Blog Posts How Can a 3PL Help You Offer Fast, Free Shipping?

Key takeaways:

  • Meeting shoppers’ delivery expectations is a growing challenge for retailers and brands.
  • There is a significant cost burden associated with “free shipping.”
  • Often, third-party logistics providers (3PLs) can help companies implement strategies to reduce transit time and cost.

More than two-thirds of consumers say that fast shipping would lead them to place an online order, according to a recent survey by Digital Commerce 360. Satisfying shoppers’ increasing delivery expectations is one of the biggest pain points that retailers and brands routinely face today.

Many companies are turning to third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to help solve this challenge. A new guide from Saddle Creek Logistics Services identifies a number of outsourcing strategies that can help to ensure fast, cost effective deliveries.

Following is an excerpt from The Complete Guide to Ecommerce Fulfillment Outsourcing…


Consumers’ expectations for fast, free shipping impact the bottom line for retailers and brands. The pandemic helped to temper consumers’ expectations for delivery speed. Free, however, is still the gold standard.

More than 70% of the Top 1000 Retailers offer free shipping.

Source: Digital Commerce 360

Of course, shipping isn’t free for retailers and brands. And regardless of whether the cost is absorbed or passed along to customers, it is critical to control shipping costs. Unfortunately, parcel costs continue to rise. Major parcel carriers once again instituted a sizable General Rate Increase (GRI) for 2021 and continue to impose substantial peak season surcharges. In fact, surcharges can make up 10 – 40% of total parcel spending.

Outsourcing Solutions

  • Speed order cycle times. With a robust order management system (OMS), efficient processes and automated fulfillment solutions, a 3PL can save precious hours and get orders out the door faster – often same-day – to speed deliveries to your customers.
  • Explore your options. 3PLs can help to negotiate rates and take advantage of planned shipping volume and zone skipping to specific sortation hubs. They also can explore options to broaden your carrier strategy with regional carriers, postal workshare options, etc.
  • Analyze your parcel spend. A 3PL with good parcel analytics software can review your parcel spending to identify factors that may be increasing shipping costs.
  • Add distribution nodes. Many companies are optimizing their distribution networks by adding new distribution centers. A 3PL with strategically located facilities can move the fulfillment function closer to customers to reduce transit time and cost.

 To learn how outsourcing can help to address five more ecommerce fulfillment challenges, read the ebook.

eCommerce Fulfillment eBook

Related to: DC Network Configuration, Parcel Shipping, Selling Online