While technologies continue to open opportunities for companies across sectors, the logistics industry is no exception. A survey by Gartner shows that 87% of supply chain professionals plan to invest in making their platforms more resilient. Logistics is a very broad and complex discipline involving numerous concurrent processes, the utmost precision, and continuous optimization. Leveraging software product development technologies allows companies to automate and streamline their business processes and increase efficiency as a result.
In this article, we will cover the topic of logistics software development, discuss the central features and technologies, and explore our step-by-step guide. Using real-life case studies, we will examine how a dedicated software development team can help you turn your ideas into high-performance solutions.
Logistics software development is a process of building tech solutions aimed at automating and managing warehouse and transportation tasks, allowing transport companies to simplify freight operations, reduce costs, save time, and improve customer services. From fleet management, inventory control, and vehicle tracking to order processing and more, logistics applications cover a wide range of tools. Businesses utilize these solutions to gain visibility into their processes, increase supply chain management efficiency, and reduce operational and transportation costs.
Types of logistics solutions range from supply chain software development apps, warehouse management systems, enterprise resource planning software, tracking tools, transportation management systems, and many others.
A transportation management system (TMS) is a logistics platform leveraging technology to assist companies in strategizing, executing, and enhancing the physical transportation of goods. It ensures compliance, verifies the availability of proper documentation, and manages both inbound and outbound shipments effectively. These platforms deal with receiving raw materials, transporting them within the organization, and delivering the end products to the customers. Designed to ensure compliance, keep records, and optimize shipping, a TMS helps organizations provide the best customer experience possible.
Numerous logistics companies use TMS, including but not limited to retailers and manufacturers, pharma and healthcare providers, food and beverage businesses, logistics vendors, and government and defense organizations.
Managing supply chains, equipment, deliveries, and other vital aspects of logistics is a tough undertaking. Let’s examine how logistics software can aid you in making your business more profitable and productive.
Executing tasks manually often leads to errors driven by a human factor. Unlike machines, people are more likely to make mistakes, either from oversight or tiredness. While humans are excellent at analytical thinking and problem-solving, machines excel at performing routine and repetitive actions. Automating processes eliminates any chances of error and allows your staff to focus on more challenging and interesting tasks.
Logistics software applications can also highlight the growth opportunities that will allow you to save expenses. By identifying the best routes, performing cost analysis to select the best supplier, and eliminating human error, these systems will facilitate major cost savings in the long run.
Logistics software development services help businesses maintain structured data collection processes. Not only does this remove manual data entry from the equation but also allows you to systematically accumulate data from different sources. This can eliminate duplications and inconsistencies and assist you in analyzing the gathered information to make better decisions in the future.
The availability of tracking tools has significantly boosted customer experience in the logistics and transportation industry. Instead of relying on arbitrary time slots, your customers can monitor the delivery progress in the app. This feature increases transparency and creates a more trusting relationship with clients.
Logistics software also aids companies in reallocating their resources to increase efficiency. For example, you can monitor your vehicles to identify how many trucks and drivers are required to execute a certain delivery. Such software solutions are also useful for warehouse space optimization by helping you rearrange inventory to increase efficiency.
Using the intelligence of logistics tools, companies can establish secure and transparent transactions at each point of the supply chain process. By creating robust and safe workflows, you can leverage a reliable infrastructure to increase the overall visibility and productivity throughout the organization.
Having a secure application with an interactive user interface, simple navigation, and essential features gives you a competitive advantage. Users are most likely to trust you if they recognize the high level of quality and performance when using your platform. Similarly, your employees will also benefit from such a solution, which will positively impact your business and brand.
In this section, we will focus on the most important features that any logistics solution needs to have in order to meet user expectations.
Real-time tracking functions offer an opportunity for companies to monitor the movement of each shipment, following it from the warehouse to the last mile of delivery. This data is invaluable for route optimization, vehicle maintenance, and customer satisfaction. By tracking cargo in real time, you can proactively make swift changes to the route to avoid delays and meet the expected time of arrival.
Logistics and transportation software development also delivers tools to manage your orders. Using a comprehensive system to generate, update, and manage each order enables a more efficient and organized process structure.
Each transaction requires a set of documentation that goes along with it to ensure transparency and accountability of logistics operations. Logistics software is built to simplify record-taking by allowing you to create reports and invoices and securely store them. Using filtering features, you should be able to instantly retrieve the right document. Having all your technical documentation in software development—including contracts, agreements, and shipment information—in one spot facilitates better process organization and gains valuable insights.
Using machine learning algorithms, you can develop custom logistics software that predicts market trends and anticipates customer needs. Carefully and consistently collect data to run analytics and gain important insights into customer behavior. Based on the findings, you’ll be able to forecast how they will interact with your service in the foreseeable future.
Inventory control software offers companies tools to monitor provision levels and optimize stocking and restocking. This feature allows you to continuously track how many goods you have available, how many you need in a time period, and how the levels can change depending on the demand. For example, logistics companies utilize barcodes and QR codes to organize their inventory and track missing or damaged packages.
Real-time data collection is key to increasing business efficiency. By gathering and processing information as it emerges, you can tackle possible issues head on. Using this feature, you’re empowering your customers to make a last-minute change, request a status at any time, and stay informed about their orders.
Similarly, real-time data helps businesses be more flexible to changes and allow visibility across the supply chain. This transparency paves the way to create a well-structured and traceable system that operates exactly as it should.
Warehouse management is a discipline that entails many procedures and standards that need to be properly executed. The cost of an error at a large warehouse can be anything from a disgruntled customer to a serious injury to an employee. Develop robust and safety-oriented warehouse management systems that help you control inventory, optimize storage, and increase capacity.
Another vital feature of logistics software is the calculation of delivery fees that cover your costs without repelling customers with high rates. Such applications offer a comprehensive cost analysis that helps you identify the exact ratio to keep your business healthy while maintaining competitive fees.
Whenever your systems are down or there is an issue with the internet connection, switching to a lightweight offline version of the app can be quite beneficial. Using this mode, users can access reports, order history, and other relevant data to retrieve important information.
To reach drivers en route, consider building messaging or calling features. If a logistics manager identifies an accident that will delay the delivery, they can find a more optimal way and communicate this information to the driver in real time.
Much like any modern application, logistics software development also requires a notification system to inform users about any changes. Through notifications, they can learn about the status of their cargo, updates to the system, and new offers and discounts.
While cutting-edge technologies continue to improve efficiency and unlock cost savings for companies across sectors, logistics processes can also be enhanced using IoT, AI, cloud, and other technologies.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is at the forefront of digitalization when it comes to supply chain and logistics software development. Using sensors, you can continuously monitor and gather data regarding your equipment, inventory, and orders. Especially in conjunction with 5G, IoT technology facilitates an array of incredible benefits, from improving storage conditions to predictive maintenance.
AI and ML are two leading technologies for process automation and forecasting. Companies can eliminate tedious manual work and allow their employees to focus on more challenging tasks. At the same time, ML algorithms leverage big data to make accurate predictions about the market and customer behavior.
Another pioneer in process optimization, computer vision is a technology that interprets visual information and converts it into binary. This mechanism enables faster and more effective package scanning, including damage detection. From streamlining warehouse management to increasing infrastructure security, computer vision offers a large array of potential applications in the logistics industry.
Robotics have also found use in logistics and supply chain management. Warehouse employees can benefit from autonomous robots and guided vehicles that speed up sorting and retrieving processes. This technology not only enhances efficiency across the board but also makes the workspace safer by removing hazardous risks from humans.
Last-mile delivery technologies create visibility for the last stage of the delivery process. Using autonomous vehicles, drones, robots, and real-time location sharing, companies provide a transparent experience to their customers. For example, food delivery apps like Uber and Postmates already utilize this technology by offering real-time data about their order status.
Finally, let’s move on to our comprehensive guide to creating logistics software solutions. From requirements gathering to launch, we will go over each internal step of the process.
Any software product development life cycle begins with information gathering. Analyze your current weak spots and come up with solutions to solve or mitigate them. Try to pinpoint the root cause of the issue and deliver the best outcome. For example, if you realize that your deliveries tend to arrive later than expected, dig deeper to find the cause. Maybe your route planning is not optimal or your calculations are flawed.
A team of business analysts will help you break down your existing processes and find the biggest pain points. Using their expertise, they will identify the areas that need improvement and give you a foundation to ideate a solution.
Choosing between on-premise and cloud deployment is another important step of the logistics software development process. Traditional infrastructure requires a significant investment upfront to install the necessary hardware and servers. The biggest advantage of this model is that it allows companies to retain more control over management and maintenance.
Cloud computing doesn’t cost nearly as much to set up and run but it does require you to surrender some of the control. At the same time, delegating cloud maintenance to a third-party vendor allows you to dedicate your time to innovation and development. Cloud-based software is also more affordable and compatible with other systems.
No matter what model you go with, you will need to free up the company’s resources to execute a logistics software development project. Plan out the timeline, budget, and staff that will be assigned to the project to assess your possibilities. If some human resources are missing, consider partnering with a software development agency.
Custom logistics software development allows you to pick and choose the modules you need to meet your goals. Depending on your business model, industry, and current needs, you can include a CRM system, warehouse management system, supply chain management tool, enterprise asset management software, and manufacturing execution system.
Analyze your needs and select the modules that will aid you in optimizing your business processes and increasing customer satisfaction. In case of budget constraints, begin by implementing the main features and expand in future iterations.
Unless you have a fully trained and seasoned team of developers and testers on board, you might need to find a trustworthy vendor for transportation software development to realize your vision. While hiring an in-house team is a long and expensive process, outsourcing your project to a third-party vendor is more cost-effective. Ultimately, outsourcing software development costs allow businesses to allocate their valuable resources toward business goals.
Before delegating your logistic software development to an external agency, conduct a thorough investigation into their expertise. Make sure they have proven experience in the logistics industry and up-to-date knowledge about relevant technologies and showcase open communication patterns. Aside from testing their technical prowess, pay attention to how they respond to your questions and queries.
The largest part of the entire process is the actual coding of the logistics software. Nowadays, companies opt for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) as opposed to releasing a final version right away.
Essentially, an MVP is a basic version of your idea containing only the most important features. The main goal is to solve users’ problems with your application without overspending on additional functionality. As a result, you can safely test the software, collect feedback, and make changes in future cycles without breaking the bank.
Although technically a separate step, quality assurance has long become an internal part of the coding process. Using modern Agile methodologies, logistic software development companies work in short sprints, gradually coding and testing the application. This method allows them to catch bugs sooner and prevent them from making their way into the final product.
Application launch is not the final step, it simply finishes the cycle. The next step is collecting feedback and going back to the drawing board. Using customer opinions, you can make further improvements to the app functionality and design, remove poorly performing features, and add missing ones.
Moreover, this stage includes updates and security patches to protect your solution from cybercrime. Without continuous updates, you are at risk of leaving current vulnerabilities open to exploit.
Before starting a transportation logistics software development project, consider the scalability of the application. An integral part of logistics, scalability demands a modular and flexible architecture using microservices or containerization. Additionally, the Agile methodology offers more adaptability and allows teams to make adjustments on the go.
Another crucial aspect is a user-centric design that attracts customers with intuitive navigation and a responsive interface. You can achieve this by continuously testing with end users to identify which design appeals to your customer base.
Security also plays a major role in the success of your application. Best practices like multi-factor authentication, robust permission management, and regular audits aid logistics businesses in ensuring the utmost data protection.
Finally, make sure you have established a collaborative environment that fosters mutual respect and open idea exchange. Every stakeholder, from the company’s executives, the software development partner, and the users should be involved in the process to develop logistics software that stands out.
The costs of outsourced product development are contingent on a number of factors and can range from $20,000 for an MVP to $100,000 and more. Cost determinants include the type of deployment, number and complexity of features, tech stack, the location of your IT partner, and more. While developers in Western Europe and the US charge $100+ per hour, the same skillful engineers in Eastern Europe charge $30 to $50.
NIX is a software development company that delivers high-performance applications across industries. Our extensive experience and in-depth expertise has allowed us to develop logistics software solutions for numerous companies. In this section, we will dive into our success stories and share the outcomes of your dedicated work.
The client built a platform for transportation management that focuses on optimizing fuel consumption. By tracking the costs of fuel and planning routes based on the changing prices, they want to help drivers save on transportation expenses.
We integrated local payment systems to facilitate easy and quick transactions and refueling at partner gas stations. By building fuel management software, we delivered a tool that optimizes fuel consumption and offers optional routes. The application was launched on both iOS and Android, offering access to a wide pool of potential users.
The client is a cash-on-delivery gateway for eCommerce platforms designed for shipment management and order tracking. Since traffic increased from 20,000 to 70,000 requests per day, the system was no longer capable of processing the volume of data.
We began by debugging and increasing the request limit to increase the system’s capacity. We also ran auto-tests to eliminate duplicated requests and remove some of the workload. Additionally, we optimized the code base to firstly process and convert the incoming data and then send it to the database.
If you identify the need for logistics software to improve supply chain management, optimize resources, or automate warehouse management, start by choosing the right partner. Having an experienced and knowledgeable service provider on your side will considerably increase the chances for a successful and fruitful outcome.
NIX is a team of transportation and logistics software experts with years of experience. From business analysis and ideation to coding and post-release maintenance, we offer end-to-end solutions for companies across the globe. Get in touch with our specialists to discuss your ideas and build custom logistics management software that reaches your goals.
With a vast background in business analysis, Roman is keen on identifying actual business challenges, defining tailored software requirements, and navigating IT projects to market success.
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