The most significant changes in the industry are being driven by customer expectations and demand. Providers need to be in it, to win it, which means adopting digitization to meet customer expectations.
Driven by changing consumer habits, digital upgrades have revolutionized many parts of the logistics industry. From real-time tracking of deliveries, selecting from various omnichannel delivery options, or receiving automated shipping updates across multiple carriers - customers are expecting more options and data transparency from 3PL providers.
As interest in outsourcing logistics to 3PL providers continues to grow, many logistics companies are looking to offer more services and support to customers, in terms of navigating logistics options - reshaping what 3PL services look like.
Technological updates continue to influence these trends and provide advanced services with more diversity than ever before. From integrated mobile apps for warehouse and transport to self-driving trucks, drone last-mile delivery, and more; technological updates are allowing logistics providers of all services and sizes to enhance and optimize their operations.
With integrated online ordering flowing directly to automated workflows, 3PL warehouses can increase their daily order fulfillment and provide up-to-date inventory and order reports to customers with the click of a button.
A recent industry whitepaper, the CartonCloud Logistics Index (CCLI) Q3 2022, found many small-medium sized logistics companies were looking to expand the services they offered to clients, taking advantage of the current demand, and driving a greater need for outsourced logistics. (Visit cartoncloud.com to find out more)
What additional services are 3PLs offering?
There are many tactics third-party logistics providers can offer to customers to reduce the impact of port congestion and bottlenecks, or shipping delays. Through offering tracking and data capture, providing increased visibility, shortening supply chains (with localized warehousing), or enhancing software integrations for a more streamlined order-dispatch experience.
The CCLI Q3 2022, gathered feedback and insights from over 80 members of the logistics industry to assess how these changes were impacting businesses. The report found just under one-quarter of respondents were currently offering increased visibility and tracking to their customers, to assist them in navigating the logistics industry.
A further 23% of respondents said they were offering multiple warehouse locations to customers, to shorten supply chains and reduce the risk of long-haul shipping delays for last-mile orders, and an additional 20% said they currently offered cross-docking services to offer faster freight processing and turn-around.
The technology enabling 3PLs to offer more
While providing increased visibility, order tracking, and integrations to customers was the most popular service currently offered to customers to help navigate logistics options, over a third of respondents later said they didn't feel their company had the means to capture and track this data.
The report showed many companies were looking to invest in technology in the coming six months, to create more efficient operations and provide greater customer service.
Investing in digital solutions benefits both the company and the customer. Integrations for tracking and order updates provide greater transparency to customers and can also remove manual data entry workload from the provider - by automating data management and sending updates as certain order or delivery milestones are met. This provides transparency for customers, to see where their orders and inventory are at any given time, without the need for a phone call or manual data reporting.
To optimize operations, 19% of respondents said they would be investing in fleet and warehouse technology upgrades in the coming six months, with a further 17% prioritizing removing paper-based processes, 15% looking to implement barcode scanning, and 14% introducing automated workflow optimization.
The digitization of workflows through WMS and TMS software can reduce overheads by 80%, saving hours of admin work each week, and allowing businesses to increase their daily output by 50% .
Beyond transparency; how can 3PL providers offer data analysis for customer supply chain planning?
As customers look to outsource more of the logistics side of their businesses, more opportunities are opening up for 3PL providers to offer additional services to support customers with supply chain planning.
The September 2022 CCLI whitepaper found more than one-in-ten providers were currently offering insights and analytics to their customers to support them with future planning for demand and supply chain.
Some respondents said their cloud software automated the data to provide to their clients, others ran powerful logistics reporting tools to collate and analyze data once a month, or employed customer success managers, who communicated internal data to customers.
"We have full transparency with all of our customers and allow them access to our system via customer portals. " - Respondent, Business Owner, Warehouse & Transport Operations.
"Most definitely, stock inventory and movements are important to the customer and the more attention to detail and transparency you can provide build trust and relationships." - Respondent, Operations, Warehouse.
The report shows an evolution in what it looks like to be a third-party logistics provider, as logistics companies like this are exploring new and innovative services they can offer to customers, to increase revenue with increased billable services, to attract and retain new customers, and to ensure the success of their customer's growth.
The Q3 2022 CCLI Whitepaper will be available for free to all members of the logistics industry, alongside previous reports, on the CartonCloud Logistics Index Archive later this month.
Warehouse and Transport Management systems boost growth and reduce manual admin
Integrated WMS and TMS software provider CartonCloud lets you provide full transparency to customers by providing an online portal with up-to-date reporting, automatically generated by cloud-based software - so you don't have to lift a finger.
The software company has designed its end-to-end warehouse and transport management software alongside industry members, to create a solution designed for small-medium sized logistics providers, allowing them to compete with larger players in the industry. With out-of-the-box software integrations ready to go, automated invoicing, and automatically calculated rate cards - the software does the heavy lifting of transport and warehouse management, allowing companies to focus on growth.
Seamlessly merging industry insights with technology developments, CartonCloud's team draws from their experience in the logistics industry to provide intuitive solutions designed directly to help smaller operators overcome daily issues, and grow with ease. The team at CartonCloud also offer commitment-free, free demos of their software with industry experts, who can walk you through the software features and set up, to ensure it's the right fit for your team.