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Cross-border E-commerceNov 28, 2023
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Understanding the Differences Between 3PL and Fulfillment

Understanding the Differences Between 3PL and Fulfillment


In the logistics industry, the terms "3PL" and "Fulfillment" are often heard, but not everyone fully understands the differences between them. This article will explain the meanings of these terms, their differences, and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

What is Fulfillment?

Fulfillment in the e-commerce industry refers to the entire process "from order to after-sales support." This includes "order processing," "inventory management," "logistics management," "shipping," "payment processing," and "customer service." Fulfillment directly affects customer satisfaction, thus efficient and prompt execution of these tasks is crucial.

What is 3PL?

3PL (Third-Party Logistics) is a service that plans and implements logistics strategies and systems on behalf of the cargo owner. 3PL specializes in logistics and is also a business promoted by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism in Japan.

Differences Between Fulfillment and 3PL

The main difference is that fulfillment covers all aspects of e-commerce operations, while 3PL specializes in logistics. Fulfillment involves many tasks that directly interact with customers, significantly impacting customer satisfaction. On the other hand, 3PL focuses on optimizing logistics efficiency and supporting the cargo owner's logistics strategies.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Fulfillment

  • Advantages:

    • Smooth execution of a series of tasks.
    • Outsourcing can reduce staffing costs and allow internal resources to be allocated to other core operations.
    • High-quality service provision can improve customer satisfaction.
  • Disadvantages:

    • Outsourcing may lead to a loss of direct customer contact.
    • Service usage incurs costs.
    • In-house expertise in back-end operations may not develop as robustly.

Advantages and Disadvantages of 3PL

  • Advantages:

    • Specialized service in logistics.
    • Converts fixed costs into variable costs, reducing expenses in months with lower cargo volumes.
    • Improvement in logistics quality and customer satisfaction.
  • Disadvantages:

    • In-house logistics expertise may not develop.
    • Being managed by another company can make it difficult to monitor operational realities.

Who Should Consider Fulfillment and 3PL Services?

  • Businesses wanting to focus internal resources on core operations.
  • Businesses with experience in logistics operations.


Fulfillment and 3PL are similar yet different services. In e-commerce, understanding these services and selecting the right one for your business is crucial. To enhance customer trust and satisfaction, it's important to understand these differences and choose the appropriate service.

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