3PLCompanies.net Uncovers 3PL Warehouse Software Trends in its Most Recent Survey
In August of 2016, WarehousingAndFulfillment.com surveyed its warehousing vendors across the US and Canada to determine the most popular types of warehouse management solutions used and to obtain general feedback about their system of choice. The survey included questions regarding whether the warehouses uses purchased/leased software or custom-built proprietary software, whether or not the inventory management system met their company’s needs, which software program they used if they utilize a purchased/leased solution, what they liked the most about their current system, and what they liked the least about their current system. Below are the results of the study.
Purchased/Leased Inventory versus Custom-Built Proprietary Systems
There are many pros and cons to decipher when considering to utilize an “off the shelf” inventory system or to build a custom platform. In terms of a purchased/leased systems, the costs can be quite a bit lower than developing a system from scratch. On the other hand, custom-built systems can, in theory, offer more flexibility, with the ability to add whatever custom features are needed for the individual situation. Our survey first attempted to determine the extent to which 3PL providers used purchased/leased software versus proprietary or in-house developed systems. Of all respondents, a majority of 65.7% of our 3PL’s surveyed use purchased or leased warehouse management systems, compared to 34.3% that have developed customized solutions in-house. While it isn’t altogether shocking that a majority utilize a leased or purchased solution, it is a bit of a surprise to see that a third of the 3PL’s surveyed have developed proprietary systems in-house. Perhaps many warehousing companies are opting to build a solution in-house in order to provide more customized solutions and to meet the changing needs of warehousing and distribution, especially considering the massive changes taking place within the industry from a technological perspective.
Most Commonly Used “Off the Shelf” Software Programs
The next question we posed to the 3PL warehouses in our network was directed towards those companies that purchase or lease warehouse software. We inquired as to the specific solution that they currently utilize. By far, the top two “off the shelf” systems used were VeraCore and 3PL Central. Nearly 33% of the companies polled used one of these two systems. Camelot was a distant third, followed by a number of other systems, including NetSuite, SmartTurn, I-Tracker, Epicor and others.
How Well Does the Warehouse Software Meet Their Needs?
The third question we asked in our poll was designed to access the overall extent to which the warehouse software system used meets their needs. We asked the 3PL’s to rate their system on a scale of 1-5, where 1 represented that the software does not meet many needs, 2 represented that the software meets some but not all needs, 3 represented that the software meets their needs, 4 represented that the software exceeds their needs, and 5 represented that the software far exceeds their needs. Of all warehouses polled, the average overall score was a 3.3 (slightly above “meets needs”). 5% of all warehouses polled indicated that their system of choice far exceeds their needs, and an alarming 18% indicated that the system that they utilize meets some but not all needs. Proprietary systems did well on the rating system, with a high percentage of companies indicating that the system meet or exceeded their needs. Of the off the shelf software programs, VeraCore scored high on meeting or exceeding needs, as well as Netsuite and Camelot.
What They Liked Most About Their Current System
By far the “most liked” trait of the warehouse software systems used in the poll was the flexibility of the system. Respondents noted favorably that their system “was highly customizable”, “easy to use”, “flexible to change as needed”, “versatile” and “user friendly”. Some respondents noted that the technological features were of greatest benefit – including the ability to connect to client shopping carts and platforms, API connections, and “cloud based, customizable reporting.”
What They Liked Least About Their Current System
For those that found their systems needed some improvements, many were unhappy with the customization capabilities, reporting accounting integration and customer support related issues (response times were lacking). Some further reasons warehouses seemed to be unsatisfied were: integration to other systems, need for updated interface/appearance, need for labor tracking, enhanced multi-location capabilities, and tracking location within the distribution center.