When your sales volume reaches a certain level, you may want to outsource order fulfilment to a third-party logistics provider, otherwise known as a 3PL.
Unlike products like T-shirts and shoes, glasses, especially cellulose acetate frames, can warp over time because of changes in temperature and humidity: therefore, you need to find a 3PL with experience storing, adjusting and packing eyewear.
If you can find a 3PL with experience in eyewear, you'll be able to focus on growing your business with assurance knowing that your products will reach your customers in perfect condition.
If you're looking for a 3PL for your eyewear store, you can contact any of the firms listed at the bottom of this article: they all have experience handling glasses and sunglasses frames.
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3PL refers to third-party logistics.
A 3PL firm will handle your inventory management, warehousing and shipping (and returns).
Although different 3PL firms may have varying operating procedures, working with a 3PL looks like the following:
- After you agree to work with a 3PL, you will send your products to its warehouse, where they will store and organise each SKU.
- When a customer places an order on your online store, your 3PL will receive the order information.
- Your fulfilment manager at the 3PL will select and package the product according to your specifications.
- The 3PL will schedule delivery with a carrier service (UPS, DHL, FedEx etc.) that will ship your product to your customer.
- Upon shipment, tracking information will appear in your store admin, which you can share with your customer.
3PL rates can vary but in general, they involves fees for receiving your inventory, warehousing your products and shipping each order.
Although 3PLs may levy a high onboarding cost for you, their higher shipping volume aggregated across multiple brands and stores translates to lower shipping rates for you.
When your sales hits volume hits a certain level, and you are comfortable outsourcing fulfilment to a third party, you can work with a 3PL.
In fact, almost all major eyewear retailers with standardised fulfilment processes work with 3PLs.
If you are a smaller brand, however, you may want to control all fulfilment in-house until you are able to standardise the process.