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Everything You Need to Know About 3PL Warehousing in China

So, you’ve decided that your supply chain needs a little help. Maybe you’ve got too much work for your in-house team to handle, or maybe you’re just looking for someone with more skill than you have.

There are a lot of reasons you might find yourself in this situation, but the solution is always pretty clear: hire an expert. 3PLs (third-party logistics providers) specialize in warehousing and distribution. They have the infrastructure and knowledge to get your products where they need to go – on time and on budget.

For a look at 3PL warehousing and how hiring one can help improve your supply chain, read on.

What Is 3PL Warehousing?

A 3PL can provide warehousing services for your wholesale products, manage all aspects of your inventory system, and even help you develop the processes necessary to ship orders from your store on time.

This means that when someone places an order through your eCommerce website, the 3PL will receive the order and store it in one of their warehouses until it’s ready to be shipped out.

3PL Services vs. Drop Shipping

Drop shipping is a product-based business model that allows merchants to sell their goods without having to store or ship the products themselves. When you drop ship, you place an order with a supplier, who then ships to your customer on your behalf.

3PL services offer more flexibility than drop shipping because they allow you to outsource all aspects of logistics, including warehousing and shipping. Unlike drop-shippers who have limited control over the process, 3PLs provide the additional benefit of greater oversight over storage conditions and quality control during storage and transit.

Why Choose 3PL Warehousing?

3PL warehousing offers several benefits to businesses that want to outsource their storage and fulfillment needs. These include:

Save Time and Money

One of the most important benefits of 3PL warehousing is that it can save you money by reducing your overhead. You’ll no longer have to worry about rent, maintenance costs, and equipment purchases for your warehouse. A 3PL provider can also help you reduce your staffing costs and avoid payroll taxes.

Improve Your Customer Service

With a 3PL partner, you’ll be able to offer more shipping options, shorter lead times, and faster delivery at lower prices than you could if handling shipping on your own. You’ll also be able to offer better customer service by responding more quickly and effectively to customer queries, as well as tracking orders. Your customers will appreciate having access to accurate information about the status of their orders.

Get the Right Products to the Right Customers

With a 3PL partner, you’ll be able to take advantage of their years of experience and relationships with freight forwarders, customs brokers, airlines, trucking companies, and others in the supply chain.

You can also get a leg up on your competitors by taking advantage of their global footprint and selling products in markets that are otherwise inaccessible. Your 3PL might even help you find new products for specific regions and give you the ability to test your ideas before making an enormous investment.

Expertise in Logistics Management

Third parties generally have more experience handling inventory than many small businesses do; therefore offering valuable industry-specific knowledge. They’ll know how to move your product in the most efficient and effective manner possible, whether by rail, air, or sea.

How Does It Benefit Your Business To Use A 3PL Warehousing Company?

You might think to yourself, do I really need to outsource my warehousing and logistics operations? The answer is maybe. It depends on many factors unique to your business, including size, product mix, growth plans, and more.

However, there are some general benefits that usually make working with a third-party logistics provider in China the right choice for most businesses.

Reduce Risk

By outsourcing some of your operations to third-party logistics companies, you’ll be able to reduce the amount of risk involved in doing business overseas without sacrificing any of the benefits associated with having a Chinese presence(accessibility, increased market share, etc.). This is because these providers have the experience, infrastructure, and local knowledge needed to help you navigate China’s unique business environment.

Improved Efficiency

When a single company handles all logistical processes for error. This allows your business to run more smoothly, freeing up time and resources that can be better spent elsewhere. And with most third-party logistics companies, you’ll also have access to state-of-the-art equipment, which will allow them to handle all of the heavy lifting so you don’t have to.

Increased Productivity

When outsourcing logistics services, companies can focus on what they do best while leaving order fulfillment to another team. This means that your company will be able to get more done with fewer people – which increases overall productivity for everyone involved.

How 3PLs Handle Order Fulfillment

Once the order is received and processed by your 3PL, they will then assign it to a warehouse closest to your customer. From here, a picking team will gather the items from their respective racks and put them into totes or carts for the next step: packing.

Afterward, another team will ensure that everything was picked correctly before boxing it up for shipping. At this stage of fulfillment, your provider will add any extra packaging materials, like bubble wrap or peanuts, to guarantee safe transport. After being packed up, all orders are ready for delivery!

In some cases, orders may need to be returned before they can be shipped out again. This is usually because of damage caused during transit. Your provider will inspect the package first before sending it back.

When Do You Need a 3PL Warehouse in China?

If your company ships at least 100 orders overseas each month, it’s probably time to consider working with a third-party logistics provider in China. But 100 is not the hard and fast rule, as many factors can affect this number.

There is no magic number at which time a company should start working with a 3PL. When you find your business growing so much that the volume of orders being placed has become too high for your small team to manage in-house, then it’s time to hire a 3PL.

There are some other signs that can help you determine whether you need a 3PL. If any of the following apply to your business, it’s time to look for a 3PL warehouse in China:

You’ve Run Out of Storage Space

Perhaps you started your business in a small office space with enough room to store inventory on-site. But as orders start rolling in, that space quickly becomes crammed. If you can’t store products, how can you possibly fulfill orders?

Working with a 3PL will give you access to more storage space so you can keep meeting customer demand.

You’re Spending Too Much Time Shipping Orders

If it’s taking up too much of your time and energy managing shipments, then it might be time for some help. A quality 3PL will have the resources and technology needed to get products out the door in a few hours.

Your Employees are Stretched Thin

As your business grows, chances are good that your team is being pulled in different directions, trying to handle everything at once. This can lead to mistakes, frustration, and even burnout. Adding a 3PL to your team can take some of the pressure off by lightening the workload.

10 Tips to Find the Best 3PL Services Company for Your Ecommerce Business

Just like with any other decision, you want to make sure that the 3PL provider you choose will help optimize your business and not hinder it. However, this is easier said than done.

With so many 3PL service providers out there, how can you ensure that the one you choose will be right for your business? Here are some tips:

1. Start with Reliability and Speed

As an e-commerce company, it’s important to make sure that your products go to consumers fast and get delivered without any kind of damage. Ask your potential provider about their average shipping times and any procedures they have in place to prevent or address damages during transit.

A provider with same-day shipping can be especially useful if you offer expedited shipping services.

2. Consider Their Ability to Handle Returns

Ecommerce businesses typically have a higher return rate than brick-and-mortar stores, so it’s important that your 3PL provider can handle returns efficiently. Find out what kind of system they have in place for managing returns and ask about how they communicate with customers regarding status updates on refunds or replacements.

3. Pricing Matters, But Don’t Sacrifice Quality

Of course, you want to save money wherever possible, but with your 3PL services provider, quality should be more important than price. Make sure you compare apples to apples when getting quotes.

4. Experience Working In Your Industry

Ensure they have the right equipment and technology to handle your products. But more importantly, they should have experience working in your industry so they understand the unique challenges that come with it.

For example, if you’re in the fashion industry, you’ll need a 3PL that can handle delicate and high-end items. If you’re in the food industry, they should have processes in place to prevent cross-contamination.

5. Client Support

Ideally, your 3PL is easy to reach when you need them and quick to respond. Good communication is key in any relationship, so make sure the lines of communication are open between you and your fulfillment partner. Of course, China’s time zone difference can present some challenges, but a good 3PL will have someone available during your business hours.

6. Flexible Pricing Options

While price is always a concern, you don’t want to be locked into a per-unit charge that doesn’t reflect your monthly storage and processing needs. Look for a 3PL that offers options like minimum commitment pricing or value-based pricing, rather than charging you by the unit.

Some providers charge per square meter of warehouse space used; others offer discounts based on the number of units shipped per month. Whatever the case, make sure you understand your 3PL’s pricing structure before signing a contract.

7. Technology Integration Capabilities

Perhaps the most important criterion on this list is integration capability. Do their systems seamlessly connect with yours? Can they automatically track and update inventory levels in real-time so that you always know exactly what’s in stock and where it is?

If not, keep looking. The best providers offer comprehensive tracking capabilities and a simple customer portal.

8. Order Consolidation

When your customers are ordering products that come from several vendors, a 3PL that can merge those orders into a single shipment can be a huge time—and money—saver. When evaluating providers, inquire about their order consolidation capabilities.

9. Customization

Some of your customers may have specific requests; they need a custom-sized box or a gift-wrapped item, for example. If you can find a provider that can customize orders to meet the needs of your unique clients, you’ll be able to streamline and improve customer experiences.

Also, it helps if your provider can offer custom branding on the shipping boxes. This is a small but powerful way to reinforce your brand and keep it fresh in your customers’ minds.

10. Reputation

Last but not least, don’t forget to ask for customer references. Talk to others who have used the 3PL you’re considering and get their honest opinion.

Expand Your Business Reach

3PL warehousing can help you expand your business reach by allowing you to enter new markets and create new distribution channels. Not only will you be able to offer faster delivery at lower shipping costs, but you can also take advantage of their experience in international shipping.

Whether you are looking for short- or long-term storage warehousing solutions, Shield Works has the experience and expertise to provide you with cost-effective storage and shipping solutions. Reach out to us for warehousing processes that help you succeed.

Top 5 Tips of Ensuring Smooth Communication with Your Chinese Manufacturer

It’s easier than ever to get your products manufactured in China, with resources such as Alibaba, Quora, and Google Translate at your disposal. But having a reliable Chinese manufacturer isn’t just about knowing how to communicate with them; it’s also about understanding how the whole process works and what your role is in it. Here are the top five tips for ensuring smooth communication with your Chinese manufacturer to help you get started.

1) Have a clear idea of what you want

Before you go contacting manufacturers in China, spend some time to really figure out what it is that you want. Don’t just say I want a cheap product made in China. Get specific. Look at different products that are similar to yours and decide exactly how your product will differ. And if there are aspects of your product that can be improved upon, do it! It’s always a good idea to outdo your competition.  The more detail you put into your product from start to finish, the better off you’ll be when it comes time to communicate with your manufacturer.

Find a model or sample if you can for reference. A picture is worth a thousand words, and seeing exactly what you want will help your manufacturer understand exactly what it is that you’re looking for. They may even be able to point out design flaws in your product that you hadn’t considered before! It may seem like an extra step, but it could save time and money in the long run.

If your product requires any specialized parts, make sure to get those details sorted out early on as well. If there are specific types of wood that need to be used or special kinds of metal, make sure to clarify that from day one so there aren’t any problems later on down the line when it comes time to actually produce your product.

2) Be clear on expectation and deadlines

If you’re planning to work with a Chinese manufacturer, make sure your requests are as clear and specific as possible. Make deadlines clear and enforceable, otherwise there is no incentive for your team to stick to them. If a situation arises that requires changes or exceptions, have a separate process in place (such as checklists) to make sure everyone on both sides knows what’s going on. Good communication saves time and money—two things every business wants more of.

That’s why it’s advisable to find a manufacturer with their own production facility, preferably in the same city or anywhere within three-hour drive. This way you can easily check on your products and make sure everything is going according to plan. It also means that you don’t have to worry about shipping costs and delays from faraway locations. Finally, if something goes wrong, you’ll be able to respond quickly—and save face by fixing things before they get out of hand.

3) Know how the factory and its QC operates

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to build an in-depth understanding of how your factory runs and what your QC protocols are. A deep understanding will help prevent issues, save you time and money, as well as help you work more effectively throughout your manufacturing process. There’re so many independent vetting services in China you can turn to. You’ll find them on Alibaba or by Googling independent QA checker or independent quality control checker. You’ll also want to make sure you understand exactly who your QC inspector is and that they have a good track record of working with other western companies. If you don’t know who they are, ask! Ask to speak directly with them or their supervisor if possible. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to communication breakdowns between yourself and your manufacturer!

Although there’re many independent QC services with a history of working with western firms, if you insist on one that shares a similar cultural background with you, Shield Works has its root in the UK with years of QC experience in the industry that you can fully rely on.

4) Get someone local in China that you can talk to

Even if you don’t speak Mandarin, there are still ways to ensure you get your message across. If you’re traveling to China yourself, a translator is a must-have. But given the current travel restrictions, it is not an option to physically be there. So what do you do? You can hire someone local in China that can act as a liaison between you and your manufacturer. They should have experience working with Westerners and can translate information from both sides of communication (i.e., from English to Mandarin and vice versa). They will help bridge any language barriers that may exist and make sure everyone is on the same page regarding deadlines, expectations, etc. This will help reduce confusion and miscommunication that could lead to delays or other issues down the road.

But most manufacturers there now have bilingual team members that have no problem communicating with you in your language. if you manage to find one with a western background like Shield Works, that’ll save you a lot of efforts!

5) Keep your language plain and simple

This may seem obvious, but be sure to speak clearly and concisely. If there’s anything you don’t understand about what you need to accomplish or convey, don’t guess or fill in gaps with assumptions. If a word confuses you, go back and get clarification. Try to avoid using big words as it can make it harder to understand for non-native speaks. Keep your language simple

Remember that your goal is communication—not simply understanding what someone is saying to you. Successful communication requires that both parties feel confident they have a full understanding of one another’s intentions before moving forward on any project or task. Otherwise, confusion will quickly ensue; misunderstandings can lead to delays and even make-or-break moments down the road. The more time you spend ensuring that everyone understands each other, the less time it takes to complete tasks. A little upfront work now can save a lot of headaches later.

By following these five tips, you’ll be on your way to having a smooth process of communication with your manufacturer and start working together to create a great product. Shield Works is one that comes with their own manufacturing facility located exactly where the headquarter is, and bilingual team members as long as 17 years of manufacturing in China under their belt. Contact us today!

5 Tips For Reducing Costs On Quality Control In China

Whenever you’re sourcing products in China, it’s always a good idea to have quality control measures in place. These will ensure that your products are as strong and durable as they need to be, so that customers continue to buy them and recommend them to their friends and family members. However, it can often be difficult to save money on quality control when working with Chinese suppliers. Here are five tips for reducing costs on quality control in China.

1) Use 3rd-Party Inspection Services

Third-party inspection services will typically charge a fee for their services but will also help streamline communication between your factory and yourself. They’ll also help prevent any language barriers from interfering with communication. A third-party inspector will typically visit your production facility once per month during production runs, which means you’ll still need to conduct regular inspections via Skype or other methods yourself throughout each month. But by using third-party inspectors regularly throughout production cycles, you can ensure that problems don’t go unnoticed until after goods have been shipped off to customers. When it comes to quality control in China, a little bit of extra effort now could save you thousands of dollars later on.

2) Build Relationships With Suppliers

Your China manufacturing operation is only as good as your supplier relationships. That’s a fact. When suppliers deliver on time, meet quality requirements and are flexible when you need them to be, then you can feel confident in putting your product in front of consumers. But if a supplier flubs an order (or multiple orders), doesn’t pay attention to details or otherwise cuts corners that affects quality, it will be reflected in customer perception of your brand—and eventually sales results. Unfortunately, there’s no simple solution here because every situation is different, but there are ways to help minimize risk of problems with suppliers and still find high-quality products at a price point that makes sense for your business.  Having a solid relationship with your China manufacturer will help ensure all goes well from start to finish so as to save for quality control later.

3) Find Suppliers You Can Talk To

As we just mentioned, it’s crucial to build a good relationship with your suppliers. If you have a supplier that will work closely with you, you will have peace of mind knowing that your products are being built as per your specifications and on time. This can save you thousands of dollars in unnecessary costs on quality control inspection and rework if your supplier is lax about following instructions. Since many China manufacturers don’t speak English well, try to find someone who can understand what you need or use an agency or translator who specializes in working with Chinese manufacturers. Also make sure to check references before doing business with any new supplier.

4) Get Critical Feedback While Your Product Is Being Manufactured

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make when manufacturing a product is assuming that everyone is as invested in its success as they are. But often you’ll be working with multiple vendors, each responsible for a different component of your finished product. Without directly collaborating with all vendors, it can be hard to spot inconsistencies—like inferior fabric or mismatched parts—until too late in production. The easiest way to catch these and other problems early on is by getting critical feedback from suppliers and manufacturers while your product is being made. While it’s impossible to ensure perfection, taking advantage of communication can help limit any mishaps during production so they don’t cost you time or money later down the line.

5) Get Involved in the Production Process

When you’re manufacturing overseas, quality control is a crucial issue. If there are quality issues with your product or manufacturing process, that means you will lose time, money and a lot of reputation. The best way to overcome quality problems is to get involved in QC yourself. A first step would be to try testing out parts of your production process at each stage before you send it off for mass production. This will make sure that whatever defects happen are caught early on and can be corrected as early as possible, with minimal cost and effort. With current travel restrictions, most likely you won’t be physically there in China. Make sure to find one that can livestream the whole process or any trusted 3rd-party inspection services to test it out for you.

Overall, quality control is one of those things that may seem small in terms of overall costs and time, but it can make a significant difference to your bottom line in both ways. It’s never too early or too late to start improving your QC. Shield Works has over 17 years of QC experience with our own professional team, contact us if you are in need of QC service in China!

How Outsourcing Product Assembly to China Benefits Your Electronic Manufacturing

If you’re planning to manufacture and assemble electronics overseas, you might be wondering how outsourcing your product assembly to China can benefit your business. There are many benefits that come with manufacturing in China including lower costs, shorter lead times, and higher quality of products. These are just some of the perks of outsourcing product assembly to China that you should know about when deciding where to base your manufacturing operations or e-commerce distribution center. You can find out more about these advantages below.

Reducing Costs

According to a study from 2005, China has one of the highest costs of labor in Asia. However, other studies suggest that shipping products across oceans makes China an attractive location for manufacturing in terms of overall costs. Either way, saving money on product assembly will help your bottom line immensely. Manufacturers outsourcing their assembly process are typically able to cut between 20% and 50% off their product cost; without outsourcing, you could probably make a very similar product at a cost-per-unit profit comparable to or even greater than that of your competitors. It’s no wonder why so many manufacturers have chosen to outsource product assembly: The benefits are clear.

Improving Time to Market

It’s no secret that time-to-market is a major factor in determining success for new products. Starting with a lean manufacturing strategy can really improve your company’s ability to quickly get products onto store shelves and out into homes. Before you start building your product, consider if it makes sense to outsource product assembly or even electronics manufacturing. If done correctly, outsourcing certain parts of production can make prototyping faster, reduce costs and improve overall efficiency in product assembly and time-to-market. In addition, outsourcing electronics manufacturing overseas may allow you access to better talent at lower costs than you’d find domestically.

Improving Quality Control

One of the most important aspects of electronic manufacturing is your company’s quality control. All products, regardless of complexity, have at least one critical element that keeps them working properly: a single connector or set of wires, an integrated circuit or a battery. You must take special care when making these elements because any mistake can mean disaster for your customers. That’s why hiring outsourced workers to manufacture your product assembly allows you to retain more control over production than you would in-house manufacturing: When someone is actually constructing a product on your behalf in another country, they know they only have one shot at creating something that works perfectly every time—or it’s not going back on an airplane with them.

Increasing Customer Satisfaction

When it comes to outsourcing, customer satisfaction is just as important as cost. The most common mistake of new electronics manufacturers is trying to save money by selecting a vendor that cuts corners. This can lead to a lot of headaches further down the line, including returns and re-work. Start off right by finding an experienced partner with a proven track record in product assembly and electronic manufacturing services. You’ll have greater peace of mind knowing that you’re on your way to growing a successful business—not just doing business in China. Also, its time-saving benefit can also contribute to better customer satisfaction by keeping your design team focused on what they do best – designing new products! There’s nothing worse than spending hours making minor tweaks to an existing product when there are millions of dollars worth of opportunities out there just waiting for a new idea. Product design is where you’ll see huge improvements by hiring experienced engineers and designers with experience working with complex electronics like yours.

Helping Understand the Chinese Electronics Manufacturing Ecosystem

In China, product assembly work can be done through a large number of vendors. As a result, you have many different firms that are capable of handling specific tasks in your manufacturing process. To benefit from these resources, it is important to understand how they fit into the Chinese electronics ecosystem and what services they can provide. But to grasp each type of organization involved in electronics manufacturing in China can be very challenging for someone new to the country. It will be much easier for you to find an outsourced partner that can complete a specific stage of your production line and bridge all the gaps together with other departments for the output of quality products.

Shield Works is one of your best choices with a self-owned IP protected, in-house bilingual engineering team and over 16 years of experience of manufacturing in China for clients worldwide, including product assembly. Please feel free to contact us if you are interested.