choosing the right 3PL warehouse management system

Key Takeaways

  • Custom 3PL warehouse management system facilitates optimized workflows, real-time data insights, seamless integrations, and cost-effective operations.
  • Custom software-as-a-service (SaaS) WMS offers tailored solutions, enabling enhanced scalability, flexibility, and adaptability to unique logistics needs.
  • The global WMS market is expected to reach $11.08 billion by 2030, expanding at a CAGR of 16.1% from 2022.

The world of commerce grows and expands at light speed, as do warehousing operations. Being the cornerstone of global trade, today’s warehouses operate with 3PL warehouse management systems to meet the increasing demand.

With supply chain globalization and the surge in e-commerce driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, 3PLs embrace SaaS WMS solutions to remain competitive.

Real-time tracking and visibility, smart inventory control, and intelligent data are the primary reasons logistics companies employ automation software. However, the number of features varies from software to software, making the final business decision challenging.In this post, we will guide you on 3PL warehouse system deployment types.

What Is a 3PL Warehouse Management System?

3PL WMS systems facts and statistics

A 3PL warehouse management system (WMS) is a software solution for third-party logistics providers to manage warehouse operations efficiently. Its functionality commonly encompasses inventory management, order fulfillment, and tracking goods.

Usually integrated with supply chain management software, 3PL WMS software optimizes storage space while improving picking and packing processes. Overall, the system aims to enhance warehouse accuracy, efficiency, and productivity.

Global Warehouse Management System Market Size

3PL WMS software statistics

The global WMS market is projected to hit $11.08 billion by 2030, growing at a 16.1% CAGR from 2022. Furthermore, the increased need for advanced 3PL WMS systems is poised to propel growth in the WMS software market.

Key Benefits of Custom SaaS WMS Solutions

benefits of custom 3PL warehouse management software

Facing the need for agility, warehousing is embracing the power of SaaS — one of the leading logistics trends.

Thus, carriers combine SaaS-based solutions with supply chain analytics and transportation management tools to get the most out of real-time data. SaaS-based warehouse management system for 3PL offers cost-effective access to advanced management systems without significant upfront investments.

While off-the-shelf SaaS solutions ensure enhanced flexibility, quick deployment, and continual updates, they are designed to cover basic operations. When it comes to addressing unique business challenges, it’s worth considering building your own tailor-made 3PL warehouse software. Here’s why:

  • Tailored functionality. Custom solutions imply that your business needs dictate the future features of your product — from basic functions to the application design. That means you will operate with a one-of-a-kind product where each component meets your unique workflow requirements
  • Accessibility, scalability & flexibility. SaaS applications can be accessed from anywhere via the internet while accommodating business growth or fluctuations. At the same time, the customization permits adjustments to internal workflows. It ensures the system stays aligned with changing business needs and tech advancements.
  • Workflow optimization. Custom solutions streamline warehouse operations by integrating tailored functionalities. This optimization enhances inventory management, order fulfillment, and logistics, thus increasing productivity.
  • Real-time data insights. Custom SaaS WMS provides comprehensive and real-time visibility into warehouse operations. Powered by Machine Learning (ML), customized analytics and reporting tools offer actionable insights, enabling informed decision-making for efficient resource allocation.
  • Seamless integrations. Bespoke 3PL warehouse management software can seamlessly integrate with your existing tools and applications. That way, you can ensure cohesive data flow across different platforms, minimizing manual data entry.
  • Cost-efficiency. Despite relatively high initial development costs, custom SaaS WMS solutions can be more cost-effective in the long run. Firstly, tailored functionalities can prevent spending on unnecessary features. Secondly, SaaS-based applications are maintained by vendors, eliminating product upkeep expenses.

Custom SaaS WMS: Essential Features to Consider

top features that make the best WMS for 3PLs

As a business owner or an operational manager, you’re the one to determine the main features of your 3PL warehouse system. Still, when considering building a product from scratch, it’s easy to overlook the fundamentals. From our experience, be it a TMS modernization or a comprehensive fleet tracking app development, it’s imperative to think of the following aspects:

  • Visibility and tracking
  • Inventory management
  • Critical asset control
  • Compliance
  • Reporting

#1. Stock Visibility

This feature aids in monitoring goods throughout shipment, ensuring optimal stock levels. It manages incoming merchandise and oversees warehouse operations like picking, packaging, and delivery to prevent stockouts, obsolescence, and spoilage.

#2. Inventory Management

Enhancing inventory management, this feature accommodates various stock rotation requirements. It includes aspects like lot numbers, receipt, manufacture, and expiration dates, alongside support for serial number tracking.

You need to ensure your SaaS WMS provides better control over returned products, allowing re-inspection, quality control, rework, repackaging, or re-inventory, swiftly addressing shipping or distribution issues as they arise.

#4. Compliance Labeling

Facilitating integration with compliance labeling standards, it enables the creation of labels conforming to desired consumer or carrier specifications.

#5. Advanced Reporting

Enabling informed decisions, this function generates diverse reports aiding purchase strategies, from monitoring Amazon stock replenishment to enhancing customer transparency on the factory floor.

Custom vs. Off-the-Shelf 3PL Warehouse Management System: The Main Differences

The choice between tailored and ready-made WMS hinges on distinct factors, each offering unique advantages and limitations. When choosing a warehouse management system for 3PLs, it’s crucial to analyze the product’s functionality, scale, development, and deployment.


Off-the-shelf SaaS WMS solutions provide pre-built software with standard functionalities and configurations. They offer quick implementation and cost-effectiveness but might lack specific features crucial to particular business operations.

Conversely, custom systems are tailored to specific needs, allowing you to design functionalities, workflows, and integrations aligning precisely with your operations.

Operational Scale

Off-the-shelf SaaS WMS are ready-made solutions, often suitable for standard warehouse processes. They suit smaller-scale operations or companies requiring rapid deployment without extensive customization. However, these systems may fall short of accommodating unique workflows or evolving business needs.

In contrast, bespoke solutions cater to businesses with intricate operations and varied processes. They offer flexibility and scalability, evolving with the business, addressing specific pain points and providing a more personalized user experience.


Custom solutions require a longer development timeline and higher initial investment due to the tailored development process. Off-the-shelf solutions, however, offer lower upfront costs but might incur additional expenses for necessary add-ons or modifications.


While ready-made solutions provide immediate deployment and cost savings, custom software offers greater flexibility, and long-term adaptability. The ability to precisely address unique business demands makes the latter a strategic investment for businesses prioritizing efficiency and competitive advantage.

How to Choose The Right 3PL Warehouse Software For Your Organization

Selecting the ideal 3PL WMS software involves a meticulous evaluation process to align the system’s capabilities with your organization’s specific needs. Several factors play a pivotal role in making this critical decision:

  • Business assessment. Identify warehouse pain points like inventory management or order processing and prioritize crucial functionalities, such as robust inventory tracking for perishable goods.
  • Scalability and integration. Ensure the chosen WMS scales with your business growth and seamlessly integrates with existing software like ERPs or CRMs for efficient data flow.
  • User-friendliness and continuity. Prioritize user-friendliness and adaptability for quick staff adoption. Consider big data-based systems adaptable to future tech changes.
  • Future relevance. Pick a WMS aligned with industry trends and technological advancements for future relevance and investment protection. Opting for cloud-based systems will be wise, as they receive continuous innovations from the vendor.
  • Cost analysis. Compare initial investment, ongoing maintenance, and customization costs. Assess long-term benefits against the potential expenses.
  • Vendor reputation. Select a reputable provider with a strong portfolio, expertise, and excellent customer support.

Developing a SaaS Warehouse Management System with Acropolium

Developing a SaaS Warehouse Management System with Acropolium

Acropolium has delivered 23+ comprehensive solutions to logistics businesses of various size and operational scale. With extensive experience in platform modernization and mobile app development, TMS solutions, and API integrations, we help companies embrace automation.

In our recent collaboration with a 3PL company, the client sought a sophisticated SaaS WMS solution. Their demand centered on process automation, which would reduce manual activities and create a centralized workflow.

To upgrade the client’s initial system, our development team has built warehouse management software for 3PL operations by:

  • Providing a SaaS cloud-based WMS to automate manual operations and enhance overall efficiency.
  • Utilizing real-time tracking and visibility features to enable seamless data communication among multiple warehousing facilities.
  • Creating a comprehensive, adaptable tool for integrating third-party software and scaling according to operational needs.
  • Ensuring security and compliance to safeguard sensitive freight-related data.
  • Implemented inventory management automation by leveraging mobile accessibility in the cloud-based WMS system.
  • Employing the latest data encryption and access control practices to ensure robust security within the SaaS WMS solution.

Final Thoughts

A flexible and scalable 3PL warehouse management system plays a pivotal role in improving warehousing efficiency. By automating and systemizing activities from the many moving parts of warehousing, third-party logistics companies can broaden their business horizons.

Custom SaaS warehouse management software empowers warehouses with tailored solutions. A tailored approach aligns the system precisely with unique operational needs, enhancing efficiency, scalability, and adaptability. Providing real-time insights, seamless integrations, and enhanced security, it grants flexibility to evolve with business demands, providing a competitive edge.

At Acropolium, we’re no strangers to the transformative power of automation, cloud computing, and SaaS solutions. Having provided 54+ consultations and bespoke services to 5+ large logistics clients, our company has witnessed businesses thrive through automation.

Whether you’re a small company or a large enterprise, we are here to build a 3PL warehouse system that grows your operations and expands as you grow. With your budget being a priority, we offer subscription-based software development services to realize your goals cost-efficiently.

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