3PLs: Packages and Pandemics after the Shipping Crisis

In February 2020, coronavirus was little more than a blip on the radar for many Americans. But by early March, government orders to close restaurants, hotels, and other businesses began to impact shipping and supply chains on a global scale.

While most people experienced the impact of this interruption to some degree, one group of people experience a near-crisis: e-commerce sellers.

The Crisis

Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) service has been growing in popularity among e-commerce sellers. This service allows online sellers to have their wares shipped to Amazon’s warehouses, where Amazon packs and ships the orders, as well as managing returns. Although FBA has some disadvantages, with low fees and reliable 2-day shipping, this model has been hard to beat.

But on March 17, sellers utilizing the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) platform received a message that the company would not be accepting shipments for items deemed “non-essential”. Receipt of any products outside of high-demand medical supplies or household essentials was halted. It’s estimated that over half of Amazon sellers were affected by this freeze.

Around April 13, Amazon began to lift these restrictions and allow FBA sellers to start resuming business as usual. Although some sellers may recover from the month of lost sales, others may not. 

As our country begins to reopen businesses and workplaces, many are contemplating the chances of a “second wave” of COVID-19, and even the effects of yet-unknown future pandemics.

One thing is for certain: if your livelihood depends on shipping, you need a plan B.

The Backup Plan: 3PL

Third-party logistics, or 3PL services, have been around for years. But given recent events, many sellers are taking another look at delivery alternatives. Although Amazon is still THE e-commerce giant, there are some alternatives. Services like Shipbob, Ruby Has, and Red Stag Fulfillment have made waves before.

But the 3PL service that has caught our attention is Deliverr

Deliverr’s shipping service is very similar to Amazon’s FBA service. Sellers have their products shipped to Deliverr’s warehouses around the country, and Deliverr fulfills the orders at a reasonable cost. The company’s transparent pricing, one-click integrations with selling platforms, and “Amazon Prime” tagging have allowed many sellers to increase their sales exponentially.

Even better, Deliverr works with multiple platforms including Amazon, Shopify, eBay, Walmart, and Wish. Using one delivery service across multiple platforms has the potential to streamline expansion for businesses who have been married to Amazon because of the FBA program and it’s convenience.

Time to Adapt

One of the most amazing things about the e-commerce industry is that it is constantly evolving – and fast. While many other businesses may have to consider extreme precautions in order to survive the next crisis, e-commerce businesses are well-positioned to survive. But they are not immune, and that’s where careful planning (and maybe a 3PL service) come in.

Taking this time to put your house in order with a crisis plan in place could be the difference between a business that survives, or one that dies.

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