Track your parcel: Why 3PL visibility is essential for smooth-running international logistics
The demand for a solid third-party logistics (3PL) provider has never been greater. Last year, the global market for these companies’ services reached $1.47 trillion USD, and while this is nearly double what it was in 2016, it marks a 14.5 percent increase on 2021. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this stratospheric growth cannot be ignored. The ‘sink or swim’ scenario forced businesses to move towards e-commerce and put pressure on their logistics providers. A new necessity for swift order processing, delivery, and returns management also demanded a raised level of efficiency across all industries.
Recognizing the need for specialized expertise and infrastructure to navigate the complexities of e-commerce, an increasing number of companies have transitioned from second-party logistics (2PL) and a self-managed supply chain, to leveraging the services of 3PL providers. The shift lets companies tap into the vast experience and resources of established logistics partners who possess the necessary technological capabilities and network reach to handle the intricacies of e-commerce operations, particularly when international.
By outsourcing their logistics functions, businesses can focus on their core goals while benefiting from the expertise of these specialized partners. The 3PL team will streamline processes, optimize inventory management, and enhance overall supply chain efficiency without any time or energy from company executives commissioning their services.
Not only did this transition to 3PL alleviate the burden on companies to invest in and manage their own logistics infrastructure, but it also allowed them to adapt to the dynamic e-commerce landscape, responding swiftly to changing market demands and scaling operations as required.
Saying that, not all 3PL providers are created equal. Last September, the CartonCloud Logistics Index whitepaper found that the most common ways companies provide additional support on top of their standard operations are increased visibility, order tracking, and customer integrations. Examples of the latter are automating data entry and sending frequent order updates. However, 35 percent of respondents also revealed that, in reality, their company lacks the resources to capture and track the data required for these features.
While the report added that many of the participating organizations plan to investigate fleet and warehouse technology updates in the future, it is crucial for the customer to consider the capabilities they provide today. Given that there are currently over 570,000 long-distance freight trucking businesses in the US to choose from, it is essential to assess them from a technological view to ensure that specific logistics needs are met efficiently.
Businesses stand to benefit greatly from pairing with a 3PL provider that utilizes advanced digital systems. An online portal brings convenience and transparency to managing the logistics process for end-users who aren’t massively digitally fluent. With simple visibility into shipment status and updates, customers can proactively manage their inventory and address any potential issues. Choosing to outsource to a 3PL over managing your own transport network has significant advantages that come from the deep insights technology brings.
One 3PL company that offers tech-driven benefits and more is KCH Transportation. Established in 2004, the company provides freight services for loads of any shape or size, from liquid bulk to oversized equipment, across the US and beyond. Its portal presents data from an industry-standard transportation management system (TMS) that looks at each aspect of the shipping process. Real-time data on the status of a delivery replaces the unreliable trackers offered by transport service providers that update only periodically, for example. This also makes handover at shift change easy, as the new handler will have all the shipment information they require at hand.
KCH Transportation leverages advanced routing and weather monitoring systems by using the Trucker Tools app. This ensures trucks are not delayed by road closures or adverse weather conditions (or if they are, you know about it in real-time), allowing them to maintain reliable delivery schedules. Avoiding these seemingly small obstacles is all the more critical today, given the widescale disruption caused by the Russia-Ukraine war, COVID-related bottlenecks, and labor shortages. The Trucker Tools app also indicates the cheapest fuel along a driver’s route, allowing them to reduce their overall transportation cost. KCH Transportation passes on these savings to the customer.
This isn’t the only way the 3PL company saves its customers money. It uses an integrated intelligence system that matches shipments to the most cost-effective and reliable carriers. KCH Transportation also makes use of sophisticated transportation software for greater control over LTL shipments (where the truck carries the deliveries of multiple companies). The feature combines the visibility and service one would expect from a full truckload with the lower price of an LTL. These tools, and more, allow for seamless pickup, shipping, and delivery of customers’ goods all over the world.
Find out how KCH Transportation can upgrade your logistics by getting in touch with one of its advisors.
2 October 2023