In the competitive and fast-paced logistics environment, 3PLs strive to simultaneously ensure that cargo moves uninterrupted through the supply chain and deliver a better customer experience. One of the warehouse technologies that can help accomplish the latter is a warehouse customer portal.
In this blog, we will explore warehouse customer portals and outline seven benefits that logistics service providers like you can experience by adopting this technology.
What Is a Warehouse Customer Portal?
Generally, a warehouse customer portal is a web-based application that allows customers to securely access their cargo data. It gives your clients a glimpse behind the scenes so they can engage in self-service and access data about their shipment statuses, inventory levels, and more, all without needing to reach out to your team.
7 Benefits of a Warehouse Customer Portal
A warehouse customer portal offers several benefits to customers and your organization, including (but not strictly limited to) the following seven:
1. On-Demand Cargo Visibility for Customers
Under traditional cargo management models, clients manually request information regarding their inventory by reaching out to your team via phone or email. If no one is currently available, they may wait hours for a reply, which does nothing but add friction to the customer experience. Accommodating these requests also takes time away from your team that could be better spent engaged in more dynamic tasks.
With a warehouse customer portal, on the other hand, clients can effortlessly log into their accounts and access the cargo data they need on demand without having to tie up your staff. The result is enhanced customer satisfaction and improved efficiency for your team.
2. Efficient Cargo Release
Historically, cargo release processes have been tedious and filled with conflict. Customers must call or email you to release their stored cargo and wait for your team to execute the request. Additionally, the disjointed conversations and typos that can emerge during phone calls or emails can lead to misunderstandings and frustration on all sides.
With a warehouse customer portal in place, clients can log into their accounts and release their cargo in seconds. There is virtually zero chance for mistakes, which paves the way for smoother and more efficient cargo release processes.
3. Faster Quote Requests
Much like the two above, the quoting process has also been a source of frustration for customers. That should be no surprise, as obtaining a quote manually typically requires multiple emails or phone calls that waste the client’s precious time.
Leading warehouse customer portal solutions allow customers to request quotes directly through their accounts. You can even further streamline the quoting process by integrating your warehouse customer portal with your logistics customer relationship management (CRM) platform. When the two can share data, you’ll gain a complete picture of your customer’s activities in one centralized location.
4. Real-time Shipment Visibility for Customers
According to a 2022 survey conducted among supply chain professionals, 77% of respondents considered real-time shipment visibility a “must-have” feature. Be that as it may, 75% of them do not have the technology to track and trace cargo in real-time, a statistic that reveals a severe need for better visibility in the logistics industry.
Warehouse customer portals provide the visibility that clients and shipping professionals crave. With one in place, you can give clients up-to-the-minute updates about the status of their shipments. At the same time, they can access estimated delivery data, find out whether their orders are in transit, and engage in self-service, thereby freeing up your team and saving everyone time.
5. Generate Reports
Providing a high-quality customer experience involves efficiently generating and distributing performance reports. However, preparing and issuing these reports by hand is tedious and distracts your team from more dynamic tasks in the warehouse.
Thanks to their built-in self-service tools, warehouse customer portals represent a clear solution. Once logged into their account, clients can effortlessly generate detailed reports using real-time data. They won’t have to request documents from your staff, instead accessing the insights they need on demand.
6. View Invoice History
Warehouse customer portals also function as a single source of truth for tracking invoices and transactions. With one, customers will no longer have to keep up with dozens of email invoices but instead access all their transactional data from a single interface. Invoice history tracking simplifies the customer journey and helps clients access the documentation they need for accounting and tax purposes.
7. Submit Special Requests
Clients often make special requests regarding how certain cargo must be shipped, palletized, or stored. When their requests are overlooked due to communication issues, they will understandably become quite frustrated.
Warehouse customer portals help you meet each of your clients' unique needs by providing them with a tool for submitting special cargo requests. Since the portal is connected to your WMS, your warehouse staff members are guaranteed to receive the special request. They can then accommodate the request, improving customer satisfaction and helping your business establish itself as a responsive, customer-centric organization.
Warehouse customer portals are critical to providing your customers with a great experience. Not only does it provide on-demand visibility for their cargo, it also allows them to submit job requests, generate reports, view invoices, and more without the need to engage with your team. This results in better labor efficiency for your company and reduces the chances of errors that often happen in email or call transactions. Adopting a warehouse customer portal also strengthens your brand reputation by offering your customer the latest technologies in the industry.
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