Top Logistics App Features in 2024

Topic: Guides

Author's photo

In my last article, I covered the essentials of logistics apps, their varieties, what they offer to businesses, and how to develop one tailored to individual company requirements. Here, I'll expand on the functionalities of this software.

What logistics app features are essential to stay relevant in the modern world?

How can an app satisfy current and future market demands?

And how can it leverage new technological advancements to the fullest?

Stay tuned, as we uncover answers to these questions.

Crucial Market Factors to Consider

Overall, there's no doubt that globalization of the economy and online trading will keep increasing, and so will the need for logistics software. This Statista forecast, built on global revenue data in the supply chain management software market, might be a good reference.

Chart showing revenue in the global supply chain management software market

Additionally, it's important to note several key trends that are shaping the demands on corporate logistics systems.

  1. COVID-19 pandemic and regional geopolitical tensions have taught us that today's logistics need to be resilient, adaptable, and quick to switch to alternative routes.
  2. Global economic slowdown, rising costs, and fluctuating consumer demand are placing a focus on cost-effectiveness, with strict limits on logistics spending.
  3. Buyers increasingly prioritize delivery speed and transparency. This drives the need for software that tracks and monitors shipments in real time and effectively manages inventory to shorten delivery periods.
  4. Global surge in the adoption of SaaS solutions. This shift towards flexible and scalable cloud based logistics software offers fresh prospects for providers - both tech startups and regular companies looking to market their software for logistics management initially intended for internal use.
  5. Steady trend towards sustainability. More and more companies are interested in tracking and reducing the environmental impact of their supply chains, particularly the carbon footprint, which necessitates the implementation of relevant functionality.
  6. High demand for software specifically tailored to small and medium-sized businesses and the realities of regional markets. Particularly in the case of Asian and Middle Eastern countries, many find off-the-shelf multi-module universal digital logistics platforms unsatisfactory.
  7. Broad AI adoption by corporations. Experts report that players are increasingly investing in AI implementation to automate their internal operations, including logistics, the results of which we will see in the near future. This could have a significant impact on the competitive landscape.

Next, we'll delve into the capabilities of modern IT solutions for logistics that enable diverse businesses to effectively confront these challenges.

Software Features for Handling Key Logistics Tasks

Manufacturers, sellers, order fulfillment centers, transportation companies, and delivery services - despite their differences, they all handle fundamental logistical tasks that are largely similar. Let's begin with these.

Inventory Management

Inventory management constitutes the basic logistics task of supervising and governing a company's inventory of products. This includes tracking the quantity of products available, their locations, intended purposes, destinations, and anticipated arrival times. Here's how logistics software helps.

Real-time inventory visibility: The app ensures continuous monitoring of current and accurate stock levels at all company warehouses and physical stores, which is essential for running a seamless operation.

Tracking all key product attributes: The app provides continuous access to comprehensive information about any stored product - for instance, it can track serial and batch numbers, weight and packaging size, production and expiration dates, and more.

Eliminating manual data entry and errors: Integration with scanning and barcoding hardware, along with systems for order reservation, procurement, and order picking and shipping, ensures the automatic updating of inventory data for available goods in the system.

Inventory planning: Having too much stock ties up capital, and when popular items run out of stock, it results in missed sales. To avoid both scenarios, the logistics planning software conducts an analysis of sales trends and supply patterns, forecasts future customer demand, and offers recommendations on procurement.

Warehouse Management

Warehouse management covers all the operations within a warehouse or distribution center, such as receiving and dispatching shipments, storing inventory, distributing goods, and processing orders. Here's how logistics software helps.

Automatic inventory tracking using barcoding, RFID tags, or IoT sensors: Staff can efficiently input data into the system by scanning products during goods receipt, handling returns and transfers, or conducting inventory counts.

Optimizing storage spaces: Automated inventory allocation when it arrives at the warehouse, in line with company policies (like First-In, First-Out principle) and factoring in product demand (products in high demand near picking zones) and the total stock size.

Automatic or semi-automatic retrieval of goods: The application can oversee various warehouse automation devices like conveyors, stacker cranes, or guided vehicles, guiding the flow of goods within the warehouse for both intake and distribution.

Assisted order picking: The app can optimize the routes that operators follow during picking (like batch picking or zone picking). It also can control picking stations with pick-to-light or pick-to-voice technology, or accomplish fully automated order assembly with robotics.

Staff workload management: The app can generate staff schedules, allocate tasks, streamline warehouse travel paths, and track workforce workload and productivity.

Yard and dock management: The system can instruct drivers on the designated loading docks and direct inventory movement during loading and unloading.

Procurement Management

Procurement management refers to the process of planning, executing, and controlling the acquisition of goods from external sources to meet a company's needs. Here's how inbound logistics software helps.

Handling supplier relationships and transactions: A system analyzes supplier proposals, selects the best performers considering costs and estimated lead times, maintains a record of previous interactions, and assesses their reliability.

Purchase orders processing: The system can completely automate the management of purchase orders, procurement data, and inventory receipts.

Tracking products: The system provides information about the location and all product details throughout the entire chain, including their characteristics, price, and delivery information.

Customizable dashboards and reports provide control over the process, including tasks such as approving purchase requests and defining default vendors and automated reorder points.

Transportation Management

Transportation management encompasses all aspects of moving physical goods outside of company facilities. Transportation software development enables the automation of the following tasks.

Managing relationships and interactions with transportation carriers: This includes managing financial transactions such as invoicing and payments, as well as handling cargo documentation.

Optimizing routes: The system assists in choosing the best shipment mode and carrier for each load by analyzing numerous offers and providing recommendations or functioning completely automatically.

Tracking shipments: This involves updating the cargo status or providing real-time tracking within the logistics tracking app, as well as sending notifications or real-time data to the cargo recipients.

Measuring performance: A system monitors the amounts and velocity of transport, associated costs, and facilitates planning and forecasting using reports, dashboards, analytics, and AI tools.

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management means controlling the whole flow of materials and data associated with a company's product, from acquiring raw materials to the final product delivery. Here's how logistics software helps.

Centralized control over all logistics processes: The system integrates product manufacturing, storage, transport, and distribution into a unified whole under centralized control.

Asset management: A system enables tracking of all movable and immovable assets, including their location, technical health, real-time availability for use, demand, efficiency, and income generation.

Pricing and costing management: The system aids in establishing the actual cost of inventory assets and all connected expenses, and in accurately reflecting these in your pricing strategy.

Forecasting and planning: By examining trends and the demand for products, the system predicts the needs of customers and manufacturers, considering equipment and staff constraints, to effectively organize supply schedules, highlight possible crises, and assess the efficiency of processes.

Fleet Management

Fleet management involves continuous supervision of the company's vehicles, gear, and driving personnel. Main features of fleet logistics digital platforms are as follows.

Vehicle location tracking in real-time: This can be accomplished through GPS, cameras, and IoT sensors, serving both for delivery monitoring and providing cargo status information to recipients.

Handling shipping orders and optimizing delivery routes: The system speeds up delivery and reduces fuel consumption by selecting the best route from available options.

Scheduling regular vehicles maintenance checks: Automating this task, along with tracking the technical parameters of vehicles, reduces fleet maintenance costs and enhances travel safety.

Ensuring driving safety: The system can provide real-time alerts for vehicle upkeep needs and any breaches of speed limits.

Most Important Integrations for Digital Logistics Platforms

The foremost advantage of logistic software is that it can be integrated with both the company's internal IT systems and external suppliers' services. This integration significantly enhances the speed, ease, and automation of data and document exchange and process coordination among them. Here's how it works.

  1. Order management systems: The logistics app has to be integrated with all order receiving systems used by the company, including various websites and online marketplaces, or with point of sale hardware for automatic and accurate stock counts.
  2. Supplier and delivery service systems: Integrating with partner IT systems allows for faster, simpler, or even fully automated transactions and data/document exchange.
  3. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system: By combining logistics with company resource management, we can eliminate manual data entry and enhance real-time visibility and efficiency in every operation.
  4. Customer relationship management (CRM) system: Exchanging data between the logistics app and CRM improves delivery service quality through increased transparency and feedback while simplifying sales system efficiency analysis tasks.
  5. Payments and accounting systems: The logistics application can transmit inventory movement and sales data to the accounting system for automatic report and document generation.
  6. HR and workforce management systems: The logistics app can provide data on schedules, staff workload, and their productivity, all vital for managing human resources.

Specific Logistics App Features for Distinct Business Types

Besides the universal logistics app features described above, there are many specialized logistics solutions for specific business types, incorporating the exact functional modules they need. We're going to explore the most prevalent ones.

Logistics Software for Retail and eCommerce

Companies selling goods directly to consumers in physical stores, over the phone, or online need the following features for logistics tasks.

  • The system delivers reliable, current data on the amount of merchandise available for selling and adeptly handles stock regulation by coordinating purchases from suppliers.
  • The system smartly organizes inventory and automatically provides online shoppers with details on related, similar, and substitute products, including discounts on multiple item purchases.
  • The system enables pricing management by showing product prices to buyers according to rules set by the company, like including discount systems for specific product categories and customers.
  • The ecommerce logistics platforms manage relationships with distribution centers and delivery services, automates order processing and dispatch to customers, offers shipment tracking, and sends notifications to buyers.
  • The logistics application automatically calculates metrics and compiles reports on best selling items, most valuable customers, packaging and delivery efficiency, etc.

Courier, Express and Parcel Delivery Solutions

Such companies prioritize quick delivery, including same-day or hourly services. Top logistics delivery apps features are as follows:

  • The software must provide a centralized platform for managing orders, tracking their status, and ensuring that deliveries are dispatched promptly.
  • Real-time tracking of couriers' locations is crucial to maintain full visibility throughout the delivery process to respond quickly to any unforeseen delays.
  • The software should offer route optimization capabilities to minimize delivery times and reduce fuel costs.
  • The software should facilitate real-time communication with customers through various channels, including SMS, WhatsApp, email, or a dedicated app, ensuring customers are always in the loop.

Freight Forwarder Logistics Apps

These online collaborative logistics platforms act as intermediaries between transportation companies and businesses in need of their services. Main features of such logistics bidding platforms include:

  • Businesses can choose from a diverse selection of multi-modal carriers, giving them the flexibility to find the most suitable transportation options for their cargo.
  • The app provides real-time tracking capabilities, ensuring that businesses can monitor the status and location of their cargo throughout the entire transportation journey.
  • The platform automates routine tasks such as carrier selection, documentation, and billing. This automation simplifies administrative processes and reduces the potential for errors.
  • The platform offers communication tools that facilitate seamless interactions between shippers and transport companies, enabling smooth collaboration and information sharing.

On-Demand Delivery Logistics Apps

With these web or logistics mobile apps, people can easily shop for diverse products from on-the-ground stores, restaurants, and pharmacies, enjoying the benefit of having their purchases delivered to their homes. Here are their key features:

  • On-demand delivery apps offer a user-friendly product catalog that allows customers to browse and select items.
  • Users can choose from multiple payment options, including credit cards, digital wallets, and cash on delivery, to complete their purchases.
  • The delivery logistics app makes sure that orders are processed efficiently by assigning tasks to the staff in charge of picking and delivering.
  • Users can monitor the status of their orders, track the delivery route of the courier, and receive timely notifications about the progress of their delivery.

Reverse Logistics Software

Reverse logistics software, also known as returns management apps, are self-service platforms for customers wanting to return a purchased item. Their main features are as follows:

  • Clearly communicates the company's return policies, including eligibility criteria, return windows, and any associated fees or conditions.
  • Allows customers to initiate returns, select shipping methods, and generate prepaid shipping labels, as well as request refunds, credits, or product replacements.
  • Offers real-time tracking of return shipments, allowing customers to monitor the status of their returns from initiation to receipt.

Advanced Technologies in Logistics

We are witnessing a significant growth in new technologies, actively being developed for practical applications, including logistics. Many are still in the pilot stage, such as augmented reality for order picking, driving and delivery, drones for delivery, or self-driving trucks. Yet, some are already routinely used, and we will discuss these in more detail.

AI Logistics Solutions

Nowadays, artificial intelligence (AI) is mainly used by third-party logistics companies for warehouse and transportation automation. This includes using AI software for forecasting, inventory management, route planning, and controlling automated equipment like robots and forklifts.

Furthermore, digital twin technology type software is enhancing logistics performance by generating a virtual replica of a physical asset, such as a truck or warehouse. It helps logistics firms quickly identify and respond to supply chain issues as they happen. This shows how versatile artificial intelligence is. As AI learning speeds up, we can expect even more uses in the future.

IoT in Supply Chain

Internet of Things (IoT) devices, able to collect and send real-time information, are broadly applied in logistics. IoT in transportation and logistics significantly enhance fleet management by monitoring vehicle locations, fuel consumption, technical vehicle parameters, and driver behavior.

IoT in warehouse management involves the use of smart shelves and robotic systems to automate tracking and product flow management for precise inventory control. The operational data from IoT logistics devices boosts efficiency in route management, environmental monitoring, and advanced data analysis.

Final Thoughts

Logistics management software has become indispensable for businesses in fields like production, e-commerce, delivery, and transportation. Competing and excelling in service is highly challenging without these automated solutions. We've reviewed the fundamental aspects of logistics apps to help you discern and choose features that will be beneficial for your clients and your business.

If you're aiming for a specific solution, a custom logistics software development that progresses in phases might be the way to go. To understand how it works in practice, you can check out the warehouse automation project developed by our logistics app development company, as highlighted in the portfolio section. It describes how the custom logistics application grew and evolved alongside the customer's e-commerce company:

  1. At the start, it was a fairly basic app that merged an external inventory management service with the customer's website-linked order management system.
  2. As soon as the customer's company secured its own warehouse, we integrated functions into the application for its control.
  3. At the next stage, the customer moved the warehouse to a more spacious facility, equipped with conveyors and pick stations to partially automate order processing operations, and the app's functionality easily adapted and took on the task of managing this equipment.
  4. The next stage in line is full automation of all warehouse operations using robotics, which will be controlled by the same application.

Interested in discovering how this highly flexible and cost-effective custom development approach can support your business? - We're ever-willing to hear you out, investigate, explain, and suggest alternatives!

Related Posts