Order fulfillment is a complex process involving multiple stages such as picking, packing, processing, and shipping customer orders. The smooth operation of these stages is crucial to prevent customer complaints and maintain a high level of customer service. One very cost effective way to manage inventory and streamline the order fulfillment process is by leveraging the expertise of a third-party logistics (3PL) company.
These companies, often referred to as experts in the field, offer access to 3PL software that automates many aspects of the logistics process, enhancing efficiency and reducing errors.
This article will delve into the role of 3PL software and the factors to consider when choosing a top 3PL provider or one, including the consideration of your business requirements, budget, and business goals.
Understanding 3PL Warehouse Management Systems
A 3PL warehouse and inventory management system is a software solution designed to aid in a company’s logistics operations. A 3PL system’s key features include warehouse task and inventory management, detailed processes for picking, packing, and shipping goods, delivery tracking, and shipping route optimization.
The level of automation provided by these systems can significantly improve warehouse operations, ensuring that items are managed efficiently and errors are minimized. These systems are particularly beneficial for large warehouses where manual inventory management can be time-consuming and prone to errors.
The Case for 3PL Software in Small Businesses
3PL software brings numerous benefits to small businesses, including the ability to streamline processes and manage sales, service and inventory levels effectively. Here are some reasons why small businesses should consider implementing 3PL software:
Efficiency and Cost Savings
3PL software can automate tasks such as order tracking, invoice generation, and payment processing, saving significant time and reducing the need for additional employees, thereby cutting operational costs. This efficiency can also improve the customer experience, as orders can be processed and shipped more quickly. In times of high demand, this efficiency can be particularly beneficial.
Minimizing Human Error
Manual data entry and processing can lead to errors, especially when information passes through multiple hands. 3PL software automates these processes, reducing the likelihood of costly mistakes. This automation can save time and also improve the quality of good customer service being provided to customers.
Meeting Diverse Business Needs
Different businesses have different needs, and 3PL software offers the flexibility to customize features according to these business needs. As your business grows, you can scale up the software by adding extra features. This scalability can accommodate the demands of growing retailers and ensure that the software continues to continuously improve to meet their needs.
Informed Decision Making
3PL software comes with reporting tools that provide insights into inventory levels, staff performance, and other crucial business information. These reports enable you to make better decisions based on accurate, real-time data. This data can also be used to inform product development efforts and improve customer relationship management (CRM) strategies.
The Advantages of Using 3PL Software
The success of your own third party logistics partner, provider partner or business largely depends on client satisfaction. In today’s marketplaces, customers expect their orders to arrive promptly and appreciate the ability to track their orders throughout the shipping process. For small businesses, these operations can often be managed in-house, but for larger businesses with high-volume supply chain operations, forming a partnership with a third party logistics partner or a 3PL provider can ensure accuracy and efficiency. Here are some benefits of using 3PL software ecommerce business:
Automation Saves Time
3PL software can automate various tasks and integrate processes, saving time for both the logistics services providers and their clients. For example, integrations with eCommerce platforms like Shopify and Amazon can automatically capture orders and add the information directly into your database.
This automation can also improve the customer experience, as customers can receive updates on their orders in real time.
The automation capabilities of 3PL software can reduce costs for logistics and warehousing providers by reducing the need for data entry clerks. These cost savings for a supply chain and logistics company can then translate into lower shipping and warehousing costs for clients. This cost-effectiveness is particularly important for businesses operating on a tight budget.
Manual handling of different stages of the order fulfillment process can increase the risk of errors. 3PL software automates data storage and processing, reducing the likelihood of costly human errors. This automation can save money and also improve the quality of service provided to customers.
Customization and Scalability
3PL software can be customized and scaled to suit the needs of both supply chain management or individual clients, making it easier to manage changes such as adding inventory, opening a new distribution center, or entering a new market. This scalability is particularly important for businesses experiencing rapid growth.
3PL software reports on the entire supply chain activity of most companies, from production to shipping, providing visibility into any part of the business at any time.
This visibility can help businesses to manage their own supply chain, other supply chains, and SKUs effectively and ensure that they have the capacity to meet customer demands.
Entrusting a 3PL partner or logistics partner with your company reputation entire supply chain can be daunting. However, 3PL software and services like ShipHero provides full visibility into logistics performance and current inventory levels from reliable partners, ensuring everything is running smoothly. This transparency can also improve the customer experience, as customers can track their orders in real time.
Enhanced Customer Support
3PL software can track orders and payments from start to finish, allowing customers to track shipments in real-time and easily make returns. The software also enables the company to offer expedited shipping options like same-day and two-day shipping. This level of customer service can enhance the company’ customer experience and improve customer retention.
Every business is unique, and using 3PL software services may be more beneficial for some companies than others. If you’re considering transitioning your business to third-party logistics services, it’s important to know what to look for when shopping for 3PL software solutions.
Key Considerations When Choosing 3PL Software
When working with a third party logistics provider or third party logistics providers because of third party logistics providers third-party logistics companies, clients entrust the entire order fulfillment process to another entity. Making the wrong choice could cost your company in the long run, potentially leading to client loss and business challenges. Here are some factors to consider when looking for the best 3PL software:
Your third party logistics provider or chosen 3PL provider partner should have access to the latest technology. Advanced 3PL software can save you money and reduce errors through automation.
This technology should include enterprise resource planning (ERP) and transportation management systems (TMS) to ensure comprehensive management of your third party logistics operations.
Many businesses outsource to a 3PL company when they’ve outgrown the capabilities of their in-house logistics department. If you plan to work with growing companies, choose 3PL software that can scale with their future business too.
Also, consider the capacity of the logistics partner and the software to handle increasing numbers of SKUs and items.
Compliance with Packaging and Labeling Standards
Logistics businesses need to comply with certain rules and regulations regarding product packaging and labeling. Good 3PL software can help you meet these requirements and prevent future issues. This compliance is particularly important to protect the rights of consumers and ensure that goods are correctly labeled.
Support for Multiple Client Accounts
In a single company, there may be several users of 3PL software as each division needs real-time access to the stored data. Good 3PL software should offer multiple user accounts so people from different divisions can log into the app simultaneously. This feature can improve collaboration and ensure that all employees have access to the information they need.
Most 3PL technology solutions include billing functions to ensure that invoices are paid out properly. This type of software automates put away, receiving, storage, and shipping, ensuring that charges for these services are always accurate and on time. This automation can also improve the customer experience, as customers can receive timely and accurate invoices.
Value for Money
Many clients work with 3PL providers to avoid the cost of logistics software. To provide your clients with the best value and service, choose a top 3PL partner or logistics partner, with software that offers advanced features at an affordable price. This value for money is particularly important for businesses operating on a tight budget.
There are many 3PL software options on the market catering to different needs. If you’re planning to become a 3PL provider, research the type of logistics software your potential clients prefer and match your software to the client’s needs.
The Bottom Line
The key to finding the best 3PL software partner is to take the time to examine your company’s needs and find a software partner and solution to meet them. Don’t forget to include the option for customization and scalability as well.
And remember, the things to consider when choosing a 3PL partner is not just about the software they provide and prioritize customer service, but also about the quality of their technology connecting their customer service, their ability to answer your questions, and their commitment to training their staff to meet your needs.
In the era of online shopping, shoppers have high expectations for fast and accurate delivery. This is where the role of a 3PL platform provider comes into play. A good 3PL platform provider will not only ensure the logistics company ensures efficient transportation of goods but the provider will also provide real-time tracking for shoppers, enhancing their shopping experience.