Technology August 7, 2015 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,831 Reads share

Outsourcing Mobile App Development for Improved Logistics Services

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Outsourcing mobile application services can enable logistics service providers to streamline their operations and enhance customer experience. Logistics enterprises provide services to both retail and institutional clients for the shipment of varying volumes of merchandise between locations either nationally or internationally. While transportation of the merchandise is essentially the responsibility of cargo carriers, the service elements that consist of intangibles are the biggest challenges.

While domestic and regional logistic services are relatively easy to handle, international shipments that are meant for export and import transactions involve a lot of complexities. It is in this perspective that outsourcing mobile application development can be beneficial to logistics enterprises.

The wide array of functions that can be executed by developing a mobile application include:

  • invoicing against the merchandise to be shipped,
  • dispatch of consignment from source,
  • accounting treatment of inventories,
  • INCOTERMS documentation for international business such as cost, insurance and freight (CIF), bill of lading, letter of credit and others,
  • receipt of consignment at the destination
  • and follow up of consignment in movement.

Logistics solutions also include the services of inventory and warehousing from third party logistics service providers in which case, the challenges increase many fold. In most cases the challenges arise primarily due to lack of communication, lack of infrastructure and media for real time information exchange, coordination failure in paper work at different points involving different personnel and diverse communication systems which are not compatible with another.

By hiring custom mobile app development services most, if not all, of these challenges can be resolved amicably. Here is a foolproof account of the solutions proposed through the outsourcing of custom mobile apps development services.

Facilitating Real Time Information Exchange among Parties

Real time exchange of information may be enabled through the development of mobile applications that connect all the involved parties such as buyer, seller, and logistics service provider personnel. Right from the time that a cycle of operations commences with the preparing of documents like letter of credit, bill of lading, cost, insurance and freight, free onboard and the likes, a set of communication forces are released that take the form of a complex web. A delay, non execution or inaccuracy in any of the stages hampers the entire cycle by affecting the stages and the stakeholders that have a forward or backward linkage with the wronged stage.

Outsourcing the development of mobile applications delivers a solution to the entire issue by bulk breaking this huge cycle of communications into phases that are related yet distinct. Each phase of the trading activity is then divided into smaller actions. Specific stakeholders are mapped out for the execution of each action and the destination stakeholder that falls in line next is mapped out as well, thus leading to a simple yet long process where each action is a transaction.

The sharing of real time information about the execution of each transaction by a specific stakeholder is shared between all the stakeholders working in different capacities across different enterprises. This ensures transparency across each transaction that is executed and leads to a roadmap for the eventual achievement of the goal of completion.

Implications of using sea route logistics

In cases where exporters and importers opt for the sea route for shipment of merchandise, the delivery of consignment is a time taking affair and even when the merchandise reaches the destination, there are compliance issues to be addressed at the dock for international customs clearance, clearance by the relevant port authorities and local government formalities before the merchandise is secured by the client. This part of the cycle involves copious amounts of paper work and sharing of files, documents and data among stakeholders.

These days third party logistics providers or carrying and forwarding agents offer these services to complete the final lap of the marathon and give legal custody and possession of the consignment to the client. The mobile application can be set with customized levels of accessibility to include stakeholders including the carrying and forwarding agents if necessary on a need to know basis.

Thus the entire cycle of order booking, production, dispatch, shipment, financing of the transaction by a bank, warehousing and inventory management, receipt of the consignment at the destination by the client and payment to the supplier firm are all centralized on the same plane and executed with surgical precision one after the other with the sharing of information on the go.

Can Mobile App Development Services Eliminate Risks?

While the above hypothetical example does offer inspiration to develop enterprise mobile applications, in real business situations things can be more complex. It’s important to mention that the given international trade, while being the lynch pin of globalization, is fraught with risks.

  1. To begin with there are financial risks that are involved in the pricing of a deal owing to fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. While there are sound financial strategies based on the forecasting of spot and forward rates, there is always an element of systemic risks that cannot be obliterated using technology.
  2. Next, there are issues on the political front that may snowball into military conflict in the worst case or in other situations through restriction in damages. This may lead to imposition of economic sanctions, voluntary export restraints, usage of non tariff barriers like quotas or imposition of import tariffs by the host government of the importing firm, or offer of a subsidy to local firms to counter competition from overseas exporters.

These are all examples of political and economic risks that are hard to do away despite the best efforts of all stakeholders involved in international business and logistics.

These political, economic and financial risks are essentially systemic risks that cannot be dealt with using software and thus contribute to what is known in corporate parlance as VUCA:

  • Volatility
  • Uncertainty
  • Complexity
  • Ambiguity

While these are challenges that need to be addresses in the board rooms of enterprises, mobile applications development can effectively fight and reduce the other type of risks – unsystematic risks.

Unsystematic risks are those that arise from operations and can be streamlined using process mapping, software and mobile application development and clinical execution. These risks can be avoided, and thus reduced, using apps.

To put a balanced perspective on things mobile apps can fend off operational risks while financial risks need to be tackled with business strategy.

Operational risks when addressed by embracing technology increases efficiency of enterprises and directly impacts the top line and bottom line. Revenue streams are overhauled and customer’s experience is enhanced. Also, the quality of logistics services is boosted and leads to reduction in working capital blockage due to unnecessary holding of inventories in warehouses and logistics parks. Moreover it also leads to better compliance with statutory norms and government regulations of different countries, thus ensuring smooth working relationships with government institutions.

Why Outsourcing Custom Mobile App Development Services is the Best Solution?

Logistics service enterprises are vendors who generate their bread and butter stream from the core competencies that they have. To streamline their efficiency they need to harness technology as stated above while keeping an eye on the cost discipline, resource engagement and quality of work. Such mobile applications meant for usage in the business to business context are best developed through outsourcing of the same to high quality focused business mobile applications development companies.

Doing so enables logistics service providers to rationalize costs of mobile apps development and achieve the best quality of technology by adopting a scalable model, agile development framework and the great repetitive model. App development companies not only have the technical expertise but also have the systems, structure and strategy to replicate the quality of apps development using the great repetitive model.

Images: “Illustration of business logistics on mobile/


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Zeba Warsi

Zeba Warsi

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