Third-party logistics (3PL) warehouses do a lot more than warehousing and storage for their customers. In addition to day-to-day fulfillment operations, 3PLs also offer strategic partnership to their customers, helping them navigate supply chain disruptions and maximize their logistical prowess. According to the 2022 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry Report, 3PLs can help customers succeed by sharing a bird’s eye view of the supply chain as well as supplying reports and analytics that enable customers to make data-driven decisions. With the ongoing supply chain disruptions, such intelligence is crucial.

But what reports should a 3PL warehouse share with its customers? Warehouse management system (WMS) software specializes in collecting and reporting data for 3PLs, but not every available report is useful for 3PL customers.

Using the most commonly used reports from 3PL Warehouse Manager, you’ll find the top three reports to share with customers outlined below.

Stock Status Report

The most important report type offered by a WMS, the Stock Status report, is so important that it has its own standalone section within 3PL Warehouse Manager. Yet, the report itself is pretty simple – the stock status report is a snapshot of inventory levels for one or all of a 3PL’s customers.

In 3PL Warehouse Manager, companies can filter by items by filling out the relevant SKU filters if the user only wants to see data on a specific set of items. Furthermore, the report can come color-coded to designate items near minimum or maximum capacity, and companies can view a detailed report with item qualifiers listed out or a summarized report that shows each SKU as a whole. The generated report includes these fields:

  • SKU
  • Item Qualifiers, which function as SKU separations and are useful when you want to specify size, color, or other distinguishing characteristics for an item
  • Description of the item
  • Number of on-hand units
  • Number of units allocated to orders
  • Number of units placed in quarantine
  • Number of units available for allocation to orders
  • Unit of measure
  • Number of secondary units available for allocation
  • Secondary unit of measure
  • Number of packaging units available for allocation
  • Packaging unit of measure
  • Number of units packed for shipment
  • Total cubic footage of units
  • Total weight of units
  • Number of units that are over-ordered
  • Whether the item is at maximum or minimum quantity

The stock status report is the primary tool for gauging inventory levels and gives customers concrete information about how much of each different item they are storing in the warehouse. This data allows customers to know what inventory is selling, what items they need to order/reorder, and how to forecast demand.

Open Orders/Open Receipts Reports

Technically, open orders and open receipts are two separate reports, but they complement each other to show all open – meaning still processing – outbounds and inbounds for the warehouse for a specific customer. For the 3PL customer, the open orders/open receipts reports allow users to ensure that the 3PL properly confirms all transactions. For the 3PL, this report enables them to ensure they bill customers for all transactions. These reports include the following:

  • Customer name
  • Date the order/receipt was created
  • Transaction number
  • Reference number
  • Purchase order number
  • Shipping carrier
  • Notes
  • Ship-to destination (open orders only)
  • Earliest ship date (open orders only)
  • Shipping cancel date (open orders only)
  • Expected pickup date and time (open orders only)
  • Whether the order is overallocated (open orders only)
  • Retailer ID (open orders only)
  • Whether an order is marked complete in the WMS (open orders only)

Whereas the stock status report shows static inventory levels, these reports show how inventory moves and can help the customer with order management in addition to inventory management. For example, the customer can see which types of products sell together and where orders are going so they know which markets are most profitable for their business. Additionally, the open orders/open receipts reports give customers visibility into how the 3PL processes orders and receipts, allowing them to monitor the 3PL’s performance based on service level agreements (SLAs) such as how quickly the 3PL says it will confirm orders and receipts.

Item Activity Report

The item activity report is comparable to the open orders/open receipts reports in that it details ins and outs for a specific item instead of for transactions. This report also gives more detailed information about a specific item than the stock status report, such as expiration date and lot number, and is run over a selected date range versus real-time. The item activity report includes the following data:

  • SKU
  • Item qualifier
  • Item description
  • Number of units packed for shipment
  • Activity date
  • Transaction number
  • Reference number
  • Number of inbound units
  • Number of outbound units
  • Number of units on the transaction
  • Number of packaging units on the transaction
  • Lot number
  • Serial number (detailed report only)
  • Moveable unit label assigned to the item (detailed report only)
  • Expiration date (detailed report only)
  • Location of the item in the warehouse (detailed report only)

More granular than the other reports, the item activity report allows the customer to focus on one item and all of its data points. As such, this report is helpful for customers who want the most specific, data-driven insights into their inventory management. If the stock status report is a starting point, the item activity report is a way to ‘zoom in’ on items of interest.

Conclusion

Although these three report categories are ostensibly the most useful for a 3PL’s customer, this list is by no means exhaustive, as dozens more report types as well as custom reporting options may prove more beneficial to a customer based on their needs. Ultimately, 3PLs know which data and reports can best address each customer’s unique needs and goals; after all, outstanding customer relationships are one of the trademarks of successful 3PLs.

To learn more about trends impacting the 3PL warehousing industry – and how it's evolving – read the 2022 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry Report.

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