Online shopping has not only revolutionized the way we purchase
goods — it has up-ended distribution as well. In the latest
Precision Report we look at how vastly increased parcel volumes
makes multi carrier shipping software critical for 3PLs.
The world of logistics has changed. Smaller shipments, going to more
places, with more carriers, more often, is now the new normal for most
3PLs. Logistics providers are just as likely to ship small packages
via parcel carriers as they are to ship bulk freight. This trend is
likely to continue.
More parcel shipping, more carriers, and more destinations means lots
more hassle for 3PLs. Most logistics providers have business processes
and technology systems that are designed to manage large freight orders.
These changing market conditions mean that a comprehensive multi
carrier shipping solution is increasing important for 3PLs. When your
business changes, the solutions you use must change too. Below we
discuss the benefits of multi carrier shipping software for 3PLs.
Many logistics providers have seen a significant shift in their
shipping profile. This is particularly true in the retail portion of
their business, but not exclusively. In a number of other industries,
shipping directly to customers has become commonplace.
In years gone by, 3PLs mostly sent large freight loads to storefronts
for distribution. They often worked with a handful of carriers to
manage these shipments. As a result, managing these carrier
relationships, negotiating rates and following up on shipments to
ensure their safe arrival was a relatively simple task.
Under the traditional 3PL/retail/DC model, the journey of an item
from the 3PL to the end customer looks something like this:
Order transmitted to 3PL from retailer
Order fulfilled in bulk (cases, cartons or pallets) to retail
DC maintains inventory and ships to retail store
Or like this:
Retailer markets products on e-commerce site
Customer orders product, order is sent to the retailer’s DC
DC picks and packs product
Parcel carrier delivers to customer
Of course, many 3PL customers still require these services. However,
the journey to the end user is changing. Today, a 3PL often performs
more of the steps to get a products to the end customer:
3PL manages and maintains inventory in warehouse
Retailer markets product on e-commerce site
Customer places an order
3PL picks and packs order to send to customer
Final delivery is not necessarily the final step, given the high
volumes of returns that online shoppers generate.
Customer needs are changing in other ways too. Many increasingly
demand that 3PLs manange returns and reverse shipping, particularly
retailers. A third of all retail items bought online are returned. For
clothing, returns are as high as 40 percent. Without the means to
efficiently manage this process with parcel carriers, items are easily
delayed or lost in transit.
Logistics providers can often can negotiate very favorable rates with
parcel and freight shippers. However, there are some 3PL customers —
including some global high-tech giants — who already get unbeatable
rates. These customers expect their 3PL partners to manage the
warehousing and shipping of their products, using the customer’s
carrier account to get the lowest rates.
Technology designed for large freight orders is not optimized for
this task. Therefore, many 3PLs manage their carriers and customer
carrier accounts separately. But with best-in-class multi carrier
shipping software, all carrier accounts — whether for bulk freight or
parcel — can be managed in one centralized system.
Logistics providers work in a very competitive industry. Some of that
competition is coming from companies that previously were customers.
Efficient logistics is critical for e-commerce. No wonder then that
leading online and omni-channel retailers are bringing logistics
functions in-house, including Walmart and Amazon.
Since mid-2018 Walmart
has been piloting a program in Southern California using its own
rail containers. For this program, Walmart truck drivers are
also moving these containers between the railway and Walmart
facilities. Amazon launched its air cargo operations in 2015, and the
company currently has 40
Boeing 766 planes with 10 more on the way this year. Even
companies not investing in logistics operations have been moving some
order fulfilment in house. As customers have demanded ever quicker
delivery of online orders, retailers have responded. Target has
instituted a both Ship From Store and Buy Online Pick-up In-store
fulfilment, including a “Drive Up” option — a
move that seems to be paying off.
None of this negates the need for 3PLs. As the 2019 Third-Party
Logistics Study notes, the “always-on, always-open shopping
experience” means that retailers need their 3PL partners to be able to
rapidly respond to consumer expectations. This includes offering a
number of different delivery options.
Logistics providers must force down cost while improving performance
to meet these expectations. Managing carriers and ensuring that
shipments arrive on time at the lowest possible cost is key to staying competitive.
QAD Precision (Precision Software), a division of QAD Inc., provides
trade management, transportation
execution and multi
carrier shipping software solutions from a single, integrated
platform. Preeminent industry leaders in every region of the world
rely on QAD Precision’s global support centers to leverage thousands
of carriers and manage millions of shipping transactions every day.
Our open architecture easily integrates with Enterprise Resource
Planning, Warehouse Management Systems and legacy solutions. An
ISO-certified company, QAD Precision assists companies to minimize
shipping costs, optimize first mile and last mile deliveries, automate
free trade agreement compliance, avoid customs delays and mitigate
the risks associated with dynamic trading environments to
maximize their competitive advantage. QAD Precision’s customers span
multiple industries including banking and finance, life sciences, high
technology, retail, industrial, automotive, higher education and
public sector as well as logistics providers. For more information
about QAD Precision, visit www.precisionsoftware.com.
To subscribe to our blog, or to receive notifications about QAD
Precision events, webinars and news, please click here.
MINUTE EXPLAINER: MULTI CARRIER SHIPPING SOFTWARE AND 3PLS
BENEFITS OF MULTI CARRIER SHIPPING SOFTWARE