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Any 3PL and fulfillment services operator worth its salt is always transitioning and evolving to meet the changing needs of commerce and market conditions. From supply chain unpredictability to labor crunches, this is what 3PLs will have to navigate in 2022.

Hangover From 2021 Supply Chain Chaos

Right now, container ships arriving to the ports of LA and Long Beach are off-loading product originally schedule for delivery to 3PLs in October and early November.  The back-up will result in e-com merchants putting delayed holiday merchandise out there for sale, at highly discounted rates, well into January. As a result, look for 3PLs to be extra busy well into early February.

Get a better understanding of the conditions behind inventory shortages.

Employee Retention and Hiring

Finding new employees will continue to be a challenge. However, new automated sort and package handling systems with fewer human touchpoints, will allow 3PLs to look to an older demographic to fill less rigorous handling positions.

The Cost of Inflation

E-commerce order fulfillment 3PLs are not immune to the impact of rampant inflation so expect to see these order fulfillment service providers impose necessary rate increases on storage and picking fees.

Distributed Fulfillment

Order fulfillment 3PLs will continue to add additional new FC’s, locating them closer to the consumer, primarily in major markets. These additional facilities will support faster ground transit times and address growing capacity constraints being driven by current and projected e-commerce growth.

Learn more about E-Commerce Forward Stocking Micro Fulfillment Solutions

Fulfillment Centers as Carriers

Fulfillment Centers that support merchants focused on fast, local, same-day delivery will take these delivery services in-house and work to expand carrier partnerships to save money and drive new revenue. This will also allow the fulfillment service providers to bundle both fulfillment and transportation rate programs to create a competitive advantage.

Deep dive: Best-In-Class E-commerce Order Fulfillment: A Focus on Both Pick & Pack and Shipping

3PL Staffing Shortages Mean More Appointment Based Inbound Delivery

Given reduced staffing, 3PLs will be forced to require increased inbound delivery via appointment.

Parcel Driver Pick-up Windows to Shrink and be More Strictly Enforced

More than ever, due to increased e-commerce volume and package handler position shortfalls at carrier terminals, ground parcel carrier management need their drivers to return to terminals on time and in many cases, earlier. 3PL management will need to manage this interface with the carriers more closely as the drivers are less likely to wait for shipments processed after the scheduled cut-off time and carriers will be implementing earlier pick-up windows.

Merchants Turning to Additional Parcel Carriers

3PLs will need to make room for more parcel carriers and have them integrated into their shipment processing technology, to satisfy the needs and requirements of their clients using more carriers to drive transportation savings.

Change is inevitable and order fulfillment 3PLs must embrace change or perish, in this ultra-competitive environment.