The logistics industry is an ever-changing behemoth. And it takes a lot of work to keep all the supply chains around the globe up and running.
Trying to manually fulfill all the roles that encompass the modern-day supply chain would be a massive undertaking, to say the least. But most seasoned shippers are keenly aware of the power of well-implemented software. They know that utilizing a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform can save them time, money, and plenty of undue stress.
Furthermore, the truly experienced shipper might go a step further and opt to hire a 3PL to manage the software for them. After all, they do have access to the best 3PL software solutions on the market for a fraction of what it would cost you to buy it outright.
That said, even the best 3PL software requires an upgrade every once in a while. And if you decide to go at it alone, it can be a bit tough to determine what upgrades to invest in.
Which poses the question – how exactly do you pick your new 3PL software upgrade?
According to most logistics industry experts, there is no trick to choosing a new logistics software platform. Simply ensuring that it handles all of your individual needs is by far the most important. This might be obvious but while there are several robust software solutions, sometimes having too many bells and whistles can cause frustration among users. And more often than not, shippers will dive in headfirst and pay for things they never use. This just leads to downtime, additional training, and extra cost.
To help you get started out right, here are a few tools that the best 3PL software should feature.
Electronic Data Interchange or EDI is an electronic exchange of information or data between multiple companies. Instead of sending paper contracts via snail mail or across insecure email servers, this is where EDI comes into play! It’s a tool that helps reduce downtime through improved communication. It’s used by companies of all sizes but is especially helpful for large-scale operations with multiple trading partners.
Additionally, those who are EDI compliant have the ability to expand their service offerings into new industries, expand their distribution networks, and communicate with new partners who are likewise EDI compliant.
At the heart of distribution and order fulfillment is inventory control. Having an accurate count of all items you sell not only allows you to better serve your customers but also reduces shrink, which improves profitability.
Inventory management features are massively useful for companies with large warehouses and even larger numbers of goods. With this tool, it makes the process of pulling, shelving, and packaging much simpler. This results in quicker speeds and response times from the warehouse crew.
The best 3PL software programs also contain inventory location tools, that can display the location of your products on digital screens, accessed through any online connection. Since these modern 3PL software solutions are mostly cloud-based, you can access them from laptops, desktops, and even tablets or mobile devices.
Shipping and Receiving
The management of all outbound and inbound shipments are simplified with an upgraded 3PL software solution. Using EDI and other advanced connectivity tools, the best 3PL platforms integrate seamlessly with many existing transportation management (TMS) or freight management systems (FMS).
The software should be able to schedule, route, rate, and track delivery of items into your warehouse or to customers. Preferably, it will do this in real-time or near real-time.
The accurate monitoring of performance is crucial to the efficiency of any logistics company. Today’s modern 3PL software systems feature built-in reporting tools. These can be custom configured to review a wide array of metrics, ROI, and KPI’s.
Accessing this data produces insightful bits of information that help improve shipping efficiency.
Additionally, any upgraded software solution you purchase should also include automated distribution capability, allowing you to allocate the reports through your network with ease.
Billing and Invoicing
The ability to process orders, bill payments, and invoice customers through a single platform is another must-have feature.
The best 3PL software solutions automatically calculate warehouse storage, material, and labor charges when hosting fulfillment services for clients. The invoices can be distributed to the right parties, processed, and even send out receipts as appropriate.
Technology providers have placed a focus on developing software solutions that are increasingly complex. However, the smart ones consult with consumer groups to develop 3PL software that is user-friendly. After all, if it isn't easily accessible it will be much harder to drum up employee interest. Not to mention that training may be next to impossible.
Any new software upgrade should include customized dashboard settings for each user. This permits everybody or groups involved to set up the system to fit their comfort level.
Furthermore, the entire process of upgrading should be a smooth transition. It should allow users to still find their way around the core functionality upon the t launch.
While these six components are found on all the best 3PL software, it’s beneficial to have an actual 3PL company optimize it for you. Redwood Logistics is an experienced 3PL that has been developing software solutions for order processing centers, e-Commerce, retail fulfillment and more for several years.
If you are looking to upgrade your 3PL software solutions for 2020, contact Redwood Logistics before making your final decision!