It’s no secret that technology in logistics and supply chain can be a key differentiator in the industry. Access to real-time data for freight visibility, order status updates and the enhanced ability to make data-driven decisions are extremely important for a successful business and effective technology can help with all of this. According to the 2021 Annual Third-Party Logistics Study, 93 percent of shippers reported that IT capabilities are an important and necessary element of 3PL expertise.
According to the 2021 Annual Third-Party Logistics Study, 93 percent of shippers reported that IT capabilities are an important and necessary element of 3PL expertise.
How can technology help with my logistics operations?
The right supply chain technology can be life-changing for your business operations. It can help with everything from streamlining and optimizing warehouse management and fulfillment methods to visualizing order data on real-time dashboards. If a high volume of your orders require pick and pack fulfillment, technology like robot-led sortation, put-to-light systems and high-speed sortation systems that are capable of thousands of item sorts per minute can increase efficiency by large percentages. The right technology stack can be instrumental in optimizing the picking workflow and can help you squeeze the most product into the least amount of space and maximize efficiency through the entire order fulfillment process. It can also allow you to share performance metrics such as order processing times, order status and lot tracking with your shareholders improving visibility and allowing data to drive your decision-making process.
Adopting new logistics technology solutions can be daunting and uncomfortable, especially if you feel there’s no reason to replace what you currently use if it’s not broken. However, it’s become increasingly clear that ignoring innovation is a sure way to get left behind by your competition. The COVID-19 global supply chain disruptions have shown us the intersection of the logistics industry and technology is more important than ever and supply chain management solutions of the past like predictability and stability can actually prevent your business from meeting customer needs in some situations. Here are a few reasons you should adopt new technology and always be open to new solutions that can help increase your productivity.
Technology will help you stay competitive
No matter what kind of fulfillment services you offer from ecommerce to omnichannel to retail—the market is becoming increasingly saturated and consumer expectations are increasingly difficult to meet. According to the 2020 Supply Chain Survey of US Retailers, 67 percent of consumers indicate that inventory visibility across stores, online and mobile is important, 65 percent indicate the ability to buy anywhere, and ship anywhere is important, and 48 percent said the ability to pick up an online purchase in-store is an important factor when choosing a store to shop at (source). Companies are consistently finding creative ways to stay competitive and meet customers’ shopping behaviors. Therefore, it’s important to stay continuously innovative to sustain a competitive advantage. Adopting new technologies and methodologies to increase your effectiveness across the board is the way to stay ahead of your competition.
Optimization starts with the right technology
The growing number of retailers, limited capacity among carriers and increasing customer expectations, all mean that it’s vital that your distribution processes are as efficient as possible. You need to have a truly integrated supply chain network so everything—from when a customer places an order to your pick and pack fulfillment process to shipping and delivery to the returns process—is accessible through real-time visibility. Evaluating each separate workflow will allow you to understand where you can optimize your supply chain and increase your overall efficiency. Ultimately, you must elevate supply chain capabilities to serve the needs of your customers while increasing efficiencies, reducing costs and always improving the customer experience—technology is the way to do this.
You must elevate supply chain capabilities to serve the needs of your customers while increasing efficiencies, reducing costs and always improving the customer experience.
The right technology can help ensure real-time flexibility
Maintaining a balance between a reliable and flexible supply chain is undeniably an important factor in your success, but it can be extremely complex. When interruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic impact the industry, you need the capabilities to adjust and pivot for demand to stay ahead of your competition. For example–ITS utilizes custom technology that allows us balance between single-unit orders and multi-unit orders, as the demand changes. Real-time flexibility in situations like this is only possible by adopting effective technology—in fact, your customers, vendors and other supply chain partners are beginning to expect it.
What technology to look for when outsourcing your fulfillment
If you are considering outsourcing your fulfillment to a third-party logistics company, it’s extremely important to review their technology in supply chain and logistics capabilities when choosing a provider. Outsourcing to a 3PL is a great way to implement technologies without having to go through complicated onboarding in-house. Technology solutions can also be very expensive to research and implement by yourself, and the process can be long and difficult. Using your 3PL’s expertise and existing technology stack can save you valuable time and money. When you are vetting 3PLs, look at their current capabilities, but really seek out partners who have customized technology solutions that provide can seamless, real-time order processing, end-to-end supply chain visibility and order status tracking. Additionally, look for solutions that increase operational efficiency at every level of the fulfillment process and offer real-time data visibility that will allow you to make more informed decisions. Not only should your provider have the technology solutions you need today—but make sure they are investing in what is coming next. For example, while EDI might be your current supply chain integration method, that is changing. Newer integrations like API offer live and real-time integrations. It’s very important to make sure your provider can keep up with ever-changing and updating technology solutions to ensure they can support your business as you scale.
How ITS Logistics can help you use technology as a competitive differentiator
At ITS, we continue to invest heavily in logistics technology solutions for our customers. Our in-house development teams have the expertise to integrate with any shopping cart or order management system, allowing us to deliver real-time inventory management, order status and shipping updates. Additionally, we can create custom software that helps increase efficiency in the order fulfillment process. A great example of this is Flexpick 2.0, created by our in-house developers and consisting of proprietary picking and packing modules on an Azure Cloud server. These modules include batch singles, batch multi with put-to-light or put wall and traditional cluster cart picking. The software helps increase our productivity and streamline client onboarding while creating the best and most cost-effective solutions for your business. Because all of our development is handled in-house, we can create custom updates and solutions that will best serve your business. In addition to that, we also have a robust business intelligence team that creates dashboards for our customers that allow their stakeholders to make immediate, data-driven decisions that help them grow their business.
If you are interested in learning more about our technology capabilities and how we can help your business, call Kasia Wenker, ITS Logistics Director of Supply Chain Solutions at (775) 353-5160 today.