These days logistics and fulfillment cannot exist without IT and modern technology tools. At DCL Logistics our IT infrastructure is what allows us to help our sellers scale their business. From integrations with ecommerce platforms, inventory management software, real-time package tracking updates, and everything in between—our IT team works hard every day to ensure sellers have access to all the information they need to grow their companies and get products to customers.
DCL’s VP of Technology, Craig Watson had great things to say about how his team supports sellers, and his future goals for DCL’s IT infrastructure. Craig says, “I think because customization, and providing custom solutions for sellers, is a core part of who DCL is, that’s an area of the business that we want to pay particular attention to in terms of tools and scalability.” It’s exactly our IT infrastructure that supports DCL’s ability to scale.
IT Enabled Turnkey Solutions for Sellers
When asked what companies should be looking for in their 3PL’s technology offerings, Craig was quick to point out two specific components: simplicity and connectivity.
Logistics is a pretty complicated space that gets intricate and complex very quickly, especially with any significant growth. There are carriers to rate-shop, packaging choices to make, and the decisions just keep adding up. Craig says, “The key to a good 3PL is when their clients have as little exposure to that complex world as possible. Systems should feel simple, they should feel like all of that is either handled for them or really easy to manage. I think the way we can do that at DCL is our eFactory system—it’s the centerpiece that provides a single pane of glass for our customers to look at and see what they might be interested in. They can get the specific data points they need to ensure their end-consumers are getting what they need.”
Other than simple, modern systems, what helps the most in the logistics industry is integration to other systems. The complexity of fulfillment is expanded by the many ways end-customers can place orders and interact with their favorite brands. A 3PL that has many integrations gives sellers more opportunities to connect with their target audience.
At DCL we give our sellers many pre-built integrations with ecommerce platforms. Craig says, “If a seller chooses to build and operate their own ecommerce platform from scratch, they can integrate with us through our APIs. For those who want an easier method, using Shopify or similar platform, we have pre-built integrations that streamline that onboarding process, which is often one of the hardest parts of starting with a 3PL.”
By having turnkey solutions, sellers have a much easier time syncing all of their configuration data, product and shipping information. Really complex processes are made easy with these IT integrations.
Seeing Into The Future—Improving Communication Transparency
“I think we have a lot of visibility through the eFactory platform—information regarding the fulfillment components of the business, which is definitely the larger part of the business,” Craig says.
While eFactory provides a lot of supply chain data and warehouse communications, there are areas of our internal processes and infrastructure that could be more open. “There’s also the commoditized part of the business,” Craig adds. “A lot of companies will ship a box for you, so it’s the specialization and the customization that we provide that makes us stand out. That’s where I think we can build better tools and processes that can very directly help to streamline execution of internal projects.”
At DCL we’re always striving to give sellers the access to information that helps make their jobs easier. Whether that’s information they need to pass along to end-customers, or data they can use to make more efficient business processes.
Craig explains how he’s working to improve transparency at DCL. “I want to take the solid foundation that we have, and build on it—really put communication front and center for our customers, so that they can see in eFactory ‘Oh, DCL is 62% complete with this project.’ I think that will not only help us to be more efficient in executing projects, but it’s a distinguishing feature that isn’t what most providers offer.”
Making the Infrastructure Work for the End Product
Craig’s primary role right now is to bolster DCL’s IT and technology infrastructure so that we can continue to grow, support clients, and provide the most efficient service possible. Craig says, “All the boring, backend, behind-the-scenes stuff that I’m working on, it’s improving our systems that actually creates an opportunity for us to get ahead of things—for us to think more about where we need to be headed down the road and not worried about what system is having an issue today.”
A few of the projects Craig and his team are implementing include: a monitoring system to ensure that our IT systems are always secure and running smoothly; an IT service management system to ensure our team is delivering quality service and providing that transparency that was mentioned previously; and developing capacity and elasticity in our systems so that adding new customers, or new fulfilment centers, will be seamless in terms of scaling up.
This backend work is ultimately done to improve our services and the efficiency of our customer’s fulfillment. Without these backend systems running smoothly, the business processes can’t function quite as smoothly and we can’t scale our solutions for customer growth.
Craig explains, “One of the things that happens as businesses like ours grow—and customers have more and more data at their fingertips—is that their interest begins to shift from wanting to see everything to wanting to see summaries and expectations. It’s the difference between having 10 orders and wanting to check each one to make sure it looks okay, and having 1M orders, and wanting to see only the problem areas or exceptions. I want our customer facing applications to be a little more aligned with the work patterns that our customers are engaged in, as they grow, and their usage of our systems change. We want to make sure we have tool sets that cover both scenarios, the smaller customer who’s very detailed, and the large customer who is looking at the aggregate.”