The 3PL logistics service industry is constantly evolving, driven by new technologies and innovations that are changing the way goods are managed and delivered. From automation and cloud computing to blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT), these new technologies are transforming the 3PL landscape and shaping the future of logistics. In this blog, we will explore some of the innovations driving change in the 3PL industry – in relation to inventory management, shipping and delivery, and order processing. We will discuss how they are being used to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and provide better customer service. Plus, some future innovations to consider.
Table of contents
3pl logistics service industry: Innovations that will shape the future of eCommerce fulfilment
Micro Hubs for eCommerce fulfilment
Micro hubs are increasingly gaining popularity as more 3PLs work with several service providers to increase the quality of final mile delivery – especially within large metropolitan areas. Within the third-party logistics realm, micro hubs represent a nimble solution for managing the storage and distribution of goods on behalf of clients. These scaled-down distribution centres or fulfilment centres boast strategic locations in close proximity to urban areas, facilitating faster delivery times for prospective clients. While smaller in size than traditional fulfilment centres, micro hubs serve as a crucial intermediary between warehouse storage and the final destination.
By promoting more localised and efficient distribution of goods, micro hubs successfully minimise transportation expenses and expedite the delivery process. Moreover, their versatility empowers 3PL logistics service companies to offer personalised and adaptable services, allowing for the storage and management of a diverse array of products in a single location and the rapid response to demand fluctuations and inventory shifts.
At Selazar, we are proud to introduce an exciting new partnership with Xero, an emission-free fulfilment solution that offers several micro hub distribution centres in 15 cities around the UK. Our integration not only improves same-day and next-day delivery for our clients, but it’s zero-emission eco-friendly delivery – something that will be a cornerstone of sustainability for the logistics industry moving forward.
All in all, the role of micro hubs in the 3PL industry cannot be overstated, as they optimise supply chain operations, reduce costs, and heighten the overall customer experience.
Blockchain technology for 3pl logistics service industry
Looking to the future, blockchain technology has the capacity to revolutionise the third-party logistics (3PL) industry. If you’re not aware, blockchain technology is a digital ledger for transactions that are secure and anonymous. This technology can improve the tracking of goods and managing supply chain operations. Here’s how blockchain technology can be expected to be used for 3PL in the future:
1. Traceability and Transparency: Blockchain technology provides a permanent and tamper-proof ledger of all transactions, which can be used to track goods as they move through the supply chain. This enables 3PL companies to provide their customers with real-time visibility into the location and status of their goods, improving transparency and accountability.
2. Smart Contracts: Blockchain technology can be used to automate and streamline contract execution between different supply chain partners. For example, a smart contract could automatically trigger payment to a carrier once a shipment is delivered, reducing the risk of disputes and ensuring timely payment.
3. Improved Security: Blockchain technology offers a high level of security, as each transaction is verified and recorded on multiple nodes in the network. This makes it much more difficult for hackers to manipulate the system, reducing the risk of fraud and other security threats.
4. Data Sharing: Blockchain technology enables the secure sharing of data between different supply chain partners, reducing the risk of data breaches and improving data accuracy. This can help to improve collaboration and coordination between different supply chain partners, reducing the risk of delays and inefficiencies.
5. Cost Savings: By automating many of the manual processes involved in 3PL operations, blockchain technology can help to reduce operational costs and improve overall efficiency. For example, by reducing the need for paper-based records, blockchain technology can help to reduce the costs associated with manual data entry and storage.
Overall, blockchain technology has the potential to significantly improve the 3PL industry by providing a secure, transparent, and efficient platform for managing supply chain operations. However, it is important to note that blockchain technology is still in the early stages of adoption in the 3PL industry, and it will likely take some time before its full potential is realized.
With the rise of e-commerce and the increasing demand for faster and more efficient delivery services, the 3PL industry is constantly seeking innovative solutions to meet consumer needs. One of the most promising solutions is the use of autonomous vehicles for delivery, which have the potential to significantly transform the entire logistics industry.
Autonomous vehicles, also known as self-driving cars or driverless cars, are equipped with advanced sensors, cameras, and algorithms that enable them to operate without human intervention. According to a report by Allied Market Research, the global autonomous vehicle market size was valued at £42 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach £446 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 39.47% from 2019 to 2026. The use of autonomous vehicles in the 3PL industry can offer several advantages, such as improving delivery speed and efficiency, reducing labour costs, enhancing safety, improving route optimisation, and providing better tracking and monitoring of shipments.
In terms of delivery speed and efficiency, autonomous vehicles can operate 24/7 without breaks or rest, which can significantly improve delivery times and efficiency. This can be particularly beneficial for time-sensitive deliveries and last-mile logistics. The reduced need for human drivers also means reduced labour costs for 3PL providers.
Autonomous vehicles can also be programmed to take the most efficient route to a destination, reducing delivery time and fuel costs. Additionally, they can be equipped with sensors and GPS tracking devices, providing real-time tracking and monitoring of shipments, improving supply chain visibility, and reducing the risk of lost or stolen shipments.
Overall, the adoption of autonomous vehicles in the 3PL industry has the potential to revolutionise the way logistics companies operate. While there may be challenges and limitations to overcome, the benefits of autonomous vehicles are likely to drive significant changes in the industry, making it more efficient and cost-effective for businesses while providing faster and safer delivery services for consumers.
3pl cloud fulfilment technology and automation
Cloud fulfilment automation refers to the use of cloud-based software systems to automate and manage the various processes involved in third-party logistics (3PL) fulfilment. This technology enables 3PL companies to streamline their operations, improve efficiency, and provide better customer service.
As a forward-thinking 3PL, we know customers want modern solutions to modern problems. That’s why we offer proprietary technology to allow businesses to control and manage their inventory from anywhere. Controlling the technology that makes this possible will allow Selazar to be flexible and reactive to changing market conditions.
Here’s a step-by-step explanation of our 3PL cloud fulfilment automation:
Our cloud-based software system is connected to our inventory management system, which allows for real-time updates on the availability and location of goods. This information is then used to automatically schedule orders for fulfilment. This empowers our clients to have real-time visibility from their laptops.
When an order is placed, the cloud-based software system automatically retrieves the necessary information from the customer’s order, including the shipping address and payment information. The system then generates a packing slip and shipping label, which is then sent to the fulfilment centre warehouse for processing.
Picking and Packing
The software is also integrated with automated picking and packing systems – used to streamline warehouse operations in the retrieval process quickly and efficiently. Once the items are packed, the system generates a shipping label and sends the order information to the shipping carrier.
Shipping and Tracking
On top of all of this, the technology helps improve the shipping process with real-time updates and notifications. The integration includes tracking and delivery confirmation with availability for customer updates and delivery status.
Returns and Refunds
The cloud-based software system can also handle the return process, including the generation of return labels, tracking of returns, and processing of refunds. Our new Return Robin service is already being utilised to make returns possible from home or at the office– something that is innovating the eCommerce space and logistics industry.
By automating these processes, cloud fulfilment automation enables us to reduce manual errors, improve order accuracy, and provide better tracking and customer service. Additionally, the cloud-based nature of the technology makes it easily accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, making it more convenient for brands to manage their operations remotely.
Smart warehouse management and AI
Technology-led smart warehouse management refers to the use of advanced technologies to manage and optimise the operations of third-party logistics (3PL) warehouses. The goal of this technology is to improve efficiency, accuracy, and productivity by automating and streamlining many of the manual processes involved in warehouse management.
Smart warehouse management systems use computer-generated devices and other technologies to track inventory in real time, providing an accurate picture of stock levels and enabling automated replenishment. Automation technologies also streamline manual tasks in the warehouse, such as picking and packing processes, which improves efficiency and reduces typical errors. For example, our proprietary technology analyses and chooses picking routes for warehouse employees to reduce travel time and empower quicker delivery. This is smart warehouse management that will only improve in time and surpass typical warehouse operations – resulting in happier customers.
The implementation of human based service combined with technological oversight provides Selazar a 99.9% pick and pack accuracy rate.
Utilising a network of connected devices that can track and monitor goods as they move through the warehouse is a modern solution to inefficient antiquated warehousing methods. On top of this, the data captured can be used to optimise warehouse operations, improve inventory accuracy, and reduce the risk of stockouts.
AI and machine learning technologies can also be used to analyse warehouse data and make recommendations for optimizing operations – such as identifying areas for improvement and predicting future demand. Also, cloud computing can be used to store and manage warehouse data, making it easily accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. This enables innovative 3PL companies to manage their warehouse operations remotely and in real-time.
Technology-led warehouse management enables a 3PL like us to improve the efficiency, accuracy, and productivity of our warehouse operations, providing better customer service and a competitive advantage. Cloud fulfilment innovation is currently available with some of the best UK 3PLs such as Selazar, and will continue to innovate and shape the future of eCommerce fulfilment.
Future-focused solutions for 3pl logistics service industry
In conclusion, the 3pl logistics service industry is on the cusp of a technological revolution, with exciting new innovations emerging that will change the face of 3PL and eCommerce fulfilment as we know it. From the adoption of smart technology and machine learning to improve supply chain efficiency, the future of logistics is looking brighter and more innovative than ever. As these new technologies continue to mature and become more widely adopted, we can expect to see significant improvements in delivery times, cost-effectiveness, and overall customer satisfaction. Contact Selazar today for a free discovery call so we can learn more about your business and eCommerce fulfilment needs.