When we look at the industry leaders, the forecast for the logistics market is clear. Amazon’s continued push for faster, lower priced, more convenient delivery, including one-day delivery for Prime subscribers, has increased the pressure on retailers and shippers. The shippers turn to their 3PLs and logistics providers as key partners in their battle with amazon. This is driving innovation across the mark. Fedex Freight is expanding its big and bulky offerings to meet the growing market for white glove delivery, while UPS plans to debut a drone service for healthcare delivery.
While all of these examples promise amazing consignee experiences, shippers also need more from their 3PL partners: better delivery SLAs, lower pricing, more convenient pickup, visibility into driver’s progress, and more. At the same time, these innovations can’t come at the expense of your long-term growth and profitability.
As a 3PL, the question you should always ask is, “how do I help my customers better compete in this evolving delivery world?”
The answer is clear: Find ways to do more, with less.
Flexibility to meet shipper needs and adapt to change
Ask yourself: Is my business providing the operational flexibility that my present customers need? Am I set up to adapt as their needs change?
While providing a great consignee experience is one key element of success, an equally important consideration is the ease of doing business with your organization. How seamlessly do you integrate with your shippers’ systems? Are you providing the right real-time information sync? And how much friction is there in your operational interactions between the shipper and your offering?
Every shipper – even if they’re from the same industry – has different standard operating procedures. An open technology platform is the ideal way to serve them equally well without simply adding headcount to manage these unique requirements.
Look for 3PL software solutions that increase your operational flexibility and reduce friction in your integrations. This will not only make it easier for you to adapt multiple customer’s needs, but also reassure shippers that if their business changes, you can quickly react.
Automation Software for 3PL and Logistics Providers
Are you using software to increase efficiency across the entire supply chain?
Every business wants data on their delivery operations, but some will want updates every half an hour, and others, every ten minutes. Some will have integrations built to transfer data from your system to theirs, and others will want a 3PL to manually input data into their system/portal.
Sounds inefficient? It is. And costly. And impossible to scale.
That’s where automation comes in. Every logistics provider and 3PL can improve efficiency by utilizing software that can automate and speed up their logistics processes.
Any solution you're looking at should address these points:
Can you get automated visibility into inventory and middle mile product tracking?
Can you allow consignees to set their own delivery appointments?
Can you offer accurate delivery windows, based on the availability of the driver, the order item and the time on site (ToS) required for each stop along the driver’s route?
Do you have a seamless returns flow?
All of these requirements add cost to your operations and cause a lot of heartburn. Automating these processes will increase efficiency for both the shipper and logistics provider.
Employee Satisfaction/Retention and Speed of Onboarding
Are you using technology to remove friction and keep your best employees?
One of the best ways to bring down costs is through improving employee efficiency and retention. Given unemployment rates in the United States, finding, training and retaining talent can make a huge difference to your bottom line. In addition, attracting independent contractors demands that a 3PL provide tools and a driver experience that makes them a partner of choice.
Look for automated training tools and logistics solutions that support your customer service team, dispatchers and drivers to do their jobs quickly and efficiently – the essence of doing more, with less. When that software is user-friendly and customized for each type of 3PL user, it will also speed up the onboarding process and keep your teams happier and more productive.
Reinventing your services
Are your operations agile enough to offer new services as requested?
The pony express is long gone, along with other forms of transporting mail. The USPS has had to replace diminishing first-class mail volume with parcel delivery in order to stay viable in our ever-changing world.
Every time there’s a new technology, delivery undergoes a metamorphosis. You need to add capabilities based on what’s expected in the marketplace. Shippers have understood this for a while, which is why 93% believe that 3PL technology is key to their success.
Shippers already expect services for their consignees like one-day delivery, accurate delivery windows based on driver and order availability, and delivery beyond the front door. Are you flexible enough to address these changing requirements?
Now think about this:
Your business will look completely different in another five years. Since you don’t know what those changes will be, you need an open technology that will allow you to grow efficiently in any direction, and modify your services to best support your shippers as they compete in this new world.
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Providing a broader array of flexible service offerings will ultimately come down to the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your operations. If you want to implement technology to achieve these goals, start by making sure it addresses these critical questions.