Advancements in fulfillment technology have allowed supply chain and logistics companies to improve productivity, increase customer satisfaction and give companies a competitive advantage. Let’s take a look at how the partnership between technology and fulfillment, and specifically fulfillment software, can help drive your brand’s growth.
Why invest in fulfillment technology
Many businesses choose to invest in new technologies, especially automation technology, to keep up with demand and overcome disruptions. This has led to immense advancements in automation technology that have streamlined, and improved fulfillment centers capabilities.
The need for technology in a fulfillment strategy is no longer optional; it is imperative. Complete visibility throughout the fulfillment process and fast picking and packing processes allow businesses to track all touchpoints and identify any potential disruptions or inefficiencies. Overall, supply chains need to leverage technology that connects purchasing and manufacturing to sales and product demand, driving revenue and growth.
However, purchasing and implementing new technologies is an expensive and time consuming process. Many businesses do not have the resources to manage their own fulfillment operations while also keeping up with the ever-evolving tech landscape. Even experienced 3PL companies can struggle to make continuous investments in equipment and software and the training required to keep up with the constantly evolving trends.
“The application of [automation technology] in the supply chain will increasingly help companies enhance synergies and improve productivity. Even at Amazon.com’s fulfillment centers where robots have been introduced, the technology is meant to assist associates, drive faster shipping times, and maximize inventory. While the up-front cost of some types of these technologies might deter early adoption, the potential cost savings can benefit the bottom line. This can also be treated as an incremental journey, starting with automating single processes like packing machines and conveyor belts, and gradually moving up to more automated picking processes with robotics systems.” Johannes Panzer, Total Retail
Instead of struggling to start from scratch, most ecommerce businesses rely on trusted 3PL partners to handle their distribution. Utilizing their existing technology capabilities and expertise saves time and money. And as more logistics providers adopt new tech solutions, starting with a solid fulfillment software and user-friendly customer portal are a great place to start.
Fulfillment software is one example of technology that has quickly become a requirement for successful 3rd Part Fulfillment operations. This software allows your business to process orders from customers and prepare them for shipment from any location. Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) that allow for various shopping cart integrations are great options for logistics providers who want to offer flexible technology options for different customers.
User friendly fulfillment software also allow for greater visibility by providing inventory and order data in real-time. This level of transparency throughout the fulfillment process allows businesses to stay in the know on order tracking, inventory levels, and even last-mile delivery. This information is helpful in providing good customer service, guiding strategy, and staying ahead of potential disruptions.
There are so many options when it comes to fulfillment software. Cutting-edge technology streamlines processes, reduces human error, and highlights improvement areas throughout your supply chain operations. With updated technology tools, 3PLs can provide integrated solutions from multiple sources to increase transparency and efficiency. These technologies will create more accurate purchasing orders and forecasting and help drive business decisions.
How fulfillment software benefits your supply chain operations
- Real-time data management: Data is updated in real-time throughout every computing system connected to the network. This process provides greater clarity on actual inventory levels and customer sales order history.
- Centralized record-keeping: All systems become centralized while still allowing for split inventory and employee locations. Inventory management technology allows for greater information-sharing between departments that can boost collaboration and minimize data errors.
- Reporting and analysis: These features help gather the right data at the appropriate time, analyze the info based on specific parameters, and generate meaningful reports to benefit the company.
- Scalability: The bullet points above allow companies to complete the same processes and tasks even as their order volumes grow. Additionally, many software companies allow you to select the features that will work for your current needs and add more options as the business needs expand.
The type of inventory technology management features recommended for your business will depend on your specific goals and how much you are willing to invest. Some vendors offer a free trial of their basic service, others provide a white-glove onboarding experience and some allow for simple integrations into existing management systems. In addition, some technology may be tailored for a specific industry or business model, such as e-commerce or food sales.
Technology and fulfillment working together
There is no “easy button” for optimizing order fulfillment. Yes, implementing cutting edge technologies and best practices for productivity will increase throughput, reduce order fulfillment time, and raise customer satisfaction. Maximizing efficiencies across all warehouse functions is key to a successful supply chain. But this also requires careful planning, constant process improvement and ongoing training on new technology.
Let a trusted third-party logistics provider do the “heavy lifting” when it comes to finding the best technologies and ways to configure them to meet your needs. Here at WSI, we offer specialized fulfillment services to B2C and B2B industries. We have a large in-house IT department and a team of logistics experts that can transform your existing supply chain into a robust system. We are committed to Lean principles, creating an organization-wide focus on efficiency and continuous improvement. This commitment is backed by people, processes, and advanced technology.
Need guidance on what picking order technologies are best for your business? We can help!