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.

TL Logistics Software – What Are Its Advantages?

If your company ships enough goods to qualify for full truckload (TL) shipping, you may think that your shipping situation can’t be improved. After all, TL shipping offers the advantage of shipping goods directly to their destination without the hassle and expense of warehouse stops. Yet, because the cost of shipping also includes the cost of the logistics function, companies should also question whether their logistics source is working for or against their shipping process in terms of cost.

Traditionally, companies either hire an in house logistic expert or outsource their logistics needs to a third party logistics (3PL) provider, either of which can be too expensive for smaller companies, especially when they need a comprehensive approach to the TL (truckload) shipping process. Today, however, companies have the option of implementing affordable TL logistics software instead of hiring an expert or outsourcing to a 3PL provider.

TL logistics software is geared toward companies that need TL shipping arrangements (i.e. where a carrier transports full semi trailers of goods on a regular basis). After implementing the software, a company selects its TL shipping arrangements from among ranked TL solutions that are presented on a user-friendly interface. When a company implements logistics software, it essentially becomes its own logistics provider, which brings three basic advantages: a wider range of shipping options; the possibility of integrated shipping solutions; and the removal of the middleman (3PL) from the logistics function. After implementing logistics software, studies show that companies lower their shipping cost by 10 percent within the first year alone.

To understand how logistics software achieves its impact, it helps to understand how companies overpay for logistics when they an in house expert or contract with a 3PL provider. When a company hires an experienced logistics expert, it can expect to pay between $75,000 and $90,000 in annual salary. Also, the shipping arrangements devised by the expert, although well researched, rarely result from the consideration of all possible shipping arrangements-a task that logistics software can perform in a matter of minutes.

Similar to hiring an expert, hiring a 3PL provider brings unnecessary cost from the beginning. And unless the provider is customer developer, which manages a company’s shipping process while developing new shipping solutions-the prospect of TL shipping being integrated with other shipping solutions (e.g. air and rail) is remote at best. Although 3PL has long been the logistics option for companies that don’t have logistics departments, that TL logistics software performs the work of a 3PL, except with better results, makes it the superior choice.

Freight Logistics Software: Frequently Asked Questions

Shippers have three options for managing the shipping process: maintaining an in-house logistics department, outsourcing to a Third Party Logistics (3PL) provider, or implementing freight logistics software. When the objective is to choose the most economical option, most shippers choose the third option for the following reasons:

  • It gives them more control over the shipping process
  • It does not require a staff of transportation management experts
  • It allows them to choose from a broad range of carriers
  • It allows them to perform a freight audit without the help of a third party
  • It allows them to avoid paying high service fees to a third party

If you are considering making logistics software a part of your shipping process, but you need more information, the answers below can help.

How does the product compare to 3PL?

The product compares favorably to Third Party Logistics (3PL). Unlike 3PL, it does not place the logistics function in the hands of a third party. Instead, it allows the shipper to become its own logistics provider by providing resources for executing and managing the shipping process. Consequently, using the product is typically more affordable than outsourcing to a 3PL provider.

Does the product come in different configurations?

The product can be configured to meet the needs of the shipper. For example, while one shipper may need a configuration for Less Than Load (LTL) shipping, another shipper may need a configuration for transportation management. All configurations can facilitate administrative tasks such as a freight audit.

Is the product available on a SaaS model?

Freight logistics software is available on a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. It is also available on an in-house model. Because it eliminates the need to purchase software and perform system maintenance, the SaaS model is typically more affordable than the in-house model.

How long does it take to implement the product?

When the product is configured to accommodate a unique shipping process, it is typically implemented thirty to forty-five days after the initial service request. In most cases, the system is up and running within forty-five days.

How much money can a company save by using the product?

The amount of money a company saves depends on two things: what the product replaces, and how much it lowers shipping cost. Using the product to replace a department of freight auditors can yield a six-figure payroll saving. A similar saving can result from using the product to replace the services of a high-level 3PL provider (e.g. customer developer or customer adapter). In terms of shipping cost, most companies report a ten percent reduction in shipping cost after using the product for one year.

Conclusion

Freight logistics software is an economical solution for shippers who need to save money on shipping logistics and reduce the cost of shipping. In addition to accommodating the needs of unique shipping processes, it also allows shippers to perform ubiquitous administrative tasks such as a freight audit. To learn more about benefits of the product, contact a provider of logistics software today.

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