Why You Should Use a 3PL for Reverse Logistics and Returns
July 26, 2022
by Rebecca Fox

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to sell your products without having to spend your time overseeing how they are received, distributed, and returned?

Processing returns can be expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive, but you don’t have to handle it all yourself. 

One way to make the eCommerce returns process easier is by outsourcing your reverse logistics to a company that specializes in transportation, handling, and restocking. These external logistics companies are called Third-Party Logistics providers (3PLs)

Using a 3PL is becoming more and more prevalent – 40% of retailers use a 3PL to handle returns. Read on to see if using a third-party logistics provider might be a good idea for your business too.

What is a 3PL?

Third-Party Logistics (3PL) companies manage inbound and outbound shipments and fulfillment. 

With a 3PL you can automatically generate return shipping labels, track return shipments, and be sure that returned products are processed and restocked or disposed of appropriately.

When customers return an item, it arrives back at the 3PL warehouse. The 3PL team inspects the item and lets you know that the refund or store credit is ready to be processed on your end. Once they’ve assessed and confirmed the item is resellable, they place it back on the shelf to fulfill a future order.

Why Use a 3PL?

Using a third-party logistics provider to manage your Shopify store’s reverse logistics can save you both time and money.

Having an efficient reverse logistics solution facilitates fast and easy returns, making customers more likely to exchange or buy again. Efficient resell, recycling, and disposal solutions also help your store recover product value.

Since reverse logistics is such an important part of every eCommerce business, it’s a smart choice to assign this process to a fitting type of service provider.


You don’t necessarily know how much warehouse space you’re going to need months and years down the line. 

A 3PL can relieve some of the guesswork that comes with the expansion and contraction of your business by offering flexibility as you grow or experience setbacks. Need more space? It’s there. Need fewer hands on deck? Consider it done.

When you use a 3PL you can easily scale your Shopify business while mitigating some of the financial risks.

Quality Control

Inspecting returned items can be delegated to a 3PL that provides dedicated staff members who decide if items should be discarded, recycled, or restocked, based on your store’s conditions.

3PLs are also responsible for maintaining your inventory through cycle counts, labeling, and reporting. By handing over your inventory to the care of a 3PL, you can relax knowing your products are being taken care of.

Fast and Easy Returns

When it comes to fast shipping and easy returns, Amazon is one of the first companies that come to mind. One of the reasons Amazon is able to offer easy and convenient returns is because they have strategically-located warehouses all over the world.

You too can streamline your returns process and make returns easy by having a 3PL handle your inventory using their network of warehouses.

Take Deliverr for example, a 3PL that Shopify recently acquired, which has an interconnected network of warehouses that enables you to easily receive returned items all across the country. Being able to quickly and efficiently receive and process returns anywhere in the country gives your eCommerce business a huge advantage over others.

A streamlined returns process encourages repeat business, brings down your expenses, and reflects well on your store. Just like fast shipping can increase sales, so can efficient returns.

Package Tracking

The best 3PLs provide you with a complete tracking system and comprehensive returns management abilities. You’ll be able to know exactly when items were received, assessed, and restocked.

Integrating a 3PL into your returns management system lets you efficiently handle the entire returns process from start to finish, and have all the relevant information synced up at all times.

Knowing what’s going on with your returns at any given time can give you peace of mind and enable you to focus your time and energy on other tasks.

How to Choose the Best Shopify 3PL for Your Store

When choosing a 3PL reverse logistics provider for your Shopify store, there are some key features to consider.

  • Number of Locations
    Choose a 3PL that has multiple fulfillment centers strategically spread out across the country – the more the better. 

    Having a wide network of warehouses makes it quicker and easier to receive return shipments, making your whole process more efficient.
  • Ease of Integration
    The best Shopify 3PLs will be easy to integrate into your store and other eCommerce management apps so that you can easily manage every aspect of your returns process in one place. 

    Integrating your 3PL with your Shopify store helps streamline your reverse logistics and simplify your workflow. 
  • Usability
    Your Shopify 3PL should have an easy-to-use interface that provides real-time notifications and detailed reporting so that you can track all your return shipments and make sure everything is in sync at all times. 

    A user-friendly 3PL app saves you time and money and reduces human error.

Before starting to work with a 3PL, research Shopify 3PLs, read reviews, and compare information to make sure you’re choosing the best possible 3PL for your Shopify store.

Outsource Your Returns Process

Why should you do everything yourself when you can simply outsource the hassle of handling returns?

Just as you pay to use internet service instead of going all around the world and laying down wires by hand, you can outsource reverse logistics.

Your eCommerce success is greatly affected by the extent to which you understand and anticipate trends and innovations in returns. The future of eCommerce returns undeniably relies on third-party logistics.

ReturnGO easily integrates with a variety of 3PLs such as Deliverr to optimize your reverse logistics and make sure returns are handled quickly and effectively.

Entrust your reverse logistics to a 3PL and focus on doing what you do best – running your growing business.

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