What does a 3PL do?

A 3PL is a third party logistics provider that receives, packs and sends out orders on behalf of a company. They fulfil the orders and make sure those packages get made up and sent out to customers. There are various different roles a 3PL can play in a company’s fulfilment process, this article will detail the things that a 3PL does to help.

When should you hire a 3PL?

Before we get into the details of the different types of 3PLs let’s look at when and why a business might want to think about hiring a 3PL. 

Firstly, are you growing rapidly and struggling to fulfil orders? Instead of hiring more staff, now might be the time to enlist some experts to help you out. A 3PL can help facilitate that growth by taking away the stress of fulfilling orders on time and giving you time to focus on the other aspects of your business that are essential to flourishing even more. 

If you’re running out of space to store your inventory too it may be time to rethink your fulfilment process. By hiring a 3PL you can save money on expensive storage costs, plus it allows you to store much more and have more flexible storage depending on the season too, if that’s something you need. 

Think about whether you have the means to continue growing and whether you want to waste money on doing it yourself. Ultimately a 3PL helps save you time and money so if you’re at that crunch point, now may be the time to think about building a relationship with a third party logistics provider. 

The role of a 3PL

So, there are a few different roles that a 3PL can play in your business. 


Designing and creating your packaging is all part of the fulfilment process. Making sure your items are secure when travelling from A to B is crucial. This is a service that is offered by many comprehensive third party logistics providers.


Warehousing is such a big cost for a business so it is often one of the pull factors to using a 3PL for your business. Because 3PLs have huge warehousing spaces, often strategically placed around the country, you can be sure that there is always space for your items to be stored ready to be sent out to your customers. Plus, hiring a 3PL means you don’t have to create your own SKUs or figure out other logistical details of warehousing.

Picking and packing/fulfilment:

This part is probably the most obvious role that a 3PL provider plays. Sorting out your orders to get them ready to be shipped out to your customers is made easy and stress-free by working with a 3PL provider. They have systems and technologies in place to make sure everything runs smoothly. 

Logistics and delivery:

Once items are picked and packed it’s time for delivery! Third party logistics providers often have solid and long standing relationships with couriers and shipping providers, both nationally and internationally, and can ensure all your items make it safely from the warehouse to your customers. 

Shipment tracking: 

Having real time information on where all your orders are can be extremely helpful to a business and can help you keep on top of everything. This is a role and a service that many 3PLs provide to their clients.

Inventory management and reporting:

As well as knowing where your orders are, knowing exactly how much stock you have left is also essential to many businesses and is an important role played by many 3PLs. 3PLs also may offer regular reporting on how things are going, giving you the chance to view the numbers and plan ahead. Helping you financially too.

Some 3PLs offer all of these services, others have expertise in certain areas but it’s important to find out what works best for you and your business. Check out our last blog on how the pros and cons of hiring a 3PL and how to find the right one for you.

Here at Complete Packaging we offer a comprehensive range of fulfilment services so get in touch with us to find out how we might be able to help.

Get great insight from our expert team.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By signing up you agree to our Terms & Conditions