What is 3PL (Third-Party Logistics)?


More and more businesses in Atlanta and throughout Georgia are turning to 3PL (third-party logistics) providers to simplify and streamline their order fulfillment processes. But what does that actually look like? What exactly is a 3PL, and how can it benefit your business?

In today’s post, the team at Harp360 provides answers to the most fundamental questions about 3PLs. Read on to learn more, and if you’re interested in our fulfillment services, please contact us to get started today!

What is 3PL?

3PL stands for “third-party logistics” — let’s break down what this means.

“Logistics” encompasses all of the moving parts of the supply chain in order fulfillment, including:

“Third-party” means the business that’s selling the products is not handling the logistics of order fulfillment in-house — instead, they’re bringing in a third-party company to handle their supply chain management. This outside company is known as the “3PL provider”, although “3PL” alone is commonly used as shorthand to refer to a company that provides third-party logistics services. For example, Harp360 is an Atlanta-based 3PL that caters to small- and medium-sized businesses.

In short, if your business sells a product, then a 3PL can help with the process of getting that product to your customer. They are designed to handle all the steps of fulfilling customer orders from start to finish — and in some cases, even before the start! For example, some 3PLs offer general inventory management and forecasting services, helping you stay prepared for orders before they come in!

The Benefits of Using a 3PL

Some businesses may be able to take care of their supply chain 100% in-house, but most companies will reach a point in their growth where it is difficult to keep up with demand because of internal limitations on manpower, storage, or transportation. When that happens, it may be beneficial to outsource their order fulfillment and shipping services so that they can focus on other aspects of the business, such as product development, marketing, and sales. Ultimately, this is the biggest benefit of partnering with a 3PL provider: it’s large-scale delegation that frees up your time and resources to be utilized elsewhere.

Here on the Harp360 blog, we have written before on the benefits of working with a 3PL provider. These include:

  • Simplifying your supply chain: Whether you’re building a new supply chain from scratch or your demand for products has outgrown your current resources, a 3PL can manage your logistics operations in a cost-effective, time-efficient way. They have the industry connections, expertise, and infrastructure in place to take the supply chain burden off your shoulders.
  • Saving time, money, and manpower: By delegating your supply chain management to a third-party logistics company, you can free up your business’s time and personnel resources to be used elsewhere.
  • Easily overcoming growth barriers: A 3PL can help you continue to scale your business up, accommodating additional storage, transportation, and staffing as demand for your products grows. Managing your supply chain in-house means you’re responsible for developing those economies of scale, while a single business partnership with a trusted 3PL streamlines the growth process for you.
  • Letting you focus on what matters: When you partner with a 3PL, you can trust them to handle your supply chain so you can put your focus where it matters most: developing great products and maintaining great relationships with your customers.

Is it Time to Partner With a 3PL?

Do you think your business might be outgrowing your in-house resources? It may be time to partner with a 3PL to handle your order fulfillment process. Here are a few telltale signs that you’re ready to invest in warehousing and distribution services:

  • You’re consistently fulfilling more than 10-20 orders per day
  • You’re running out of inventory storage space
  • You’re expecting a spike in order volume that is beyond what you can accommodate with current resources
  • You’re delegating more and more fulfillment tasks to your existing staff

If any of these scenarios applies to your business, then it may be time to sit down and compare your current expenses with the costs and opportunities of outsourcing your fulfillment to a 3PL.

Choose Harp360 for Your Fulfillment Needs

If you want to learn more about third-party fulfillment, feel free to contact the team at Harp360! We are an Atlanta-based 3PL that offers total supply chain solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses. We can help you get your products to your customers and make a great impression along the way!

We’ve been told we “take the headaches away” and “make the impossible happen.” We pride ourselves on succeeding where other 3PLs may have let you down. Our mission is to be your trusted fulfillment partner and help your business grow into new markets.

Feel free to browse our site to learn more about our fulfillment services, and contact us to get started today!