Shipping companies do not always have resources to organize a competent delivery chain. They have to create a powerful vehicle fleet, rent or purchase warehouses, think over the optimal routes, and consider the products’ features. A practical solution for 3PL companies would be to choose a reliable WMS software. Transferring the management of the logistics process to a third party, the company’s specialists get more time to focus on business development and delivering their products. But how to choose the best 3PL software? We discuss this issue in this article.
How can 3PL company be a perfect partner for a client?
Every company wants to engage and keep the existing customers, as well as attract the new ones. The best way to do this is to learn your customers’ needs and prove your loyalty to the partners. Mention these valuable ideas, presented in an article on B2B Customer Retention Strategies:
- The most critical step for building robust B2B customer retention strategies is a keen understanding of your customers.
- Show Them That You Care For Their Brand As Much As You Care For Your Own.
How can we project this on 3PL companies? The answer is: cover the maximum number of your customers’ needs in logistics processes. Let your clients focus on their growth. Ultimately, it will have a positive impact on your business.
Additionally, you can try to add new services to increase the income.
Further on in this section, we’ll discuss the ways of improving processes and becoming more beneficial for the clients.
Receiving and storing inventory
It is essential to monitor and replenish the inventory constantly. Clients want to feel confidence and care:
Delivery of inventory to 3PL warehouses
Delivery includes the following processes: unloading inventory in the receiving area, timely identification of the inventory, incoming stock reporting, transferring the received inventory to the accepted storage standards. Take over the delivery if the client can’t do the by themself.
To maintain the stocks independently, a 3PL needs tools to operate and exchange information on sales, balances and potential inventory management. The 3PL’s task is to help you quickly synchronize information on the inventory with the information in your online store, check inventory counts in real time, enable inventory reordering to avoid stockouts. When the 3PL receives your inventory, you can physically inspect the quantity and sell the products.
Encourage your clients to check their products more often. It will allow to track the actual stockouts efficiently. You can automate the inventory process by using the right technologies for 3PL company. This helps to earn more clients’ trust and prove you as a reliable partner.
Order processing and delivery
Imagine that your customer’s online store receives an order. Once the payment is confirmed, the order is sent immediately to your system. Then you collect the order and ship it the same day. Two days later, the customer receives the order. A perfect cooperation!
Read the following part of the article to get to know about the most critical processes you should pay your attention to.
Transferring orders to 3PL
In retail and e-commerce businesses, the companies are expected to respond to orders instantly. To do this, you need to integrate your software with an ERP or CMS client. If your software doesn’t have such functionality, consider developing it.
Discuss the packaging issues with the client in advance to prepare all the necessary materials: boxes of the right size, paper and bubble wrap, adhesive tape, different types of dunnage, etc. Packing materials usually depend on the 3PL’s capabilities, preferences and inventory shipped.
Delivery of orders within two days
Make sure to offer your customers the best delivery options and provide the delivery within two days. Some 3PLs have their delivery partners, while others use different delivery services depending on the price. Generally, delivery and shipping speed depends on the delivery company, the options provided and the policies.
Warehouses in different regions for faster delivery
If the 3PL has warehouses in different states or regions of one state, it’s good to have the stocks distributed among these warehouses for quick delivery. This option can be more cost-effective in comparison to air shipping.
GPS order tracking
It is important for a 3PL company to provide its customers with the ability to track orders in real time. Using GPS allows to have access to the needed data and stay on schedule, reduce costs and control the order life cycle.
Return and exchange
Return and exchange of goods are two very unpleasant procedures that require additional costs. This especially affects online stores during big sales periods. Taking over this process, a 3PL provides a client with additional time and resources. It is required to synchronize the exchange and return information. Discuss the conditions, under which the returned inventory can be accepted, individually with the customer.
How can 3PL software improve company’s efficiency?
Implementing the WMS (warehouse management system) is essential for 3PL business, as it facilitates considerably the customer service, optimizes all the processes, integrates with ERP, help save the money and resources, and improves safety and security. One thing is certain: 3PL software should be very flexible to work with any ERP, CRM and CMS clients. If customization and synchronization are needed, a third party company services may be used.
Basic 3PL software functions:
- System security
- Stock rotation features
- Reporting and analysis system
- Distributed inventory system
- Tracking stock
- Physical inventories
- Receiving inventory
- Packing inventory
- 3PL support
- Communication center
- ML and AI technologies
- Backups and third-parties integrations
Integration with other software
3PL software must have a powerful API and ready-made modules for synchronization. During one of our projects we developed APIs to integrate our client’s product with other systems. We used PIM & ERP, and combined these two systems with another popular CMS, like Magento. Using the APIs, we made this linkage relatively trivial and achieved some fast development of such integration solutions.
Tracking and improving processes
It’s better to discover the potential risks and mistakes, prevent them and track them as soon as possible. Consider the HASP 22000 standard: it is aimed at improving food safety. According to it, it is necessary to describe all the production processes and identify vulnerabilities for further control. Implementing the same solutions for 3PLs can help achieve the maximum efficiency.
Demand for tools that work with large amounts of data is rising continuously, especially among the Ecommerce companies. Processing Big Data allows you to predict orders, suggest helpful ideas, improve operational processes, etc.
Developing a BigData solution and collecting information will be a great competitive advantage over other 3PL companies.
What 3PL software is the best?
Large businesses invest in integration of their ERP systems with WMS software for 3PL companies. But for small and medium-sized companies, electronic data interchange is a big challenge. System integrations may be expensive, the payback period may last up to two years, and the whole implementation process may take several months. Still, everything depends on complexity of the WMS and the 3PL software solution.
Cloud or Server?
Cloud solutions allows to save resources and have a lot of flexibility in synchronization. The cloud solution eliminates the need of installing additional equipment, organizing system support, and spending any associated costs. It can easily integrate with all ERP and accounting systems, and it works flawlessly with distributed inventory in large international companies and small local companies.
Open-source WMS solutions
Many effective open-source warehouse management systems are suitable for small local companies, which have limited budgets or don’t need huge functionality. Also, the open-source solutions provide more space for customization. A lot of them give access to excellent functionality for free. Our list of the best open-source warehouse management software includes:
- Openboxes (allows to increase stock visibility across all facilities and departments within your company).
- Odoo MRP (can help organize your warehouse more efficiently with an innovative double-entry inventory system).
- myWMS (the warehouse management software for manually operated warehouses).
TOP 3 popular solutions
There are plenty of ready-to-use 3PL solutions today. When choosing the one, look thoroughly at your company’s needs, functionality and capabilities. We highlight the following popular 3PL software solutions:
- Fishbowl Inventory Software – a hybrid manufacturing and warehouse management solution, perfect for small and medium-sized companies. Its main options include inventory control, MRP (material requirements planning), barcoding, work order management, asset management, and bills of materials. This solution can be either installed on-premise or hosted in the cloud.
- Infoplus WMS – a web-based WMS solution for small and medium-sized 3PLs, Wholesale, E-commerce retailers and Inventory Management companies, designed to handle the inbound receiving, inventory control, fulfillment and customized workflow, barcode, as well as document needs of the companies.
- 3PL warehouse manager – a cloud-based WMS solution, designed for 3PL companies to manage multiple customers. It quickly transforms paper-based 3PLs into service leaders, able to focus on customer satisfaction, efficient operating and faster growth. The software’s scalability allows the companies to track every item in the warehouse from the cloud, automate orders with shopping carts and implement API/EDI integrations.
Improving your own WMS software
You can always modify and make changes to your current software. It’s cheaper and, in most cases, more cost-effective. You can outsource this task to a third-party company, which allows not to hire staff programmers.
In FiduciaSoft we help our customers build effective software solutions and simplify all the processes of warehouse management. Our experienced team is committed to providing high-quality development services to small and medium-sized businesses, as well as to large enterprises worldwide.
Developing your own WMS software
This is the most protracted and most expensive way, but it is perfect if you have come up with a unique idea or plan, and aim to provide an interplanetary delivery.
Visit our blog for more information about our professional expertise, as well as our Services section for more details about products and services. We highly value the communication with our partners and our customers’ feedback and reviews, which you can find on Clutch.co.