For manufacturers who ship a steady supply of cargo, the cost of shipping can rival the cost of payroll. Consequently, reducing shipping costs is a full-time task for most shipping managers. Today, most shippers manage the logistical side of shipping (the part of the shipping process where costs can be cut) with one of the following resources:
- In-house Logistics – A model of shipping logistics in which the shipping process is managed by a shipper’s own staff of experts.
- Third Party Logistics (3PL) – A model of shipping logistics in which a third party manages one or more aspects of the shipping process.
- Logistics software – A web-based or in-house program that allows shippers to choose its own shipping arrangements and perform important tasks such as a freight audit.
Most shippers prefer the first option, but paying a team of experts can be unaffordable. Left to choose between the second and third options, many shippers choose the latter based on the following considerations:
The cost of 3PL is based on the services a shipper receives. When a shipper receives only a few services through a standard 3PL provider or a service developer, 3PL can be affordable. However, when a shipper uses the comprehensive services of a customer adapter or customer developer, the cost of 3PL can be significant. A software-based resource can facilitate comprehensive shipping management for a fraction of the cost of high-level 3PL services.
Some 3PL providers make carries arrangements using a narrow range of carrier options, such as those found in an electronic posting system. Conversely, logistics software allows shippers to choose from a limitless range of shipping options based on the appropriate shipping model (e.g. less than load or truckload), and perform a freight audit to monitor shipping costs.
Shippers who use 3PL commonly complain that the shipping process feels too removed-a complaint that often results from the failure of a 3PL provider to provide ongoing, in-depth communication to the customer. Using a software-based resource eliminates this issue by placing the shipper in full control of the shipping process.
When shippers use 3PL, they often go through multiple 3PL providers as their shipping process evolves, beginning with a standard 3PL provider and eventually using the services of a customer adapter or customer developer. In addition to being more expensive than using a software-based resource, switching from one 3PL provider to another requires forming new business contracts, continuously delegating more shipping tasks to a third party, and implementing new standards for quality control.
Most shippers wish to implement a permanent logistical solution as soon as possible, and implementing a software-based solution is the best way to do it. After the solution is implemented, it options can be changed as the shipping process changes, providing a seamless transition that does not require the customer to look for a new service provider.
For many shippers, logistics software is the most cost effective logistical resource. In addition to allowing shippers to choose from the broadest range of carrier options, it allows them to perform important tasks (e.g. freight audit) without the assistance of a third party. To learn more about the benefits of software-based logistics, contact a provider of transportation software.