02 Jun 5 3PL Technology Solutions That Help You Scale Your Business
For small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), rapid growth can bring supply chain challenges. The struggle and frustration around meeting increased inventory needs, customer demand and quality standards can overshadow the excitement and accomplishment of scaling. SMEs also sometimes outgrow their technology infrastructure—or they may lack a cohesive technology stack to begin with.
The ideal way to avoid this scenario is to work with a 3PL like Customized Distribution Services (CDS) before your business hits the growth button. 3PLs benefit SMEs by making logistics cost-effective, flexible, data-driven, and scalable. That said, we all know business doesn’t always go as planned, even with good things like growth. If your business is scaling unexpectedly or growing faster than anticipated, it’s not too late to bring in a 3PL.
Whatever the case may be, look to your 3PL to provide perhaps the most important component of any business growth strategy—technology. 3PLs invest heavily in technology so their clients don’t have to. With CDS, you can tap into game-changing 3PL technology solutions, including:
More business means more inventory to keep track of and less room for error as orders increase. One of the first signs that you’re outgrowing in-house logistics is an overflow of product. Your warehouse may begin to look and feel disorganized, and you’ll likely see an uptick of things slipping through the cracks. With a 3PL like CDS, you can get your inventory systems not just under control, but operating to a T, using a warehouse management system (WMS).
CDS provides product storage and configuration, order management, hardware automation, labor management, e-commerce solutions, and more, all stitched together by technology that you can benefit from without having to manage in-house.
Product master file information is often a struggle for SMEs, and a challenge that CDS helps solve. Getting a better handle on product dimensions, weight, and other specifications is key to putting the right systems in place from the ground up. We will coach you through each spec that we need for proper warehousing.
Many SMEs have multiple inventory and warehouse management systems that each work properly on their own. The problem is usually that these systems don’t quite connect with one another, leading to blind spots that later become exposed during business growth. EDI, or electronic data interchange, can help automate the flow of information between your internal team and your 3PL so you can accurately exchange info related to orders, invoices, transportation details, and other documents. This minimizes manual data entry, making scaling more manageable and sustainable.
CDS can program EDI to the highest or simplest standards, whether you want to invest in developing against ANSI X12 or prefer to stick with Excel spreadsheets and CSV files. We provide the server and make it as easy as possible both for our team and your team to get real-time information daily. In addition to EDI, CDS also provides support for e-commerce platforms and links to leading parcel carriers. Learn more about how we can set up your systems to speak to each other with the right integrations.
When you’re scaling your business, data becomes increasingly essential to see what’s working and what can use improvement. Data enables you to make confident decisions and your 3PL to deliver on their promises. Of course, data isn’t always that easy to aggregate and navigate. Making data more accessible is a large part of a 3PL’s job, as is ensuring the accuracy of the information. CDS provides standard and customized reports delivered when you want them and how you want them. Our web portal also provides inbound, order and inventory information down to the batch level, all in one place.
Having EDI in place with advanced shipping notice (ASN) allows for automated feeds that blend seamlessly with your business, while the reports, along with monthly scorecards, keep us tracking toward the specific, measurable key performance indicators (KPIs) that determine success, such as order accuracy, truck load time, fill rates, carryover, and other metrics. Audits and detailed inventory checks help keep the data accurate.
3PLs are at the forefront of warehouse automation. For example, CDS has autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that maneuver through our warehouses and assist our employees. The robots have fundamentally changed how we operate and allowed us to scale our productivity so we can in turn scale your inventory and order delivery. AMRs are equipped with sensors enabling them to successfully navigate complex warehouse environments while being able to detect and avoid objects that could pose a hazard. This ensures that goods are transported quickly and safely from one location to another, resulting in improved efficiency throughout the supply chain.
Taking inventory of a large, busy warehouse is a tedious, time-consuming, and traditionally manual task that must be done to ensure accuracy. However, technology is transforming this aspect of the warehouse as well. Drones can quickly and accurately survey large areas for what we call cycle counting. Our drones at CDS are programmed to scan, record and report inventory as they fly through the aisles. It’s important to recognize that industrial robotics and drones aren’t meant to fully replace labor. They serve to help staff work more efficiently.
Get the Tech to Scale
Ready to take your business to the next level? CDS can consult with you to determine which 3PL technology solutions will benefit your business the most and implement a logistics program designed to drive growth. Contact us to speak with our experts.