How To Choose the Right 3PL Software – (An Owner’s Guide)

How To Choose the Right 3PL Software – (An Owner’s Guide)

 

The order fulfillment process encompasses several stages: selecting, packaging, handling, and delivering customer orders. This intricate procedure involves various components, and any disruptions can lead to customer grievances. Fortunately, many effective techniques and established recommendations are available for efficiently running your 3PL enterprise.

Engaging a third-party logistics firm stands as an optimal approach for clients to oversee their inventory and the order fulfillment journey. These 3PL companies grant access to specialized logistics software, which facilitates the supervision of operations and the automation of numerous laborious aspects within the order fulfillment sequence.

This is why utilizing 3PL software can aid third-party logistics providers in effectively overseeing their activities, enhancing efficiency, and minimizing mistakes.

Given the abundance of 3PL software options, learning how to choose the best 3PL software for your business might feel daunting.

Continue reading as we elaborate on the various 3PL warehouse-picking software categories and the essential attributes to consider when selecting the right 3pl software for your company.

What Is 3PL Software?

The role of 3PL software is pivotal in simplifying the order fulfillment, warehousing, and transportation procedures for third-party logistics firms. This software package encompasses extensive functionalities that automate numerous labor-intensive facets of order completion, refine intelligent warehouse operations, and provide clear insights into inventory and delivery updates, facilitating proficient warehouse administration.

Furthermore, third-party logistics software is instrumental in monitoring orders throughout their entire journey, granting customers access to real-time information regarding their deliveries. Although the fundamental purpose of 3PL software is to streamline the fulfillment process, a variety of 3PL system types are designed to accomplish this goal.

Types of 3PL Inventory Management Software

The pivotal role of software solutions cannot be overstated in the dynamic landscape of third-party logistics (3PL). This is where precision and efficiency reign supreme. These digital allies come in various forms, each tailored to address specific operational needs and streamline the intricate web of logistics. Let’s explore some of the key types of 3PL software that have revolutionized the way modern logistics are managed:

Warehouse Management System (WMS)

At the heart of seamless order fulfillment lies the Warehouse Management System. This software juggernaut optimizes the storage, movement, and tracking of inventory within warehouses. With real-time inventory visibility, intelligent picking and packing suggestions, and performance analytics, WMS drives precision and agility in warehouse operations.

Enterprise Resource Programs (ERP)

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems represent a more intricate and all-encompassing category of 3PL software. Their primary goal is to furnish third-party logistics providers with a unified platform for amalgamating their business’s essential financial and operational functions. Within an ERP system, one can find an array of capabilities, including inventory management, order fulfillment, accounting, human resources (HR), and customer relationship management (CRM).

Supply Chain Management (SCM) Systems

Supply Chain Management (SCM) suites oversee and direct the entirety of the supply chain journey, encompassing aspects such as product development, manufacturing, storage, inventory oversight, and distribution. Essentially, they provide a comprehensive vantage point over the entire supply chain ecosystem, guaranteeing the harmonious synchronization of all its components. While SCM shares many functionalities with Warehouse Management System (WMS) software, it goes beyond by incorporating supplementary attributes that facilitate the monitoring and managing of other vital supply chain facets. This includes regulating freight transportation, nurturing supplier partnerships, and handling pricing dynamics.

Supportive Systems

Transportation Management System (TMS)

When it comes to orchestrating the movement of goods, the Transportation Management System takes the lead. TMS streamlines the transportation process, from carrier selection and route optimization to freight auditing and real-time tracking. By leveraging TMS, 3PL companies can enhance delivery efficiency and reduce transportation costs.

Order Management System (OMS)

OMS acts as the conductor in the symphony of order fulfillment. It harmonizes orders from various channels, manages inventory availability, and coordinates seamless order processing. With its ability to manage complex order workflows and handle diverse sales channels, OMS enhances customer satisfaction by ensuring timely and accurate order execution.

Visibility and Tracking Software

In an era where real-time information is paramount, visibility and tracking software reign supreme. This software provides customers and stakeholders instant access to the status and location of shipments. These tools enhance communication and trust throughout the supply chain by fostering transparency and offering proactive updates.

Analytics and Reporting Tools

Data is the currency of effective decision-making. Analytics and reporting tools in the 3PL realm transform raw data into actionable insights. By analyzing historical and real-time data, 3PL companies can optimize routes, predict demand, and identify areas for operational improvement.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

Beyond operations, strong customer relationships are crucial in 3PL. CRM software empowers providers to manage client interactions, track communication, and tailor services to meet specific needs. This fosters loyalty and long-term partnerships.

Advantages of 3PL Warehouse Software

In this rapidly-paced sector, 3PL software stands as your indispensable ally. Its functionalities hold the potential to elevate your warehouse processes and precision, furnishing your enterprise with a vital competitive advantage. Let’s delve into the substantial advantages that come with the integration of 3PL software.

Error Reduction

When you rely on manual execution for the various phases of order fulfillment, you substantially heighten the likelihood of human errors. 3PL software enables automated real-time data analysis within a centralized hub, circumventing human intervention. This proactive approach not only averts expensive mistakes but also minimizes unforeseen delays.

Automated Functions

It comes as no revelation that manual procedures consistently rank among the foremost challenges encountered in warehouses. Through the automation of warehouse processes, 3PL enterprises can seamlessly refine their operational landscape, eliminating the need for arduous and time-consuming manual tasks such as invoicing and data entry. This transformation yields smoother workflows and a discernible uptick in overall profitability.

Scalability

The 3PL system fosters improved strategizing and enhances the fluid movement of products throughout the supply chain, enabling your organization to expand and effectively address the escalating demands of the industry. By incorporating 3PL software, your enterprise gains the ability to manage substantial data volumes while refining precision and gaining deeper insights into the requirements of your clientele. For instance, the software can generate tailored reports to track inventory levels or delivery progress, a pivotal asset in aiding you to make well-informed business judgments.

Flexibility

3PL software offers heightened flexibility to your enterprise, particularly when it can tailor functions according to individual client requirements. This adaptability positions your business favorably in an environment where client needs and expectations constantly expand. It not only contributes to the establishment of a stronger client rapport but also lays the groundwork for enduring partnerships.

Enhanced Customer Satisfaction

Real-time tracking and visibility provided by 3PL software allow customers to monitor the status of their orders, promoting transparency and confidence. This, in turn, leads to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Accurate Inventory Management

The software’s inventory tracking capabilities ensure accurate stock levels, reducing instances of stockouts or overstocking. This precision translates to cost savings and improved order fulfillment. 3PL software optimizes resource allocation, ensuring that warehouse space, labor, and transportation assets are utilized efficiently, ultimately reducing costs and waste.

Data-Driven Decision Making

With robust reporting and analytics tools, 3PL software transforms raw data into actionable insights. This empowers businesses to make informed decisions, refine strategies, and adapt to changing market conditions.

Supplier Collaboration

3PL software facilitates collaboration with suppliers, enabling seamless data exchange, improved visibility into supplier performance, and better coordination in procurement.

Key Features to Look For When Selecting 3PL Software

Collaborating with third-party logistics firms involves entrusting the complete order fulfillment process to an external entity. Making an incorrect selection in this regard can lead to financial repercussions for your company over time. A suboptimal arrangement could result in client attrition, ultimately impacting your business’s overall performance.

When in pursuit of the right system, it’s essential to consider the following aspects as laid out in this 3PL software guide:

Technological Updates

The 3PL partner you opt for should be equipped with cutting-edge technology. Utilizing state-of-the-art third-party logistics software can yield significant cost savings and error reduction by harnessing automation.

Integrations

To establish smoother workflows and enhance the efficiency of warehouse activities, opt for 3PL software that seamlessly integrates with your essential business ecosystems, such as your CRM and accounting system. Furthermore, ensure it can harmonize with your clients’ online storefronts and various marketplaces, including Shopify, Amazon, Walmart, BigCommerce, Magento, and others.

Scalability Options

Most businesses engage a 3PL company when outgrown their internal logistics operations. If you intend to collaborate with expanding enterprises, opt for 3PL software to seamlessly accommodate their business growth.

Easy On-boarding & Usage

3PL software must never hinder the acquisition of new customers. Therefore, selecting a software solution that provides a seamless and all-encompassing on-boarding procedure for new clients is crucial. This approach minimizes the potential for errors or misunderstandings, expedites the integration of new clients, and allows you to promptly deliver value and generate revenue.

Standards for Labeling & Packaging

Adherence to specific regulations concerning product packaging and labeling is imperative in the logistics sector. Effective 3PL software can prove invaluable in ensuring compliance with these mandates, thereby averting potential complications.

Reporting & Billing

Efficiently managing billings and receivables stands as a pivotal role of 3PL software. Opt for a 3PL solution that seamlessly automates tasks such as put-away, storage, receiving, and shipping. This automation guarantees precise and timely invoicing for these services. Furthermore, it’s important that your chosen system accommodates distinctive billing elements and supports various invoice formats.

Multiple Client Support

Within a single company, numerous individuals might utilize 3PL software, with each department requiring instant access to the data it houses. A proficient 3PL software solution should provide the provision for multiple user accounts. This way, personnel from distinct divisions can seamlessly log into the application concurrently, ensuring collaborative access to the system.

Access to Client Portals

An effective 3PL solution needs to go beyond merely addressing displeased customers. It should take a proactive stance by consistently providing clients with pertinent updates concerning their products. This underscores the significance of acquiring a 3PL system with a dedicated client portal. Such a feature allows clients to access real-time data and gain comprehensive visibility into their inventory. This functionality enables them to stay informed about the status of their products as they traverse various checkpoints within the warehouse.

Tracking of Specialized Attributes

When your warehouse deals with items like apparel or food and beverages, your chosen 3PL system should encompass specialized inventory control capabilities. For instance, your system must accommodate this feature if you require direct picking based on expiration dates, also known as FEFO (First Expired, First Out). Such a picking rule proves invaluable in safeguarding stock from losing value due to spoilage or obsolescence.

Configurations

A well-suited third-party logistics software should be tailored to accommodate the distinctive demands of your business. It should allow you to customize, modify, or incorporate functionalities and specifications according to your evolving needs. For example, concerning optimizing workflows, the software must be capable of implementing diverse rules that minimize travel time through a logical walk sequence within the warehouse.

Customer Support

An equally essential aspect of 3PL software lies in providing exceptional customer support. Therefore, it’s imperative to select a provider that not only offers a top-notch system but also strongly emphasizes cultivating an enduring partnership with your business. A dedicated team that remains accessible to tackle intricate challenges, such as configuring personalized workflows or strategizing warehouse layouts, can be a genuine asset in the dynamic 3PL landscape.

Business Issues Solved by 3PL Warehouse Picking Software

Manual Processes

Certain tasks tend to be laboriously time-intensive when executed by humans. By integrating 3PL software, you can ensure the optimization of these tasks through the efficiency of automation.

Poor Layouts of Warehouses

Occasionally, the perception of insufficient warehouse space for accommodating all your products might arise. However, this circumstance often stems not from a lack of physical space but rather from inadequately designed layouts.

Employing 3PL software can assist in crafting an optimal warehouse layout that maximizes the utility of your existing floor space. This approach ensures an efficient arrangement while maintaining ample room for unhindered movement of warehouse personnel. Beyond enhancing storage capacity, an improved warehouse layout enhances safety measures and enables warehouse employees to complete tasks more swiftly.

Inaccuracies in Inventory

Errors in recording inventory can result in expensive blunders and missed sales opportunities. Implementing 3PL software can eradicate such issues by automating the inventory management process. Additionally, it can conduct routine cycle counts to uphold the constancy of inventory levels.

Shortage in Workforce

Discovering fresh warehouse personnel to adequately staff your warehouses can pose a challenge. However, by automating warehouse operations, you can diminish labor demand without compromising productivity. Automation might even lead to heightened productivity levels.

How Does 3PL Next’s Warehouse Management System Help You?

When considering 3PL software, 3PL Next is a leading 3PL warehouse management software for your business. Here are a few reasons why:

  • We have a fast and business-centric configuration that seamlessly integrates with eCommerce processes and platforms
  • You can manage your business operations smartly with our user-friendly and custom-designed system dashboard
  • The system generates real-time reports that help you analyze and make smart decisions
  • Automates inbound and outbound operations to enhance efficiency and ensure customer fulfillment

Components/Features of 3PL Next WMS

  • Warehouse Inventory Tracking: You can keep an accurate check on stock inventory, locations, and movement with convenience. 
  • Order Picking: Pick, pack, and ship the orders and accurately ensure timely fulfillment from the warehouse. 
  • PO Receiving: Ensure new inventory is available for sale once received in the warehouse.
  • Cycle Counting: Regular audits on inventory are made to ensure maintenance and accuracy
  • Locale Management: Perform inventory tracking functions according to location and region. 
  • Shipping Verifications: Ensure the orders have been successfully shipped from the warehouse.
  • Kit Assembly: Assemble multiple units and items as a bundle or package to list them as a kit. 
  • Warehouse Management: The warehouse management feature gives you total control over all operational functions to keep them running smoothly and without delays. 

Contact 3PL Next now to discuss WMS for your business and get the best solutions for your operations. 

Checklist to Select the Right System

The 3PL software guide presents you with this checklist to ensure you select the right system for your business.

Necessary Features Needed in a 3PL Software Yes/No
Integration
Supports key business systems (CRM, ERP) Yes/No
Integrates with marketplaces and storefronts Yes/No
On-boarding Process
Copies existing client configurations Yes/No
Syncs data from client stores Yes/No
Enhanced knowledge Yes/No
Scalability
Automotive functions Yes/No
Reporting
Automates storage, receiving, put-away and shipping Yes/No
Supports billing information and invoice formats Yes/No
Robust reporting Yes/No
Client Portals
Real-time data and visibility Yes/No
Configurations
Flexibility to add or modify functions Yes/No
Multi-Client Management
Handles multiple clients in the same dashboard Yes/No
Offers client logins and access Yes/No
Clients have full transparency on functions. Yes/No
Attribute Tracking
FEFO Yes/No
LOT control Yes/No
Customer Support
Dedicated team for supportive functions Yes/No
Offers options (on-site training, tickets, phone support) Yes/No

Final Word

The advantages presented by 3PL software are undeniable. Whether you’re a 3PL provider seeking to streamline and automate processes or a company aiming to delegate order fulfillment control, 3PL software solutions are key to enhancing speed, precision, and customer contentment.

When selecting 3PL software, it’s imperative to explore a range of possibilities. While a standalone warehouse management system might suffice if your goal is to enhance the efficiency of day-to-day supply chain operations, it’s essential to consider optimizing all facets of your supply chain beyond basic warehousing. On the other hand, if your primary focus is on enhancing billing and reporting systems, an ERP-based solution could be more suitable.

The crux of identifying the most fitting 3PL software lies in investing time to assess your company’s unique requirements and identifying a software solution that aligns with them. Equally significant is the inclusion of provisions for customization and scalability to ensure a seamless fit as your needs evolve.

Ahmed Sufi

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