The role of third-party logistics (3PL) service providers is evolving, with a need to offer an extended range of value-added services that go beyond traditional picking, packing and dispatching functions.
Retailers are also pushing their 3PL providers harder than ever. “To stay in the game, 3PLs have to be prepared to deliver greater product volumes with more complex order configurations, quicker and more often than ever before – while, at the same time, reconciling the client’s yearning to keep inventories low with a need to fulfil orders at the last minute to match consumer purchasing trends,” says Mark Elward, managing director of DK Fulfilment.
“Flexible assembly operations, slick pick-‘n’-pack routines, efficient kitting activities and fast packaging operations are the necessary tools to gaining a competitive edge in a world, where customers expect ‘personalised’ products adapted to their requirements and delivered to exacting time slots,” he says.
But 3PLs are also helping their retail clients extend their reach in to new sales territories too. Elward explains that thanks to its partnerships with internet marketplaces in the likes of Eastern Europe, China and India the company is helping UK sellers expand into new markets more easily. “We handle everything from order receipt to fulfilment – even ensuring that the appropriate tax or duty regimes are satisfied. Our clients just collect the profits each month,” he says.
“One of our client companies is a reseller of a range of wines, which are imported from South Africa. We sell the product on to 11 different non-EU countries – each requiring its own set of labelling which we provide and apply and, more significantly, each with its own tax and customs laws to comply with,” he says.
Image credit: DK Fulfilment.