Trends and Technology

Envisioning the Third-Party Logistics Firm of the Future

February 13, 2020
Carrie Bratcher

Smart Warehousing is one example of a logistics provider that goes far beyond warehousing and distribution.

Today’s customer wants your products delivered seamlessly, quickly and cheaply. The challenge for you — and for thousands of companies across America — comes in figuring out how to maintain profit margins while meeting customer expectations.

Meet third-party logistics, otherwise known as 3PL, which manages transportation and logistics for companies on an outsourced basis. Companies in the 3PL industry offer services that include packaging, warehousing, transportation services, fulfillment and distribution.

Progressive 3PL companies partner with a variety of corporations to provide supply chain and distribution on an as-needed basis so that those companies can focus on their core competencies and are unburdened by managing logistics. The addition of sophisticated GPS tracking, artificial intelligence, machine learning and innovations associated with the Internet of Things has revolutionized 3PL to the point that companies on the cutting edge can offer customized solutions that dovetail with their customers’ needs.

As with many industries, technology and data analytics are transforming 3PL providers into an essential partner for businesses that must get their products to their markets in an effective and efficient manner. Partnering with the right 3PL company enables you to control transportation and logistics costs while ensuring that your products get to your customers on time and on budget.

One of the emerging technological leaders in 3PL is Smart Warehousing, based in Edgerton, Kansas.

“The biggest differentiator today for 3PL is the ability to customize the solution,” said Carl Wasinger, founder and CEO. “You have to control the physical space and the digital space. And we do that. We manage the warehousing space and we manage the technology space.”

A new partnership between Smart Warehousing and C2FO provides one stop for businesses to manage their logistics and generate more cash flow. Thousands of dollars in discounts are available to businesses that partner with both companies, including 25% off monthly technology fees and 10% off storage costs from Smart Warehousing for C2FO customers.

Monitoring and managing shipments

Companies of all shapes and sizes grapple with meeting customers’ expectations for rapid and inexpensive delivery. By partnering with a 3PL like Smart Warehousing, you can monitor and manage your inventory and shipments from when a customer orders a product until that product is delivered.

Through proprietary software, Smart Warehousing integrates with their customers’ shipping and enterprise resource management (ERP) applications. By simplifying and streamlining the supply chain process, Smart Warehousing facilitates the process of getting products and shipments from point A to point B with full transparency for customers.

Smart Warehousing’s most recent technological upgrade resulted in mobile-friendly software that utilizes shapes and colors to identify inventory, different freight modes and scheduled shipments. Translating what used to involve a complex and laborious spreadsheet into a user-friendly system offers shipping customers the ability to gain valuable insights in a format that’s much easier to consume.

Companies that rely on Smart Warehousing gain seamless, cloud-based access to their inventories and supply chains, providing full visibility as to what products are in the warehouses, what’s between the warehouse and the customer, and what’s been delivered. Today, these customers consist of more than 900 customers who must get millions of shipments to customers across the country.

By marrying proprietary software and business intelligence tools into a seamless interface, Smart Warehousing “connects the virtual plumbing” of their client companies’ transportation and inventory,

“If you can control the virtual and physical, and customize a solution for your clients, you win,” Wasinger said.

Technological innovation has become a differentiator for Smart Warehousing throughout its nearly 20-year history. Continued investment in the technology platform that powers Smart Warehousing’s 3PL operation means that it’s always being refined to meet the needs of today’s customers.

“It’s never, ‘You finished it, you’re done,’” Wasinger said. “Software isn’t like that. We’re constantly tweaking to meet the needs of the day.”

Moving packages and pallets of all sizes

Through its 32 warehouses located in 12 strategic markets across the country, Smart Warehousing’s network facilitates next-day delivery in virtually all U.S markets. Somewhat unusually, the company handles both individual packages for consumers and full truckloads designed for retailer distribution centers.

“Many warehousing companies serve either parcel or pallet, both not both,” said Smart Warehousing COO Ed Lee. “There are only a couple of other companies that operate in multi-channel fulfillment on the scale that we do.”

Technological innovations have allowed Smart Warehousing to increase the efficiencies within its warehouses, so that the products that are in the greatest demand are strategically placed close to the warehouse docks, ensuring quick, seamless shipments. “Around here, if you touch a product more than twice, you’re losing money,” Lee said.

A final word

The emergence of technologically focused 3PL companies such as Smart Warehousing means that companies in need of 3PL services can outsource as much or as little of their logistics and transportation needs as they want. The ability to scale up and down based on business demand is a strong selling point, as is the ability to benefit from economies of scale.

Growth in e-commerce means that the need for 3PL services is likely to continue to increase. Companies that struggle to manage their own logistics and shipping operations can outsource them to 3PL providers such as Smart Warehousing while retaining full visibility and control over the process.

To learn more about C2FO’s partnership with Smart Warehousing, click here or contact Smart Warehousing at (800) 591-2097.

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