Every business is unique—its products and services; its employees and values; its customers and supply chain. And each aspect of a business comes together to make a completely unique data architecture. Aligning that data architecture with your supply chain—from fulfillment to last mile delivery—is a crucial factor in delivering a positive customer experience.
It’s no easy task to shape data integrations to keep your supply chain running smoothly from point A to point B and beyond. Unique problems require unique solutions. And mistakes made while integrating data into your supply chain can be very costly in both time and money. Refer to these three best practices for 3PL data integration to sustain smooth operations throughout your supply chain.
3PL data integration best practice: one size does not fit all
When implementing a 3PL data integration service or an off-the-shelf solution, make sure it truly fits your company’s unique needs. Your company’s processes and data architecture may not be immediately compatible with the tool’s preferred data formats and mapping requirements.
Carefully consider whether the upheaval caused by reconfiguring your company’s data architecture and processes to fit a tool’s specific format and mapping requirements is worth it. Oftentimes it isn’t, because data integration solutions can be tailored to your needs in a much more cost-effective manner, regardless of your chosen data formats.
Specialized data mapping solutions
Rod Colbert, Director of IT Enterprise Applications, helps build specialized data integrations for FIDELITONE clients. His expertise in navigating the hurdles of 3PL data integration supports clients’ data visibility goals while reducing data integration costs.
“Sometimes a client’s last data integration effort was so traumatic—so rigid in its formatting requirements—that the client is afraid to expand or improve their data visibility tools.” says Rod. “After they work with our team, they realize our custom solutions are less time-consuming and less costly than fitting a square peg into a round hole.”
The bottom line is this: if a 3PL data integration service or an off-the-shelf solution is requiring you to uproot all of your processes and data formats to fit their standards, they aren’t necessarily doing you a service. Consider a specialized solution instead. Specialized data mapping can transform data to suit your needs.
3PL data integration best practice: identify visibility requirements
If you’re ready to move ahead with your chosen data integration solution, your next task is to review its capabilities and identify your visibility requirements. In other words, when do you want data passed along for your use and how can the data integration service help supply that information?
This is where the world of data becomes your oyster. Specialized solutions, like those built by FIDELITONE, can capture key data points and EDI transactions, map data to and from your systems accordingly, and specify the frequency of updates as often as needed.
Greater visibility and data integration is a win on all fronts—customer experience, operational efficiency, and cost-efficiency. Take a look at how 3PL data integrations can improve operational efficiency, and identify your high-value data points.
Visibility benefits of last mile delivery data integrations
From load tendering to delivery confirmation notices, data integrations improve visibility into each step of the last mile delivery process to help improve the customer experience.
Gain visibility into the load tendering process, improving last mile network efficiency
Receive updates when goods reach the last mile warehouse
Receive persistent updates of carrier shipment status for deliveries en route, completed, and attempted
Improve customer experience: coordinate customer touch points and post-delivery services with accuracy
Visibility benefits of order fulfillment data integrations
Maintain inventory levels, follow sales and purchase order statuses, and coordinate with trading partners to improve the financial and operational efficiencies of your fulfillment process.
Enable just-in-time inventory ordering
Receive shipment confirmations, including Advanced Shipment Notices (ASNs)
Provide persistent and accurate inventory levels to trading partners and ecommerce customers
Receive updates on inbound shipment and accommodate partial shipments to customer satisfaction
Improve operational efficiency: automate processes to help balance inbound inventory with outbound orders
3PL data integration best practice: coordinate business rules
Once your visibility goals are established for the new integration, coordinate with other partners or services in your supply chain to make efficient use of the new data points. Will your chosen data integration solution accommodate the normalization, sanitization, and mapping of data to other services and partners as necessary?
For example, take a situation where some goods are fulfilled through a different warehouse than all of your other goods. This presents a situation where business rules may be required to normalize and filter out that data to prevent inefficiencies at the warehouse that does not execute those orders. Business rules to prevent superfluous data at one warehouse and ensure accurate sales orders can help streamline fulfillment services significantly.
In short, when bringing in new data integration solutions, ask yourself or your data integration partner “where data needs to go?” and “how does it need to change to be accessible at that endpoint?” Answering those two questions can help resolve business rule problems before they become an issue.
FIDELITONE: 3PL data integration solutions provider
Gaining visibility into your supply chain processes, including order fulfillment and last mile delivery, adds value to your business by improving efficiencies and customer satisfaction. But don’t make the mistake of transforming all of your data processes just to accommodate a tool that can’t properly integrate with your other partners or supply you with timely data. Invest in data integrations that meet your needs.
FIDELITONE’s integration hub and Partner Portal facilitates dataflow through your systems and partner services without requiring your business to take on hefty development expenditures.
“Integrations can become too complex—too convoluted,” says Rod. “The FIDELITONE integration hub is all about making the process as easy as possible for the client. We’ve had clients tell us that they’ve never had an EDI integration go so smoothly. That’s very satisfying to hear.”
Seeking a partner for last mile delivery or order fulfillment data integration services? Benefit from the expertise of industry veterans like Rod and contact FIDELITONE online or call 800.475.0917.