Logistics Software Solutions – How Do They Compare to Third Party Logistics?

Third party logistics (3PL) is the most popular choice for freight logistics among small to midsized companies. In order to help companies that regularly make shipments that are too large to financially benefit from parcel shipping and too small to financially benefit from full truckload (FTL) shipping, companies turn to third party logistics providers to get them the best deals on less than truckload (LTL) shipping, integrated shipping methods and to reduce the delivery of products to retailers. To these ends, 3PL providers significantly reduce their clients’ shipping costs compared to what they would spend on shipping without the aid of freight logistics. But they obviously do so by charging their clients for freight logistics services.

So, what’s not to like about hiring a 3PL provider to reduce your company’s shipping costs and ensure that your goods are delivered in a timelier manner? After all, is there really such a thing as realizing freight transportation solutions without seeking the help of freight logistics experts? Yes and no. If freight logistics isn’t one of your company’s core competencies, you’ll certainly need to get logistics solutions from those that specialize in providing them. But you don’t have to turn to a 3PL provider and pay a middleman to provide you with shipping solutions when you can instead use online logistics software.

The difference between 3PL and logistics software solutions-also referred to as logistics management software-typically doesn’t lie in one having more logistics expertise than the other; rather, it has to do with how the logistics information is supplied, how much it costs and how much control companies have over their shipping process. Essentially, a third party logistics provider uses logistics management software to provide you with shipping solutions, whereas online logistics software lets you act as your own logistics provider for an affordable monthly fee. In no case will you find a 3PL provider that offers their services for the low price that you pay for logistics software solutions, nor will hiring a 3PL provider offer you as much control over your shipping options.

Having complete control over your shipping process has two main benefits: you can research the companies that you’re considering hiring and you never have to deal with a middleman’s business policies affecting the price or availability of certain shipping options. Aside of the financial and shipping management benefits offered by logistics management software, its greatest strength is its extreme ease of use. Although the term logistics software implies computer expertise, logistics software comes with an easy to use interface that neither requires expert computer knowledge or expertise in logistics, meaning that each of your company’s departments can be involved in its shipping process.

Benefits of Using Packaged Shipping Software

It’s hard to imagine a shipping business without an IT department nowadays. As technology becomes more and more advanced, carriers keep up by taking advantage of the latest innovations and best practices in the industry in order to remain competitive. Forward thinking operators have taken advantage of the rapidly changing technology by using advanced shipping software solutions to enhance their competitive advantage. However, when it comes to choosing the right software solution, the shipping industry is divided between in-house and packaged solutions. Shipping companies need to analyze their unique requirements to determine the type of business solution that will bring more advantage to their daily operations.

Global operators seem to have conflicting views with regard to the cost-effectiveness of building in-house IT systems compared with buying ready-made, customizable platforms. Both have their own advantage when it comes to streamlining operations that have direct effect on the cost-efficiency of a shipping business. Understanding the specific differences between these two systems can help operators make more informed decisions in using their resources.

Bespoke System

Many operators prefer hiring programmers and software developers, and build customized software to fit their specific business requirements. Doing this gives them full control of software development. However, bespoke or in-house systems will require time until they are working live, which will delay the positive impact of automation sometimes up to 3-4 years as seen for bigger implementations. It will also consume resources on the carrier side not only from the IT but also from the involved departments.

In addition, the fact that technology evolves rapidly, software solutions that have been custom-tailored to support a specific function may date quickly and not work on newer platforms, necessitating a painful upgrade that may include an expensive migration process. For the same reason, in-house systems require skilled IT staff which results in increased operational expenses – something that does not sound interesting in a slumping economy.

Packaged System

Generally, ready-made shipping software are a lot cheaper and easier to implement when compared with in-house systems. In fact, buying off-the-shelf solution can be 10 to 50 times cheaper than developing a bespoke system. In addition, modern packaged software incorporates a switching capability, which allows the user to customize each application to handle specific requirements without any expensive re-programming. Once customized, packaged software have the capability to automate time-consuming and resource-intrusive business processes.

Modern packages solutions are flexible enough to work for almost any carrier, regardless of size, specialization, or local requirements. This capability makes it even more appealing for vessel operators to buy off-the-shelf instead of commissioning expensive in-house solutions.

Packaged software solutions are widely available in the software market and can be purchased at very reasonable prices. In addition, many software companies offer excellent guarantee periods for their products during which any software issues are fixed without extra cost.

Change can be Painful

Despite the impressive features of packaged shipping software solutions, many carriers are still stuck with bespoke systems because of perceived difficulties that accompany a change in IT infrastructure. In most cases, these difficulties have something to do with legacy systems which often control key areas of a shipping business. Change in this case must be managed properly using correct methodologies avoid common problems that usually come with the process of implementing a new business system.

Shipping goods involves too many complicated processes that require focus and expertise in all aspects. To be more productive, operators must focus on their core business which is operating ships. They should not divert large amounts of resources to other activities outside their expertise to avoid uncontrolled expenses that can hurt their business in the long run.

Optimize Your Shipping Management With Software Solutions

Any company that has to deal with shipping can attest to what a nightmare it is to have something not arrive to a customer destination when it’s suppose to. Worse still is having no idea why it did not get there. To be safe, many companies simply use the bigger shipping corporations like Fed-Ex and UPS, but others try using smaller providers to save a little money or because the larger corporations will not handle what they have to transport. Regardless of your reasons for wanting to handle shipping yourself, you need to make sure you can do that. The best way is to get software that will help you to stay organized and lessen the chance of making any mistakes.

FedEx shipping software is great because it allows logistics officers to keep track of millions of packages each year so that they are never put in a situation where they do not know where something is. Your company may not handle millions of packages like global mega-corporations will, but you still need to make sure that you operate at the same level of reliability. These companies handle millions of items each and every year but they make few mistakes thanks to FedEx and other multi-parcel shipping software systems that are paramount for success. These same tools will also be paramount for the success of any smaller company smart enough to make use of them. Making mistakes in shipping is the most frustrating thing for a customer to have to deal with. The most successful banks, the most successful cell phone companies, the most successful computer companies are not the best because they have the cheapest prices. They are the best because people they give the best service to their customers who are willing to pay a little extra for the products and services to make sure that their demands and needs are met.

Along with having great software it would be smart if you also have great shipping management. Sooner or later you will need to have someone watching over the entire operation, especially if you are shipping out larger products. Shipping management double checks the software, the personnel, inventory, and everything else to make sure that the entire operation runs smoothly. They rely on the software just as much as the software relies on them to make sure everything is done properly. A company that struggles with its shipping can not succeed no matter how cheap or great their products and services may be. It is vital to the success of any company that you make sure your customers are happy and the easiest way to do that is by making sure they get what they ordered.

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