In the logistics industry the phrases warehouse management and inventory management are sometimes confused and often misused interchangeably. They can…
To effectively grow your business and stay in front of the competition, you must improve on a regular basis. However you simply can’t improve what you can’t see.
Gaining insight into your supply chain will enable you to reduce egregious costs, efficiently manage inventory and risk, and ultimately get your products to market more efficiently. Ultimately your processes and procedures across the supply chain will be strengthened with increased transparency.
For the below five reasons, business owners should consider partnering with a 3PL (third-party logistics provider) that can help improve their supply chain transparency.
Real-Time Updates and Alerts
As customers’ demands for faster and more accurate shipments increase, changes are often required in less time than ever before. Constant alerts are critical to providing the awareness that you need to make adjustments so that you can meet deadlines and have more informed process changes for future orders.
An experienced 3PL should provide the following to keep your supply chain issues at a minimum:
- A process to discover issues before they get out of hand
- Systematic methods for alerting the proper parties of issues
- Clear recommendations to resolve any issues
- Attention to continuous process improvement adjustments to prevent recurring issues
Reduced Lead Times Through Data Visibility
Gaining supply chain insights really just means getting data on the many different aspects of the supply chain. Your 3PL should be the conduit for these supply chain improvements you make, because your 3PL should give you access to the data you need to execute improvements on all your processes. But ultimately it’s up to you to decipher how to use that data.
The most significant benefit of having supply chain data is the ease of making informed decisions. When you can see trends, dips, and inefficiencies, you can more easily make corrections—to product delivery times, inventory flow, budget spikes, and more.
And any business owner knows that if you can improve timing and delivery, then you have a direct way of reducing lead times—a very important metric to stay on top of.
When you can see where you need to go, you won’t have to take as many risks to get there. With full visibility of your supply chain processes, you will not only avoid incorrect decisions that may be disruptive, you will also be able to manage inventory control, distribution, and transportation goals.
A 3PL can provide data as well as experienced guidance to help you manage important decisions, the type of decisions that can become risky if you don’t have processes in place to manage them. Some examples of these include: choosing a high quality transportation management software (TMS) to ensure your networks are optimized and transportation goals are met; looking at inventory trends and appropriately distributing your products to not incur high storage costs; creating a sustainable process for managing shipping errors; dealing with damages, delivery failures, or other similar errors; managing the return logistics supply chain.
A great 3PL will have a robust network of partners and industry connections. They will be able to provide low cost freight carrier deals, state-of-the-art tech resources and software, and well informed warehouse personnel, to give you the best support their industry can provide. By partnering with an experienced 3PL with deep industry relationships can give an added layer of visibility to your supply chain. With historical relationships comes more transparency. And if your 3PL has partnered with the same freight carriers for decades, chances are, they share data, employees, and so much more. This will not only give you a smooth supply chain, but the reassurance that your products are in good hands.
Nowhere in the supply chain is data more important than in inventory management. By having access to the right data, a 3PL can help reduce unneeded inventory storage. If you track your inventory trends overtime, you’ll be better able to understand what customers are going to order, when, and how they will want their products shipped. The more visibility that a 3PL can provide on these data points, the better your execution of inventory supply will be. There are many parts of inventory flow to consider—from manufacturer, to warehouse, to end-customer, and all the timing variables in between. And if all of these are all in sync you will be able to have the correct amount of inventory ready to ship at any given time, no more, and no less.
Managing your supply chain can be daunting—doing it well requires insights and data, that you should be getting from your 3PL provider. By gaining visibility into the many moving parts of your supply chain processes, you will be able to improve your lead times, lower costs, mitigate issues and make better informed decisions as you grow your business. Sellers should consider partnering with a 3PL that can help provide the necessary data, and guidance through these decisions, that will help improve the strength of their supply chain and ensure that they are able to stay in front of the competition and grow.
If you’re looking for help with outsourcing your order fulfillment, send us a note to connect about how we can help your company grow. You can read DCL’s list of services to learn more, or check out the many companies we work with to ensure great logistics support.