We can all agree that technology has come a long way over the last two decades. One area where we’ve seen a big difference is in technology for 3PL processes making shipping and logistics easier than ever.
In fact, how you get items from a warehouse to a customer’s doorstep isn’t anything like what it once was. Today’s methods are much more efficient and give you real time data about where your products are in the process.
Additionally, using the right technology can help cut down on errors, staffing costs, and even the number of customer service phone calls and messages your team receives.
Of course, as industry experts in helping e-commerce brands with all things related to shipping, our Tradefull team knows about this topic. Keep reading to learn a few ways how tech should play a role in your third-party logistics (3PL) processes.
Think about it for a minute. How do 3PL companies with tons of customers keep track of items stored in warehouses throughout the country? Further, how do they convey inventory levels and locations to their clients?
With automated technology, of course. When items arrive from the manufacturer, distributor, or brand, they’re generally given a barcode. Once scanned, they are added to the system and their location is notated.
When a customer order comes in, staff members tasked with picking and packing the order know exactly where in the warehouse the items are. Best of all, special software keeps track of total inventory for a real-time overview of how many items remain.
When it comes to 3PL processes, providers that use tech to track the fulfillment process are likely to be much more efficient. As we mentioned, special barcodes and tracking ensure the pick and pack processes are as smooth as possible.
However, that isn’t the only way technology improves the fulfillment aspect. In some cases, you can link your online order page to your 3PL’s software depending on what sales platform you’re using. This ensures orders are immediately sent to the logistics company and shipped from the warehouse without delay.
In fact, this type of on-demand order fulfillment system is something that most major retail brands use in their own shipping centers. By working with a 3PL, you can leverage this type of system for improved order speed and better customer satisfaction.
It might seem obvious, but knowing exactly where your customer orders are at in transit is critical. It helps ensure that your e-commerce shipping times aren’t taking too long or lost along the way. Today’s technology makes it simple to track an order from the moment it leaves your warehouse to when it arrives in their mailbox.
Your customer service team can check the system to find tracking numbers and other pertinent information. And they can also automate certain portions to email to shoppers. This is a great way to ensure a positive customer experience and make it simple to eliminate basic questions, like when an order should arrive.
Transparency is crucial with third-party logistics. That said, understanding what’s going on with your shipments and various data behind how orders are handled is important. The best 3PL companies offer some form of reporting via specialized software.
These analytics then make it easy to see which items are selling the most often, where you’re running low on stock, and how the overall shipping process is going.
This tech can also give you key data on how many pickers you need on the floor on any day and the average time a product is spending in the warehouse. Of course, these are just a few of the many, many ways you can use software like Tradefull to track and analyze data patterns within your inventory.
When it comes to providing superior customer service, technology is important for 3PL processes and your own internal teams. From an external perspective, logistics companies often use special software to make it easier for retailers. It allows them to ask questions, find out about inventory levels, communicate, and more.
But there are advantages for your internal customer service team, too. Instead of having to guess or not having an answer when a customer inquires about a specific shipment, your team can check the 3PL’s technology. You can get details about tracking numbers, shipment dates, and other pertinent info. Not only is this convenient, but it can also greatly cut down on contact times and even reduce inquiries.
Additional Considerations in Warehousing
However, it isn’t just the typical client-side categories that you should think about when analyzing how tech plays a role in third-party logistics. There are other benefits, like using handheld barcode scanners to see where items are within a specific warehouse location.
In fact, some of these tech tools are so robust that they can alert a worker to the exact bin or shelf an item is at. This greatly reduces manpower requirements and improves order packing speed. It also helps keep errors to an absolute minimum, as pretty much everything is automated.
There are other benefits to tech in warehousing, especially if a retailer utilizes multiple warehouses. If they do, data can be used to ship product from the warehouse closest to the customer. This helps reduce shipping cost, and gets product to a customer faster. It’s a win all around.
For some larger companies, the use of automated systems for the warehouse environment are also becoming more popular. While this is mostly just with big brands like Amazon and others, the use of robotic technology is starting to improve efficiency. That means it’s easier to get orders out to customers more quickly than ever before.
The Role of Technology for 3PL Processes
When it comes to the role of technology in 3PL processes, you can tell that there’s a pretty big connection. New software and warehouse tech is coming out all the time. And that means the speed and efficiency of picking, packing, and shipping orders is only going to increase.
Of course, the easiest way to get started with technology in the ways we’ve mentioned here is to partner with Tradefull. Contact us today to learn more or to start the conversation about a custom solution.