April 14, 2022
5 Unique Inventory Prep Services Only Offered by a 3PL
This article was originally published by Deliverr, which is now part of the Flexport brand. Its contents were edited to fit the voice and tone of the Flexport brand. With Deliverr’s services (DTC fulfillment, B2B distribution, and Last Mile delivery) now an integral part of Flexport’s end-to-end supply chain and technology capabilities, we’re able to arm merchants with logistics superpowers as a single entity of supply chain experts.
As an ecommerce merchant, you should always be looking for new ways to scale and grow your business.
As you expand and introduce new channels and SKUs, however, it’s important to invest in proper product preparation to avoid inventory issues such as non-compliance fees and damages. Moreover, with looming supply chain issues, it’s now more important than ever to ensure products are accurately prepared for downstream fulfillment so that you can dodge costly lost production cycles.
When it comes to inventory prep services, traditional providers typically only offer bagging and boxing options. While these steps are important, you can get way more value when partnering with a 3PL fulfillment provider. Let’s take a look at some unique prep services you can take advantage of when outsourcing to a 3PL.
1. Kitting for Bundled Advantages
Kitting is a strategy used to group different but related items together to be sold as a bundle. This typically combines the SKU of multiple items into one SKU to represent the products as a single unit. While you can assemble your own kits at your warehouse, this takes time and effort, which means less time spent focusing on what’s important to your business (like growing sales).
Building kits also requires additional labor. If you lack the manpower to prepare or build your own kits, you face slower processing and shipping times, which leads to a poor customer experience. A 3PL like Flexport can offer unique prep services to build your kits for you.
Kits can also be used for promotional purposes or to increase cross-sales between products. Companies will often offer discounts when shoppers buy their kits instead of buying them separately. Having a 3PL partner to take care of physical bundling for you means that you can offer kit discounts more, and handle more orders.
2. Proper Dunnage To Avoid Breakage
One of the most important prep services is using proper dunnage such as bubble wrap for fragile items. The average eCommerce shipment is dropped 17 times en route to its final destination. Units that are not adequately packed in protective shipping materials are more likely to be damaged.
Bubble wrapping properly secures products to keep unit integrity in place. This will ensure your products are compliant when they reach downstream fulfillment. More importantly, properly wrapping fragile products will provide your customers with a positive shipping experience and decrease the likelihood of receiving returns and lost customers (79% of consumers won’t buy from you again if their product arrives damaged).
3. Building Variety Packs
Opposite bundling, a variety pack is when a certain number of the same SKUs are turned into a smaller pack of a few different SKUs. For example, you may want to sell a box of potato chips with three different flavors. Some manufacturers do not have the capability to create variety packs, so partnering with a 3PL can be a cost-effective way to group similar products together without the added headache on your end.
It’s important to ensure the correct SKU is attached to each product when creating a variety pack. If a customer buys an item from one of your channels, but it’s shipped with a different SKU from your shipping system, this can cause problems when trying to reconcile inventory levels in your order management system.
If your products lack SKUs, a 3PL can label them for you and integrate them into your system. This is especially important if you use an automated warehouse management system (WMS) to keep track of supply and demand.
4. Prepping for Multiple Downstream Fulfillment Providers
Consumers now shop across multiple channels depending on a variety of factors including shipping speed, product availability, and price. This means you'll likely be sending products to multiple downstream providers (e.g., Amazon FBA, Flexport, wholesale, etc.). However, this creates headaches for your business as each provider has its own requirements for how products should be prepped before arriving at its facilities.
Certain 3PLs like Flexport are well equipped to prep shipments going to multiple downstream fulfillment providers all in one place, at one time. This helps ensure compliance and more streamlined delivery timelines.
5. Value-Added Services
Similar to how different fulfillment providers have their own requirements for what’s acceptable, your brand might have different standards and needs for prep services. Having a partner that can handle all your inventory prep needs no matter how “unusual” the task can make all the difference.
For example, you might request apparel items be folded before shipping so they take up less space for lower fulfillment costs. However, folding can be very labor-intensive and time-consuming. A 3PL partner like Flexport can step in and handle it all for you.
Some additional value-added prep services unique to 3PLs like Flexport include:
- Wiping products down with disinfecting wipes to ensure they’re clean
- Folding bags into smaller packaging to help reduce fulfillment costs
- Placing bottles in custom packaging to prevent damage when the boxes and bottles are manufactured at different locations
- Counting product inventory and applying SKUs application
Outsourcing Inventory Prep Is Key
Don’t spend time doing inventory prep yourself or coordinating multiple vendors—it’s costly, inconvenient, not the best use of your time, and you don’t want to keep track of how to stay compliant in an ever-changing environment.
Flexport Prep: Hassle-Free Prep Services for Sales-Ready Inventory
At Flexport, we take on the complicated process of ensuring your inventory is compliant for downstream fulfillment so you don’t have to. With our new Prep services, you can transform your inventory to meet all sales channel needs. Our expertise ensures whatever preparation your inventory needs, we’ll make it happen so you can sell anywhere, no matter where it’s headed.
Our Prep services include unique value-added services not available with most other prep providers in-market, including:
- Wiping down products that arrived dirty from your manufacturer
- Folding merchandise to save on fulfillment costs
- Turning multi-packs of one SKU into variety packs with multiple SKUs
- Preparing inventory for three different fulfillment providers
- And more (we’ll work with you on your needs)
You’ll also have access to compliance expertise and the convenience of options, such as:
- SKU labeling
- Convenience of all types of prep needs (packing, bagging, floor containers, etc.)
- Kitting downstream of your distributor
Even if your prep services are complex, you’ll still get predictable, transparent pricing for a service where pricing is often opaque or highly variable.
Flexport Acquires Shopify Logistics Expanding its Global Services into Last Mile and E-Commerce Fulfillment Becoming their Official Logistics Partner
Flexport Acquires Shopify Logistics and Deliverr