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5 Things to Look for in 3PL Software Providers

It’s hard for businesses to maintain trust in today's competitive environment. And for modern 3PLs, this couldn’t be more true—retailers and others put their faith in you to keep delivery promises and to take responsibility for bolstering their brands to end consumers. It’s a high-stakes decision for anyone who’s entrusting a third party with their deliveries, and it simply doesn’t work without trust.

3PL software providers

As a 3PL service provider, you understand how much is riding on your shoulders, since these long-term partnerships with clients are the backbone of your business. A single mistake might make you a less desirable candidate for the next contract. So how can you provide excellent 3PL services that keep your clients wanting to work with you in the long term?

What clients see is what they believe. You need to convince them that you provide the best services available by living up to your delivery promises across each and every delivery run. 

In today's market, shippers are looking for 3PL partners that are more efficient, more transparent, faster than ever before. To stay competitive, the top logistics providers are doing away with manual processes and replacing them with new technology. This kind of digital transformation can be crucial in spearheading smarter, more efficient, and more adaptable logistics services.

For logistics providers, new technologies offer innovative functionalities that offer real value. You need to consider a wide range of possible features when selecting 3PL software, especially in the era of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and complex supply chain integrations. In a perfect world, you’d easily find 3PL software providers that can help you keep up with your customers' demands—but in reality, due diligence is key to finding the right solution to meet your needs. 

How To Choose 3PL Software Providers

3PLs are facing numerous choices with a software market abundant with logistics solutions. So how do you go about choosing the best 3PL software? Below are the questions you need to ask when choosing from 3PL software providers:

What features do they offer?

It's important to keep in mind that third party logistics/3PL software products aren't all the same. It’s important to inquire about these capabilities from the vendor—specifically, there are few things that your solution should be able to offer:

  • Real-time visibility: Today's 3PL solutions can collect information from both external and internal sources and process the data in real-time so that logistics providers and their clients can act with more efficiency and speed. The result is a more helpful view of your delivery process, enabling you to solve delivery-day issues, track asset usage, and gain a deeper understanding of last mile operations.
  • Route optimization: Modern SaaS software can help manage complicated routing needs. Shipping customers' orders as fast and accurately as possible requires an effective, efficient route planner that accounts for both the shipper's and 3PL's routing constraints. 3PL software providers should allow you to define your own constraints and parameters, then automatically optimize routes with your objectives in mind such as cost reduction or accurately meeting delivery time windows.
  • Customer and carrier portals: Robust logistics solutions enable 3PLs and their clients to better manage their needs, with visibility and integration with carriers and clients being one of the most critical ways they do this. Your solution provider should offer you and your clients customized portals to enhance visibility among your supply chain partners. This enables easier collaboration between clients and drivers.

Can I configure my solution to my needs?

3PLs work with multiple teams across many organizations. They need to be able to form strategic partnerships with different logistics firms. As a result, 3PLs all have different requirements and will need their technology to adapt to those needs. That’s why it’s so crucial to find technology that can be easily configured to specific ins and outs of your last mile logistics processes, your client roster, your carrier partners, etc. It should be easy enough to configure settings within the software on your own—but you should also pay careful attention to whether your software provider seems like they can act as a true technology partner as your business grows and expands. 

How will this help me scale my services?

You should consider ROI and set expectations based on the total cost of ownership of the software. As a logistics provider, you should always be in the market for a vendor that can accelerate your expansion plans. What you should look for is scalable solutions that make your operations simpler, faster, and a lot more efficient.

Generally speaking, this is an area where SaaS solutions have a big advantage. Cloud-based solutions are in high demand right now for many good reasons, including automated data backup, protection against material loss, and no need for any manual setup that may turn into a headache later on. Everything is executed as quickly and smoothly as possible.

last mile visibility guideIs the solution adaptable and easy to use?

Advanced software solutions that can't be easily adopted and adapted by your employees are the very last thing you want to have. All software solution providers ostensibly design their solutions around the user—but if your dispatchers, fleet managers, and drivers cannot understand how to use the software, you need to find another option.

What post-sales support does the solution offer?

Investment in technology is aimed at improving your efficiency and maximizing your resources. If there is a technical problem with your solutions, that directly impacts your business operations. Thus, the problems must be fixed as soon as possible. But will your software provider guarantee that you can resolve any issue instantly with the help of a support team available 24/7? If not, you might want to reconsider such scenarios where your IT team has to resolve software-related issues on their own.  

In the end, finding new ways to help clients and operate more efficiently is absolutely essential. Logistics providers can use 3rd party logistics software to streamline workflows, increase visibility, improve efficiency, and add more value for clients. Ultimately, the right 3PL software provider can help you improve customer loyalty and bottom line performance.

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