As a third-party logistics provider you need a 3PL WMS (warehouse management system) designed specifically for your needs.
While a single enterprise will have specific WMS requirements, 3PLs serve multiple clients and must be able to customize their systems to support each client's unique needs. In addition to the essential WMS functions, a 3PL requires additional specialized features such as client portals, storage billing, and value-added services billing.
Look for a solution that emphasizes inventory visibility. This function can be provided via technology solutions such as APIs and EDI integrations between the WMS and the clients’ accounting, ERP and order management systems.
3PL clients will value a web portal where they can easily log in to view inventory levels, place orders and perform other functions such as displaying transaction history. Look for solutions that support tracking of inbound and outbound orders and shipments. The ability to enter sales and purchase orders is another useful feature that helps integrate information into a single network. Also, clients will typically want to view other transaction documents, such as invoices.
Your 3PL WMS client portal should support the creation of advance shipping notices (ASNs) that clients use to alert their customers of shipments the warehouse is sending out. Many clients have complex ASN requirements, so offering a flexible, easy-to-use ASN tool for your clients will allow you to serve those clients better.
Look for a 3PL WMS that supports storage billing functions, rather than having to compile the data manually. 3PLs bill clients for items stored on a regular periodic basis, ranging from daily to monthly. A flexible WMS allows you to meet your clients' unique billing needs. For example, you may use anniversary billing, which calculates storage charges 30 days after delivery. It's an excellent alternative to billing on the first of the month, which usually involved complicated pro-rated billing. You can track by various units of measurement, such as volume, pallets, bulk, and weight.
Most 3PL WMS solutions offer basic warehouse operations such as putaway and picking. Look for a solution that provides additional value-added services or can be customized to include them for billing purposes. For example, you may need build-to-order tracking if you assemble products or configure-to-order for installing and setting up software to fulfill customer orders. Kitting is another common function if your customer requires packing multiple products in a kit that is viewed as a single item in the inventory.
Some customers may require their 3PL to place purchase orders for inventory or accept and process sales orders directly from your customer's clients. In that case, look for a 3PL WMS that supports billing support for order processing. This function may be required if you get involved in processing e-commerce orders. You'll also want a system that integrates with popular e-commerce shopping tools.
If your customer base and its requirements vary, you'll also want to find a system that allows for custom fields to handle unique client needs. Ideally, this function will be easy to use to keep your billing processes up to date.
If you're looking for a 3PL WMS that's flexible and scalable, contact us for a demo today.