For many ecommerce companies, third-party logistics fulfillment forms the basis for delighting buyers with superb customer service. As businesses look to expand their operations and their customer base, their need for efficient and effective 3PL fulfillment services becomes even more critical to meeting today’s high customer expectations.
That’s why you, as a 3PL, need to have the right warehouse management software in place to ensure the utmost level of service performance, add clients, and retain them.
The purpose of 3PL fulfillment
Third-party logistics fulfillment is when a company outsources its storage, management, and retrieval of inventory for fulfilling orders to a specialized service provider. As a 3PL, you’re brought in for this job because a company lacks the expertise, skills, or resources to do it solo.
What you bring to the table: specialized skills, know-how, and technology that enable more effective fulfillment.
Because you provide this service to multiple clients, you also have economies of scale, resulting in higher performance and lower overall costs for everyone. Most of your potential clients expect their 3PL to invest in modern fulfillment technology to fill gaps in staffing and managing orders with speed, efficiency, value, precision, and scalability.
What makes 3PL fulfillment first-class
As a partner providing specialized 3PL fulfillment services, you have to be capable of exceeding client expectations, which can get pretty daunting. It’s not just being able to pick and pack voluminous orders with quick, repetitive accuracy. Your service has to include the storage and management of the client’s inventory (and a whole lot more specialized 3PL services).
You probably don’t own and operate a delivery fleet to bring the ordered items to the buyer’s door. Therefore, you must make the proper arrangements for shipping with a carrier. The client and its customers expect real-time updates on the progress of every order at all times.
Keep in mind, you’re expected to do the job of order fulfillment better than the client could on their own. That’s why you need to leverage a warehouse management system (WMS). A WMS provides the efficiency, intelligence, and services at scale to exceed your client’s expectations.
A 3PL WMS is specialized software that gives your firm a greater ability to manage the entire process of fulfilling a large number of orders with speed. It allows you to oversee warehouse inventory, manage labor, optimize pick-pack-and-ship processes, and provide visibility on inventory available to sell, along with order status.
This software provides seamless order tracking, receipt, and disbursement of all goods. It shows the location of all available goods and can automatically direct your 3PL’s pickers to the designated item locations for fast, efficient order retrieval.
It also directs the packing of orders into the optimal shipping cartons and bags, as well as oversees the preparation of any necessary documentation or specialty labeling.
With a feature-rich WMS, your 3PL fulfillment operation can:
- Handle clients with heightened demand or custom requirements
- Quickly increase throughput when necessary
- Solve logistical problems for clients
- Provide cost management
- Fill IT and labor gaps for the client
- Improve overall customer satisfaction
The benefits of WMS in 3PL fulfillment
A full-featured WMS gives 3PL fulfillment operations the advantage of having software intelligence to fulfill a growing queue with high efficiency. The right WMS will give your 3PL key advantages such as:
- Real-time inventory visibility: An up-to-the-minute picture of inventory mix and levels across multiple warehouses, locations, and channels. This enables accurate order fulfillment and reduces the risk of stockouts.
- Order accuracy: Automated process control to minimize pick, pack, and shipping errors.
- Cost efficiency: Software intelligence makes it possible to streamline the workflow of your 3PL fulfillment operation. This results in reduced labor costs, optimized warehouse space utilization, and faster inventory turnover.
- 3PL billing efficiency and accuracy: An automated system can shave days off your billing cycle by producing detailed, invoices that sync automatically with accounting systems. In addition, it can capture the entire breadth of services you provide and, in some cases, it can identify services you’re not even being paid for such as technical support.
- Scalability: A robust WMS can scale 3PL fulfillment operations to accommodate the addition of warehouses or fulfillment centers to the distribution network without a long IT project.
- Data analytics: A smart 3PL platform includes advanced reporting and analytics tools that help your teams make data-driven decisions for further process improvements and efficiency.
- Technology resource: Insights from data analytics enable your 3PL business to offer guidance and assistance to clients on how to improve their offerings, sales, and revenues.
- Customer service: A top-notch WMS enhances the user experience by fulfilling orders on time and providing order status updates, which can be conveyed easily to clients and end-customers. Modern systems consolidate real-time information into a single portal across stakeholders, including third-party supply chain partners, eliminating much of the back and forth to get fast, accurate answers.
WMS provides your 3PL an edge
A WMS brings the brainpower for efficient 3PL fulfillment operations with high levels of order throughput. It does this by providing the intelligence for automating, streamlining, and coordinating all the tasks required for process excellence in 3PL fulfillment. This ensures accuracy and speed, so your clients can fulfill more orders, on time, as promised.
Along with enhanced operational efficiency, a first-class WMS provides real-time visibility into the client’s on-hand warehouse inventory. This keeps inventory updated, avoiding stockouts by only selling available products.
Finally, when a client comes to you for 3PL fulfillment, it should be more than just a business relationship. They want a genuine partner that will enable success in winning over buyers with a high level of customer service and confidence.
With the right WMS, you gain the technological advantage to become the go-to partner in 3PL fulfillment.