3 Features to Look for When Choosing an E-commerce Warehouse Partner

May 23, 2022 | Third-Party Logistics (3PL)

The e-commerce business model is becoming increasingly competitive due to the rising demands of online buying, selling, and shipping. Shopify’s latest publication, “The Future of Ecommerce in 2023,” reports there have never been this many opportunities in the ecommerce space, nor has there ever been this much competition. Direct-to-consumer ecommerce companies (DTC) are making larger investments in customer retention and satisfaction in order to grow their businesses and remain competitive in the market.

A reliable warehousing and fulfillment partner is an essential aspect of customer satisfaction and retention. When it comes to e-commerce outsourcing, a dependable 3PL logistics company handles all aspects of inventory management, product storage, picking, packing, and shipping. With the resources available to manage your inventory, the right ecommerce warehouse can lower shipping costs and improve turnaround times for your valuable customers.

To help you decide which fulfillment partner is right for your e-commerce business, we’ve put together three important features of a reliable warehousing provider.

Location, Accessibility, Layout

Utilizing a 3PL distribution center as your e-commerce partner offers multiple advantages for fulfillment. Distribution centers are designed to maximize efficiency, be easily accessible to transportation outlets and shipping providers, offer geographical convenience, and are familiar with storing short-term inventory that needs to be shipped quickly. 3PL centers also offer more flexible warehouse cutoff times, typically around 3p.m., as opposed to 12p.m. — giving you a three-hour advantage to fulfill more orders and get products into customers’ hands. Your fulfillment center should also possess enough square footage to accommodate increased inventory as your business grows. An established 3PL fulfillment center like Piedmont Distribution Centers is equipped with all of the ecommerce resources necessary to help you connect to customers and grow your business.

Inventory Management, Order Fulfillment, Technology

A vital aspect of choosing a fulfillment partner is ensuring they’re equipped with a robust inventory management software. A warehouse management system is specialized software that offers businesses real-time insight into product availability, SKU mapping, and shipping/receiving information. An order fulfillment system gives users the benefit of ensuring that all picking and packing is accurate and complete, no matter the order volume. A fulfillment center that invests in technology and passes these savings and efficiency on to its customers is a valuable partner for any ecommerce business, whether you focus on a niche product, or have a variety of products.

Controlling Storage and Shipping Costs

A qualified 3PL partner typically has established relationships with multiple carriers, which means they can negotiate contracts and discounts, and pass savings on to clients, due to the large quantity of inventory they ship daily and weekly. A skilled e-commerce partner who understands your unique packing and shipping needs can recommend specific size cartons for dimensional weight to reduce shipping costs. A dedicated provider should also understand that your business may have seasonal high and low periods, therefore inventory quantities may fluctuate throughout the year. Choose a partner who understands the distinctive demand for your products and can offer reasonable product storage pricing dependent on inventory quantity.

Ultimately, the most important aspect when choosing an ecommerce warehouse partner is just that — a true partnership. Many larger e-commerce fulfillment solutions focus too much on volume and profits, rather than meeting each client’s unique needs and taking time to offer the flexibility and customization that a growing business needs. Piedmont Distribution Centers prides ourselves on offering best-in-class service and attention, without sacrificing the logistical and technical aspects of the e-commerce industry.