Logistics software system provider CartonCloud have shared their predictions for the top 5 trends that will share how Third-Party Logistics providers will operate in 2023, and it’s all about working smarter, not harder.

Their team of experts have experience in the industry and work closely with customers and industry partners — giving them a front-row seat to what 3PLs and their customers are seeking into the new year. They’ve shared their predictions here, for the top five 3PL trends to shape 2023— from revenue boosters to better customer service, here they are.

#1 Diversifying services to boost revenue

This year, 3PL providers will be looking to introduce new revenue streams and services to customers, providing a single touch point to outsource their logistics needs, made possible with integrated systems and software.

“We’re seeing a shift in the services 3PLs are offering, as more and more businesses look to outsource logistics altogether. 3PLs are acting more like 4PLs, providing storage, freight and handling services as well as reporting and advice, and even acting as a single point of contact for customers, as they manage a range of logistics providers on the customer’s behalf.

“Our software is an integrated WMS/TMS, which means our customers can play it smart, listen to what their customers need and find new and innovative ways to provide that, under one umbrella,” said CartonCloud COO Shaun Hagen.

In 2022, 3PLs were beginning to move further into diversification; building new revenue streams and thinking of new ways to offer additional services to either win new business or provide more to their existing customers.

Transport operators were offering limited freight handling or complete pick and pack for orders, warehouses were maximizing the use of their space with cross-docking services for fast-moving freight, and many operators were providing additional data and reporting based on the data they were already collecting.

#2 The importance of Direct Software Integrations

Data accuracy, speed, and security remains front of mind for 3PLs looking to grow in the coming 12 months. In 2023, the ability to connect systems and securely share data seamlessly across systems and platforms as a part of day-to-day operations will be a key focus for 3PLs looking to optimize operations and expand.

“In 2022, we built over 1,000 integrations for CartonCloud customers, allowing them to streamline data flow between systems — from linking to their customer’s online stores like Shopify and WooCommerce, to direct connections with specialty ERP systems like Crafted ERP, accounting platforms like Xero and Quickbooks, or DIY integrations through our public Zapier or self-service API,” said CartonCloud founder and CEO Vincent Fletcher.

#3 Saving time with hands-off reporting

The new year will see 3PLs focus on building efficiency in more than just their operations. Logistics businesses will be looking at how they can save time in all areas of their business, especially through automating manual tasks like rate calculations, invoicing and ordering.

“Back in the paper days, reporting would take hours or days — trawling through spreadsheets or trying to find paper PODs and receipts, and then answering the phone to every customer seeking an update on their inventory or shipment.

“Not anymore, 3PLs can’t afford to lose so many hours on manual data entry and they can’t afford to have data that isn’t accurate. Automated reporting and customer access to reporting portals needs to be a priority for 3PLs who are serious about customer service, and growing their business,” said CartonCloud Implementation Manager Shaun Johnson.

Automating orders, reports, and invoicing will save 3PLs hours of admin hours, freeing them up to focus on more areas of their business. From sign on glass at warehouse dispatch, to barcode scanning for cross-docking — data capture in 2023 will be important, thorough, and simplified. With manual tasks automated, they have more time to fulfill more orders, or focus on other areas of their business.

#4 Track-ability

Whether it’s the ability to see a shipment in transit, view stock levels in the warehouse, or receive an electronic POD (ePOD) at the point of delivery, track-ability provides important usable data to all members of the supply chain.

With this data collection comes the importance of sharing information with partners and customers to use in their own planning and reporting needs.

“The ability to pull up any consignment and instantly see who it has been allocated to, if it’s in transit, and exactly when it is delivered is paramount to having a scalable transport operation.

Likewise, being able to easily capture inventory data as your warehouse personnel work directly through the mobile app is a game changer. It keeps reports up to date and allows you to show order dispatch date and time across multiple platforms through integrations,” said CartonCloud Customer Operations Manager Scott Murray.

#5 Deep understanding of tech features and a drive to get the most

This year, 3PL providers will begin taking a bigger part in learning about the technology they have on hand, exploring how new features can allow them to do more for their customers or bring on new customer entirely.

3PL providers will take time to ensure thy have the right software for their system, and they will want it to be usable and easy to roll out across their team and operations. They want to do more for their customers, and they want to know all the ways their software can help them save time and money, and increase their output.

“When we started with CartonCloud, we were probably only using about 5% of the software’s capability. Now, each client we bring on has a new requirement, and we start to use a new level of the software, or access features we hadn’t needed before,” said TNS Logistics Commercial Manager Matt Norton.

This year will see a trend in learning about tech, and being aware of the solutions out there that can simplify, optimize and revolutionize their operations. These logistics companies will use multiple areas and features of their systems to boost productivity, accuracy, and output — and to free up more of their own time from manual tasks.

“We used to see warehouses and transport companies have to bring in project managers and, tech experts or have an entire team dedicated to switching their software system or bringing on a new system, but the way CartonCloud is designed makes it so easy-to-use, that the team they have on hand can simply pick it up and start using it.

They can digitize operations in days, bringing in new tech and new automation for data entry, without any headaches — and this will see 3PLs expanding their use of software, ensuring they get the most from their systems that they possibly can,” said CartonCloud Implementation Consultant Mitch Whitnack.

The world of logistics continues to evolve, creating a new business environment for 3PLs offering warehousing and transport services, and technology adaptation is providing new ways for these businesses to optimize and expand.

Want more industry insights? CartonCloud’s Logistics Index reports keep a finger on the pulse of the logistics industry and are available for free from the CartonCloud website.