What is 3PL?

In logistics, 3PL is a common term.  In this set of FAQs, we answer some commonly asked questions regarding Third Party Logistics.

3PL, or Third Party Logistics, is the use of a third-party business for the provision of a warehousing, fulfilment and distribution service.  

A 3PL provider specialises in the provision of supply chain management functions which includes warehousing, inventory management, fulfilment and distribution throughout the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.

A 3PL fulfilment provider will have warehouse capacity and software to efficiently keep track of inventory, the skilled staff to carry out the fulfilment operation (pick, pack and despatch) and have access to reliable and cost-effective shipping solutions.  This saves businesses from having to rent storage facilities, hire and train staff for fulfilment duties and contact multiple shipping companies.

A business sends their stock to the 3PL provider’s warehouse. Their stock management system uses a unique code (SKU) to identify each individual product and variant. The customer places an order and a despatch note (or similar) is produced, enabling the pick and pack operatives to select the correct products and then carefully pack the order. The items are then delivered to the customer.

If your orders are regularly more than 20 a day, then it’s time to contact a 3PL provider. Most 3PL providers will be able to fulfil orders from as little as 20 per day up to thousands.

3PL providers will have large warehouse facilities and will be able to stock thousands, if not millions of products for different clients. Rather than renting or buying dedicated storage facilities, contact a 3PL provider who will be able to store your stock safely and undertake its distribution.

Adstral uses a 3PL Order Management software system which integrates seamlessly with all major online sales and eCommerce platforms, including eBay and Amazon. The software will automatically check your websites and other online sales channels for new orders received. We are also able to import orders from your in-house systems directly into our database using exported csv files or direct data transfer.

With a smart SKU system, together with our 3PL Order Management software, we have instant updates on stock levels. From our secure client portal, you can access real-time stock information and much more.

Your stock is secured safely in our warehouse ready for onward distribution once your customers place their orders. On receipt, each item is issued a unique number (SKU) that enables us to keep track of our every item of stock belonging to different customers. See our FAQ’s on SKUs for further information.

Adstral’s 3PL order fulfilment service is flexible, so that we are able to adapt to the changes of your business.

At Adstral, we can handle your entire returns process – from receiving goods back into stock (or disposing of faulty items), updating your inventory and sending out replacements if required.

In most cases a 3PL service will save businesses money, as the storage and personnel costs are already taken care of.  Outsourcing your order fulfilment to a 3PL provider will give you back the time to grow your business and concentrate on other areas such as promotion, marketing, and sourcing new products. Please visit our Pricing Page or contact our sales team for a more tailoured quote.

Many of our customers only require our services for certain times of the year, which is why we provide a flexible order fulfilment service to cover holidays, seasonal peaks and sales periods.

We cater for a variety of businesses, from small independent online retailers to large multi-channel businesses.  We provide a bespoke service tailored to meet your business’ needs. For more information, or to discuss your requirements, our team are on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Unlike some other 3PL companies, we don’t charge any monthly fees or set-up costs, you just pay the cost of fulfilment. Please visit our Pricing Page or contact our sales team for a more tailoured quote.

Want to find out if our third party logistics service is for you?