Professional Fulfilment Services: Building robust relationships in the frenetic world of 3PL
Satisfying challenging deadlines and responding to customer requests rapidly and precisely are among the many challenges confronting third party logistics companies.
Establishing a strong and long-term partnership with your warehouse management system (WMS) can make all the difference, as Professional Fulfilment Services (ProFS) can attest from its long association with Realtime Despatch.
‘Fast, efficient and cost-effective’ could easily be the mantra of third-party logistics companies the world over. And in a sector where time – and the best possible use thereof – is literally everything, it is vital that the systems underpinning third-party logistics (3PL) operations are both flexible and reliable. In this context it is not difficult to understand the recent emphasis placed both upon the development of a new generation of warehouse management systems (WMS) and the support capabilities of the companies providing them.
Quick responses to operational needs
The reality is that building a strong relationship with a WMS provider who is able to respond quickly to changing operational needs can make all the difference to third-party logistics companies in what remains a highly competitive sector. Professional Fulfilment Services (ProFS) can certainly confirm this having invested in Realtime Despatch’s precursor to OrderFlow back in 2009, and benefited from the system’s regular updates, feature enhancements and support infrastructure ever since.
Originally established in the Channel Islands, ProFS has progressively grown its global base to accommodate operations in the UK, the Balkans and the US, with a new centre in Belgium opening very soon. Its network of warehouse locations is designed to give faster and cheaper access to the primary markets than can be achieved from one centre alone. With easy access, reliable infrastructure and good processes as part of its arsenal, the company has a long track-record of delivering ‘Smart Global Fulfilment’.
Reliability and responsiveness have always been at the top of the priority list for ProFS’ choice of WMS, and as ProFS Co-Founder Michael Boarer confirms, they have achieved both with Realtime Despatch and OrderFlow:
“Together we have built an enduring relationship that has allowed us to get the very best out of OrderFlow and optimise the benefits it offers in terms of locating tracking, product checking, auditing and more”.
High expectations – great results
When it comes to WMS software, the stakes couldn’t possibly be higher. Complete reliability is essential as any protracted period of downtime threatens the reputation both of customers and the 3PL itself. Regular software updates are obviously important to add new features and enhance existing ones, but these need to take place in a non-disruptive way and one that does not generate fresh issues for the overall workflow.
Both in terms of the performance of the software and the support offered by Realtime Despatch, OrderFlow has achieved superb results for ProFS. For example, Gael Mézec, Chief Technical Officer at ProFS, points to the recent development of a new warehouse for a customer that is operational 24 hours a day.
“The business model was different to anything we had done before and included some challenges around incoming order data and internal processes,” he says. “Realtime Despatch adapted their system to meet our requirements and we went live on time with very few IT challenges. We picked, packed and shipped 8,000 items on the first night and the operation has run reliably since.”
Indeed, this flexibility of response has been a constant theme of the long relationship between ProFS and Realtime Despatch.
“The whole process is so agile and free of excessive red tape. It is possible to be discussing a new requirement on a Monday then testing the change later the same week,” says Mézec.
ProFS’ implementation of OrderFlow involves the use of its own cloud hosting infrastructure, although subsequent to its initial investment in the system Realtime Despatch has begun to offer cloud-hosting capability via a partner organisation. This infrastructure has given the company the flexibility it requires to adjust to constantly shifting levels of activity, whilst the OrderFlow software itself has remained stable and reliable through a succession of updates. All of which has ensured that ProFS has consistently been able to meet the expectations of its clients worldwide, which currently number in excess of 20 major names.
Reflecting on this relationship with one of its longest-serving customers, Realtime Despatch Founder and Managing Director Charlie Armor says:
“There is real benefit in having a long-term relationship like the one between ProFS and Realtime Despatch. In particular, we understand the detail of their business and take care to ensure OrderFlow is precisely tailored to their needs. The fact that ProFS trusts us to interact with key staff at every level of its business means we can get feedback on the system from every perspective and respond to the needs of all users. It’s a great synchronicity that continues to work wonders for both parties.”
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