Today’s logistics businesses face many challenges. The demand for delivery services is constantly growing, customer expectations are higher than ever before, and the competition is becoming tougher and tougher every single year. Why is it so? The answer is simple: digitalization.
Adoption of the new technologies raises the industry standard. It allows logistics companies to deliver goods faster, coordinate supply chain better, manage transportation more effectively, and, ultimately, offer a more delightful customer experience. And the numbers speak for themselves. The global digital logistics market is expected to hit nearly 20 billion U.S. dollars by 2025. To compare, this figure is twice as big as it was in 2017 (11 billion U.S. dollars).
In this article, we will discuss the most useful software solutions for companies operating on the logistics market. Each of them will undoubtedly help you take your logistics business to the next level and, as a result, let you leave your rivals behind.
- Warehouse Management Software
- Transportation Management System
- CRM system
- e-Learning platform
- Task management software
Warehouse management system
In logistics, everything starts in a warehouse. This stage covers a variety of operations, from inventory to storage, and most of them could be fully or partially automated. Actually, many modern logistics companies already use some kind of warehouse management software (WMS) because it’s just impossible to control such a huge number of processes without any technological support. Hence, it’s the level of adopted innovations that usually makes the biggest difference and creates a competitive advantage for a particular enterprise. What is an inventory management system?
Depending on your business needs and requirements, you can either develop a standalone WMS or build an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software with the warehouse management system embedded into it. But no matter what option fits you best, you’ll probably want to include the following basic features in your custom solution:
- Inventory tracking: to help warehouse workers find all necessary products easily.
- Storage optimization: to ensure that inventory is allocated in the warehouse facilities in the most optimized way.
- Integration with third-party systems: to allow your WMS to “communicate” with other solutions, for example, a transportation management system.
- Pick-to-light functionality: to help warehouse workers locate the products quickly.
- Automated documentation: to generate and send necessary documents automatically (for example, bills-of-lading, invoices, etc.)
- Analytics and reporting: to help the company’s management control the performance and spot the bottlenecks once they occur.
On top of that, logistics companies can take advantage of augmented reality and IoT technologies. It can be anything from a load optimization application to a free space calculator.
Transportation management software
Transportation management software (TMS) is another must-have solution for any logistics business that provides delivery services. Simply put, it’s a platform that helps the company’s management set the workflow and optimize the processes related to its transportation fleets.
Like WMS, transportation management software may be either a separate system or a part of a multi-functional solution such as ERP or a supply chain management system. The main purpose of any TMS is to make a shipment process more efficient and, as a result, reduce expenses associated with it and serve the customers better. But to be more precise here is the typical functionality that most transportation management systems include:
- Planning and route optimization: to create the most efficient scheme in terms of costs, distances, and requirements, taking into account specific parameters.
- Tracking and visibility: to allow both the company’s management and customers monitor the execution of orders in real time.
- Transport intelligence and reporting: to send customers regular reports with freight data that allow them to spot any discrepancies.
- Automation of follow-up operations: to reduce the risk of human error, for instance when issuing invoices, and save time.
It’s worth mentioning that there are hundreds of TMS types, from the most advanced to the simplest ones. So such a solution may be also suitable for businesses that do not focus on logistics but have some basic transportation needs.
Any business that interacts with customers needs a customer relationship management (CRM) system. In general, such systems help companies improve customer satisfaction and allow their sales and marketing teams to work more productively. As we mentioned earlier, the logistics market is quite competitive. So for logistics businesses, winning customers’ hearts is especially important.
Typically, a CRM solution contains a set of tools and functions that are aimed to manage sales pipeline and optimize customer service. Speaking about a CRM for a logistics company, it may include, for example, the following components and features:
- Comprehensive customer database: to have all customer information in one place (for instance, contacts, interactions, service history, current orders, payments, etc.)
- Routes planning tools: to help a sales team process orders and build optimal routes quickly.
- Sales process management: to automate sales processes and make customer experience more personalized.
- Advanced analytics: to allow a marketing team to learn from customer behavior and tailor marketing campaigns accordingly.
Of course, the above list is not exhaustive. We recommend you to opt for a custom CRM solution rather than ready-made software to be able to add all the functions you need.
Logistics businesses usually need a lot of employees: warehouse workers, drivers, administrative staff, etc. That’s why the hiring process is always active. At the same time, most logistics processes are quite complex and every company has its specifics. So new people need to get at least basic training before they start performing tasks. Otherwise, you may end up with dissatisfied customers and even fines.
On top of that, according to the study by PWC, nearly 50 percent of top executives of transportation companies believe that the main reason for innovative attempt failures is the lack of training. So to make the adaptation easier for newcomers, you may consider developing a custom educational platform tailored specifically to the needs of your business. Such a platform may contain:
- Studying programs for each position
- User profiles
- Assessment tools
It will allow you to quickly train your staff and ensure that all of the employees are qualified enough to deliver high-quality services.
Task management software
Most logistics operations require communication and coordination among many people. To deliver goods on time, a lot of employees make their input. That’s why streamlining the whole process, from the moment such goods arrive at a warehouse to the moment when customers receive them, is just impossible without automation of task assignment.
Task management solutions are something logistics companies use to make collaboration among different employees easy and effective. For instance, such solutions allow users to create tasks, assign them to other people, monitor the performance, get notifications once a task is completed, etc. In addition, a task management system may be integrated with third-party solutions such as a corporate chat. This will make internal communication in your company even more convenient.
The bottom line
Nowadays, technologies have a significant impact on all industries and logistics is not an exception. Hence, to make your business grow and thrive, owning some storage facilities and transport is not enough. You also have to think about optimization of processes, setting efficient workflow, enhancing management of warehouse and transport operations, and so on. The logistics market is indeed active and saturated with participants. But different software solutions tailored specifically to the needs of your business will for sure help your company improve customer experience and stand out from the crowd.