Who Are Specialized 3PL Providers?

Who Are Specialized 3PL (Third Party Logistics) Partners?

First, what does 3PL mean? 3PL stands for third party logistics and is a company that provides B2C (business to consumer) and/or B2B (business to business) inbound/outbound product handling, storage and freight forwarding services. For example a 3PL partner can receive overseas bulk orders, empty the shipping containers and ‘cross-dock’ the products for either storage or forwarding. On their clients’ behalf, 3PLs will hold product in their warehouse (storage), or pick-and-pack orders (fulfillment), arrange delivery (freight management) and then inevitably also accept returns/repairs (order returns). Outsourcing logistics services with a reliable 3PL partner can significantly reduce overhead costs particularly in areas of inventory, freight and human resource management.

How does a ‘specialized 3PL’ differ from the Amazon’s of the world?

Quite simply they know their niche. A ‘niche 3PL provider’ can be determined by a company’s ‘geographical market’, their limited ‘service offerings’ and/or that they serve a ‘specific industry’.  A company the size of Amazon by comparison is filling orders in bulk with little to no special shipping/handling options and they’re doing it as fast as possible. Where large scale order fulfillment companies are focused on volume, specialty 3PLs are focused on high performance, quality customer service and client success. Further, 3PL specialists often offer critical marketing, pricing or business consulting which is critical to breaking into new markets and staying competitive.

At UCanTrade, Inc. we consider ourselves a specialized 3PL (Third Party Logistics) provider. Our niche is Canada/USA cross-border business. We exist to serve Canadian importers/exporters and proudly provide them with an array of ‘hands-on’ business and logistics services.

Our clients – most of whom are situated within a 100 mile radius of the Blaine, WA – Surrey, BC Peace Arch Border crossing, leverage our 30 plus years of cross-border experience and professional relationships to facilitate their business expansion into a lucrative, yet massive U.S. market. (Related article: Five Strategies for Expanding Your Business to the USA). From our 60,000 sq. ft. facilities, located off Interstate 5 between Blaine and Bellingham, WA, our clients are encouraged to think ‘domestically’ and consider our facilities merely as an extension of their own head-office ‘stretched’ across the border.

As logistics specialists, our team of professionals operate at a high level, navigating our long standing ‘systems and processes’ with expertise and accuracy. Our size and experience allow us to be responsive and flexible to satisfy our clients’ needs quickly and efficiently.

Even within the current Canada/USA political climate and amidst NAFTA uncertainty (Related article: Status of NAFTA Negotiations) the historically favorable exchange rate between the US dollar and the Canadian ‘Loonie’ translates to most Canadian companies earning up to 23% more on their U.S. sales. (Related article: The Loonie – A Hindrance or An Opportunity?)

UCanTrade B.C. New Exporters Tour

Surrey Board of Trade’s ‘New Exporters Tour’ at UCanTrade, Inc. – Spring 2018

We are cross-border specialists. Whether you’re selling high-tech medical devices, delicate works of art, trade show booth materials in ‘clam-shells’ or heavy parking meters, we can help. Learn more about UCanTrade, Inc. at our website www.UCanTrade.com  and/ or to stay current on upcoming BC/WA trade news and cross-border events, subscribe to our monthly TradeTips newsletter.

We love visitors at UCanTrade. Please be our guest and drop in for a tour! We are located at: 1465 Slater Rd, Ferndale, WA (driving directions). Open Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

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3PL Third Party Logistics – A Strategic Expansion Partner

Doing Business in the U.S.A.

Successful international business expansion to the United States hinges on thoughtful, well informed pre-planning and reliable cross-border partnerships. Domestic and foreign accountants, immigration and business lawyers, customs brokers and logistics (marketing, warehousing, order fulfillment and distribution) specialists all play key roles in a Canadian company’s export success into the U.S.A. (Cross-border Resources).

Trade laws, regulations and policies dictate financial, business, immigration and import/export options and – under expert council, allow companies a certain level of decisiveness.  Logistics however, due to the nature of supply chain management, makes the deduction of risks and cost variables much more difficult to identify, particularly in a foreign market as large and diverse as the U.S.

Are U.S. Sales Worth the Risk?

The short answer is yes. Americans are back to work and they’re buying. Not only are they buying domestically but they’re buying foreign goods and services in greater quantities as well. In addition to the strong economy, exchange rates always make selling into the states beneficial (Exchange Rate). When the Loonie is low, you can invest Canadian capital more economically, and when it’s high, you can earn a premium on your USA sales. In addition to Americans shopping and favorable exchange rates, foreign manufactures are very anxious to sell into the booming USA economy too. Importing quality goods from Europe and Asia into the USA is another terrific business opportunity to consider. (Read more: “Eight reasons to expand to the USA – today!”)

How Do You Choose the Right Logistics Partner?

With so many 3PLs (Third Party Logistics) to choose from it’s important to match the logistics company’s expertise with your specific requirements. Like UCanTrade, Inc. many companies for example have multiple locations ‘dedicated to certain types of fulfillment’. In addition to expertise and warehousing capabilities the following questions will help determine how a 3PL ‘measures up’:

  • What are their order fulfillment strengths? B2B, B2C or both.
  • Which categories of goods do they specialize in handling? I.e. hard goods, pharma, food etc.
  • What types of shipping/handling methods do they use? I.e. ‘kit assembly, continuation plans’ etc.
  • Does their technology and systems support your fulfillment needs?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • What size companies do they typically serve and how does that compare with your business?
  • Can they manage scalability and growth?

It’s very important that once you’ve shortlisted your 3PL candidates take a team and tour their facilities.

3PL As A Strategic Expansion Partner

An experienced business and logistics service provider (especially one based in the United States) becomes a strategic partner in your international business expansion enterprise weighing in on marketing, packaging, and pricing strategies, as well as planning for order returns/repairs. Their experience will help to mitigate the risks and distribution costs associated with selling and shipping goods and services in the states. The right 3PL will provide your business the ‘platform for growth and efficiency’ necessary in achieving sustainability selling to your US market and beyond.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

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Could your company hire 95,000 part time workers within 90 days?

By: Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

According to an article in USA Today, UPS will be hiring an additional 95,000 seasonal workers this holiday shopping season, and FedEx will add 50,000. In addition, major retailers such as Walmart, Target and Macy’s will also be hiring in the tens of thousands. Not to mention Amazon. These are some of America’s great companies that routinely accomplish astounding feats of logistics every day. At UCanTrade, we’re just happy to play a small part in this dynamic and rewarding industry.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

U.S. Logistics Feats During the Holidays

Could your company  hire 95,000 part time workers within 90 days?

by Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

According to an article in USA Today, UPS will be hiring an additional 95,000 seasonal workers this holiday shopping season, and FedEx will add 50,000. In addition, major retailers such as Walmart, Target and Macy’s will also be hiring in the tens of thousands. Not to mention Amazon. These are some of America’s great companies that routinely accomplish astounding feats of logistics every day. At UCanTrade, we’re just happy to play a small part in this dynamic and rewarding industry.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

The holiday shopping season is fast approaching

Are you ready for the 2017 peak holiday selling season?

The bad news is that it has already started. The good news is that it now lasts until February. Whether you are selling direct to consumers, or supplying retailers or wholesalers, your plans should really be already in place.

The U.S. and Canadian economies are strengthening and consumer confidence is high. The loonie is still relatively weak against the U.S. dollar, so the USA should probably be a primary target. However, it’s not all gravy – competition will be more fierce than ever, and shipping costs may be higher, especially since UPS has recently announced “surge pricing”, or what it calls a “peak shipping charge”. This will affect package shipping charges for the peak periods November 19th to December 2nd and December 17th to December 23rd. The per-parcel surcharge in 2017 will be nominal while they assess the results.

There has never been a better or more exciting time to broaden your market to take advantage of the newest trends in marketing and logistics.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

The impact of e-commerce on truck manufacturing.

There’s little doubt digital online buying – a.k.a. the ‘Amazon Effect’, is impacting traditional retailers, especially since Walmart has stepped up to the plate to compete with Amazon in this competitive e-commerce space.  While consumers enjoy the benefits of their e-commerce ‘warfare’, another dynamic to the ‘Amazon Effect’ being brought into the forefront is truck and trailer manufacturing.

The supply procedure of any online purchase is run ‘not as a marathon but rather as a relay,’ says Bruce Sauer, of Truck/Body Builder. Adding, “Track coaches typically assign their fastest, most reliable runner to anchor the final leg of the race. It’s where many relays are won and lost”. His clever analogy highlights the importance and emphasis supply chain management and 3PL (third party logistics) companies are putting on the ‘final mile’ – the shipping, handling and delivery phase, of any e-commerce order.  Retailers need to be paying attention too.

Delivery vehicles are being re-designed to have better maneuverability at distribution and fulfillment centers moving away from full truckload models to more ‘metro-friendly freight patterns.’  Additionally, vehicles will likely be lighter and also get better gas mileage; ‘optimized’ so as to maximize cargo space and keep drivers comfortable, safe and able to conduct their job most efficiently. E-commerce has created a ‘trucking revolution’ that has really only just begun.

Since the physical size of the United States remains enormous, trailers will remain to play a vital role says Brent Yeagy, president and chief operating officer at Wabash National, a leading producer of commercial trucking equipment.  However, “E-commerce is not linear,” Yeagy says, “It’s growing exponentially. And its implications for the trucking industry promise to be more disruptive than 99% of us can even fathom at this point.”

Consumer expectations are also a big influencer. AlixPartners, LLP recently found in their 2016 Consumer Shipping Survey, seventy-five percent of e-commerce consumers are ‘greatly impacted’ by free shipping when they are making purchasing decisions. ‘Free and fast’ are what consumers expect and this expectation is another reason delivery vehicle manufacturers are rethinking their designs.

Simply put, a consumers’ last impression of a retailer is based upon their interaction with the ‘delivery company’.  An all out effort to streamline the supply chain down to redefining the design of the delivery truck, are underway.  Ultimately, consistent and reliable order fulfillment and delivery are imperative to any successful e-commerce retailer’s sustainability – especially in the competitive U.S. market.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

(Source: Alix Partners, LLP article: “Final-Mile Delivery: What Do Online Shoppers Want? And How Should Retailers and Their Logistics Partners Respond?”)

(Source: Truck/Body Builder, “How the shipping model of e-commerce is impacting truck body and trailer manufacturers –the ‘Amazon effect’ of fast, free shipping re-routes truck body/trailer builders’ thinking”.)

Omnichannel Consumer

Evolving beyond ‘multi-channel retailing’, omnichannel is all about creating ‘a seamless consumer experience’ and is being called ‘the future of retail’.

A recent survey from the Harvard Business Review states omnichannel consumers are “shoppers who engage with retailers across multiple touchpoints” adding “[they] are driving boosts in conversion rates both online and offline” making them one of the most if not, THE most valuable consumer in the retail market.  One of the reasons they’re so valuable is because consumers shopping from multiple resources versus from just one allows multiple opportunities to buy.  Further, the survey reportedly states, “[omnichannel consumers have] become increasingly reliant on more than one channel to aid in their purchasing decisions.”  Therefore, consumers are getting to know brands and establishing their loyalties across these multiple digital and in-person channels as well.

The phenomenon is forcing retailers – both traditional brick-and-mortar stores as well as e-commerce merchants, to supply multiple (digital) shopping tools in order to attract ‘the larger audience’.  In the case of the ‘physical retailers’, it’s in their best interest to invest in multiple digital omnichannel tools as well as their online counterparts since digitally promoting ‘in-store visits’ has been proven to increase foot traffic into stores.

It’s becoming more and more apparent Business to Consumer (B2C) companies must consider an omnichannel marketing strategy but one significant factor in their marketing strategies often overlooked is logistics.  “You can’t have marketing without logistics,” says Jim Pettinger, president of UCanTrade, Inc.

Recall that at the center of any omnichannel approach is the consumer.  Retailers (physical &/or online) need to plan for a ‘seamless consumer experience’.  They need to ensure an easy shopping experience – products are easily found, ordering & payment transactions are simple and smooth; the consumer receives what they ordered intact, quickly and can return it just as easily if they change their mind.

Companies using off-shore manufacturers need to plan cost-effective, customer centric product and packaging designs.  In a time where consumer expectations are high, ecommerce is exploding and dimensional shipping is the norm, partnering with an expert in international shipping and handling can be invaluable. (Related article:  E-Commerce returns – Tips to reduce costs)
TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

(Source: http://omnichannel.me/what-is-omnichannel/http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-why-omnichannel-consumers-are-more-valuable-2017-1)

E-Commerce Returns – Tips to reduce costs

UPS reports high volumes of ‘holiday returns’ following 2016’s ‘unprecedented volume of online sales’.  E-Commerce returns present new challenges for sellers but in particular for Canadian e-commerce companies selling to U.S. consumers.

Even for U.S. e-commerce retailers it’s a struggle to find balance between often unanticipated reverse logistics costs and satisfying their customers’ high expectations for ‘an easy shopping experience.’  It’s especially difficult for Canadian exporters.  Canadians benefit by having a return address IN the USA – near the border, rather than discourage possible sales with a Canadian return address. (Related article: Return to Sender)

While each return is unique, some suggest including a pre-addressed, self-adhering ‘return label’ with each original shipment for easy return to your U.S. address with a suggestion to reuse the original packaging.  Recycling the original shipping box w/packing materials for reverse logistics purposes can reduce damage and shipping costs since most carriers ‘charge by dimensional weight standards’ (Related article: UPS / Fed-Ex Switch to Dimensional Weight).

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

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“Commodity” versus “value-added” order fulfillment

By: Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

Third-party fulfillment warehouses have existed for many years, originally developing to handle “mail order” from various catalog companies, large and small. However, with the recent explosion of e-commerce and other internet sales, it’s become a whole new ball game. A major trend is the differentiation between low-cost, high-volume “commodity” sales, mainly to consumers, and higher-price, lower-volume sales, both to consumers and businesses (e.g., retailers). Typically, the latter require a variety of “value-added’ services because their customers have more clout and can request special services, such as unique packaging, price tags and point-of-sale materials. Unfortunately, many “newbies’ to the fulfillment game are caught in between because they have few sales and need “hand-holding” as they learn the ropes. We usually recommend they invest in some initial hand-holding from a value-added fulfillment company while they work through their initial marketing, product and packaging issues.

Naturally, the largest and most prominent example of a modern commodity fulfillment operation is “Fulfillment by Amazon” (FBA). If you’re new to the game, it’s worth doing some research via Google to fully understand the requirements and costs (fees, surcharges and returns).

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

In Praise of the Lowly Pallet

By: Jim Pettinger, President of UCanTrade, Inc.

According to a recent article in Inbound Logistics magazine, “Some 80 percent of all U.S. commerce is carried on pallets, making them an indispensable part of nearly every supply chain.” They estimate there are over 2 billion pallets circulating around the United States of all sizes and makeup. The most common standard size of 40-inch by 48-inch is set by the grocery industry, but many other sizes are also used.

Many newer businesses using our third-party logistics services are not aware of the most common ramifications, including (1) fumigation requirements when receiving wood pallets from offshore, (2) the “art” of stacking wrapping and banding a pallet so it will withstand frequent handling and cross-docking along its journey, (3) the cost of pallets and shipping materials needed to properly palletize an outbound shipment, and (4) the issue of dealing with grossly oversize, cheaply stacked and non-reusable incoming pallets from suppliers trying to minimize their cost. As usual, pre-planning and consultation with experts is always a good idea.

TradeTips blog is published by UCanTrade, Inc., your cross-border experts since 1984.

Subscribe to our TradeTips Newsletter for the latest import/export events and trade news, and/or call us at (360) 380-6900.

UCanTrade
Website: www.UCanTrade.com
Phone: 360-380-6900
Email: info@UCanTrade.com
Twitter: @UCanTrade

Article Link: Inbound Logistics