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How It Works

Order fulfillment can be flexible, reliable and streamlined. We would go as far as saying that our 3PL fulfillment services make it easy for brands of all sizes to provide an end-to-end customer experience.
Warehouse staff moving inventory
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You get to focus on marketing and selling your products – although we help with that too – while we take care of the rest. Cart.com’s 3PL order fulfillment uses proprietary software that connects to your store and imports orders automatically.

Our services include order processing, picking, packing and shipping, as well as inventory management, all of which are completely customizable and scalable. So, whether you’ve outgrown your setup already or you want to scale rapidly, we have everything you need to make it happen.

3PL Fulfillment Services

1. We receive your inventory (incoming goods)

Goods often arrive to our fulfillment centers directly from the manufacturer; they may also arrive from a different 3PL or from your warehouse. These shipments are attached to a purchase order that can be created automatically or manually based on your use of your own inventory management systems or a third party’s.

We count, inspect and inventory all incoming goods to make sure we received the proper amount, as well as acceptable quality. We use SKUs (or bar codes) for receiving and storage, but also to retrieve goods during order processing.

2. We securely store you goods in our fulfillment centers (inventory storage)

Cart.com’s network of fulfillment centers allows you to strategically split inventory across different locations to be closer to your customers. We get your products from A to B faster, and more cost-effectively. The closer your products are to your customers, the more you can reduce shipping zones and associated costs.

Our distributed 3PL warehouses provide brands not only with competitive rates, but also convenient long-term storage solutions. If goods are not immediately disbursed to pickable locations, they are sent to longer-term storage, which is IT-enabled and provides best-in-class security for safe storage.

A great advantage of customized warehouse services is speed. Distributed inventory helps you deliver to your customers faster. Once we receive an order, our proprietary software automatically detects the warehouse, as well as the carrier, that provides the quickest turnaround and offers the best rate.  

3. Your customer places an order on your store (order processing)

Order processing dictates product picking and packing corresponding to each customer order. In many eCommerce instances, order management is integrated with the website’s shopping cart to trigger order processing automatically.

Cart.com’s 3PL order fulfillment is designed to scale with your business. Our pick, pack and shipping pricing is flexible as to suit both eCommerce startups and established brands. Whether you’re moving high volume B2B or just starting with direct-to-consumer, our 3rd party logistics capabilities can accommodate your needs and clear the bar on customer experience.

Picking

Items are selected from the warehouse by a picking team or. Instructions on a packing slip contain specific information, such as item SKUs, product sizes and colors, or number of units. It also includes the location of the item in the fulfillment center’s warehouse. Several orders are batched together and picked simultaneously to increase picking efficiency, reducing fulfillment costs for you.

Packing

We offer custom packaging options to improve the experience for the end customer, and we can have multiple types and sizes of packaging available specifically for your brand. The packing materials are selected expressly for the lowest practical dimensional weight. This allows not only for lower shipping costs, but also faster transport, since space on delivery trucks is limited. DIM weight is calculated by multiplying package length by its width by its height.

4. We ship the order to your customer fast (shipping & delivery)

Once the order is processed and packed, it’s sent to a shipping node to be delivered to the customer. Carriers include freight lines or airlines, as well as national and local carriers, such as FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). It’s not uncommon for an order to have a shipping route that includes multiple carriers, such as FedEx picking up the package from our 3PL warehouse, but USPS delivering it to the customer’s home.

Our customized warehouse services and fulfillment network allow for fast delivery for all continental US orders, so you can meet or exceed customer expectations with 1 to 2 business days delivery. Fast shipping & delivery enables brands to reduce cart abandonment by 18% and increase average order value by 97%.

Processing returns

Returns processing can happen in two ways: by including shipping materials and return labels with the original order, or by allowing customers to generate labels and track returns. Whichever the case, it is crucial that the process is executed carefully, in order to determine if restocking is appropriate. Through our quality control checks, we make sure that malfunctioning products or soiled items are not being restocked.

What is 3PL?

3PL stands for 3rd party logistics, which refers to outsourcing the logistics part of your business operations to a third party. This means a logistics provider manages all (or part of) the operations, as opposed to fulfilling and delivering your own orders (1PL) or fulfilling your own orders and using a carrier to deliver them (2PL).

With the rise of eCommerce and the advancement of its lifecycle, more and more brands have recognized the convenience and cost effectiveness of outsourcing order fulfillment to external parties. Cart.com works with e-retailers of all sizes, who gain access to our logistical experience and economies of scale.

What services does a 3PL provide?

A 3rd party logistics company can assist brands at any and all stages of the supply chain. Usually, 3PL order fulfillment refers to an integrated solution that covers a spectrum of services, which include but are not limited to:

  • Warehousing
  • Freight forwarding
  • Customs procedures
  • Inventory management
  • Ocean and/or air freight
  • Cross-docking
  • Export packing
  • Returns management

Logistics are inherently complex, and they become even more so as a brand grows or merges with other companies. 3PLs add convenience and can also reduce costs by taking advantage of volume efficiencies or more competitive shipping rates.

Advantages of using a 3PL

Cost efficiency is one of the main benefits of outsourcing your logistics to a 3PL. As mentioned above, there is a significant difference between outsourcing and managing all stages of the supply chain in-house. While market leaders and large conglomerates might find it feasible, smaller brands usually can’t afford the overhead associated with owning and managing one or multiple warehouses, operating a fleet of vehicles, and more.

In addition to cost savings, 3PL fulfillment services also provide access. Through their well-established, long-term relationships with carriers, they’re able to secure container space even during peak shipping season.

Convenience is another great advantage of outsourcing logistics. Brands can free up significant time and resources to focus on activities that are critical to scaling their business, such as manufacturing, product development or sales.

Ready to expand your brand?

Schedule a consultation with our sales team and we’ll help figure out the next steps in expanding your ecommerce operation.