What to Expect From Your 3PL Software Provider
The 3PL software market has options for every business, with new startups popping up all the time and established players constantly innovating to introduce new features. It takes a lot to truly understand the options. In this article, we give a primer on 3PL software and some of the emerging market trends driving transformative change.
Ready to digitize and modernize your 3PL operations?
See how Magaya can help.
There are many options currently on the market for third-party logistics software. Many provide various and unique functionalities for different industries. It can be difficult for some business owners to know exactly what they are to expect from their 3PL software. To alleviate some of the confusion that comes with researching 3PL software, we have created a small buyer’s guide to assist companies and business owners when choosing the best 3PL software for their business.
- Third-party logistics (3PL) software assists businesses of any size in the oversight of logistics. Third-Party logistics ensures all products are delivered and accounted for by tracking goods throughout the entire supply chain. 3PL software is primarily designed to help companies fulfill orders, track inventory, manage warehousing, coordinate shipping and manage billing.
- 3PL software helps businesses monitor inventory through the supply chain with increased accuracy. Logistics providers can spread out resources as needed in real-time to optimize warehouse space and avoid wasted resources.
- 3PL companies will need to be able to adjust to the expanding market if they hope to stay relevant. With new emerging markets, currency exchange and international trade will also be key factors in the growth of third-party logistics companies in the coming years. The integration of a globalized market brings the need for increases to the efficiency of inventory management, supply chain accuracy and transparency, and implementation of automation.
In this guide we will be providing information on the following topics:
- What is 3PL Software
- Key Benefits of 3PL Software
- Popular 3PL Software Solutions
- Common Pain Points of 3PL Companies
- Emerging Market Trends
- How Magaya Software Serves 3PL Providers
What is 3PL Software?
Third-party logistics (3PL) software assists businesses of any size in the oversight of logistics. Third-Party logistics ensures all products are delivered and accounted for by tracking goods throughout the entire supply chain. 3PL software is primarily designed to help companies fulfill orders, track inventory, manage warehousing, coordinate shipping and manage billing. The software typically utilizes features including:
- Warehouse management tools
- Procurement systems
These features allow your 3PL software to track shipping, inventory, and purchase orders, among other supply chain analytics. With the use of 3PL software you can gain deeper insights and greater control over your business’s supply chain operations and optimize the customer experience.
Key Benefits of 3PL Software
Your 3PL software needs to be robust enough to assist with multiple links in the supply chain. 3PL software aims to make logistics processes simple and efficient through the following benefits:
|Warehouse Management||3PL software allows businesses to create workflows specific to their needs for overseeing inventory control as well as inbound and outbound processes. The software offers real-time supply chain visibility, which guarantees an accurate warehouse inventory. Managers can review picking and receiving with RFID and barcode scanning capabilities.|
|Optimized Shipping||A core feature of 3PL software is the coordination of shipping and receiving through shipping optimization. The software uses transportation management to determine shipping rates among shippers and major carriers (UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc.) and track packages while in transit. These features help to automate labeling and create bills of lading and inbound receipts, which help warehouse teams monitor the arrival of new products. Additionally, the software can oversee the planning and execution of transportation operations as well as enable businesses to interact directly with brokers and shippers. Reverse logistics capabilities allow for returns processing.|
|Accurate Billing||Billing capabilities make it easy for businesses to send invoices, calculate sales data, and maximize overall revenue. 3PL businesses can set up billing based on orders and storage use, which is typically completed as a monthly service fee.|
|Labor Management||3PL software affords businesses the ability to track employee performance through integrated KPIs to help warehouse staff work to its maximum ability. The software helps businesses build custom workflows for a specific client, product, or order, allowing staff to work at optimum efficiency.|
Popular 3PL Software Solutions
There are a number of different 3PL software solutions available on the market currently. They all have their own specialties and various functionalities. Going in blind can leave you confused on whether or not a WMS or 3PL solution is right for you. Below we’ve formulated a list of some of the best 3PL software solutions available and the common pros and cons for each service.
Logiwa WMS — Logiwa is a cloud-based warehouse management solution built for large and mid-size multi-site companies. Assisting in all warehouse processes from delivery to distribution, this warehouse management solution syncs all your business’s sales channels and places them in one secure location. Integrating with multiple vendors allows users to utilize real-time data, RFID, and barcoding to assist in inventory optimization. It also speeds up warehouse tasks using mobile applications to process picking, packing, and shipping.
- Logiwa has a highly responsive support team to assist with any issues you may encounter.
- Platform can be customized based on the requirements of your business.
- User interface is easy to use.
- The KPI module only has lite functionality.
- Can’t assign and notify users of tasks to be completed.
- Lots of small bugs that slow the user experience.
Da Vinci — A cloud-based and onsite supply chain management solution designed for 3PLs, e-commerce, and wholesale distribution. Da Vinci assists with fulfillment, transportation and warehousing processes through its use of multi-channel integration. Da Vinci features modules designed for RFID/barcode scanning, cycle and wave picking, and pick and pack, optimizing your warehouse management and helping you keep costs low.
- The platform offers businesses a large amount of versatility.
- Well-organized database allows for custom reporting.
- Full EDI integration.
- Doesn’t offer CRM integration.
- The amount of options and customization possibilities can be overwhelming, making it a lengthy process to learn all the ins and outs of the platform.
- The upgrade testing process can be time consuming.
Infoplus –– A web-based warehouse management software solution. Infoplus is designed for small to midsize 3PLs, eCommerce retailers, and wholesalers to optimize their warehouse and supply chain management. Users can sync the workflows from different departments under a single software platform. Mobile applications allow users to define production processes.
- Customer service that goes above and beyond.
- Reasonable entry cost.
- No additional hardware to purchase.
- The user interface (UI) can be overwhelming.
- Set up can be lengthy for businesses with large or multiple warehouses.
- Security features aren’t as powerful as they could be.
Excalibur WMS by Camelot 3PL –– A warehouse management solution designed exclusively for third-party logistics operations. Excalibur is available as a cloud-based or on-premise solution and is customizable for businesses from dry and cold storage, to e-commerce and retail fulfillment.
The solution gives businesses control over their inventory management, billing, invoicing, and reporting. Excalibur also collects a wide range of data collection options through inventory and transportation management. The software also has multi-channel integrations to assist with accounting and customer relationships. Additionally, you can access all these features from anywhere, using any device with a browser.
- The platform is very flexible and scalable.
- Accounting integrations for customized reporting.
- Batch functionality for sales orders saves time.
- No reporting for volume per client.
- Updates require extensive testing.
- Web portal is very basic.
3PL Central — A WMS system designed for Omni-channel businesses. 3PL Warehouse Manager aims to increase visibility and process speed through asset tracking. The platform facilitates these optimizations via barcode scanning mobile devices.
The solution utilizes multi-channel integration for e-commerce, EDI, and parcel shipping. 3PL Warehouse Manager additionally comes equipped with B2B communications, allowing you to keep in contact with distributors, vendors, and everyone else involved in your supply chain. The solution also assists with accounting modules that can automate accounting processes as well as many other tasks.
- Very user-friendly UI/UX.
- Incredible uptime rates.
- Auto-billing features save time.
- The platform is missing transportation management features for tracking freight.
- The platform can be a bit costly.
- At times it can be difficult to reach support.
WISE –– A WMS system that supports industries including 3PL, automotive, food, machinery, and more. Wise assists users in the management of the warehouse, accounting, and sales processes. It includes modules for shipping, receiving, picking, resource planning, and more.
Wise provides both electronic and paper-based solutions for advanced shipping notices, purchase orders, transfers, and other processing. The solution utilizes RFID and barcode functionality. The platform is available in multiple languages and provides around the clock service via phone or email.
- Near perfect uptime.
- Excellent customer service.
- Simple and quick implementation.
- Limited customizability.
- Limited reporting.
- UI can be unfriendly to users in certain areas.
Latitude WMS –– A warehouse management solution designed for retailers and wholesalers of all sizes. Latitude offers users control over inventory management, RFID and voice command features, and supply chain management, all in real-time.
This solution features KPI metrics, WMS training, warehouse optimization, as well as features for transportation and route delivery optimization. The Latitude warehouse management solution can be installed on-site or via cloud-based implementation and provides multi-channel integrations for ease of use.
- Compatible with most warehouse processes.
- Excellent customer support.
- The platform is easy to learn and easy to use.
- Hardware can be expensive for smaller businesses.
- Menus can be overwhelming and complicate workflow.
- Reporting can have trouble exporting at times.
Synapse –– An on-site or cloud-based warehouse management solution. Synapse is designed for small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs). The platform features functionality for most computer and mobile platforms including Apple, Windows, and Android.
Synapse is offered as a stand-alone warehouse management solution, providing inventory management, billing functionality, IT planning, warehouse management, and many other capabilities. Users are able to import and export flat files, XML, EDI and proprietary data format files. Additionally, businesses can also import data for managing file-based integrations.
- The platform can be installed on-site or hosted via the cloud-servers.
- Continual updates provided by cloud-hosting keeps the platform working smoothly.
- Customer service is quick and attentive.
- Billing functionality can be limited and confusing.
- CRM features are very lite.
- Start-up and training can be a bit overwhelming.
SAP S/4HANA –– An enterprise resource planning software designed for businesses of all sizes. SAP is available via cloud-hosting or on-site installation. This platform is best suited for industries such as retail, manufacturing, service, and distribution. SAP offers integration with accounting platforms to optimize and provide analytics for budget management, multi-currency support, financial tracking, and other important accounting tasks.
SAP also offers key features for distribution, including asset tracking, warehouse management, and collaboration processes. The system additionally offers remote support, allowing businesses 24/7 health checks and maintenance on the platform.
- Multi-channel integrations provide in-depth solutions for business requirements.
- Data analytics help you make the most informed decisions for your business.
- Enhanced user security helps keep all your important information safe.
- Implementation and maintenance can be costly.
- The complexity of the platform requires a dedicated IT team for fixes and updates.
- Implementation takes a long time to complete.
Enterprise WMS and Interchange EDI –– A WMS solution for both asset and non-asset-based 3PL companies. The platform provides real-time reporting for inventory and supply chain updates. The software additionally utilizes RFID scanning for tracking assets and monitoring distribution along the supply chain.
Enterprise WMS and Interchange EDI features modules for billing, wave planning, direct picking, cycle counting, dock management, and many other warehouse management functionalities. The systems interchange allows for data exchange and facilitates internal communication between databases.
- Customer-specific customizations make handling multiple clients from different industries simpler.
- Very friendly user interface.
- Quick and easy implementation.
- Software documentation is a bit weak.
Common Pain Points of 3PL Companies
When it comes to operations, three major pain points for 3PL companies are labor, space, and expansion. It’s very important that 3PL companies manage these two factors for the most efficient operation of their business.
- Poor warehouse visibility causes businesses to increase their safety stock to meet consumer demands. Although this strategy seems to make sense, it can also cause detriment to a business, as the more stock on hand, the higher the chance your warehouse will run into overcapacity, which can be an expensive problem to handle. 3PL software helps businesses monitor inventory through the supply chain with increased accuracy. Logistics providers can spread out resources as needed in real-time to optimize warehouse space and avoid wasted resources.
- Volume shifts and increased demand for products can be difficult for warehouse staff. It can be easy for your warehouse team to become overwhelmed, especially during peak times. 3PL software can help warehouse managers make sure staff is efficiently utilized, providing performance data and ensuring your team has the resources needed to fulfill orders.
- When businesses are looking to expand into a new market, or by offering new products, they can find the transition to be quite difficult. Relocation or expansion of your storage facility has a multitude of aspects that are difficult to keep track of manually. 3PL software can help simplify the transition, enabling you to be where you want to be with accuracy and speed. Companies can utilize inventory and transportation management to optimize their delivery network, reducing the major complexities of scaling your business.
Emerging Market Trends
3PL software has advanced over the last few years to keep up with growing tech trends. Third-Party Logistics software now commonly utilize features such as mobile applications along with other technology that now defines the most useful of available 3PL software options. When researching your 3PL software options be sure to consider the following emerging market trends:
- Innovative software and hardware devices: Third-party logistics companies have been investing in innovative software including transportation management systems (TMS) and speech recognition software to better assist 3PL companies. A lot of these programs are designed for mobile smart device functionality. The intention of this software is to increase the overall speed and accuracy of warehouse tasks when coupled with mobile devices. As the software keeps track of data through an enhanced stock recording while also providing real-time analytics, the aim is to reduce errors while also cutting operation costs. Additionally, the software comes with the benefit of increasing worker efficiency by providing user-friendly communication with their WMS system. This includes voice recognition, which aims to increase the speed of supply chain processes such as asset tracking and stock inquires through voice commands. This software has the potential to seriously reduce the time of warehouse workflow processes.
- Usage of mobile applications: A notable trend on the rise –– it is becoming essential that 3PL software comes with mobile applications and functionality. Mobile applications allow you to leave the desk behind. From anywhere, at any time, you can check shipment statuses, order products or manage inventory — among many other capabilities — all from a mobile device. These applications allow you to scan barcodes and radio frequency identification (RFID) for a number of tasks, including storing and retrieving product data or placing orders.
- The rise of cloud-based solutions: Another huge push in third-party logistics has been cloud-based technologies. Big data is thought to have an impact on the logistics industry as a whole, as operations aren’t held back by relying solely upon on-site solutions. Cloud-based technology is operational 24/7, and through data sharing allows businesses to track items and process information throughout the entire supply chain around the clock.
- Increased communication between distribution and 3PL providers: Third-party logistics companies have been improvising improved methods to simplify communication throughout distribution. 3PL providers are leaning heavily on electronic communication and getting rid of paper for recordkeeping. Data storage allows for unrivaled organization and offers an easy way for everyone involved to access important items like invoices or receipts. 3PL companies are also providing solutions for tracking the delivery of freight and helping warehouses or retailers communicate with drivers to coordinate deliveries and even designate drop-off locations.
- Globalization Economy: As each year passes, the global economy becomes more and more connected. As an increased number of businesses are beginning to extend the reach of their supply chain and operations worldwide, you can also expect an increase in factors to manage this growth. 3PL companies will need to be able to adjust to the expanding market if they hope to stay relevant. With new emerging markets, currency exchange and international trade will also be key factors in the growth of third-party logistics companies in the coming years. The integration of a globalized market brings the need for increases to the efficiency of inventory management, supply chain accuracy and transparency, and implementation of automation.
How Magaya Software Serves 3PL Providers
Whether you’re a 3PL specializing in Warehousing, Fulfillment, Distributor, Wholesaler, eCommerce business, or you are a full-service 3PL operating at full scale along with the supply chain, the Magaya Digital Freight Platform will be an invaluable link in your operation.
The Magaya solution boasts some very robust features and possesses both on-site and cloud-based capabilities. It will automate accounting processes, efficiently manages inventory, and improves warehouse management overall.
It can also create freight quotes and bookings, rate management, handle exports, imports or domestic shipments, with the necessary documentation always attached to every transaction, and much more. Regardless of your business’s size or location in the supply chain, Magaya has a solution for you.
The software has lots of customization options for their features, which allows users to tailor the software to their needs. The platform utilizes warehouse-tracking software, making it an excellent tool in resource planning and inventory optimization. Magaya’s asset tracking software allows you to accurately locate products and properly designate the locations you wish to receive your inventory.
Using Magaya, mobile businesses can use barcodes to assign rack locations, track inventory locations and storage dates in real-time, assisting businesses to increase the speed of inventory turns, cycle/wave counts, and other warehouse tasks. Owners and their staff can also print independent labels or manually add product information directly from the handhelds, helping you label and accurately identify units that may not have come with the desired information specified.
You can also use these extraordinary features to print pallet ID labels, substantially decreasing the considerable time required to process large volume orders. This customization makes the platform equally adaptable while also enabling the software to scale with your company.
Warehouse managers can view inbound inventory in real-time and designate receiving locations, enabling real-time tracking and B2B communications which can help truck drivers find the right loading bay. These features help to optimize the overall supply chain and make supply chain management simpler.
The platform also has multi-channel integration, helping you keep all of your important insights in one location. The software combines your accounting with your warehouse operations, simplifying the extensive processing of bills and invoices while also generating useful reports. Its accounting integration allows you to automate billing, invoicing, and many other accounting tasks, further enhancing the speed of operations.
To ensure users fully grasp the scope of all the features of this robust system and their uses, Magaya offers online tutorials and onsite training, assisting you in the implementation process and making sure you have the understanding you need to utilize all the optimization features of the platform.
Have questions? We’re here for you. Contact us today to set up a demo!
Ready to digitize and modernize your 3PL operations?
See how Magaya can help.