Guest post: 5 ways 3PLs can capitalize on the e-commerce boom

Our guest blogger is Robert Liva, Senior Account Executive at Pierbridge.

Have you noticed that there’s a different delivery van pulling up on your block five or six times every day? Those vans are evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated several shipping trends that were already developing pretty quickly. Online spending accounted for 21.3% of total retail sales last year, and U.S. e-commerce spending rose 44% in 2020 over 2019.

At Pierbridge, our technology has helped parcel shippers adapt to these trends as they’ve transformed the supply chain. One new trend we’ve watched develop is third-party logistics (3PL) providers getting involved in multiple segments of omnichannel parcel fulfillment—including final mile delivery.

Here are five ways we’re helping 3PLs adapt to—and succeed in—the “newer normal” of omnichannel e-commerce fulfillment.

#1: Adapting to an omnichannel world

These days, everyone wants everything tomorrow, if not sooner. That consumer demand has disrupted the traditional port-logistics-warehouse-retailer supply chain in favor of a decentralized, omnichannel approach. Now, it’s all about keeping inventory closer to consumers and getting that shipment into the final mile delivery as quickly as possible.

3PLs have mastered first-mile and mid-mile shipping, but the new omnichannel approach has many 3PLs exploring final-mile delivery as well.

To extend their expertise into final-mile, 3PLs now have to re-prioritize their approaches to carrier pricing, cartonization, returns and Dangerous Goods shipments. Successfully meeting these challenges is one reason 3PLs who offered omnichannel fulfillment in 2020 were 271% more likely to be fast growers.

#2: Managing carrier differences in pricing and practices

Consumers’ delivery needs are too diverse for shippers or 3PLs to lock into a single carrier for all their needs. But every carrier does business slightly differently, and prices can vary significantly.

Transtream helps 3PLs find the best carrier for any given shipment, leveraging their buying power to select the lowest cost provider automatically. The system lets 3PLs focus on their own processes, smoothing out the nuances in terminology and processes between different carriers.

#3: Avoiding “air taxes”

Just as hotels want to sell out their rooms, carriers want to “cube out” their vehicles to maximize revenue. Instead of charging by weight, they now charge by volume—and shippers who pack cartons and containers with too much empty volume pay “air taxes” in the form of parcel and LTL dimensional-based (DIM) rates.

Transtream gives 3PLs automated cartonization algorithms that help pack the most product into the smallest cartons and containers to avoid air taxes.

#4: Making returns seamless for retailers

One in four e-commerce purchases are returned—and for electronics, that number is 48%. And, just as they expect next-day delivery, consumers expect seamless returns. In fact, 60% of shoppers say a negative return experience can deter them from shopping with a brand again.

To be trusted partners to the retailers they serve, 3PLs should be motivated to help make returns painless for consumers. We recommend they embed return “widgets” within their clients’ e-commerce websites that allow customers to print self-service return labels, schedule pickups and track returns.

#5: Keeping hazmat shipments compliant and safe

All of the above complexities of omnichannel shipping become even more challenging when Dangerous Goods are involved. And the last thing a 3PL needs is for a delivery to be delayed due to an easily preventable hazmat rules violation.

That’s why Transtream can be fully integrated with Labelmaster’s industry-leading DGIS software. It automatically flags a hazardous material package and then seamlessly pulls up a DGIS window that validates the shipment against the latest regulations. Users can see exactly how to compliantly package, label and document each hazmat shipment.

The final mile is new territory for many 3PLs, and with anything new, it helps to have a bit of a roadmap. Read this eBook to learn about 3PLs becoming a key part of retail omnichannel logistics, and watch the on-demand 3PL Parcel Shipping Playbook webinar to learn the right plays for success. We hope they’ll take advantage of our expertise, our technology, and our partnership with Labelmaster to succeed.

Make sure your shipments are safe and in complete compliance with a full line of solutions from Labelmaster—a full-service provider of goods and services for hazardous materials and Dangerous Goods professionals, shippers, transport operators and EH&S providers.


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