Logistics software for small businesses. How must it help?
We live in a digital world. Why are so many businesses stuck in the 19th century? Why do they manually process business transactions and operations when logistics software does it better, faster, and cheaper? Even small businesses have entered the 21st century using special logistics management software to optimize their daily business life.
There’s a reason for this: logistics software really helps.
Small business logistics – what is it?
Logistics usually means transportation and freight companies, warehouses, retailers and brokers, and production—factories and manufacturers. All these companies need logistics for their business process.
Basically, any company that moves and/or stores goods, services or information in a supply chain or from the point of origin to consumption point may be called a logistics company.
This means that many processes in this company may be optimized with logistics software.
“Logistic software for small business – is it a rational investment of money?”
This is a managing director’s first question when finding ways to cut company expenses.
“Logistics software – doesn`t it complicate things?”
A question asked by any manager accustomed to controlling everything personally, to make sure everything goes right.
Here’s one example to find answers to those questions.
Imagine two transportation companies: Peter owns one; Steven owns the other. Peter`s company is still using paper and a manual approach to manage all company processes. Steven’s company switched to a special logistics management software to handle all company operations.
Both companies want to become a long-term freight partner for Thom, a medical equipment supplier. Thom has large valuable clients in several cities of the country. His equipment is expensive and fragile. Thom is looking for a reliable freight company to safely deliver his products and in time.
Thom has worked with both Peter`s and Steven`s companies before, so he knows their level of services. To make his choice, Thom has put together the following table:
|Peter`s company||Steven`s company|
|How do I place order?||I need to place several calls to establish all relevant information.||I place my orders by phone. I have my personal page in logistics management software with all relevant information.|
|How do I track my shipment?||I must call the office every day to find out where my cargo is.||I get an SMS on my phone when cargo is onloaded and offloaded. I can see the location of my cargo on the map anytime.|
|Is my cargo safe?||My fragile equipment was damaged twice when it was being loaded onto the truck.||My cargo is marked in a special way to prevent damage when being loaded and transported. They use special algorithms to plan the load. They also take my cargo attributes into account|
|What about delivery timeline?||Once the delivery was delayed because of a truck break down.
Once the delivery was delayed because the driver got lost and did not answer the phone for 2 days
|Once delivery was delayed because of a storm.
Once driver was ill, but they quickly replaced him because they knew where the truck is.
|Is my personal data safe?||I don`t know. They keep all the papers with my orders details in their office.||They encrypt all my data in the system. Their software is secure.|
|How much do I pay?||Peter would like to keep me as a long-term customer, he offers 10% discount for each 5th shipment.||Steve’s standard price is the same as Peter`s discounted price given only 20% of the time.|
|Am I happy?|
I guess you can answer the last question in the table yourself :).
From the table, we see that the special logistics management software puts Steven`s company a step ahead of his competitors. Thanks to this software, Steven’s company provides a higher-quality service and also reduces the company`s expenses and keeps the price very competitive.
This is what usually happens when a company automates its logistics processes. How is all this possible? Let us review each feature mentioned in the table above!
Logistics for small business – the most popular (and cost-saving!) features
From the example, we see that Steven`s company has integrated logistics in business by automating some major operations. Those logistics improvements are the following:
Automatic truck-load planning – transportation companies often face LTL (or “less than truckload”) problem. This means there are not enough items to load a whole truck. This is a problem. Truck charges remain the same regardless of the load.
Logistics management software may solve this problem in several ways:
When long destinations have several delivery points, logistics software plans the load based on a last-in, first-out (LIFO) algorithm. This ensures that items for the nearest delivery point are loaded last to save time when offloading.
Automatic route planning – logistics software automatically plans delivery routes taking all relevant factors into consideration. Such factors include lost time traffic jams, fuel consumption rate, average speed. Integrated with online services like Google maps, it adjusts the route on the go depending on the actual road situation.
One software system combines management for supply, production, warehouse and transportation – a single software program integrates all the business processes. It optimizes interaction between company departments and reduces workload for all the involved parties.
QR codes for load and delivery – when many items are loaded at the same time into several trucks, simple mistakes might happen and destination points are mixed up. Putting a QR code on each unit package gives the freight handler all necessary information. This reduces the mistakes and optimizes the whole load process.
QR codes are also a good solution for warehouses. You can create a placement map for the warehouse showing places reserved for each item or an item type. Then you can integrate this map with the QR codes. At the time of onload and offload, all the necessary info on each product is available.
Delivery status updates – logistics software sends notifications on the product location during the transportation process in three ways:
- a product QR code is scanned during load and offload,
- a notification is sent with a simple tap by an employee,
- a notification is sent automatically when certain GPS coordinates are detected.
Planning equipment maintenance – your logistics management software can include a special module to handle equipment maintenance and repair. To detect major breakdowns before they happen on the road, this module schedules planned equipment inspections. The software can also help with the repair. When a certain piece of equipment malfunctions, it is possible to scan its QR code and get instructions on the repair.
If you prefer, it can even call a maintenance team that will get a special notification.
Specialized logistics software for small business simplifies and streamlines a company’s business processes in a company. This makes the whole logistics cycle more quick, precise and accurate.
Logistics for small business – basic conclusions
As we can see from the examples above, small business logistics solutions brings some major improvements to the company daily operations. In general, it is possible to describe those changes like below:
Automation of manual processes
Is your office buried under papers? Are your employees manually inputting details for each freight or product item?
Yes? Then learning about this special software is a life saver.
Logistics software for small business can handle complex analytical tasks. These include:
- choosing the appropriate driver or truck for a delivery
- planning the optimal route based on several factors
- providing algorithms for a truck or warehouse load
When done manually, all those processes take much longer.
Eliminating human errors
Automating analytical tasks and calculations prevents from possible—and probable—human error. From calculating discounts for a wholesale customer to estimating weight load for the next truck, this software has you covered.
Proper planning and execution
Precise automated calculations, analytics and control of operations and tasks streamline the business processes and ensure their timely execution.
Now all your business data is stored electronically in encrypted format—not on the paper that might get damaged or lost. Informational technologies make it possible for you to keep your business data separate from physical repository. This means all your business information is secure.
Improvement of customer service
A logical consequence of all the small business logistics factors listed above results in improved customer service. Timely and high-quality service makes customers happy! Happy clients become your permanent clients and recommend you to other interested customers. This results in an uptick in your business. And that makes you happy.
Custom logistics software vs pre-made packages. Which is better?
Optimize logistics for small business with the help of a special logistics software. There are several pre-made logistics solutions in the market offered as SaaS – software as a service. A company gets access to the software that includes predefined, pre-selected modules. The set monthly/annual price depends on what the company chooses.
This solution has definite advantages—including a lower price—and some disadvantages—like the necessity to adjust company processes to the steps hardcoded in the software.
Another option is a custom logistics solution designed for your company. It might seem such solutions cost more than SaaS, but they deserve close attention for a long-term outlook.
A great advantage of a custom solution is that it is tailored to your company processes. It takes your specific company needs into account. Employees find the UI easy to use.
With custom software, you get the application and a team that supports your software on the go. A team ready and able to adjust the application anytime your business process changes or grows.
At IT Craft, our development team provides similar long-term service for several clients in the USA. We know what we are talking about.
Do you think some of the features described above could help you run your business more smoothly? More efficiently? Do you want to save time, money—and hassle? Do you want more satisfied clients?
Let’s discuss how we can implement logistics software for your business.