As the coronavirus disrupts traditional foodservice and retail channels, brands are moving online, leveraging e-commerce marketplaces to reach their consumers directly. Startup CPG has compiled a list of as many 3PLs we could find that fulfill e-commerce orders, and we will keep updating the list as we learn more.
3PL: Third Party Logistics. A company to which you can outsource warehousing, fulfillment, and distribution.
Getting your products to consumers in the Era of Covid-19
With more and more brands turning to e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon and Shopify to reach consumers, many ask how to find the right logistics partner to get products to customers who order online. Who will integrate with my e-commerce platform, handle perishable products, and have warehouses near my consumers? With the right partner managing their supply chain, brands can focus more on marketing and business operations.
Startup CPG has sourced a list of as many Third Party Logistics providers (3PLs) as we can find (created & crowdsourced by Startup CPG members). See the bottom of the article for instructions to access.
Many players, variety of services
3PLs come in all shapes and sizes, each one offering a different service. Brands either must rely on referrals or spend hours scouring company websites and speaking with representatives to vet potential partners. Daniel Scharff, founder of Startup CPG, discusses the need for a central repository of 3PLs who do e-commerce fulfillment:
“On our Slack channel, I’ve seen requests almost daily – brands asking for referrals, and intros – because there hasn’t been any kind of a directory, until now! Using the Startup CPG DTC 3PL database, brands can finally find the right partner for their temperature class & manufacturing locations without all the digging around.”
Choosing a 3PL
When building a shortlist of 3PLs to reach out to, it is important to understand their scope of services to ensure that they will meet your requirements.
- Certain 3PLs specialize in the shipping and storage of refrigerated and frozen goods while others only deal in shelf stable items.
- Regulations surrounding food-safety compliance mean that not all 3PLs are equipped to handle food and beverage products, so check to see if they are already handling food products like yours.
- A 3PL partner that integrates with your e-commerce platform is vital to get set up quickly and provide greater visibility into your customer’s orders.
John Schiaroli with Armatura Company, which builds food and beverage brands in hyper growth mode, advises:
“You want to know and see that they have systems in place for inventory control. Warehouse management systems are great…[but see] If they are taking actual notes and doing actual counts that tells me they have a disciplined mindset in organization.”
Brands are not the only players with fulfillment needs. Service providers such as e-commerce platforms need to find strong 3PL partners to better support the brands they serve. For example, due to COVID-19, Showcase Insights, a market research platform for product trial and feedback, has pivoted their distribution channel from market research vending machines to in-home mailer boxes full of free products in exchange for product feedback. Ethan Kellough, Showcase Insights’ Chief Product Officer, explains the challenges faced when searching for the right logistics provider,
“We’ve struggled to find a 3PL that is flexible enough to support our unique business model while being big enough to support our growth plans.”
As a user of the DTC 3PL database, he goes on to say how a central repository of 3PLs has helped his business.
“It cut down my time spent researching 3PLs dramatically because I didn’t have to go through pages and pages of google results trying to find the right provider.”
Making the jump to DTC
Pivoting to DTC may seem daunting, especially with the complexity of the distribution and logistics component; however, the benefits could be significant. Startup CPG Head of Marketing & Brand Amy Endemann says:
“Direct to Consumer can feel challenging to get off the ground, but it has huge benefits… When you have a direct relationship with your end consumers, you can test and learn more quickly, measure customer lifetime value accurately, build more predictive long term forecasting models, and ultimately use all that data for more successful sell-in at retail.”
How do I access the list of 3PLs doing DTC?
1. Sign up for our community
2. Look for our welcome email with a link to our database folder (if you don’t get it, check spam! it’s probably there!)
3. If it helps you find a DTC fulfillment partner, please let us know! Email us with your story and we’ll send you a special surprise
4. Send any additional submissions via the google form