The third-party logistics (3PL) industry has been the ongoing response to the endless supply chain crunch. Constant volatility between labor shortages, expensive shipping costsAnd global tensions affecting transmission capacity has led experts to believe the issues will persist during the holiday season.
Shippers still have high expectations for their 3PLs, but performance falls short. The Third party logistics research from 2023 found a 7% drop in shipper satisfaction with their 3PL relationships. Shippers want to know their partners can easily track shipments, communicate regularly with brokers and carriers, and ensure regulatory compliance. This is becoming increasingly difficult for 3PLs to manage as 90% of them have expanded their customer base in the past year, according to Inbound Logistics.
Visibility can help 3PLs meet and exceed shipper expectations. Technology can provide insight to 3PLs by connecting data, tracking shipments (reducing lost or stolen cargo), improving communication with shippers, and meeting all shipping requirements. It enables a 3PL to get ahead of any problems and become a trusted source for the competition.
Let’s take a closer look at how a visibility platform gives you a competitive advantage and makes you more attractive to shippers.
Improve company efficiency
When you invest in a software platform to improve shipment visibility, it also helps your employees work more efficiently. That improved efficiency can scale your business.
For example, a visibility platform can bring together all your relevant data from a number of sources, be it fleet data or other device information, into one system. According to the Third party logistics research from 2023, 75% of shippers say technology solutions play a greater role in their 3PL selection process. By tapping into a granular technology platform, less time is spent monitoring multiple data feeds and shippers gain a level of transparency that can unlock new business for you.
With every hour saved by the platform’s efficiency, employees have time to focus on other strategic work that can optimize business processes. Having the hours to improve work cycles and refine costs raises the quality of your business, easily giving you an advantage over other 3PLs.
Ensure compliance is maintained
Adding visibility not only protects your business, but shippers as well.
This becomes especially important when working with sensitive cargo, as these shipments come with a list of additional requirements. For example the Food and Drug Administration has a number of compliance rules that must be met when transporting certain medicines. Whether the shipments you make are medicines, cosmetics or perishable foods, there are rules to ensure that the product arrives safely and in usable condition. But how do you deal with what you can’t even see?
With visibility, your company can closely manage carriers and help them ensure they meet specifications by improving communication from the top down. It also protects both you and your customers from any liability issues, as you have insight into a shipment’s status, location, temperature and other relevant data. You’ll have every piece of evidence you need at your fingertips to prove you’ve met all the compliance requirements and maintained the standard of care your customers demand. Real-time data enables you to address any issues immediately.
Restrict carrier schedules
Double brokering and double loading are well-known, disruptive problems in the freight industry. Visibility in your shipments helps you combat this.
Double brokering can cause communication and compliance issues when a shipping is passed from one broker to another. The same goes for double charging: When a carrier tries to maximize revenue and efficiency by combining shipments, shippers are left with unwanted, unknown liability. Both are major security vulnerabilities that jeopardize the integrity of your business.
By investing in a visibility platform, you can monitor carrier compliance and provide shippers with a new level of accountability for their cargo. You can see exactly where a shipment is and immediately recognize when a double load occurs, to solve the problem quickly.
Advantage over malicious actors
Cargo thieves are planning their robbery of vulnerable packages this holiday season. According to from CargoNet Last year’s holiday trends report, 185 thefts resulted in more than $9 million lost between December 23, 2021 and January 2, 2022.
By improving the visibility of your shipments, you can limit potential losses during the holiday season and keep your shippers up to date. Technology can give you detailed data, define standard operating procedures and warn you if a procedure goes wrong.
With these up-to-the-minute alerts, you can take immediate action to find lost and stolen shipments as quickly as possible. Visibility sets you apart from competitors when it comes to dealing with malicious actors because you get a comprehensive view of every shipment your company makes and every action taken by the carrier.
Since the start of the pandemic, 3PLs have been key to managing supply chain issues, and while the challenges are changing, 3PLs can still play a major role. Especially if they invest in visibility. It gives them the tools to exceed shippers’ expectations by offering several enhanced capabilities, which in turn win new customers.
As supply chains evolve, 3PLs can provide a window into the shipment movement process, benefiting all stakeholders and easing some restrictions.