Out of all the aspects of eCommerce and business in general, logistics are probably the most underrated. However, this process is critically important since inventory management, warehousing, shipment, and transportation are all included under this umbrella. It takes considerable skill and resources to handle all this, which is why outsourcing to 4PL providers or others is so popular for companies both big and small. Unsure about what that means? Let’s explore what 4PLs are and how they can help benefit your eCommerce company.
What is 4PL?
4PL stands for fourth-party logistics and refers to a type of outsourced service that handles a significant amount of a business’ resource, infrastructure, and fulfillment needs. They assume many of the same roles taken on by other logistics providers, such as 3PL ones. Still, they have an even broader responsibility in managing supply chain solutions and helping clients meet their goals. They essentially become a significant partner, taking on more accountability and ownership over their transportation and inventory management duties. After all, they have a much higher stake in its success and oversee pretty much every moving part that makes us their client’s supply chain. 4PLs are also intensely involved in managing any 3PLs being used and supervising warehousing operations. No pressure or anything, right?
The Benefits of 4PL
One of the issues business owners tend to have with fourth-party logistics providers is how significant their role is in the company. That’s a valid concern. It’s natural to be worried about new long-term partnerships, including 4PLs. If they don’t take their job seriously, your company’s finances and image are at considerable risk. However, a high-quality trusted 4PL can be a fantastic thing for your business on the flip side. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- Make for trusted advocates. 4PLs naturally have a much larger degree of involvement in business operations. That can be scary but choosing the right one for you and your company means you’ll have a fantastic advocate by your side. It’s a long-term, valued partnership, so your success soon becomes their success, too. That means they’ll passionately fight for your bottom line just as much as you, and all without the costs associated with assets and equipment.
- Improve customer relations. Being simultaneously in the age of the internet and the coronavirus, it goes without saying that customer relations look a little different these days. Gone are the days where they’re always face-to-face with retailers. But that doesn’t mean that customer experience or engagement is any less critical. 4PLs understand this and put them first, keeping them regularly informed about their purchases and providing top-notch customer care to ensure they keep coming back for more.
- Streamline processes. Good 4PLs know what they’re doing. They have expertise that the rest of us don’t. They know how to streamline operational processes and eliminate efficiency, allowing businesses to cut unnecessary costs, improve the different aspects of the supply chain, and direct the business to core competency efforts. In other words, fourth-party logistics providers can only aid in your productivity.
- Support business growth. Besides being very knowledgeable about business processes, 4PLs understand how to build networks that meet your logistical needs. They know about all things surrounding the market and forming relationships with those who can also assist in company expansion. In the end, it can provide much-needed support to aid in your business’ growth.