Selecting a Web Portal for Your 3PL Warehouse Management System

Providing 3PL customers with real time inventory management and other capabilities saves time and reduces labor cost
Supply chain businesses highly value information visibility.  Whether using 3PL software that is web based or on premise, being able to provide an online portal to your third party logistics customers is essential for good customer service.

Today, information and business intelligence is at a premium.  Providing solutions to meet customer needs can give you a competitive edge in winning and retaining business.

In the world of “now” where saving time is so critical, why not enable your customers to have real time access to critical data?  A client portal is just the thing!  Using an online portal enables customers of 3PL providers to have access to critical information about their business at any time from any location using any type of device. Providing real time information access to your customers empowers them to take charge of their inventory, orders and shipments, reducing their dependence on customer service representatives.

3PL warehouse management systems often provide online portals or at least offer this option and customers value the information for properly managing inventory and logistical operations.

3PL public warehouse operations continually try to keep costs down and reduce labor.  Providing a web portal to third party logistics customers helps achieve those objectives.  3PLs that provide web portals report that customers love the self-service environment and the freedom to have access to current information.  Having real time information at their fingertips any time of the day or night helps to provide customers with peace of mind.

 

Key Components of a Web Portal for 3PL Customers

 

Essential Qualities to Consider When Selecting a 3PL Online Portal

  • Framework and Security
  • Functionality
  • User friendly
  • Customizable for each Customer

Selecting a Web Portal as Part of Your WMS Management Suite

 

Web Portal Framework and Security 

When evaluating the 3PL web portal, pay attention to its flexibility and to the user experience.  Selecting a web portal that was built using HTML5 reflects use of cutting edge tools designed to create a flexible and highly enhanced user experience.

HTML5 provides greater flexibility and a better user experience for web portal users.  Using a technology like HTML5 that is cross-platform and device agnostic enables more flexibility in deployment.  Today, all modern browsers have native support for HTML5.  Browser-based plugins are becoming defunct.

Product improvements to HTML5 portals tend to occur quickly as it provides quick, easy integration with new Microsoft Web technologies.  Often there is much less code to support in the long haul, leading to lower development costs and faster product development turnaround.

Support for HTML5 is long-lived, unlike that of web browser plug-ins such as Microsoft Silverlight for which support will end after 2021.  HTML5 is also mobile-friendly, especially important in today’s world of “anywhere, anytime using any type of device”.

In terms of security concerns, make sure that the 3PL can segregate each customer account and allow users to only see information specific to their account.  It is advisable to have a portal that provides roles-based security. This will make sure that this information system can only be accessed by authorized users.  The portal administrator will regulate system access based upon the roles of individual users.  In this case, roles are defined by factors such as authority, job competency and level of responsibility within the organization.  All authorized users will need to log into the system and provide a password that is then authenticated in the system for access.

Functionality of Web Portals:  What Do 3PL Customers Want to See? 

At a minimum, 3PL customers want to have real time information visibility info:

  • Inventory, orders and invoices
  • Reports
  • Invoices and billing

Customers want an online system that is easy to understand and use and prefer to have it branded with their logo and company information.  Saving time is important to customers and a client portal that is frustrating to use is not helpful.

On a more advanced level, customers value additional functionality such as:

 

  • Real time information visibility into shipping and delivery
  • Ability to subscribe to reports and have them sent automatically at any predetermined frequency
  • Customized reports
  • Ability to provide access to the portal for use by their clients in order to reduce the cost of doing business
  • Ability to conduct queries
  • Ability to obtain historical information on inventory, orders, shipments, etc.

Why Does Your 3PL Need a User Friendly Web Portal?

Selecting a user friendly e-portal will make it easier for your customers to access and use the online system without intervention or assistance from your customer service staff or IT resources.  The whole idea of providing customers with the means to access their inventory and other information by themselves is to reduce dependence on the customer service department.

When evaluating systems, pay special attention to the following:

Ease of navigation:  How easy is it for customers to find the type of information they need quickly?  Can the average person log on and out quickly and easily?  Is it easy to figure out how to go to different sections, to access different types of information, etc.?  Can an average user print without getting frustrated?

Terminology:  Does your business terminology match up with that used on the online portal?  If not, can this be modified to be consistent to eliminate frustration and misunderstandings?

Layout:  Are screens crowded with data or set up to be easy to read?  Is the screen mobile friendly?  Try using the online portal from different types of devices including a tablet, Smartphone, laptop and desktop computer.

Customizing a 3PL Web Portal for Your Customer

 

Selecting an online portal that can be branded to suit each of your customers is important for several reasons.  This will make your customers more comfortable and welcome.  Customers with branded online portals are more likely to use this tool and adopt is as an extension of their operation.

Make sure that you have options to change the colors used on the client portal. Adding reports and queries that have been customized for each customer is also valued and appreciated.

 

Having a Web Portal Enables You to Provide a Higher Level of Service to Your 3PL Customers

 

No longer will your customer service representatives have to review records every time a customer calls with a question.  Because of this, inquiries to customer service will diminish.

Using a 3PL web portal enables timely, effective decision making, typically reduces errors and changes and results in enhanced customer satisfaction.

Cut Customer Service Costs with Self-Serve Portal

  • Enables self-serve operations

  • Mobile Friendly, responsive design

  • Reduces labor costs

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