In the fast-paced world of third-party logistics (3PL), efficient warehouse management is crucial. To excel in this competitive landscape, 3PLs require a specialized Warehouse Management System (WMS) that caters to their unique needs. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the challenges faced by 3PLs, the essential features every 3PL WMS should possess, and tips for a successful WMS implementation.
Challenges of Supporting a 3PL WMS
The heart of a 3PL business lies in managing various clients and their inventories seamlessly. Unlike traditional WMS systems, a 3PL WMS should offer robust multi-client capabilities, allowing all client inventories to be managed within a single instance of the software. This ensures efficiency, reduces the need for constant logins and logouts, and provides distinct configuration and rules for each client, product group, and product.
Timely and accurate billing is vital for a 3PL’s profitability. A 3PL WMS must have activity-based automated billing features. This means having the ability to capture all activities performed for clients beyond storage and handling, such as value-added services. The right WMS should prompt associates to record these activities, linking them directly to client invoices, thus eliminating manual steps and potential errors.
The 3PL market size is currently estimated at USD 1.22 trillion, and is expected to reach USD 1.59 trillion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 5.48% during the forecast period (2023-2028). Market growth is being fueled by a rising demand for reduced shipping costs and the need to deliver goods in a timely manner. Working with a 3PL enables many companies to focus on their core competencies while leaving logistics to the experts. In order to take advantage of an expanding market, 3PLs need to be able to onboard new clients quickly. This requires a mix of the right technology.
5 Essential Features of a 3PL WMS
Every 3PL will have different needs specific to their operation, but there are a handful of features we believe all 3PLs need from their WMS to thrive.
#1 Billing Granularity:
In a cost-sensitive environment, a 3PL WMS should enable auditing of operational processes to ensure revenue capture. This includes tracking value-added services provided and aligning this data with client contracts and service commitments.
#2 Analytics and Reporting:
Deep, flexible reporting capabilities are crucial for informed decision-making. Real-time data as well as comprehensive performance history should be accessible through reporting tools.
#3 Integration Capabilities:
A 3PL WMS needs to easily integrate with carriers, suppliers, other software like CRMs and ERPs, plus automation systems. Cloud-based solutions often offer smoother integration.
#4 Inventory Tracking and Visibility:
3PLs deal with a range of industries and products. A robust WMS should provide comprehensive inventory tracking, especially for industries like cold storage or hazardous materials. This is essential for efficient recall management and billing accuracy.
#5 Customer Portal and User Interfaces:
Offering clients a web-based portal to view inventory and orders, along with dynamic user interfaces that streamline interactions enhances efficiency and customer service.
Implementation and Rollout
Implementing a 3PL WMS is a critical step that requires careful consideration. While some WMS vendors offer implementation services, a configurable and adaptable WMS like Made4net’s solutions can often empower 3PLs to carry out implementations with less support and cost. A team with industry-specific expertise can guide the process efficiently, shortening implementation times and ensuring a quicker return on investment.
Supporting a 3PL business comes with its own set of challenges and requirements. A specialized WMS designed for multi-client management, automated billing, and industry-specific needs is essential for success. By focusing on key features, integration capabilities, and industry specialization, 3PLs can ensure seamless operations and enhanced customer satisfaction. Choosing the right WMS vendor—one that understands the dynamic nature of 3PL operations—can significantly contribute to a smoother implementation process and long-term success.
See what Synapse 3PLExpert customers have to say about their success with Made4net.