There are lots of moving parts in order fulfillment. You need to track the picking, packing, processing and shipping steps to ensure nothing goes wrong and keep customers happy. Unfortunately, monitoring operational processes is often time-consuming and challenging to do by yourself.
This is where third-party logistics (3PL) companies come in. Hiring a 3PL company gives you access to their expertise and 3PL software to assist in order fulfillment – resulting in cost savings. These software tools are also part of what makes 2PL, 3PL and 4PL companies different.
Which 3PL software should you use to improve your logistics operations? Read on for a list of the best 3PL software available today.
What Is Software for 3PL?
Software for 3PL is a tool that helps companies better manage their order fulfillment process and warehouse operations. 3PL software, in the third-party logistics environment, improves shipping times, drives shipping costs down, manages retail distribution, provides real-time inventory visibility and does other order fulfillment tasks to ensure you operate at maximum efficiency.
3PL software can also integrate with the client’s systems, so everything gets updated simultaneously. This eliminates double data entries and inconsistencies between records, which prevents costly mistakes.
Benefits of Third-Party Logistics Software
3PL software helps you better manage the order fulfillment and logistics process through automation and data management. Here are five ways 3PL software benefits your company:
Reduce Operational Costs and Save Time
3PL software automates various manual processes like invoice generation, inventory management, data entry and order tracking. Since computers work faster than humans, you’ll save time. Moreover, you’ll also reduce operational costs and save money because you don’t have to hire additional people to perform these tasks.
Prevent Human Error
Data entry is a repetitive and time-consuming job prone to mistakes, especially if the information is passed around multiple teams before it goes into the database. Third-party logistics providers use 3PL software to automate data entry and other error-prone business processes, reducing potential costly mistakes.
Make Better Decisions
Third-party logistics companies use 3PL software to record data and create reports on things like inventory, staff performance and other essential information. These reports are compiled from real-time data, so managers can make informed decisions based on current circumstances.
3PL software plays a large role in creating sustainable third-party logistics and supply chain processes. One of the features of 3PL software is transportation route optimization, which means the software calculates the most efficient way to get items to customers.
Optimizing transportation routes also means your company will use less carbon-intensive transportation, like transporting items in bulk by rail instead of smaller deliveries with trucks.
How to Maximize the Benefits of Software for 3PL
Working with 3PL companies means investing time and money, which don’t come easily. If you want to maximize the benefits of 3PL software, do these three things:
- Leverage your third-party logistics service provider’s expertise. Listen to their suggestions and follow their advice regarding order fulfillment.
- Communicate with your third-party logistics business partner. Ask as many questions as needed and ensure they know about potential issues before they balloon into a bigger problem.
- Set metrics and focus on improving them. Discuss what metrics you aim to improve through the working relationship, and let the third-party logistics business partner boost those numbers instead of spending time making reports.
How to Get Started with Software for 3PL
You can get started with software for 3PL by working with a third-party logistics provider. Third-party logistics businesses usually bring their own 3PL inventory and fulfillment software to your company. If your third-party fulfillment business partner doesn’t have a preferred software, talk with its representative about which software to implement.
What Features Should You Look For in Software for 3PL?
Different 3PL software offers different features, but some essential things should be in all 3PL software tools. Here are several must-have 3PL-centric features in a third-party logistics software solution:
- User-friendly interface
- Cloud-based storage and functionality
- Real-time order and shipment tracking
- Strong integrations with online retail and accounting solutions
- Transport route optimization
- Multi-account support
- Automated invoicing and reporting
Your 3PL software should also be scalable and able to keep up with fast-growing businesses to ensure it can still support your company as it grows. Excellent and helpful customer service is also a big plus point since you may need them if the software solution encounters an error.
How Much Does Software for 3PL Cost?
Software for 3PL costs differently depending on the provider. Most third-party fulfillment companies fold the software costs with their service fees, so you need to ask each company about their prices.
Best Software for 3PL
Numerous 3PL providers and software are available today, each with different service offerings and benefits. Here are five of the best 3PL software solution providers available in the logistics industry:
ShipHero is a third-party logistics and order fulfillment solution provider that integrates with your online storefronts and gets products to customers faster at flat-rate fees. It operates eight distribution centers across North America to ensure maximum reach and minimum carbon footprint from air deliveries.
Its 3PL software provides a complete suite of features, including order processing, inventory management, reporting and so much more. Ultimately, it helps your company process more orders faster, boosting customer satisfaction and cutting down on logistics costs.
2. Trimble TMS
Trimble is transportation management software created to boost efficiency and reduce costly administrative mistakes. This software offers a real-time shipping tracker, ensuring you know where your products are and when they’ll arrive at the customer’s doorstep.
Trimble also offers a flexible third-party logistic solution, meaning you can request changes in the software to support your business operations. For instance, it allows you to install Trimble on either the SQL or IBM i platform to fit your business needs.
Fishbowl is an enterprise solution that provides real-time visibility into your warehousing operations. It’s great for managing inventory across multiple warehouses and fulfillment centers since Fishbowl lets you track stock across your company in real-time, no matter where the items are.
Fishbowl also integrates with popular eCommerce and accounting software like Shopify and QuickBooks Enterprise, so you don’t have to input information twice.
4. Excalibur WMS
This WMS from Camelot Software supports cloud-based and on-premise deployment, meaning you have more flexibility in deploying your third-party fulfillment software. Excalibur serves various warehouse types, such as regular warehouses, refrigerated storage and even hazardous material warehouses.
Another great feature of Excalibur is its job scheduler tool, which creates work schedules and sends them to managers. This saves them time on having to create schedules themselves.
Syntelic is a trucking and logistics software tool boasting customizable interfaces according to your business requirements. It primarily caters to trucking companies with its robust route planning, load planning and real-time shipment update features, but it’s also useful for 3PL companies thanks to its customizability.
What Software for 3PL Does Your Business Need?
What 3PL software your business needs depends on your requirements. While most 3PL software deals with order fulfillment, you may need specialized software for other aspects of the business, such as if you want to improve your company’s transportation efforts.
Your best bet is to research all the third-party fulfillment software options available, then narrow them down to a couple of possible candidates. From there, talk with company representatives and learn whether the software caters to your needs.
3PL software goes hand-in-hand with third-party logistics companies because it assists them in managing your order fulfillment and warehousing process. Some 3PL companies bring their own software, but others may let you choose 3PL software yourself.
When choosing 3PL software, take the time to learn what your company needs and ensure that the software tool’s features fit your business.
Software for 3PL FAQs
What software do warehouses use?
Warehouses use software called a warehouse management system (WMS). A warehouse management system is software that gives companies visibility into their inventory and manages order fulfillment operations, ensuring products arrive at the customers’ door on time.
What is SAP for Logistics?
SAP for Logistics is software from enterprise resource planning provider SAP. It gathers all your logistics data from multiple databases and places it into a centralized repository, which helps eliminate discrepancies and inconsistencies.
What is a 3PL platform?
A 3PL platform or software is a program that helps 3PL companies do their jobs. It usually offers route optimization, data management and performance reporting, among other features.