Author: Extensiv Nov 30, 2023 8 Min READ

Best Fulfillment Software for Sellers and 3PLs

8 Min READ
Best Fulfillment Software for Sellers and 3PLs

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The Best Order Fulfillment Software Solutions for 3PLs and Ecommerce Sellers

Whether you’re an ecommerce brand managing order fulfillment for your growing customer base or a third-party logistics (3PL) provider harmonizing order management for multiple businesses, every order you process has the same goal—fast and accurate processing, shipping, and receiving. The more effectively you do that, the happier your customers will be, and the more effectively you do it, the greater your opportunity to scale your business and keep operations out of the red.

Yet, many retailers and logistics providers fail to do this well. Often, that’s because they’re still using manual, labor-intensive tasks to process, ship, and track orders, which gets increasingly complicated as omnichannel sales become more critical to business survival.

So, how do you ensure accurate inventory management, prompt order processing, fast and accurate shipping, all while meeting—and hopefully exceeding—consumer expectations? It’s time to leave behind the old ways of doing things. Even if you think “it ain’t broke,” it’s still time to fix it and implement order fulfillment software.

With the right planning and insight, you can build confidence that you’re choosing the best order fulfillment solution for your business’ unique needs and ensure your satisfied customers will keep coming back for more.

Common Order Fulfillment Challenges for 3PLs and Ecommerce

While order fulfillment may be the heart and soul of your business, it doesn’t come without challenges. For ecommerce, that’s often a balancing act between meeting consumer expectations and operating efficiently while generating revenue.

For 3PLs, the volume and range of products, number of warehouses, and shipping locations can be a logistical nightmare. The more customers a 3PL has, the harder it is to successfully manage inventory levels in real-time and ensure accurate order picking and optimized warehouse utilization.

Order fulfillment software is the key to overcoming these complexities.

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For 3PLs, order fulfillment software can streamline and automate inventory management, optimize order picking and routes, and provide visibility into warehouse operations to proactively manage potential issues before they impact your clients.

Online retailers and merchants can reap ecommerce software benefits, for example, using order management software for automation, integrating with shipping carriers, and providing simple returns to improve the customer experience.

What Is Fulfillment Software?

Order fulfillment software streamlines and optimizes each step of the fulfillment lifecycle, from managing inventory to picking and packing orders, shipping, and handling returns efficiently, which improves customer service and drives growth.

Top Fulfillment Software for 3PLs

While brands and 3PLs have some similar order management processes, the common differentiator is often the complexity and volume of third-party logistics, especially when managing multiple businesses simultaneously. Because of this, it’s important to find a fulfillment software vendor that has developed a solution specifically designed for 3PLs and their clients. Here are some options to consider:

SPS Commerce

SPS Commerce is a cloud-based order management system (OMS) with order fulfillment capabilities for 3PLs. The software can streamline order processing and increase visibility for inventory levels and order status. It also integrates with warehouse management systems (WMS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

NetSuite

NetSuite is an ERP that includes order fulfillment capabilities for warehouse management. Its features offer integrated order management, insight into financial performance, workflow automation, and demand forecasting.

Extensiv

Extensiv, a cloud-based supply chain management solution, includes order management capabilities in its comprehensive platform. With Extensiv, 3PLs can better manage complex supply chains and optimize order fulfillment processes.

Extensiv offers global logistics management so logistics providers can manage shipments across multiple countries and regions with ease. Its warehouse management tool optimizes warehouse operations with features like warehouse slotting, labor analytics, and task automation—whether you’re operating one warehouse or many. Extensiv’s integrations with transportation management systems (TMS) help 3PLs find cost-effective shipping carriers and optimize routes, all while ensuring compliance with common trade and other industry and regional regulations.

With Extensiv’s real-time visibility into omnichannel orders and inventory, 3PLs can optimize their processes and proactively address issues before they impede order fulfillment.

Logiwa

Logiwa has a suite of tools to help 3PLs manage operations such as automated order picking, packing, shipping, inventory optimization, and warehouse automation. The software is scalable and has data analytics to help 3PLs optimize fulfillment processes.

Magaya Supply Chain

Magaya Supply Chain offers order fulfillment capabilities with a focus on collaboration across the order fulfillment ecosystem. It enables 3PLs to collaborate with suppliers, carriers, warehouses, and customers in real-time to improve visibility and coordination across the supply chain.

Top Fulfillment Software for Ecommerce Brands

Fulfillment by Amazon

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a fulfillment service that handles storage, picking, packing, shipping, and returns of products sold on Amazon. It’s a good option for sellers that want to hand over fulfillment operations to a trusted third-party fulfillment center and, as an added benefit, can access Amazon’s expansive logistics network, which may result in reduced shipping costs, as well as access to a global fulfillment system.

ShipBob

ShipBob enables ecommerce brands and retailers to manage customer orders, inventory, and shipping across fulfillment operations to enhance customer satisfaction. It can also help brands optimize inventory levels and ensure successful multi-channel fulfillment, for example, across Shopify, Amazon, eBay, and others.

Extensiv

Extensiv’s order management solution helps ecommerce brands and merchants streamline order fulfillment processes. With robust features and scalable architecture, it’s suitable for small businesses up to large retailers. Extensiv automates order entry, picking, packing, and shipping processes to reduce manual tasks and errors. It offers real-time insights into inventory levels, order status, and shipments, and with data analytics and forecasting, you can make better-informed business decisions.

Extensiv also integrates with your existing systems, such as Shopify, QuickBooks, and Magento, for a seamless workflow. And, you can enhance customer service using Extensiv’s real-time order status updates and proactive communications.

Shopify

Shopify is an ecommerce platform that includes order fulfillment capabilities. With an easy-to-use interface, it’s a popular choice for ecommerce businesses of all sizes. Shopify offers a customizable storefront, works across multiple sales channels, and includes integrated order management. It also has functionality supported by other applications, such as marketing.

Features to Look for in Fulfillment Software

With so many order fulfillment solutions in the market, it can be hard for 3PLs and ecommerce brands to know which software is the right choice. However, by carefully evaluating features and aligning them with your business needs, both 3PLs and brands can transform order fulfillment obstacles into achievements.

Best Fulfillment Software Features for 3PLs

For 3PLs, the right fulfillment software can simplify complex operations. By carefully considering features that address your unique challenges, you can get the most out of operations without taxing the bottom line or hiring more people. Here are some key fulfillment software features every 3PL should consider:

Multi-client management

3PLs often manage orders for multiple clients, and each client has unique requirements. Many clients have orders for multiple product types sold across a variety of channels, so it’s important to find a solution that will help you effectively segment each client’s needs while simultaneously managing all those needs for each client. The software should help you maximize client engagements.

Shipping carrier integration

Shipping carrier integration is a crucial feature for 3PLs. This software capability can help you seamlessly manage shipments across multiple carriers, for example, FedEx, USPS, UPS, and others. This capability should help you tap into a wider range of shipping options, negotiate competitive rates, streamline shipping processes, optimize routes, and ultimately improve your day-to-day operations.

Order management

Order management overarches your end-to-end order fulfillment program. Look for a solution that has order management capabilities to simplify order processing, track order status, process returns, and communicate with customers and key stakeholders.

Inventory management

Accurate inventory management can help prevent stockouts and overstocks, both of which can disrupt operations, cost money, and make your clients unhappy. Look for a solution that supports real-time inventory visibility and directly aligns with orders as they are processed. Seek a solution that also automates tasks such as reorder points and has the capabilities to manage multiple inventory types across multiple warehouses.

Warehouse management

Look for a solution that facilitates efficient warehouse management and can help you do things like get the best use out of warehouse space and storage, optimize inventory, minimize picking and packing mistakes, and expedite order fulfillment. It may also be beneficial to find a solution that can help you plan warehouse layouts, manage your resources, and track roles and tasks in real time.

Reporting and analytics

Data is king, and 3PLs have a lot of internal and external data to capture and process. Look for a fulfillment option with reporting and analytics capabilities. This data is key to setting metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can proactively identify problems, make plans for improvements, optimize resources, and make informed business decisions. Look for a solution with out-of-the-box and customizable reports such as fulfillment metrics, inventory levels, order numbers and status, and warehouse capacity and efficiency.

Billing

Disparate data is worthless data, so look for fulfillment software that integrates with—or manages—key functions, for example, billing. Quality software should enable your teams to easily generate invoices, manage billing cycles, and track revenue and expenses.

Best Fulfillment Software Features for Ecommerce Sellers

For ecommerce brands that manage their own orders, your fulfillment software should enhance customer engagements and streamline processes. Here are some features to look for in logistics and fulfillment software:

Order management

Order management is key to keeping your customers happy. Look for a solution that facilitates fast and accurate order processing, shipping, tracking, and returns all within a single platform. Your solution should also enable automatic communications, for example, order notifications, so you can keep your customers engaged and updated.

Inventory management

Inventory management software is critical for ecommerce businesses to ensure the right stock levels when you need products most—and to make sure you don’t have wasted inventory sitting on your shelves when you don’t. Look for fulfillment software that has inventory management features such as real-time visibility, automated reorder points, and demand forecasting.

Multi-channel integration

Ecommerce businesses sell their products across multiple channels, such as websites, marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, and across a growing list of social media platforms. Omnichannel integration capabilities are important, so look for a solution that can help you manage orders and inventory across all the diverse channels you use.

Shipping carrier integration

If you’re managing orders on your own, you’re always looking for the best rates and routes to get products to customers. Look for software that facilitates relationships with multiple shipping carriers and options. It will also be beneficial if your solution can quickly and easily create shipping labels and track shipments from the time an order leaves your warehouse until it’s in your customer’s hands.

Automated order processing

Automated order processing can significantly reduce the time, resources, and effort you’d otherwise invest in order fulfillment. Look for software with automated order processing like picking, packing, and shipping. If you’re using robotics or other technologies such as barcode scanning, be sure your solution supports those processes, too.

Multi-warehouse support

As your business grows, you may outgrow a single warehouse and need multiple, sometimes across various geographical regions. Look for a solution that supports numerous warehouses and that can scale and flex as needs change. The solution should also help optimize routes, speed up delivery, and decrease expenses with automatic order routing to the nearest warehouse.

How to Use Fulfillment Software

Technologies that are hard to use rarely offer a worthy return on investment (ROI). For 3PLs and ecommerce, knowing how to use all of the features in your software will help maximize the software and also your overall operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and growth. Here are three quick tips to help you get the most out of your next software implementation:

1. Set Realistic Goals

Before beginning your journey, establish clear and achievable goals. Don’t just look at what you’re doing well now, also take into consideration future goals as well as areas that need improvement. For example, can you process orders faster? More accurately? Your goals will help you develop a roadmap so you can have confidence you’re choosing the right tool for your needs.

2. Optimize Product Listings

Accurate and up-to-date product listings with correct pricing are critical for a seamless order fulfillment center. One mistake can cost you sales and money and diminish customer loyalty. Ensure your product information is consistent across all channels to minimize errors, prevent stockouts, and speed up orders. Make sure your product listings are comprehensive and easy to understand to help your customers make informed purchasing decisions. Optimized product listings can also decrease return rates and ensure customers get exactly what they want.

3. Automate Time-Consuming Processes

Order fulfillment uses many repetitive tasks, such as order entry, inventory tracking, and reports. If you’re still using manual processes for this, you’re wasting time and resources, which increases the chance someone might make a mistake. The more times someone on your team has to enter the same data into a different system, or the more times a person has to repeat duplicated manual processes, the greater the mistake risk. Evaluate all your current order fulfillment processes to determine which you can automate so your employees can focus on more strategic business initiatives.

An Extensiv Order Fulfillment Solution

Whether you’re a merchant managing your own fulfillment operations or you’re a 3PL navigating omnichannel order fulfillment for multiple clients, the key to success is automating tasks to optimize efficiency while reducing costs. The right order management solution can help you do that—and much more.

With Extensiv, for example, you can see the full picture of your fulfillment lifecycle in real-time, as orders come in, are processed, and as inventory levels change. From forecasting future demand so you never overstock or run out of stock, order fulfillment software ensures flawless fulfillment, fewer errors and returns, and happier customers, so you can focus on growing your businesses. Essentially, selecting the right omnichannel order fulfillment software might be one of your most important and impactful business decisions.

If you’re a brand that’s struggling to keep pace with growing fulfillment needs, consider partnering with a 3PL to manage these tasks for you. Not sure where to start? Check out Extensiv’s Fulfillment Marketplace, where you can find the perfect 3PL partner who meets your unique needs. And, if you’re a 3PL looking to expand your offerings, consider partnering with other 3PLs—or evolving into a fourth-party logistics (4PL) provider—to keep pace with multichannel customer demands. The marketplace can help you with that, too.

Interested in learning more about Extensiv? Schedule a demo today!

Fulfillment Software FAQs

Why do businesses use fulfillment software?

Businesses use fulfillment software to streamline and automate order fulfillment, for example, order picking, packing, shipping, delivery, and returns. Fulfillment software with real-time inventory tracking prevents having too much or too little product on hand, while omnichannel order tracking keeps your teams and customers informed from order to delivery.

What is the difference between 3PL and ecommerce fulfillment software?

3PL fulfillment software is for businesses that manage outsourced fulfillment as a third-party logistics provider. Features include warehouse management, multi-client management, and shipping integrations. Ecommerce fulfillment software is for businesses that handle fulfillment in-house, for example, inventory management, order management from multiple sales channels, and shipping.

Is there a trial period available for fulfillment software?

Yes. Many fulfillment software providers offer a free trial period so you can evaluate the software before purchasing it. Check with your vendor for terms and limitations.

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