so that your D2C orders are marked 'ready to ship' quickly with incredible order accuracy.

Eshopbox follows a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to streamline order processing and achieve maximum efficiency. The pick and pack process is also automated with an order accuracy rate of 99.75%.

3. Fast delivery speed

Customers expect fast delivery as a customary service from ecommerce brands. This means your D2C brand must offer fast delivery to stay ahead of the competition. A 3PL provider who has multiple warehouses across all zones in the country can help you split your inventory to reduce transit times and ensure speedy delivery to delight your customers.

Eshopbox has a distributed network of fulfilment centres spread across India, enabling D2C brands to provide lightning-fast delivery without worrying about their customer's location.

Eshopbox's Fulfilment centres
Eshopbox's Fulfilment centres

4. Lower shipping costs

If you're shipping your D2C orders yourself, it is unlikely for you to get access to discounts and negotiated shipping rates due to low order volumes. This means, shipping can be expensive in self-fulfilment. On the contrary, a 3PL provider like Eshopbox allows you to take advantage of their negotiated shipping rates with courier companies and bulk delivery discounts. Moreover, as stated above, 3PL provider enables you to keep inventory closer to customers across the country and consequently reduce shipping costs further.

5. Great customer experience

Customer experience is the key to customer loyalty. Even after a sale, your D2C brand can leave a memorable impression on your customers. With a tech-enabled 3PL like Eshopbox, you can enhance the customer experience by delivering an incredible post-purchase experience.

Eshopbox's branded tracking page for real-time order tracking
Eshopbox's branded tracking page for real-time order tracking

Blackberrys email notification for order status
Blackberrys email notification for order status

Petite 'n Pretty's unboxing experience
Petite 'n Pretty's unboxing experience

6. Best-in-class technology and analytics

If you partner with a tech-enabled 3PL provider like Eshopbox, you get access to actionable tools, periodic reports and key metrics to drive your D2C brand in the right direction with the help of valuable insights:

Eshopbox's actionable dashboard
Eshopbox's actionable dashboard

Bottom line

D2C brands have gained massive popularity in the past few years and they’re here to stay! In order to meet customer expectations and compete with ecommerce giants, D2C brands need to ramp up their order fulfilment capabilities. Thankfully, 3PL providers like Eshopbox can help D2C brands to help them grow faster by taking order fulfilment off their hands— helping them delight their customers and attain long-term growth without breaking a sweat.

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