In 2020, as ecommerce activity increased and consumers’ reliance on digital channels grew, companies across the retail sector responded, speeding up the digital transformation of their internal operations, customer interactions and supply-chain processes by three to four years.
This swift adoption made waves in third-party logistics (3PLs) with increased digitization launching the industry into its next era — optimization.
Read on to learn more about five technological advancements shaping the new age for 3PLs:
1. Data is the driver of all industry progress
Technically data isn’t technology. But hear me out. The inventory, warehouse and delivery data that 3PL providers capture is generated from technology and used to optimize the supply chain—meaning data and optimization go hand in hand. Data is central to every advancement we implement to launch more effective and efficient processes that save us, our merchants and their customers time and money.
Every day we ask the questions: How can we optimize supply-chain delivery? Can we pick, pack, ship and deliver better? Can we move products around to shave time off each pick and increase cost-savings for our merchants? How can we get products out of the warehouse more efficiently? It all comes down to data.Leveraging internal and third-party data, the GoBolt team (and our merchants) can track inventory in real time. Data also enables us to ensure products are stored in the right warehouse, in a precise location, effectively reducing worker foot steps and getting orders out the door in less time.
2. Tech platforms streamline operations and communications
Hold on, we’re not done with data just yet. Data has enabled GoBolt to optimize every step of our operations (from warehousing through last mile and returns) and powers proprietary platforms that give both merchants and their shoppers increased visibility.
With the following often-overlapping, and fully integrated systems, we at GoBolt streamlined our operations, improved communications and effectively optimized our supply-chain performance against the challenges of rising demand, shipping rates and consumer expectations:
- Order Management Systems (OMS): This is a centralized system that integrates directly with a merchant’s ecommerce storefront to manage each step of the shipment’s lifecycle (from the moment it’s confirmed through picking, packing, delivery and returns).
- Warehouse Management Systems (WMS): With a WMS streamlining the many complexities of warehousing, optimizing inventory placement and managing fulfillment from start to finish, we at GoBolt run smarter, more efficient warehouses.
- Transportation Management Systems (TMS): Through GoBolt’s TMS, we oversee every aspect of our logistics and transportation operations. We are able to plan out and forecast product movement, optimize our delivery routes, manage our fleet of delivery vehicles, track shipments and analyze our overall performance.
3. Robotics automate packaging and eliminate manual tasks
3PLs are increasingly tapping into robotics technology to automate manual processes and enhance workforce productivity. With the recent rise of micro-fulfillment centers and robots as a service (RaaS) companies, even small- and mid-sized 3PL providers, are now utilizing autonomous robotics in the warehouse to automate packaging and eliminate manual tasks like picking and sorting.
Today, 3PLs are enjoying the flexibility and scalability of robotics and automatization without the exorbitant high cost of entry and maintenance associated with owning their own fleet of robots. With this newfound access to robotics, smaller 3PLs are securing the benefits long limited to large, legacy players, including enhanced worker safety, quicker delivery speeds and increased customer satisfaction.
4. Artificial intelligence and machine learning modernize 3PL solutions
Just when you thought we’d moved beyond data, artificial intelligence and machine learning enter the fold. The collection, management and analysis of data are among the most time-intensive processes in third-party logistics. With the implementation of AI systems that learn as they go and can render and analyze complex data in real-time, 3PL providers are transforming their entire operation.
Taking advantage of increased processing power and almost 100% human-error-free analytics, we have optimized our demand forecasting, inventory, warehouse management, delivery routing and order tracking, among others, to shore up our entire operations, ensuring quality and efficiency for retailers and consumers at every touchpoint.
5. Electric vehicles steer 3PL industry’s sustainability journey
The retail industry is increasingly adopting sustainability initiatives and goals. But, to truly prioritize the planet, companies must embed eco-conscious policies and practices into every aspect of their business and operations. For retailers this includes rethinking how they approach deliveries and returns.
As current ecommerce trends drive up delivery traffic and emissions, GoBolt is leading the industry by building a fully electric transportation fleet. Last mile deliveries, small-parcel deliveries and reverse supply-chain operations included, we utilize EVs where possible to curb our emissions.
Smarter, greener, more efficient: that’s the GoBolt way
The pandemic hard-pressed the industry to streamline the global movement of goods to strengthen the supply chain and ensure its links break less often. By optimizing each step of an order’s lifecycle, tech-forward 3PLs, such as GoBolt, are delivering goods in smarter, more efficient, and greener ways.
Discover how GoBolt’s tech-stack can streamline your third-party logistics and win over your customers with each order.