Improve the Shipping Documentation Process with 3PL Integration

by | Mar 31, 2021 | Logistics, Order Fulfillment, Order Management, Suppliers

The struggle to keep up with orders has heightened as suppliers face changing retailer requirements and new order models. Most suppliers’ processes have trouble keeping up and the shipping document process is mired with manual steps. Instead, many businesses are choosing to use third-party logistics (3PL) partners to master these new demands without overwhelming internal resources. Using 3PL integration makes this relationship work smoothly and adds value to both parties.

3PL integration offers an automated shipping documentation process, so they can experience:

  • A dramatic reduction in errors,
  • More on-time and accurate shipments,
  • Fewer chargebacks, and
  • Visibility of order statuses.

Let’s explore how each of these benefits of 3PL integration can be achieved.

Automating processes with 3PL integration reduces errors

No one is perfect, especially when completing manual tasks like data entry. When you add in a ticking clock and pressure to get orders entered so the warehouse starts picking, it’s no wonder that keying errors occur. There are two ways to deal with this situation: hire more staff or automate. Today’s businesses are opting to improve the shipping documentation process by replacing manual processes with automated ones.

One of the ways many suppliers are streamlining the order cycle is through 3PL integration. When they receive an order, likely via EDI, the document is automatically shared with their 3PL. No re-keying order information into a 3PL portal or forgetting to email an order. No delays or errors.

More lead time improves shipment accuracy

When a 3PL receives the order right away instead of hours later, many good things occur. The most valuable is additional lead time. Warehouse staff can pick and pack the order using their best practices. They have time to do their work efficiently and can double-check everything before it ships.

More lead time from an automated shipping documentation process also boosts on-time shipments. The chances of shipping an order late or missing a carrier pickup is minimized when extra time is available. A supplier’s orders are more likely to ship error-free and on-time when 3PL integration buys their partner more time to do the job.

Shipping Notices are on-time and accurate, reducing chargebacks

The last thing a supplier wants to spend money on is chargebacks. These fees eat away margins. Luckily, they almost disappear when 3PL integration is deployed.

Most chargebacks result from late or incorrect Advance Ship Notices (ASNs) or shipments. Suppliers using 3PL integration ship faster. And they can be sure the shipping details for an ASN are accurate and ready to send (either by the 3PL or supplier) as specified by their trading partner. Completing and sending the ASN can be tedious and time-consuming. With 3PL integration, much of the data needed for this transaction is already in the system. Completion time for an ASN is greatly reduced, as are the errors inherent to manually entering in data.

Improved forecasting with an automated shipping documentation process

The order cycle has a lot of steps, and it’s difficult for a supplier to stay apprised of every order’s status. Suppliers use 3PL integration to keep inventory levels updated based on shipments and returns. If order fulfillment is automated from start to finish, all systems can work together to provide an accurate view of the business.

When suppliers are confident of their inventory across warehouses, including customer returns, they can better forecast. They know what their on-hand inventory is and when orders are shipping. Knowing the business’ current status is the basis for an accurate forecast.

Ready to reduce errors, improve on-time shipping and always know where orders are? Check out SPS Commerce Fulfillment and speak with one of our experts today.

Emily Curran