Although there are thousands of SaaS-based or ready-made logistics mobile apps available in the market, their customization is usually not an option provided, or it is made clear that the customization will require a significant amount of time and money to implement. Thus custom logistics app development services are in heavy demand. But to get the most out of logistics app development services, you need to have a mature strategy about the app functions that you want, as well as a good understanding of the different stages of app development.
At Nimble AppGenie, we have extensive experience in developing mobile app solutions for logistics businesses. Here, we are sharing the knowledge we’ve gathered through our experience in providing technology support for logistics businesses. This article will be covering many aspects of logistics mobile app development including, benefits, features, development stages, and challenges.
What benefits Logistics Mobile Apps bring to your supply chain?
Logistics is among the industries where time and the accuracy of time estimates is the most precious commodity. Logistics mobile apps can help logistics companies save the time consumed when carrying out specific tasks. However, custom-building a logistics app is not an easy task, as some features come with a high cost of development. For instance, due to the requirements of geofencing and location tracking features, developing and integrating the full-fledged map of a country might cost a few thousand dollars.
Just to be realistic, these features are not meant for small-scale businesses. Features with higher costs are often saved for enterprise-level applications. The mid-large scale logistic companies need logistics software solutions that can help them in digitizing the entire supply chain. Many people misunderstand logistics by relating it to only delivering. However logistics operations also include stocking, packaging, and monitoring the movement of goods. Knowing this helps people understand why enterprises would want to invest in solutions that can help them in optimizing their widespread business operations. The general benefits expected from state of the art logistics mobile apps are:
- Route Optimization. Logistics management mobile apps are equipped with algorithms that help drivers to find the best route to reach the destination. Some mobile apps have advanced route management features such as monitoring the traffic and weather conditions in real-time. These apps take this data into account whilst deciding the optimum route. Optimization of routes allows fleet operators to save vehicle running costs.
- Goods Tracking. Logistics apps incorporate a tracking mechanism which helps logistics companies in tracking their in-warehouse, in-process, and in-transit goods. Apps often use barcode scanning and RFID tags for alter-proof tracking. The logistics mobile app developers can also integrate IoT sensors with the application. These sensors have the ability to give real-time GPS, Temperature, Humidity, Light and Vibration data, which becomes crucial when the goods are easily damageable.
- Goods Security. There is no doubt that the security of the goods is the biggest concern for logistics companies. Therefore, they strive to adopt technology solutions that can help them secure their goods from theft or damage. Logistics management mobile apps ensure the security of goods both in-stock and in-transit.
- Provide Customers with Easy Booking. There are also some customer-facing logistics apps that are aimed at easing the booking of supplies for customers. In addition to providing convenience to the customers, these apps reduce the need for the companies to attend customer calls and get involved in unnecessary email threads. Using the app, the customers can see what they need and they then can place their order.
- Improved Transparency with the Customers. The logistics management mobile apps make it easier for the customers to track their order status and know the estimated delivery time. It builds the customer’s trust in your services, creating the path for a long-term relationship.
- Eliminate Paperwork. Logistics mobile apps empower companies to keep a digital database, which can be accessed extremely quickly. When companies start keeping electronic records regularly, the time and cost for administrative work is usually reduced.
In a nutshell, mobile app technology helps logistics businesses automate their routine tasks, have visibility across all departments, and manage dispatched goods in real-time, thus increasing productivity and profits.
Step by Step guide to Logistics Mobile App Development
We often get queries about cost estimation for logistics mobile app development and our response to such queries is to seek more information about the requirements such as app type, main components and features, etc. This is because without knowing about the app’s specific requirements, it is impossible to find a cost range for the specific project. Thus, knowing the type of app you really need is essential before you get in touch with a logistics mobile app developer if you are looking for an accurate quote.
Here we’ve mentioned the development stages for logistics mobile app development so that you can be on the same page as the developer.
Step 1 – Find a Logistics App type for your use case
Since logistics operations include several departments, the use of apps will vary as per the end-users, purpose, and the features requirements. Knowing the types of logistics apps that can help different aspects of operations, and the one you need is the initial stage of logistics app development. Here we’re mentioning the type of logistics apps that are possible with current technologies:
1. Fleet Management Apps
Large fleet operators need to track information related to every vehicle in their fleet to optimize the operations. The fleet managers can use mobile apps that will help them track, record, store, and manage the fleet information in real-time. Having a transport logistics management app allows fleet operators to keep track of vehicle fuel consumption trends, maintenance history, service cost, and many other performance metrics that give deep insights into the total cost of owning the fleet.
Fleet management mobile app solutions consist of a driver’s mobile app, admin web-based panel, and an admin mobile app. The driver’s app is intended to provide fleet managers with the updates on the vehicle status, whereas the admin panel provides a bird-eye view of the fleet operations. The administrators can assign user roles, scheduled maintenance reminders, track statistics, and so on. Some of the most essential features of a fleet management app include:
- Real-time monitoring and alert system
- Driver management
- GPS vehicle tracking
- Work order submission
- Document management
- Digital gallery for photos and documents
2. Logistics On-Demand Mobile Apps
One of the biggest concerns for the logistics companies is empty miles. Losing potential business opportunities is an unfortunate consequence for the logistics business if operations are managed efficiently. If the vehicles can take some extra freight along, it will increase the revenues for the company. Therefore, logistics services prefer utilizing various types of on-demand mobile apps to make sure that there is no revenue loss.
On-demand mobile apps connect logistics company’s vehicle drivers and the shippers who want to move their cargo. Therefore a typical on-demand mobile app will involve a shipper app (customer), carrier app (drivers), and an admin panel. Here is the basic workflow of an on-demand app:
- The customer (ie. shipper) makes a freight request for cargo delivery and inputs the origin, load, size, weight, cost, and destination.
- The logistics mobile app platform assigns the task to a nearby driver and alerts them. The driver also has an option to accept or reject the shipment request.
- The driver then picks up the freight and moves towards the destination, meanwhile, the shipper can track the cargo location via GPS functionality within the app.
- After the successful delivery, the platform alerts the shipper about the successful cargo delivery and sends an invoice for payment.
3. Warehouse Mobile Apps
Logistics business also include warehousing operations. They would need to make sure that all the goods are stored safely and won’t require extra efforts to ship them on time. Warehouses face many challenges such as loss of goods, cargo misplacement, delay in locating the goods and so on.
Logistics businesses are recommended to adopt modern warehouse mobile app solutions that literally mobilize the warehouse management. Such logistics apps can be powered by third-party APIs that help recognizing RFID tags or bar-codes. These apps increase the warehouse employee efficiency and eliminate issues such as cargo misplacement. Some of the most essential features of a warehouse management mobile app are:
- RFID and Barcode scanning
- ERP integration
- Shipment tracking
- Current status related to ETA and location
I hope you now have a good idea about the different use cases of logistics mobile apps. Among all these three types of logistics apps, each one serves a different purpose. Depending on your requirements, your IT consultant can provide you with a comprehensive logistics mobile app solution.
Step 2 – Request For Proposal
When you are done with your first draft of requirements based on the information provided above, you will need to ask for a RFP response from logistics mobile app developers, submit your RFP here. Your goal will be to find the best mobile app developer that has extensive knowledge and experience in logistics mobile app development and can deliver your solution at low costs whilst keeping the quality at an optimal level. In this phase, you would be confused by some development companies that will claim to deliver the solution at an extremely cheap cost. The right mobile app developer will provide you with an ROI focused solution.
Step 3 – Sign NDA and Share Detailed Business Plan
It should be noted that you can withhold on sharing confidential details about your business idea until you sign an NDA with the technology company. It is not necessary to share all of the information with people who aren’t yet your technology partners. Once you are confident in a technology partner, you can schedule a meeting or call to discuss the finer details of the project. You shall share details about the logistics app that you want to build, the user persona, app features, and so on. Based on the detailed requirements, the technology service provider will provide you with a rough cost estimate for the project.
Step 4 – Get a Rough Estimate
At this point, it will be near to impossible to get the exact final cost for the app development, but it is advisable to get a rough cost estimate. There are many tech details and requirements that would be modified based on the size of your budget. Thus, you should avoid the companies who claim to build a comprehensive app for a ridiculously low cost.
The cost estimates should also include project time frame, team composition, technologies, and the hourly rate. Pick a suitable company to work with based on your judgment of their suitability for your project. Reminding you again that, it is not just the cost of development, there are many other factors that make the technology solution provider a good fit for your project.
Step 5 – Discovery Phase and MVP Launch
When you have picked your technology partner for mobile app development, the development process will start with a discovery and inception phase which might last from two to six weeks. During the discovery phase, the development team will ask you details about the app’s business logic, end-users, functionalities, and goals. Based on this detail, the team will come up with a project specification document that will illustrate the goals, user flow, features, and many other things related to the app. Then the development team will provide you with an app prototype. The prototype comprises several screens that visualize the design elements of the app.
Many times, before developing the fully functional mobile app, businesses opt for creating an app MVP (minimum viable product). The MVP demonstrates how your business idea can be functional. Once the technology service provider has finished with creating the MVP, they will release the app on the app stores (ie. Apple store and Google play). At this stage, you receive the app code, database, and other such documentation.
Step 6 – Incorporate Advance Features
As per the feedback received from your drivers, customers, and administrators, you can make certain iterations to the app and also empower it with advanced features such as document digitization, built-in messaging, real-time tracking, barcode scanning, and many more.
Mobile Technologies holds the Future of Transportation and Logistics
In a nutshell, logistics mobile apps have the potential to transform your logistics operations to bring greater efficiency and security. The steps mentioned above are your path to a successful business model that is powered by mobile technologies. You hopefully now have got an overall idea about how to build a logistic mobile app. If you have more questions, we’re here to help.