Logistics software manages the supply chain of products from their point of origin to the point of consumption via transportation, inventory, warehousing, material-handling, and packaging features. Also known as logistics management software (LMS), these solutions help businesses manage transportation operations for shipping, provide maintenance tracking on vehicles, create optimized routes and maps, and provide warehouse management capabilities for quick and efficient logistics workflows.
Logistics software shares many of the same characteristics as:
Which one is right for your business? All of these software solutions improve business processes by letting logistics companies manage the operations and transportation related to shipping goods via trucks, airlines, boats, trains, and more. They also include modules for maintaining vehicle maintenance, routing and mapping, warehousing, electronic data interchange and more.
Whether your business deals with inbound logistics (linear flow of raw materials from suppliers into a warehouse) or outbound logistics (storing, transporting, and distributing goods to customers), logistics software can help your business improve production planning, sourcing, procurement, packaging, and dispatching.
The perfect logistics software will match you with the correct carrier depending on the type of freight, find the best shipper dependent on the services offered and the cost, and automate all of the busy work needed for efficiency (routing, mapping, load tendering, and more). When searching for the best logistics management system, you’ll want to ensure they include the following benefits:
Logistics software can refine your transportation methods when you manage your data correctly. Shippers can reduce expedited shipments by planning shipments in a more convenient and predictable path for your employee’s workloads.
Another automation tool within logistics software is load tending, paperwork handling, and load planning with your carriers. Automation in filling these critical details can help speed up your logistics process by requiring less time spent by employees filling out forms, and more time fulfilling orders. This also has the indirect benefit of minimizing human errors. As a large transportation order can include a large volume of data, any automation along the way can eliminate errors and reduce delays in the shipping process.
Automation within your logistics process can also help make your business become more predictable. This predictability can lead to improved freight data. Quality logistics software will let you run reports and let you make more informed decisions based on your trends and history.
Logistics software can help combat rising transportation costs and save money by shopping around different shipping services, delivery agents, and shipping methods to find the lowest cost possible. Online logistics software can provide real-time rates of various carriers, which can let you select your preferred carrier based on a number of factors (such as cost).
Your company may also find a company that provides expedited shipping, which can improve the planning of your shipments and improve customer relations; benefits that should help make you a more profitable organization over time.
Cloud-based solution (also known as Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS), has been on the rise in nearly every industry. In the logistics industry, cloud-based software can help give a more visible and transparent view of your operations. Companies find SaaS logistics options to be more flexible, robust, and affordable.
Cloud technology is always connected to your resources and integrated with all departments. Important data such as carrier rates, party screening data, and your vendor list can be updated frequently, and cloud software will provide the most up-to-date information. Cloud logistics software will also remain updated with the most recent release of the software, meaning less downtime due to unexpected errors or bugs that may have affected your software otherwise.
Not only does cloud software give access to your employees from any location, but it also provides a more affordable way of paying for the software. Cloud-based logistics management solutions are billed on a subscription-based pricing model. This means your organization will pay for the use of the software on a monthly basis, rather than having to purchase a product all at once.
Freight forwarding logistics software helps freight companies manage cargo receipt, storage, and delivery. It also creates documents needed to move shipments such as air waybills and bill of lading. This is accomplished through quotations, bookings, and pickup orders. Freight forwarding logistics software will work with air, ocean, and ground shipments. These solutions give step-by-step guides on how to handle your cargo and freight forwarding operations on a daily basis.
Logistics software for freight forwarders gives real-time access to information throughout the entire shipment process. Whether the logistics process is still in the order entry and purchasing stage, through bookings, customs processing and security, or at the final shipment and delivery stage, freight forwarding logistics software will streamline the documenting of the shipping and transportation process.
All areas of the logistics process will have access to the software for a unified effort between procurement, inventory management, speaking with vendors, shipping with carriers, or dealing with government regulations.
Also known as trucking dispatch software, logistics software for trucking companies helps automate the routing and scheduling process for drivers by monitoring orders, trucks, trailers, and drivers from a centralized program. These solutions are designed to reduce the overall cost of running your fleet on top of improving productivity.
Dispatching tools within logistics software can ensure orders and deliveries are being fulfilled in a specified time slot. Dispatchers can monitor the locations of trucks via GPS tracking capabilities. This shows how far along routes drivers are from nearing their destination, which helps detail the big picture of whether your business is operating on schedule or not.
Scheduling and dispatching tend to go hand-in-hand. When one driver is completing an order, they can instantly be scheduled into an available slot depending on their location and if they are the most optimal person to handle the delivery.
Some fleet management companies may rely on trucking software. Fleet management businesses will have more of a focus on local transportation rather than long-haul. Usually, these businesses deal with shorter driving distances, so efficient route planning is a must. They also have strong asset management features that cover preventive maintenance on their vehicle fleet.
Third-party logistics (mostly known as 3PL) is the use of a third-party business to outsource distribution, warehousing, and fulfillment services. Many 3PL businesses need their own logistics software to manage their clients and the variety of outsourced logistics services they are providing them.
3PL software allows these fulfillment operations to complete orders, manage their warehouses, coordinate their shipping, track what is in their inventory, and establish billing. 3PL software and logistics management software are almost identical in functionality, but 3PL software will provide more of a focus for third-party logistics operations.
Some of the top benefits of 3PL software include improved warehouse management and inventory control, labor management, efficient workflows, finding cheaper and reliable shipping, accurate billing, and document management.
Read more: Best 3PL Software