Logistics is the process of moving something (or someone) from one location to another. In eCommerce, logistics refers to the movement of products through your supply chain. Third-party logistics is another term for professional eCommerce fulfillment services. Logistics systems can help you manage your logistics and supply chain operations more smoothly.
What are logistics systems?
Logistics systems are software applications that automate complex processes that would be difficult to track and manage manually. To handle every element of your supply chain, you will probably use multiple logistics systems. However, many of the apps integrate with one another, so you can share data and view analytics in a dashboard.
Why logistics systems are vital to your supply chain
Agile management is one of the things that has helped the eCommerce industry develop and thrive. Many eCommerce businesses, particularly small to medium-sized companies, run very lean. But conserving resources and keeping overhead low doesn’t mean that tracking orders and shipments on a spreadsheet is a good idea.
Logistics are like a 3D puzzle. Every segment of your supply chain is connected to and affected by every other element, either directly or indirectly. Calculating the effects of a change in manufacturing or transport on order fulfillment is too complex to figure out by hand.
Logistics management systems are more crucial than ever for businesses of all sizes. Dealing with unreliable supply chains means that you may need to pivot quickly to deal with interruptions in your logistics. Software that automates your logistics can provide powerful analytics to help you make the right decision in a fast-moving situation.
So, even if your business is still small and growing, you should use logistics systems to help you manage your operations. Apps can save you a lot of frustration and help you stay ahead of the competition as you grow and scale your business.
Elements of a logistics management system for eCommerce companies
Taking on multiple logistics management systems may seem overwhelming in terms of time and money. Fortunately, many logistics management systems offer free trials, so you can test the software before purchasing. And many eCommerce apps provide low-cost or even free subscriptions for small businesses.
Here are some of the types of logistics systems to consider for your company.
ECommerce order management systems run your order processing operations. OMS software can automate the steps that need to happen when a customer places an order online. That includes routing orders to the fulfillment warehouse, creating shipping labels, and tracking the order’s progress through fulfillment and shipping.
OMS apps make omnichannel fulfillment and selling more straightforward because you can manage all your sales channels in one place. Your order management systems will integrate with your eCommerce platform and your 3PL services provider.
Inventory planning is much more than just tracking your stock and setting safety stock and reorder levels. Analyzing the movement of products will help you invest in your inventory wisely. Plus, with just in time inventory processes suffering because of supply chain disruptions, eCommerce businesses need to ensure their inventory management is up to the challenge.
A warehouse management system is a piece of software that manages everything that happens in a fulfillment warehouse. If you use a 3PL, your fulfillment provider will take care of this logistics system. For eCommerce businesses that manage their own warehouses, your WMS will track the movement of merchandise into and out of the warehouse.
A WMS can help you manage your fulfillment operations more efficiently, saving you money on pick and pack operations. One of the benefits of using professional fulfillment to pack and ship your orders is that fulfillment centers use top-of-the-line warehouse management software. When you choose a 3PL, you’re putting your fulfillment into the hands of the experts.
Transportation management software tackles the complexities of routing deliveries. The software figures out the best route to cover all the stops in the least time, using the fewest resources. Since most eCommerce companies use FedEx, UPS, or USPS to deliver orders, it’s unlikely that you need transportation management software. The major carriers employ logistics experts and sophisticated software for transportation management.
Returns management software will help you process returns faster and more efficiently. Your customers will like it because you’ll be able to set up an online returns system that makes it easy to initiate a return. And faster processing means they will get their refunds more quickly.
Improving your returns processing helps you reduce the cost of returns and process returned items faster. Plus, a returns management system will give you the information you need to understand the cost of returns so that you can incorporate that into your overhead.
Get help managing your logistics
Logistics systems take some of the complexity out of managing your supply chain. Automation puts data at your fingertips and allows you to do more with less. However, managing logistics can still be overwhelming for eCommerce businesses.
Using a third-party logistics company lifts much of this burden off your shoulders. Working with a 3PL is like adding a whole new department to your operations without hiring a single employee. You only pay for the storage space and fulfillment services you need, and that makes fulfillment more affordable.
At Red Stag Fulfillment, we know that software and management systems are the heart of excellent order fulfillment. In some ways, we are as much an IT company as a fulfillment company because our logistics systems are central to our quality 3PL services.
If you want guidance from the logistics experts to manage your logistics systems, Red Stag Fulfillment can help.
More about logistics:
- What Are Logistics Services?
- Everything You Need to Know About Order Logistics
- The Value of Superior Third-Party Logistics