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What’s the Difference Between 3PL and Freight Forwarding?

Your customers have come to expect that items they purchased will be delivered to their homes or businesses without so much as giving it a second thought. However, that expectancy is enabled by a complex shipping and logistics system that, for the originator, can be a painstaking affair with many unexpected obstacles along the way.

Your customers give little thought to items being damaged in transit, delays due to weather conditions, supply chain issues or worker shortages. They have come to rely on a seamless logistics ecosystem that gets them a product delivered in a timely manner with the click of a button. They also expect that any issues that arise including returning items is as seamless as getting them. Meeting customer expectations can be a costly and arduous affair that also eats into profits.

Here are two possible solutions that take the heavy lifting off of your shoulders cost efficiently, freeing you up to do what you do best, selling your goods.

Freight forwarding is the service most importers use to arrange freight shipments. Forwarders are licensed experts who understand how the entire shipping process works and act as agents on your behalf to get it done. Like any experts, freight forwarders specialize in different areas so finding the right one is crucial to ensuring your shipment comes through without a glitch.

You can expect the freight forwarder to prepare all the necessary paperwork and arrange payments with tax and customs authorities. They are also the point person with air carriers and trucking companies once the shipment arrives and is unloaded onto the dock. Finally, they are whom you turn to for troubleshooting any issues that may arise in shipping.

Freight Forwarding

It is also important to know what freight forwarders do not do. Once the shipment arrives at its destination (from ship to dock to truck [or plane] to warehouse) the job of the freight forwarder is done. Warehousing and fulfilling orders is left to you or a third party you have retained to manage your warehousing and order fulfillment.

3PLThird Party Logistics

Third Party Logistics providers act on your behalf with receiving and warehousing your product. It takes care of distribution and order fulfillment and manages any returns. Basically the 3PL is the face of your company from that point on. Think of your 3PL provider as a travel agent who looks after every detail of your travel – or in this case, your shipment.  Remember, as we discussed above – customer expectation is for a smooth process from ordering to receiving. A good 3PL will increase the efficiency of  your shipping process, make sure your goods arrive on time, in one piece and make you look good to your customers.

The SPL Group’s 3PL team has over 50 years of combined experience. Contact us to find out how we can help streamline your operation while saving you money and increasing your profits.