GO 4PL AND CONQUER: Software Empower 3PLS to Grow by Creating and Managing 4PL Networks
Time was when a third-party logistics (3PL) company was looking to build a sophisticated fourth-party logistics network, massive funding had to be raised to pay for the costly software development associated with 4PL models.
That all changed this past July when Extensiv—which delivers omnichannel software solutions for warehouse inventory and order management—unveiled Extensiv Network Manager.
This product allows even 3PLs with limited technical capabilities to build and operate a software-enabled fulfillment network to compete with the likes of Ship Bob and Deliverr. Additionally, unlike home grown software solutions, Extensiv Network Manager is a cloud-based, fully productized and supported product that continues to be developed and enhanced.
“Extensiv Network Manager leverages the company’s deep experience working with 3PLs and its industry-leading 3PL warehouse operations platform to offer sophisticated fulfillment capabilities while continuing to operate their warehouses using 3PL Warehouse Manager,” explains David Miller, vice president of strategy at Extensiv.
“Consumer expectations are at an all-time high,” he continues. “Inflation has only increased the need to keep shipping costs down, but consumers still expect fast, and often next-day, delivery. Single or even two warehouse fulfillment approaches force brands to choose between paying exorbitant prices for unprofitable expedited shipping or choosing low-cost saver services, which results in painfully slow delivery times.”
But Extensiv Network Manager helps 3PL providers build and manage networks of geographically distributed partner warehouses, where a brand’s inventory is distributed across and shipped from multiple locations, enabling lower costs and expedited delivery options while retaining customer relationships and reducing risk and capital overhead.
How? By combining software, services, tools, and relationships that empower any 3PL, even those operating out of a single warehouse, to partner closely with other 3PLs to service brands across multiple geographically distributed warehouses. Unlike current homegrown solutions that 3PLs may have cobbled together, Extensiv Network Manager offers the key capabilities necessary to build and operate a hybrid network, including sophisticated order routing rules as well as complete visibility and control over all orders regardless of which node is shipping them.
Early adopters have seen positive results already, with one customer, Rocket Shippers, using Extensiv Network Manager to lower shipping costs while decreasing transit times by intelligently routing orders to the best-fit fulfillment center in their network.
“The Network Manager team did an amazing job streamlining our order routing rules,” says Matthew Schneider, senior account manager at Rocket Shippers. “Network Manager has made it so much easier to process Seller Fulfilled Prime orders in our network as well as providing inventory visibility across multiple facilities.”
SOLVING PROBLEMS FOR 3PLS AND BRANDS
As a brand’s expectations of their fulfillment partners grow, 3PLs need a low-risk, low-cost option to bring customers distributed inventory and omnichannel fulfillment services while retaining direct relationships with these brands. Space restrictions, start-up costs, risk volatility, and other considerations keep smaller 3PLs from expanding into new facilities, thus limiting their ability to service growing brands and making their offering less competitive.
Many brands have tried to build their own multi-3PL fulfillment strategies to offer faster or less expensive delivery. In the modern technology-enabled supply chain, brands require the consistency of service that can only be delivered by operating on a standard technology platform with an identical configuration and shipping strategy across every node. In today’s era of heightened consumer expectations, brands need to efficiently support not just ecommerce deliveries, but omnichannel fulfillment. Extensiv Network Manager helps 3PLs deliver on these rising expectations.
Operating a reliable network of partner 3PL warehouses, the technology works together to expand geographic reach, increase service offerings, and improve SLAs while reducing overall operating expenses for themselves and their customers. 3PLs utilize Extensiv Network Manager for:
- Complete visibility: Inventory and transaction details are visible across all networked warehouses in a single, dedicated management portal. This eliminates duplicate entry and the confusion of multiple logins and systems.
- Order Routing: Logic-based order routing and management tools automatically send orders to the best fulfillment center in the network based upon virtually unlimited business rules; seamless order flows from cart to the 3PL warehouse manager (WMS) and back without duplicate setups or convoluted tagging, with real-time order processing status across all servicing facilities.
- Seamless inventory management: a holistic view of inventory levels across network warehouses. Manage inventory throughout your network by seeing real-time levels and alerts.
- Simplified setup and maintenance: configurable cloud-based software eliminates complexity and can be set up with minimal time and effort. Add new fulfillment nodes with only a few clicks to start fulfilling across the network.
To complement Extensiv Network Manager’s software capabilities, Extensiv also launched an array of services to guide 3PLs through the process of setting up a collaborative 4PL network. These services range from needs analysis, collaboration on partner identification based upon geography or service offering, as well as implementation services to initially configure the fulfillment network.
Extensiv Network Manager builds on the recently launched Extensiv Fulfillment Marketplace, a free resource that empowers 3PLs to identify potential network partners that offer a complementary geographic footprint and/or services.
To learn more about Extensiv Network Manager, go to extensiv.com/extensiv-network-manager, and to find 3PL partners and build your network, visit extensiv.com/fulfillment-marketplace.
Based in El Segundo and formerly known as 3PL Central, Extensiv is regarded as a visionary technology leader focused on creating the future of omnichannel fulfillment. The company partners with warehouse professionals and entrepreneurial brands to transform their fulfillment operations in the radically changing world of commerce and consumer expectations. More than 25,000 logistics professionals and thousands of brands trust Extensiv every day to drive commerce at the pace that modern consumers expect.