Why Every 3PL Must Become a Paperless Operation
While some 3PL warehouses have been able to get by with slower, manual-input and paper-based systems, those days are coming to an end. This is especially true for warehouses looking to diversify into ecommerce.
Given the dramatic increases in customer demands and competitive pressures, third-party logistics warehouses will soon need to choose between becoming a powerful, automated warehouse with paperless best practice workflows, or continuing to use labor-intensive, error-prone processes that can negatively impact customer satisfaction and create expensive mistakes.
With ecommerce buying habits continuing to evolve, so is the need to enhance warehouse technology to meet these expectations. It is estimated that warehouses and distribution centers lose a staggering of $390,000 annually on mispicks alone.
Whether a warehouse still clings to Excel and manual entry or antiquated warehouse management systems (WMS), the truth is that warehouses will need to move way from manual processes in order to increase: speed, picking and packing accuracy, order volume, and more. Transitioning to a paperless warehouse will streamline operations, cut costs, and save warehouses valuable man-hours.
NEED FOR SPEED
From ecommerce retailers to B2B manufacturers, today’s customers are placing third-party logistics warehouses under pressure to fulfill orders faster than ever before. According to Forbes, the number of ecommerce packages alone increased by more than 20% over the past few years – to a total of 165 billion packages shipped in 2019.
Warehouses that still manually key in every transaction will simply be unable to keep up with the pace of modern business. This will not only slow down internal processes, it will also slow business growth as well. 3PLs who continue to be held back by paper-based systems will find it difficult to scale their profitability going forward.
Warehouses can save up to 3 minutes per order when using paperless automation for picking and packing.
THE DEMAND FOR ACCURACY
3PLs sit at the heart of the global fulfillment chain. Which means every partner, customer, and end consumer connected to that supply chain relies on them to provide 100% accurate information—in real-time—without mistakes. This is critically important as 84% of consumers say that they won’t return to a brand after just one poor delivery experience.
Warehouses still dependent on manual input systems put themselves at increased risk. The ability to provide accurate information is central to maintaining the trust of warehouse customers. Those who cannot offer accurate inventory and billing information will lose their reputations, partners, customers – and possibly even their businesses. Making the switch to paperless is not just advantageous, but imperative to increase accuracy.
Hands-free mobile barcode scanning offers nearly 100% order packing accuracy and real-time results from within your WMS.
SAVINGS FOR THE WAREHOUSE
3PLs are measured by a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs). However, two of the most important factors are time and money. Warehouses need to see results quickly to keep customers happy and grow their businesses.
According to David Miller, General Manager of Platform Services, the minute warehouses begin to remove paper from even a single process, they will start to see the savings associated with that shift. When multiplied across warehouse workflows, the savings add up quickly. In fact, by simply saving 20 to 30 seconds per order—and if a warehouse handles 5,000 to 10,000 orders per day—that equates to about 52 saved man-hours (on average) per day.
Warehouses using automated workflows save an average of 161 hours per month of manual order entry.
PAID IN FULL
Billing warehouse customers is one of the most complex tasks for a warehouse. In many cases, workers are so focused on meeting order and shipping deadlines that billable services may not be recorded and properly invoiced— meaning a 3PL isn’t getting paid for completed work.
Smart 3PLs realize the best way to ensure services are properly invoiced and paid is with built-in billing automation directly into a warehouse management system (WMS). This is especially important for warehouses looking to tackle ecommerce and omnichannel fulfillment. From value-added services, anniversary billing, recurring storage charges and more, using paperless and hands-free workflows will remove a 3PL’s reliance on error-prone data entry and reduce paper invoices that can be misplaced or miscalculated.
3PLs can lose 3% of monthly profits from under-billing by not capturing billable events.
ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN PAPER
Today’s 3PL warehouses looking to improve operational efficiencies need to start with paperless best practices and workflows. David Miller suggests starting with a quick return on investment (ROI) project to see where paperless and hands-free operations can make the biggest impact and solve for larger pain points. Even finding a few hours per week of improvement can translate in to time and costs savings.
Interested in learning more about how your 3PL can join the paperless revolution? Download “Bracing for the Paperless 3PL Warehouse Revolution” where David Miller discusses key obstacles that 3PLs are dealing with right now and the role that the paperless, automated warehouse plays in solving these and other challenges.
Have all the information you need to take the next step? Schedule a time to speak with an expert.
Written by Chelsea Mori
Chelsea is an experienced marketing and demand generation strategist with over 17 years of B2B experience. She oversees demand generation strategies, campaigns, and brand awareness programs to solidify 3PL Central as the leader in warehouse management software. A multi-dimensional marketing operations professional, Chelsea has built a track record of driving new business through creative demand and lead generation programs.