Warehouse Management for 3PLs

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Multi-Warehouse and Multi-Client

If you have multiple warehouses then planning and real-time visibility becomes crucial. And, if you go with a cloud-based solution, you can do it from any device.

Logiwa solutions enable 3PLs to:

  • Help your clients have visibility on their inventory across multiple warehouses
  • Access real-time warehouse inventory and operations data by consolidating multiple warehouses within the system
  • Manage the transfer of your goods between warehouses
  • Assign the right order to the right warehouse by using order routing algorithms
  • Benchmark your warehouse operations across your warehouses
  • Warehousing Feature

    The Leading Warehouse Management Software for “New Age” B2C/B2B Fulfillment Businesses

    Improve your warehousing and inventory management operations by implementing the most flexible warehouse and inventory software for online sellers, distributors, wholesalers, and 3PLs.

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    3PL Management

    Transform your 3PL business into a new age fulfillment center.

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    Warehouse Management

    Optimize your warehouse while increasing your bottom line.

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    Inventory Management

    Improve your inventory accuracy across your supply chain.

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    Warehousing Feature

    Straightforward Customer Onboarding Capabilities

    Each customer has different requirements and governance protocols. Logiwa 3PL solution offers flexibility, so you can more readily meet your clients’ needs.

    Logiwa ensures user-friendly solutions for your employees and clients. A 3PL software should be easy for customers and employees to learn how to use. After all, your 3PL software and customer services is part of your client’s supply chain management solution, so it should make their supply chain efforts easier, not harder.

    Explore Our Full Product Features in a Personalized Demo

    Logiwa enables companies to manage multiple operations in the same facility in harmony. At the same time, our software allows you to execute advanced fulfillment strategies like wave-planning, cluster picking and cross-docking.

    How Does a 3PL Provider Manage Order Routing

    When you’re working with a great provider, it’s as easy as passing your orders off to them and delighting your customers. There are two popular options for setting up your order management relationship:

  • Sync store to 3PL’s system
  • Set up custom APIs so systems can communicate
  • Your 3PL company should have the tech expertise to help you link your systems together. If not, you run the risk of an inefficient order routing system introducing inefficiencies into your fulfillment operations.

    Once your communication system is set up, your 3PL provider begins managing your order routing process — it finds the most efficient way to process a customer’s order. Once an order comes in, a person or a system must decide where that inventory will be picked from (warehouse, dropship, store etc.), find the item in inventory, and get it to the customer.

    Warehousing Feature

    Learn How Logiwa Can Help Your 3PL Grow

    Is there a limit to the number of clients and warehouses you can manage with Logiwa? We've yet to find out.

    Our all-in-one dashboard gives you a bird's eye view of your clients' inventory. On top of that, our customer portal feature allows you to give clients access to their own customized portal so that they can see their business information.

    Learn more about our unique 3PL features by downloading our whitepaper.

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    This act ensures that the manufacturer or producers is responsible for things like product recalls. As we saw more sellers hit the market, with the rise of the internet, this distinction became very important. More companies who sold online sprouted up, and their core functions didn’t include order fulfillment and shipping.

    Most businesses start out of the home because of necessity and convenience. New owners are excited in the beginning to fulfill the orders as they come in. It can quickly grow stale though, as they spend most of their day packaging and shipping orders. Then convenience transforms into cumbersome and stressful.

    When you have fewer orders, a garage or spare room is typically enough to house everything. However, as your business grows, packaging and inventory can start to spill out into the rest of your home. Many small business owners find that their work spreads to each part of their house and life. This makes running a business disorganized and chaotic.

    You may also struggle with customer service because fulfillment and shipping consumes so much of your time.

    If this is where you find your business, it may be time to transfer fulfillment and shipping duties over to a 3PL. They’ll maintain your inventory, improve the efficiency of your orders, and lower shipping costs.

    3PLs provide a great next step as you grow your business. You can concentrate on the aspects of your business that require your talent and delegate the other parts to professionals that will work to your standards.

    Logiwa also helps you confidently and proactively address the challenges facing the warehouse industry today.

    • Online and real-time supply chain visibility
    • Same day/ next day delivery rush
    • Order routing across warehouses
    • Rate shopping
    • Dropshipping
    • Shipment automation rules
    • Selling your clients’ products in your stores
    • Omni-channel fulfillment
    • Returns management

    3PLs that want to remain at the forefront of their industry need flexible, agile systems that can integrate and exchange information. They also need to be as low maintenance as possible, so that they can focus on their core competency: getting products to the right people at the right time at the lowest possible cost. 

    Digital transformation is a mandatory ingredient in any 3PL’s recipe for long-term success. Unfortunately, legacy applications, particularly on-premise solutions, are not keeping up with this new trend in the logistics industry. As a result, they are turning toward cloud solutions. 

    According to a report by IDC, 75% of companies believe the cloud is a critical component of delivering supply chain excellence. And the same report found that the cloud delivered the following business value to supply chains:

    • 267% five-year return on investment
    • 12 months to break even on a cloud investment
    • 36% faster to deliver new products
    • 1.6% higher average revenue per organization
    • 6% reduction in material costs
    • 44% increase in efficiency within customer support teams

    Software as a Service (Saas) solutions deliver agility, ease of use, and a quick deployment that minimizes up-front costs. Plus, SaaS applications are managed by the provider, so security settings and updates are managed by experts, leaving 3PLs to focus on their logistics business. 

    This hands-off approach is driving the popularity of migrations to the cloud for everything from warehouse management systems, transportation management systems, inventory management systems, and more.

    This means that they will expect their logistics partners to support this model shift. Companies that want to keep existing customers and attract new ones will need to become experts in omnichannel fulfillment and logistics.

    To successfully service omnichannel businesses, 3PLs must be able to synchronize their inventory and warehouse management, outbound logistics, and distribution strategy for all of a customer’s sales channels. 

    In other words, they need to deliver the same level of service whether a customer orders from their laptop or with one swipe on their mobile device. This means that a 3PL must be able to service a number of different delivery options including:

    • Order placed online; product delivered directly to the customer’s home
    • Order placed online; product delivered to a retail location for pick up by the customer
    • Order placed in store; product delivered to the retail location at a later date for pick up by the customer (typically due to stock out situations)
    • Order placed in store; product delivered to the customer’s address (typically due to stock out situations)
    • Order placed through a third-party marketplace like Amazon; product delivered directly to the customer’s address

    These examples are only the tip of the iceberg. Throw in additional scenarios like dropshipping directly from the manufacturer or facilitating different return options, and you’ll see why supporting omnichannel inventory management and channel synchronization is a top priority for third party logistics companies. 

    Consequently, fulfillment companies are looking for ways to improve or upgrade current systems for easier integration and synchronization with customers, particularly customers’ order management systems.

    Receiving the right data at the right time can make or break a supply chain. Supply chain managers are in the business of predicting the future, albeit with educated guesses and a lot of information at their disposal. Of course, all the data in the world isn’t valuable unless you know what to do with it.

    Despite all the data that moves through supply chains - or sits dormant in isolated systems like a warehouse management system or a transportation management system - supply chain managers are still using their gut to make important decisions.

    This is where big data analytics presents enormous value to third-party logistics providers for three main purposes:

    Reducing supply chain costs

    • Generate better forecasts to allocate resources more efficiently; better planning and replenishment
    • Use traffic and weather data to select the most optimal route for carriers
    • Optimize picking routes within warehouses

    Increasing revenue or creating new revenue streams

    • Creation and offering of data-driven products for supply chain partners

    Enhancing customer satisfaction

    • Reduced costs for customers due to operational efficiencies
    • Greater transparency to customers at more points within the supply chain
    • Greater ability to predict whether a shipment will be delayed to inform customers or find an alternative solution

    Mobile technology within the supply chain is commonly associated with barcode scanners for inventory management or RFID technology for processing inbound shipments. While these are important applications that we address below, there are several other ways that mobile technology introduces efficiency into the supply chain.

    • Simplified mobile worker management: Warehouse workers can follow optimized pick paths or putaway paths using their mobile device while drivers transporting goods can receive re-routing information in real time due to traffic or weather. It can also be used to obtain signatures for deliveries. 
    • Greater visibility over assets in transit: Mobile technology, like RFID tags, gives supply chain managers greater visibility over their assets in transit. With this real-time information, 3PLs can provide their customers with accurate updates about the status of their shipments, especially if there are issues or changes.
    • Greater data for your analytics efforts: With mobile technology in the field, your analytics team has more data to generate greater insights for additional operational efficiencies, enhanced customer satisfaction, and increased revenue opportunities. 
    • Mobile and RFID scanning: Your warehouses can verify the accuracy of inbound shipments more quickly with mobile and RFID technology to check a greater volume of goods in a shorter space of time.

    Your Home or Office Is Overflowing with Packaging and Inventory

    Most people start their own business because they want freedom from a traditional 9-5 job. They may find instead that their business is taking over their life as their work starts to take over their home.

    A 3PL helps owners maintain a work/life balance that allows them to get their home and office area free from work-related clutter. Plus, they will be able to hold more inventory and packaging to make sure your orders are handled as efficiently as possible.

    You Don’t Have Time for Customer Service or Marketing

    Fulfillment and shipping is a time-consuming practice and small business owners have only so many hours in the day. To make sure that your business is successful, you need to spend time on ecommerce customer service and expanding your customer base. Transferring fulfillment duties to a professional means that you can be more efficient with your time.

    Shipping Costs Are Eating Into Your Profits

    Shipping is a major expense for e-commerce businesses, but their small size gives them little bargaining power for better shipping rates. Aligning with a 3PL allows your business to use their size to get better shipment costs. This means better profit and reliable order fulfillment for you.

    You’re Moving to a New Area or Region

    A key factor in customer satisfaction is how long it takes them to get your product. In order to make sure that shipment is as fast as possible, keep inventory close by. If you notice you are making more sales across the country, for example, engaging a 3PL in that region will mean faster and cheaper shipping.

    Work is Falling Through the Cracks

    Recharging and downtime is key to effectiveness because a burned-out business owner will let work fall through the cracks. If you are missing emails, forgetting phone calls, or missing inventory, it’s a sign that you are doing too much. Your business will suffer if the work is not up to your suppliers and customers’ standards. Delegate to a 3PL to make sure that your business continues to work to their standards.

    You Want to Expand Your Product Offering

    A home office isn’t an ideal place for holding inventory. If you want to expand what you offer, or the amount of business demands that you carry more inventory than your workplace can hold, a 3PL is a great way to keep growing.

    Assess Your Goals and Budget

    Before you start to actively look for a 3PL provider, outline exactly is what’s important to you and what you can afford. This will help guide the type of 3PLs you look for and the kind of questions you will ask them.

    • Do you need 3PLs that work out of multiple locations?
    • Do you want a 3PL that you can contact often and performs regular check-ins, or would you like a more hands-off operation?
    • Do you need a 3PL that can handle food, medical equipment, or other special items?

    Have your priorities in mind so you don’t waste your time during your search

    Treat Each 3PL Like a Potential Employee

    Although the overall impression you get from a 3PL is important, make sure that you some research. A 3PL will  work for you and represent your brand, much like an employee. As such, you need to treat the process like you would hiring an employee.

    Don’t shy away from asking difficult questions and follow up on their references. It’s much easier to walk away during the vetting stage than when they have your inventory and process your orders. Do your homework upfront before you invest in a 3PL.

    Innovation Should Be Apart of Their Business Model

    The world of warehouses, fulfillment, and shipping is always changing. Warehouse technology continues to improve and if a 3PL is not staying up with the latest retail trends and improvements, your business will suffer.

    Make sure that your potential 3PL continues to improve their technology and efficiency. Ask them about their latest improvements and innovations. Have they updated their systems recently? What part of their budget is dedicated to technology and innovative practices? These are important questions to ask as you weed through 3PL providers.

    Get to Know the Leadership and Staff

    Businesses expand, grow, and change constantly. Ensure that your fulfillment is in good hands by assessing the general knowledge of the staff. Check to see how well trained they are. It’s not just leadership that needs to be trained well. A knowledgeable staff contributes to a smooth operation.

    Also, ask about succession planning processes. A succession planning process means that business will continue to run smoothly even if key leaders change. If there is a change in management, your business shouldn’t suffer and proper planning on the part of the 3PL will help ensure that.

    Do They Have Potential For Growth and Scalability?

    You need a 3PL that will continue to grow with you. See if they have the warehouse space for your growth and the capability to scale their workers based on what you need.

    Not only will your business grow, but retail is subject to busy and slow seasons. A 3PL should prepare to scale up and handle both your inventory and fulfillment needs during busy seasons. They should scale down as well during the slow seasons (i.e., January and February) to save you money.

    Check Their Financial Stability

    You want to feel confident the 3PL you select will stay for the long-haul. Many small businesses suffer and even go out of business when their 3PL fails and they must move their inventory and find another in short order. In addition, 3PLs that are at risk for going under may stretch themselves too thin and neglect to give your orders the care and efficiency you need.

    Save yourself the headache and potential liability by making sure that your 3PL is stable to begin with. Most 3PLs offer to let you look at their financial documents, but insist on seeing them if they don’t offer. Find their profit and loss data for at least the past 3 years. You need assurance that they aren’t on the verge of financial ruin and prepared to give your business the proper attention.

    Ask About Their Disaster Plan

    Disasters are becoming increasingly common: the past years saw record-breaking losses from natural disasters. You need to prepare your business in the event of a disaster and your 3PL provider should as well.

    Look into their detailed plan should a disaster strike. If they aren’t prepared for power outages, floods, or a labor shortage, take this as a red flag. Most businesses suffer when disaster strikes. The better plan a 3PL has in place, the faster it will be up and running after a disaster.

    • Transportation: This is the most popular 3PL service among customers. A 3PL company offers transportation services through its own fleet. You can also work with a 3PL that has specialized transportation options. For instance, if you’re in the food and beverage industry, you’ll want to work with a 3PL that specializes in handling temperature-sensitive products. 
    • Warehousing: This is another popular service request from 3PL companies. A 3PL will manage a retailer’s distribution efforts by storing their products. A 3PL will also have specialized equipment like cranes or automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) to manage the warehouse efficiently. Customers can choose between shared warehouses (ones that store goods for several companies) or dedicated warehouses that only store their products.
    • Freight Forwarding: For international retailers, leveraging a 3PL’s freight forwarding service eliminates one of the big headaches of global shipments: coordinating between different carriers and, in some cases, other 3PL companies. 
    • Strategic Management: Some 3PL providers offer assistance with the finance, accounting, and management sides of logistics. They assist with auditing different carriers and ensuring your overall logistics operation is cost effective. While this service doesn’t specifically assist with the physical, tactical part of logistics management, it can help your organization save money as you try to efficiently scale. 

    Different providers offer varying scopes of 3PL operations. Some may offer all of the services listed above, while others only assist with specific activities like transportation. If you’re looking for a company that specializes in one area, it may be worth selecting a provider who focuses primarily on transportation or freight forwarding. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a best-in-suite solution, then a provider that covers the entire gamut of 3PL operations is helpful.

    Automation rules determine what will happen if specific variables are present. It’s something we do manually every day through a series of “if” statements. For instance, if you have managed your shipping operations in the past, you may recall setting certain parameters in your head. For example: 

    If shipping is international and it’s over $1,000, we will use this priority service.

    Imagine if you could automate all of these statements in a system so that they would automatically execute. It would save your business a significant amount of time and labor costs. Of course, there are a few things that may stop you from automating this process:

    • You’re not sure whether you’re making the correct decisions in response to your “if” statements. 
    • You don’t know how to automate these decisions within your current shipping system

    Fortunately, both of these problems can be managed through 3PL operations. 

    Your 3PL operator can help you refine your shipping automation rules or it can set them up on your behalf. It can recommend automation rules based on a number of parameters, including: 

    • Shipping service
    • Package type
    • Insurance
    • Shipping label generation
    • Number of line items in the order
    • Delivery address
    • Date paid
    • Product SKU

    Retailers embracing an omnichannel strategy have worked hard to integrate their various sales channels (e.g., brick-and-mortar stores, websites, mobile apps) to give customers a seamless experience, where a store offers the same catalog as all its online channels. This omnichannel experience is also expected in reverse--customers want to easily return products through multiple channels. 

    For a small-but-fast-growing business, this can be overwhelming. The good news is that it’s another area where a 3PL can deliver significant value. 

    Products can move through the reverse supply chain for a number of reasons, including: 

    • Damages
    • Excess inventory (e.g., only popular seasonally)
    • Recalls
    • Recycling
    • Customer dissatisfaction

    The reverse logistics process is not easy. When executed poorly, it can cost companies millions of dollars in labor and inefficient processes. A 3PL helps manage these challenges in the following ways

    • Collection: The goods have to be physically collected in some way. When goods are coming from customers, it’s a matter of receiving the mailed goods. But when the goods are being returned from a store (e.g., excess inventory that hasn’t sold), the transportation logistics must be sorted out.
    • Scanning: Once those goods are received, they have to be processed and properly accounted for in the enterprise’s inventory management system. 
    • Accounting: Your 3PL can help you with activities like applying store credit.
    • Disposal: If the product is hazardous or needs to be disposed of in a particular manner (as specified by a country’s environmental laws, for example) someone must oversee and execute this process. 

    Your reverse supply chain can eat up quite a bit of your company’s time, so working with an experienced 3PL can be a smart business decision.

    Retailers embracing an omnichannel strategy have worked hard to integrate their various sales channels (e.g., brick-and-mortar stores, websites, mobile apps) to give customers a seamless experience, where a store offers the same catalog as all its online channels. This omnichannel experience is also expected in reverse--customers want to easily return products through multiple channels. 

    For a small-but-fast-growing business, this can be overwhelming. The good news is that it’s another area where a 3PL can deliver significant value. 

    Products can move through the reverse supply chain for a number of reasons, including: 

    • Damages
    • Excess inventory (e.g., only popular seasonally)
    • Recalls
    • Recycling
    • Customer dissatisfaction

    The reverse logistics process is not easy. When executed poorly, it can cost companies millions of dollars in labor and inefficient processes. A 3PL helps manage these challenges in the following ways

    • Collection: The goods have to be physically collected in some way. When goods are coming from customers, it’s a matter of receiving the mailed goods. But when the goods are being returned from a store (e.g., excess inventory that hasn’t sold), the transportation logistics must be sorted out.
    • Scanning: Once those goods are received, they have to be processed and properly accounted for in the enterprise’s inventory management system. 
    • Accounting: Your 3PL can help you with activities like applying store credit.
    • Disposal: If the product is hazardous or needs to be disposed of in a particular manner (as specified by a country’s environmental laws, for example) someone must oversee and execute this process. 

    Your reverse supply chain can eat up quite a bit of your company’s time, so working with an experienced 3PL can be a smart business decision.

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    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    A 3PL provides logistics and supply chain services to companies in such as retail, manufacturing. These services can be warehousing, order fulfillment, transportation and value added services. 3PL business can provide just one or all of these services. Most of the times they can customize their services based on their clients' needs.

    In 3PL, a company maintains management oversight, but outsources operations of transportation and logistics to a provider who may subcontract out some or all of the execution. Additional services may be performed such as value added sevices, kitting and packaging to add value to the supply chain. Eg, a 3PL may be responsible for packing the goods in boxes in addition to moving the goods from the factory to a retail store. In 4PL, a company outsources management of logistics activities as well as the execution across the supply chain. The 4PL provider offers more strategic insight and management over the company's supply chain. A manufacturer will use a 4PL to essentially outsource its entire logistics operations. In this case, the 4PL may manage the communication with the factory to produce more goods as the retail store's inventory decreases.

    Logiwa's state-of-the-art software is a great solution for multi-warehouse environment. It helps the companies have full visibility of their inventory across all their warehouses. It also allows comapnies share the inventory that they have in all their warehouses for a central order pool. Additionally, Logiwa has the capability of routing orders to be fulfilled from the most feasible warehouse. This is based on the customer's address as well as the inventory level of the specific products in a warehouse.

    3PL fulfillment services include warehousing, order picking, order packing, order shipment, kitting and other value added services. A 3PL can design their fulfillment process based on the specific client's needs. Eg that may differ if the client has a B2B or B2C business model.

    3PL service is most of the times challenged by the diversity of its customers' operational types. They need to adapt to various business and fulfillment models. They also need to be agile in adapting to the changes that happen win the business models. Another challenge is the integration capabilities of their IT systems. In order to manage a smooth operation with 3PL clients, the integration with their clients' systems is a must.