Logistics Software Solutions Can Benefit Your Company in Three Basic Ways

When companies present their transportation logistics solutions, they have tendency to either engage in corporate speak and not really say much about their solutions or speak with such expertise that they fail to give you a basic understanding of how logistics solutions can benefit your company in a daily way. For small to midsized companies, transportation logistics typically arrives in one of two forms: by a company outsourcing its logistics to a third party logistics (3PL) provider or by implementing logistics software solutions that are available as an online software application.

Given that logistics software offers an easy to use interface can be customized to a company’s particular shipping needs and costs far less than outsourcing to 3PL providers, it’s usually the logistics option of preference for small to midsized companies that don’t have the luxury of a shipping fleet or a large shipping budget. If you’ve heard of logistics software but are looking for a basic understanding of how it can aid your shipping process, we offer the following overview of how logistics-software solutions help companies in terms of freight optimization, shipping route optimization and shipping method integration.

Freight Optimization

For small to midsized companies that regularly ship less than a full freight load of products, freight optimization typically subsists on finding the best less than truckload (LTL) shipping options. LTL shipping is when a shipping carrier lets companies ship partial loads that combine to compose a full truckload. The cost value of LTL shipping comes from shippers splitting the cost of a full freight load. Although less than truck load shipping offers low shipping rates, due to numerous stops for delivery and pick up, it often takes goods longer to reach their destination than in other shipping arrangements. Nevertheless, logistics-software solutions can be used to find less than truckload carrier routes that offer the best delivery time. Because warehouse stops are a common feature of freight shipping, logistics software also offers warehouse optimization capabilities.

Shipping Route Optimization

If you use a 3PL provider, you probably won’t have any idea what shipping routes your carriers are using. But shipping routes are a major factor in determining overall shipping cost. Logistics-software can analyze shipping routes according to multiple criteria, including: length of route, traffic patterns, road quality and construction patterns. One example of how route optimization can decrease shipping cost and improve delivery time is by analyzing routes in terms of travel time. For example, a route that is shortest in distance may be longer than another route in terms of travel time due to traffic patterns.

Shipping Method Integration

Shipping method integration is an unofficial term that refers to the ability of logistics software to suggest integrated shipping methods for the sake of reducing shipping cost and improving delivery time. For example, even though air shipping is traditionally more expensive than ground shipping, logistics software might suggest shipping certain shipments by air due to expensive, unavoidable warehouse fees that would result from ground shipping. In addition, logistics software may make such suggestions as shipping products halfway to their destination by boat and the other half by freight truck.

Freight Logistics Software Vs Third Party Logistics: Which Is Better?

Today, two types of freight solutions appeal to shippers that rely on carriers: logistics software (a.k.a. TMS software) and third party logistics (3PL). Logistics software allows shippers to become their own logistics provider by using a software program, while 3PL providers negotiate arrangements between shippers and carriers. Frequently compared and contrasted, logistics software and 3PL each offer unique benefits. However, the former has the following important advantages:

Less Expensive

Standard 3PL providers and service developers, which offer particular services and not comprehensive solutions, are usually quite affordable. When you hire a provider that offers innovative management of the shipping process – namely, a customer developer – the cost can compare to hiring an in-house logistics department. Logistics software provides logistics through a software as a service (SaaS) platform. It can also be implemented as an in house solution. Instead of relying on a costly customer developer, you can save money and realize more control by using a software solution.

More Control

A top complaint of 3PL customers is they feel distanced from their shipping process and the entity that manages it. Different 3PL providers have different approaches, but few of them integrate the shipper in the shipping process in a formal capacity. For some shippers, having the shipping process fully managed by another entity is appealing. Due to its expense and vendor issues it involves, most shippers wish to be involved in the process. Freight logistics software does more than “involve” shippers in their own shipping process; it puts them in control of it.

Better Options

3PL providers make freight arrangements by listing an available load in an electronic posting system, where it can be matched with an available carrier, or by negotiating with carriers that don’t use a posting system. Because the former method is usually the easiest, many 3PL providers use it to arrange the largest percentage of shipments – a scenario that limits shippers to carriers who use a posting system. Logistics software removes this barrier and exposes you to more carrier options. In some instances, a shipper misses the best carrier option because the carrier who could provide it will not work with the shipper’s 3PL.

Greater Security

No shipping process is as secure as one that the shipper handles on its own. When outsourcing to a 3PL, shippers naturally lose the capacity to scrutinize the carriers with which their loads are placed. Although 3PL providers select carriers with the customer in mind, they also select them with themselves in mind – a dichotomy that can jeopardize the interests of shippers. Freight logistics software alleviates security concerns by putting you in control of the shipping process.

Conclusion

Logistics software is a viable replacement for 3PL, particularly for shippers who wish to control their own shipping process. Next to payroll, shipping is the second largest operating expense for most shippers. This means that rejuvenating a stale shipping process with better carrier options can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line – an impact that logistics software allows you to achieve.

Shipping Logistics Software: Frequently Asked Questions

In lieu of staffing a logistics department, many shippers turn to Third Party Logistics (3PL) providers to secure the best carrier arrangements. However, depending on the type of shipping management you need, 3PL can be as costly as staffing in-house experts. It can also make you feel distanced from the distribution process.

Instead of using 3PL, many businesses now use shipping logistics software – a class of applications that perform the logistical analysis traditionally performed by experts. If you are considering the software as an alternative to 3PL, but you have questions about its benefits and applications, the answers below can be helpful:

How much knowledge is required to operate the applications?

Ideally, the user should have a proficient understanding of transportation logistics, but a consummate understanding of logistical analysis is unnecessary. After performing logistical analysis based on the data you supply, the applications provide you with a list of recommended options via a user-friendly interface.

How much can the applications reduce the cost of freight transportation?

Research shows that top-notch shipping logistics software can reduce the cost of freight transportation by ten percent in the first year. Depending on your transportation process, the percentage could be even higher.

Can the applications support a transportation management system?

TMS software can support a Transportation Management System (TMS) by helping shippers perform the crucial processes of freight transportation management: planning and deciding on transportation arrangements, monitoring the transportation process, and measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Are applications available that support LTL transportation?

Yes. The applications can be designed to support any freight transportation need, including LTL transportation. If you routinely ship partial loads, LTL software can help you identify more affordable transportation arrangements than Truck Load (TL) or parcel shipping.

Are the applications available on a web-based model?

Yes, the applications are available on a web-based model. They are also available on an in-house model. Most shippers choose the latter due to its cost effectiveness and the ability to access the application remotely.

How much do the applications cost?

The cost of the applications depends on several factors, particularly whether it is implemented on an in-house, or a SaaS (Software as a Service) model, along with the logistical options you need. The best way to receive an accurate cost assessment is to have a provider of logistics software review your freight transportation process and administrative needs.

What if the transportation process changes after implementing an application?

The application you implement is not set in stone. If you experience new shipping needs, you can add new logistical options to the existing system. In terms of adding new options, implementing a web-based application typically offers the most flexibility.

Conclusion

Shipping logistics software is a cost effective alternative to staffing experts or contracting with a 3PL provider. Unlike 3PL, it puts you in direct control of freight transportation, helping you identify the best transportation arrangements in terms of freight safety, delivery time, and transportation cost. To learn more about the benefits of TMS software and other types of logistics software, contact a provider of web-based logistical solutions today.

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