R2 Logistics

How to Evaluate the Technology of a Potential 3PL Partner

According to one survey, 61% of businesses are worried about their supply chain. Choosing the right third-party logistics (3PL) provider can help to ease those worries.

3PL providers commonly use technology to streamline the supply chain process, from warehousing to order fulfillment. But before you commit to a provider, you might want to take a closer look at the 3PL technology it uses. Here are some common things to look for in a logistics company.

E-commerce and Order Fulfillment

Some of the best 3PL technology solutions focus on e-commerce integrations. This is especially true for online merchants that rely on multiple sales channels such as WooCommerce, Shopify, or Amazon. Logistics providers can integrate these channels to keep retailers organized and in control of their processes.

E-commerce businesses also need 3PL technology to assist with order fulfillment. The right provider can choose between fulfillment centers to optimize delivery times for each customer. This reduces both the time and cost of shipping, while an integrated dashboard reduces the number of errors in the process.

Inventory Management

3PL providers commonly boast an Inventory Management System (IMS) that provides an end-to-end view of your inventory levels at various points in the supply chain — from warehouse to delivery.

Businesses can rely on these 3PL technology solutions to manage inventory and make adjustments based on seasonal/cyclical demand. Modern IMS platforms can even provide replenishment reminders so that retailers never run the risk of empty shelves. And the very best systems automate the process, keeping track of inventory levels and suggesting ideal reorder points and inventory levels to optimize your storage costs.

Logistics and Route Planning

Transportation is one of the most critical aspects of the supply chain. With careful route planning, companies can increase the efficiency of their deliveries to customers or other businesses. 3PL technology solutions can optimize this process by planning the most effective routes and organizing deliveries for maximum efficiency.

Modern delivery vehicles can also be outfitted with tracking technology that integrates into the provider’s technology stack. As a result, routes can be adjusted based on real-time data that accounts for traffic patterns, weather conditions, or changes in the delivery schedule.

Reverse Logistics

A hassle-free return policy can be the gateway to customer loyalty. One marketing group discovered that 95% of consumers claimed that they would shop for the same brand if they knew it offered a dependable return policy. The same 3PL technology used to deliver goods from the warehouse to the consumer can also retrieve goods from the consumer back to the warehouse.

3PL providers can integrate with the customer portal for fast and easy pickups or drop-offs. Products come back to the warehouse, where the item can be evaluated for restocking, refurbishment, or disposal, depending on the condition of the item or the nature of the business. 

Merchants are notified of these returns so they can make future decisions about the items in their inventory.

3PL Technology Solutions

Reporting, Analytics, and Integration

Business leaders rely on up-to-the-minute data to drive their decisions, and 3PL providers can give it to them. Leading providers offer real-time data through inventory management software or transportation management systems. Users can also generate reports to monitor their performance over time and make adjustments as necessary.

Furthermore, providers that offer API and EDI integration can give you more flexible visibility of your supply chain, making your organization more accurate, agile, and efficient, allowing decision-makers to oversee their operations with a centralized, intuitive dashboard.

Selecting the Best 3PL Technology

The “best” 3PL technology often depends on your industry or your unique business needs. E-commerce merchants and other retailers may be particularly interested in order fulfillment technology, while other businesses may still benefit from warehousing and logistics services. 

R2 Logistics can help your business thrive thanks to our 3PL solutions and value-added services. If you’re looking to understand the technology R2 Logistics implements, feel free to reach out today.