3PL Onboarding: A starter guide for order fulfilment services
Building a business takes time. Sometimes businesses try to do everything all at once and it hinders growth. The adage of working smarter, not harder comes into play here. For those that have heard of third-party logistics – not everyone is ready to commit right away. Businesses may be hesitant to share operational tasks with a 3rd party company. We understand, and we want to reassure you just how easy 3PL onboarding really is. Most importantly, we are available to help you through the entire process.
Deciding to outsource your logistics processes is a big decision which should not be taken lightly – we get it. It can be challenging to give up full control of your eCommerce fulfilment after you spent copious amounts of time building your business. However, if you’re reading this article, chances are you’ve realised the benefits of warehouse storage and automation – and are already interested in outsourcing your eCommerce fulfilment.
You want to save time, save money, and grow your business. Also, no longer does your business want the fuss and headaches of dealing with packaging and shipping and refunds. Sounds preferable, yet still it presents several key questions.
Questions such as what exactly is 3pl onboarding? How long does it take to start with a 3PL? How does the warehouse integrate sales with my online store? How do I know when shipments go out and when my customers receive them?
That’s why we wanted to demystify the process of onboarding with a 3PL like Selazar, what you can expect, and precisely how to get started. You’ll see just how easy it is and why you shouldn’t waste any more time being overwhelmed with your own in-house fulfilment.
Onboarding with a 3PL means you have signed up for eCommerce fulfilment and are in the process of injecting your stock into their warehouse(s) and courier network. From the first day you prepare your stock for the warehouses to the go-live date, a representative will walk you through each step. Together you will organise SKU information in the online portal, discuss warehouse space and compliance requirements, go over outstanding tasks, and more.
Starting with a 3PL is an exciting time for your business. Know that you are not alone in this process and the implementation is a group effort. Planning is important, so communication is key. Other items to be discussed when onboarding include custom packaging requirements, refund protocols, store integration, and courier timelines.
So, how long does it take your online business to start automating your storage and shipping in a 3PL warehouse?
The short answer is it depends on you. With Selazar, for example, you can be up and running in as little as 1 – 2 weeks. As will be explained in detail, much of the work done begins in your customer profile online – where you will be inputting all your product information. The journey first begins digitally, then finishes with the physical procurement of onboarding your stock.
It’s the job of the 3PL to prepare your account in detail with your unique needs and requests. This includes making sure your products are properly logged, answering key questions about your packaging journey, sales forecasting and delivery analytics. Though it’s a relatively simple and straightforward process, there are several steps that need to be implemented to ensure a smooth transition overall.
Register your 3pl services account online (cloud fulfilment)
For 3PL onboarding, the first step is to sign up with us. At this point you get a dedicated account manager for assistance. They will present to you our complimentary cloud fulfilment portal where you will start creating your company profile.
These details include:
General business information
SKU (stock keeping unit) information
Average units per order
Average weight per order
Shelf pallet vs pallet locations vs bulk pallet storage
Warehouse assignment location
Reverse logistics needs (I.e., returns)
All these details are necessary so we can begin preparing our warehouse and our staff for your onboarding. The more details, the better. This ensures there is no confusion when products are received, logged, and integrated into your warehouse shelf locations.
Accurate SKU information is critical to managing your stock effectively. One of the advantages of working with our services is that we provide a tech-led, easy-to-use platform. We’ve eliminated antiquated manual strategies and substituted them with digital integration.
Everything needs to be logged online, which feeds into our warehouse management system (WMS) globally – ensuring accuracy and efficiency for the pick and pack process.
SKUs are alphanumeric numbers that serve as reference ID. This categorizes various products with their special signature. If you sell shoes, for example, and offer different colours, each colour will have a unique SKU number. SKUs help differentiate between variants. It also ensures accurate pick and pack accuracy for warehouse staff.
Adding products in the Selazar portal is shown below.
Details around your products added will include:
As shown above, inputting product information is simple. Once complete, it is saved but can be edited at any time if changes happen. If your brand decides to add more SKUs to your product offerings, you can simply “add a new product” with the same process. No calling is necessary. Just add your online data, which refreshes in real time. If you decide to take out a certain product from the product line, you can simply delete it as well. This is simple cloud fulfilment that keeps you in the driver’s seat, anytime, anywhere – ensuring you still maintain control over your order fulfilment logistics.
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You’re now ready to connect your online store with Selazar. You have two main options for completing this task. You can easily integrate our API with apps from Shopify and Woocommerce – as shown below.
To connect Shopify for example, you easily add your access token in your Selazar portal. It will look like a link (https://yourstore.myshopify.com). This is created from your Shopify shop.
For this you log into your Shopify account, access “Apps,” and then click “Develop Apps.” Then click “Create an App.” Use our name and you can select it from the dropdown. From there on it’s an easy and straightforward process.
After your stock is sent and your store is connected, our warehouse will be linked in real-time to process your orders as soon as they’re made.
*Note – If you do not have a Shopify or WooCommerce store, you can easily upload CSV files from your website into your Selazar portal. Directions for that can be found here.
Preparing and sending stock
Now you’re set up online and are ready to start moving product to us. At this stage, your online business has two options for sending the stock to one of our fulfilment centres.
The simplest way to get stock to our warehouse is to have your manufacturer send it. This prevents lag time and is a lot more convenient for you. They simply need to print and add the Selazar shipping labels that we provide. This ensures easy ISP (inbound stock processing) for the warehouse. Overall, this could take more time for your manufacturing partner but is more convenient and saves you money.
Send the stock yourself. In this process (after you complete your online account and SKU data) we send the shipping labels to you. You then place them onto your stock boxes, and then send to our warehouse. When your stock is received, they are ready for ISP.
During inbound stock processing your pallet will need to be scanned, logged, and stored. This is relatively straightforward. Preparation is key here. Your account manager would have shown you how to log each box individually so that all your products can quickly be organised. With multiple SKUs or bundles (that you pre-organised in your portal) this process can take a bit longer. However, it is very streamlined with automatic scanners and digitally mapped warehouses for quicker processing.
This whole process will be completed within one business day if received before 1pm.
Depending upon the size and amount of products you have, the system assigns the appropriate warehouse location(s).
There are four product locations:
1) Shelf location
2) Pallet location
3) Pick from pallet location
4) Reserved pallet location
Trust in Selazar for your third-party logistics
Getting started with a 3PL is an exciting step for your business. These steps demonstrate just how easy it is to start automating your eCommerce fulfilment. Allow us to do the hard lifting so you can focus on the selling. Should you have further detailed technical questions, you can visit the Selazar knowledge base – offering step-by-step instructions of integrating your store, how to add products, build a bundle, etc. If you have any questions about 3pl onboarding and eCommerce fulfilment for your brand, contact us today.
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