Maintaining a smooth operation is essential to having a great business. Moreover, having great logistics and supply chain functions will enable anyone to do this. There are many different types of solutions when it comes to logistics and supply chain – and we’re about to break down the differences for you.

1. Warehousing

Firstly, warehousing is simply storing inventory and products for extended periods of time. Furthermore, there are various types of warehouses, from small ones that only hold excess inventory to large ones that come with forklifts, shelves, containers, and docks.

With most warehouses, you can make short-term or long-term lease commitments. In addition, depending on who you work with, your warehouse can offer temperature control and sometimes help with wholesale or B2B orders where large orders are requested. Also, you can manage these operations through warehouse management systems. However, keep in mind that there will generally not be any additional services apart from storing and organizing the inventory.

2. Inventory management

Monitoring of a company’s inventory is called inventory management. In addition, tracking inventory, how much inventory is available, ordering new inventory, restocking inventory, and inventory forecasting (where you predict when you’ll need to reorder inventory) are all part of inventory management. However, thanks to technology, you don’t need to manually keep track of or calculate this information – simply use inventory management software. Likewise, managing inventory does not involve picking, packing, and shipping orders.

3. Order fulfillment services

Order fulfillment services include all the steps in the fulfillment process like:

  • warehousing
  • inventory management
  • kitting inventory
  • picking items in an order
  • packing boxes
  • labeling packages with shipping labels
  • shipping orders
  • facilitating the returns process

However, order fulfillment services do not involve long-term storage.

4. Third-party logistics

Third-part logistics, or 3PL, means outsourcing logistics to a third-party. The third-party will handle:

  • Order fulfillment services
  • Warehousing inventory
  • Inventory management
  • Picking, packing, and shipping
  • Other services that help get orders to your customers

3PLs will often provide you with different tools and technology that connect to your e-commerce store. This way, they’ll get the orders as they’re placed and can help manage orders, inventory, and much more. However, keep in mind that 3PL does not mean that you fulfill and ship orders yourself, rent or buy any warehouse space, hire fulfillment staff, purchase equipment, receive workers comp or liability insurance.

ESM Fulfillment and Distribution can help you get back to running your business and stop worrying about the little things. We offer a wide range of services from warehousing to kitting to supply chain solutions. In addition, we have automated warehouse management software and an experienced team! So, contact us for a free quote. We would love to work with you!

5. Handling fulfillment in-house

Handling fulfillment in-house means you take care of the entire fulfillment process. Warehousing, inventory management, packing, shipping, and creating and carrying out the fulfillment infrastructure all depends on you. Also, this does not involve sharing warehousing space with anyone outside the company or outsourcing fulfillment.


Now that you know the differences between these logistic and supply chain solutions, you’ll be better equipped to make a decision. In conclusion, choose what will benefit you, your business, and your customers.