Organizations turn to 3PL warehousers usually due to a changing point in their business. In the most common cases they’re growing quicker than perhaps anticipated and their current fulfilment operation simply cannot keep up with the rise in demand. Expansion is the only alternative and 3PL’s can alleviate some of the worry about costs associated with this expansion while allowing a business to take advantage of their new growth. The scalability issue is thus squarely in the 3PL provider’s court whether up or down. The ability to adapt to these changes efficiently are key to a 3PL’s profitability.
A 3PL WMS can help immensely in navigating the ebbs and flows of scale. A WMS like Akatia Technologies’ WAM for Salesforce is designed with the idea of scale in mind. It provides tools and features to manage multiple warehouses, billing and finances, the ability to automate processes, introduce mobile scanning, create customer specific documents, and report on KPI’s. This allows 3PL warehouse staff to focus on daily work items and customer related tasks.
Let’s discuss three ways a 3PL operation can take advantage of a WMS, like WAM, to improve efficiency and satisfy customers.
Billing and financials should be at the core of what any 3PL WMS does. 3PL’s do not own the items they store, instead they generate revenue off storage and other charges related to that inventory. Each customer for a 3PL is inherently unique. A 3PL WMS can help organize billing and invoicing processes. For example, Akatia’s WAM allows 3PL’s to create price books specific to a client’s needs based on the type of processes and tasks they require the warehouse to perform when handling their inventory. As well a good 3PL WMS should be able to integrate not only with the 3PL’s accounting package but also the client’s. This minimizes the time it takes to get paid, avoids manual data entry, and puts the focus on verification.
3PL clients require providers to not only store but also fulfill on orders. Those orders can come from a variety of sources whether from an ecommerce platform, ERP, CRM, or customer portal. A good 3PL WMS needs to be able to integrate with these order channels. This will help the 3PL warehouse to receive orders quickly and begin to fulfill them more efficiently. In the case of WAM 3PL’s can receive the order through a variety of integration methods and have shipments automatically created as these orders come into the system. Once a shipment is completed all the requisite information regarding its completion, status, and tracking can be sent back to the client for their own internal purposes.
Data has become essential to 3PL providers. Being able to access that data effectively, share, and analyze it is imperative to taking good business decisions, planning, and forecasting. A good 3PL WMS should be able provide intuitive, easy to use reporting and data dashboard tools. WAM for example has out of the box dashboard and reporting tools which are designed with business users in mind. Due to WAM being on Salesforce a 3PL can create purposeful reports on any data point in a visually engaging way. These reports can also be shared with stakeholder and customers so that they are aware of how inventory is being managed or if an action should be taken, for example replenishment.
A WMS designed with 3PL in mind, like WAM, is meant to make it easier for a 3PL to do their job and scale with demand. It should be able to prompt, suggest, adjust and be flexible enough to fulfill for a specific customer’s requirements and processes. We’ve looked at just 3 ways a 3PL WMS can help providers but there are many more advantages that can be gained; from mobile scanning, to picking and packing features, document creation and more (all features of WAM). Ultimately a 3PL’s primary goal is to keep operations running smoothly, which keeps customers happy. If you implement a 3PL WMS, like Akatia’s WAM, into your operations then you will be able to have more retentions, less headaches, adapt to scale and maximize revenue.