The Role of 3PL Technology and What You Should Expect
The role of innovation and technology continues to strengthen and impact the world in every way, and 3PL is no exception. Amazingly, some 3PLs still run a very manual operation with little sophistication or technology in place. Avoid these operations! Any modern 3PL committed to continuous improvement should be technology-focused and always improving in this area.
Many technology vendors provide 3PL solutions and some operations have developed in-house systems. The features and functions of these systems vary, but they can be categorized into the following areas:
- Warehouse Operations – Picking, packing, product flow and inventory management systems
- Freight Management – Carrier integrations, rate shopping and freight management systems
- Client Portal – Reporting, analytics, inventory insight, billing and order management systems
- Client Integration – Connectivity to your ecommerce, EDI, Amazon and drop ship systems
Another factor of success is a 3PL’s ability to integrate using an API, simply a common way to share data between systems. This is a good sign that a 3PL is technology-savvy. Another thing to to find out is whether a 3PL has an in-house IT team, and is that team available to help with your integration work and other IT support that may be required as your relationship evolves?
With these systems and support in place, your business will be fully integrated and automated with your 3PL partner and your customers, both consumers and retailers. The resulting transparency and insight into every element of your order fulfillment operations means you can make informed decisions based on accurate data that have a meaningful impact on your business and your customers.