How the 3PL Fulfillment Cycle Works

There are so many moving pieces in the supply chain that proper 3PL fulfillment can seem like magic at times. Every time an order is processed there’s a flurry of processes that go into place. Some are being managed by people, some automated, and some somewhere in between. Then, when you consider that thousands of orders are being started every minute, the supply chain can start to look like an intricate mosaic of packages and trucks moving from A to B to X.

When broken down, however, the 3PL order process is not as difficult to understand as one might think. It is just made up of processes that each step must fulfill correctly. There are four main players in the 3PL fulfillment cycle, the shipper, the 3PL, the carrier, and the consignee. Throughout the processes, there is communication going back and forth between everyone while the freight makes its journey from pick-up to destination.

Let’s take a look at the steps involved, starting at the beginning.

The Shipper Needs Their Freight Shipped

The first step in the shipping process is the shippers need to ship freight. If they are shipping regularly and have key processes in place then they are ready to skip down to step 3 or maybe if 4. However, if they are not, then they need to gather any key information on the shipment. Then, afterward, reach out to the consignee to find the best delivery time.

The Shipper Provides Shipment Details to Partnered 3PL

All the information gathered in the first step by the shipper needs to be communicated to the 3PL. This step can be streamlined very effectively via an API connection or if it’s a regular shipment that is made. This information is vital for the 3PL to have so that they can find a carrier that will be able to fulfill the shipper’s order.

3PL Finds the Best Carrier for the Job

Now, with information on the freight and the pick-up and drop-off times and destinations, the 3PL is able to find the best carrier for the job. Most 3PL’s have contracts signed with tens of thousands of carriers. This means they have near endless options to find not just the best-priced carrier, but the one that will offer the best quality. There’s a lot that goes into this step. Each organization will have its own processes, but it should end with a deal made with a carrier to deliver the shipper’s freight. Ensuring that the best carrier is found is one of the most important steps in 3PL fulfillment.

Shipment is Made

Now that all the deals have been made it is time for the shipment itself. If the past 3 steps were performed correctly then everything will go right. The freight will be picked up on time, kept in the right condition, and dropped off at the right location and at the right time. There will also be communication between the 3PL, shipper, carrier, and consignee to ensure that everything is going as planned. If something does go wrong then it is on the 3PL to find a solution that will work for all the parties involved. Once the delivery is made, then it is time to move on to evaluation.


In the evaluation process, the shipper should be making sure that the 3PL met all of their expectations. The 3PL should be making sure that the carrier met all of its expectations. The carrier should make sure that the 3PL provided everything they needed to succeed.

Manager Reviewing the 3PL fulfillment process

Last is making sure everyone gets paid. This step only becomes tricky if assessorial charges are brought into play or if there was some kind of claim or a bigger issue. In most cases, however, the shipper will pay the 3PL and the 3PL will pay their partnered carrier. After payment is made then the relationships can either continue and the process will start over once the shipper needs more freight shipped or each party will go their separate ways.

How Becker Logistics Ensures 3PL Fulfillment

At Becker Logistics, we have been successfully fulfilling 3PL orders for 25 years. We do this by having a great team that follows processes but into place that guarantees success. Additionally, we have built our company on a foundation of integrity. We make sure that we follow through on each promise so that shipping is simple for everyone involved.

To see if Becker Logistics is the best 3PL option for you feel free to reach out and contact us. Additionally, if you are ready to ship now you can request a freight quote and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

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