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The Real Cost of a Single-carrier Strategy

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In the fast-paced world of logistics, every penny spent on supply chain management counts – and nowhere is this more evident than in the decision to commit to an exclusive carrier strategy. Shippers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers often believe that a single-carrier setup provides stability and predictability, but the reality is far more complex. By embracing this short-sighted approach, businesses restrict their choices and expose themselves to a premium that could reach as high as 30% of their shipping expenses. 

In this in-depth exploration, we’ll uncover the hidden costs of exclusivity in carrier partnerships and illustrate why diversifying your carrier base is crucial for not just cost-efficiency, but also customer satisfaction and supply chain resilience. 

The Downside of a Single-Carrier Approach 

For many businesses, sticking with one carrier might seem like a simple, hassle-free option. After all, it involves less administrative work, and it could potentially lead to stronger relationships with the chosen carrier. However, this strategy is not without its drawbacks. 

Limited Selection, Reduced Leverage 

By sourcing all shipping from a single carrier, companies inadvertently give up the power that comes with choice. Access to a variety of carriers means more negotiating power and the ability to leverage different service offerings and competitive rates. It’s akin to grocery shopping at only one store when you’re not tied to a single supplier, you have the freedom to shop around for the best value. 

Surcharge Sticker Shock 

National carriers typically impose surcharges during peak seasons or for specialized services, and these surcharges can quickly add up. However, these additional costs are not universal; for instance, some regional carriers may not pass these expenses on to their clients, providing a cost-effective and transparent shipping solution more in line with peak demand times. 

Flexibility on the Line 

A single-carrier strategy severely curtails shipping flexibility. With only one carrier, businesses are often limited in their ability to ship from all origin points, choose optimal delivery times, or switch to alternate routes when necessary. In an environment where customer expectations are continually evolving, this lack of flexibility can place a strain on service levels and brand reputation.  

Scope of Service Limitations  

Certain customers may expressly require delivery through specific carriers due to their existing infrastructure or service agreements. This constraint can lead to missed opportunities and potential conflicts with clients, underscoring the importance of maintaining diverse carrier partnerships to meet varying customer needs. 

Why You Should Diversify Your Carrier Base 

The advantages of a multi-carrier approach are not just theoretical – they translate into tangible benefits that have a direct impact on the bottom line.  

Weathering Supply Chain Disruptions 

In supply chain, disruptions are not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ When you rely on a single-carrier your vulnerability is heightened to logistical disruptions. Should the chosen carrier face operational challenges, such as strikes, weather-related delays, or systemic failures, the entire supply chain can be put at risk. Diversifying carriers can mitigate these risks, ensuring that any single point of failure doesn’t bring operations to a halt. A diversified approach mitigates the risk of these disruptions, allowing for quick pivots and ensuring the smooth continuity of operations, even in the face of unexpected events.  

Lowering the Cost of Transportation 

One of the most significant drivers of change in carrier selection is cost. By utilizing multiple carriers, businesses can select the most cost-effective option for each shipment, ultimately reducing their overall transportation spend.  

Meeting Evolving Customer Expectations 

Customers today expect a variety of shipping options, from the speed of delivery to the supplier. A multi-carrier approach provides the agility needed to meet these diverse demands and ensures that businesses do not fall behind in the race for customer satisfaction. 

The Path to Smarter Carrier Selection 

Choosing and managing multiple carriers may seem daunting, but with the right strategies and tools, the process can be streamlined and simplified.  

Utilizing Modern Multi-Carrier Shipping Software  

Multi-carrier shipping software can save time and money by automating the carrier selection process. These solutions, driven by intelligent planning and analysis, ensure that the best carrier is selected for each shipment, based on factors such as cost, service level, and historical data. 

Negotiating Smart Carrier Agreements  

When you diversify your carrier network, negotiating smart agreements becomes more critical. Focus on consolidating your overall freight spend instead of carrier-specific volume commitments to secure more favorable terms. 

Incorporate a 3PL into your carrier network  

Incorporating a third-party logistics provider (3PL) into your carrier network expands your carrier options and lowers costs. Shippers that partner with the right 3PL to leverage their pricing power to significantly reduce freight costs and their established carrier relationships to offer new customer services. 

Success with Multi-Carrier Strategies 

Case Study: ursource leverages 3G’s Carrier Network to optimize shipping and save $200,000 per year 

The ursource team embraced the multi-carrier strategy and implemented 3G to meet the needs of their growing business and customer expectations, which resulted in the following: 

  • Reduced shipping costs by $200,000 per year 
  • Use of regional parcel for a better choice of services and rates 
  • Combined LTL/freight with parcel zone skipping to optimize end-to-end shipping costs 

Read the ursource story here to learn more. 

Conclusion: The Multi-Carrier Advantage 

The multi-carrier approach is not just a band-aid for the wounds caused by an overreliance on a single carrier; it’s a strategic move towards building a more adaptive, cost-efficient, and customer-centric operation.  

In the complex ecosystem of supply chain management, the ability to pivot and adapt quickly can be the difference between profit and loss. It’s time for shippers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers to reassess their carrier strategy and unlock a world of cost savings and operational agility. By transitioning to a multi-carrier approach, businesses not only lower costs but also position themselves as leaders in a market that values versatility and resilience.  

For those who are committed to crafting a supply chain that stands out for its efficiency and customer-centricity, the path is clear – and it’s paved with the benefits of a multi-carrier approach. 

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March 20, 2024

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The Ship Shape Strategy: Trimming the Fat Off Your Shipping Costs

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Shipping expenses can silently erode your profit margins. Particularly for businesses with an online footprint, navigating the complex logistics landscape and enduring carrier rate hikes requires shippers to stay vigilant. This intricate web of challenges often leaves shippers yearning for a roadmap to escape the expense-laden wilderness. 

If you’re in the business of moving products from point A to point B, you know that the key to winning the shipping cost game is efficiency. It’s not about slashing and burning, but about precision cuts that sculpt a lean, mean shipping machine.  

The Weight of Shipping Costs  

Understanding where your shipping costs originate is the first step in shedding unnecessary expenses. It’s a multifaceted challenge with many potential areas for savings, from identifying the most cost-effective carriers to perfecting the packaging that protects your goods. 

Major cost centers you need to consider: 

  1. Carrier Rates, Surcharges, and Surprise Fees: The base rates set by the carriers are often compounded by various surcharges like fuel & residential delivery, and address correction fees. 
  2. Packaging Materials: The simple equation of ‘bigger box, bigger cost’ underpins the impact of packaging materials on shipping expenses.  
  3. Labor: The need for additional workforce to handle rush orders, or inefficient warehouse practices, can significantly add to costs.  
  4. Return Shipping: A silent, sometimes monstrous, cost that creeps in post-sale and is often overlooked by shippers.  
  5. Software & Administrative: The tools and manpower to support the shipping process also bear financial weight.  

Shaving Dollars Off Your Shipments 

With the cost centers identified, it’s time to reveal what can be done that can lead to substantial savings. This section covers the optimal methods for slicing those shipping expenses. 

Efficient Shipping Tactics 

The path to efficient shipping is paved with strategic decisions and disciplined execution.  

  1. Right-Sizing Packaging: Utilize boxes that match the volume of the items being shipped, minimizing dimensional weight charges. 
  2. Carrier Diversification and Hybrid Services: Shop around and consider leveraging multiple carriers to get the best rate for each type of shipment. Combining the strengths of various carriers with local drop-shipping for last-mile delivery can reduce costs and improve delivery times. 
  3. Address Accuracy: Implement systems to ensure correct addresses on the first attempt to avoid address correction fees.  
  4. Batch Processing: Streamline the shipping process through batch orders and bulk shipping, reducing the time employees spend on individual orders.  
  5. Order Accuracy: Efficient shipping extends beyond timely delivery; it encompasses order accuracy and fulfillment precision which ensures that orders are picked, packed, and shipped accurately, minimizing errors and customer dissatisfaction. 

The Tale of Two Boxes 

Packaging is not just a protective measure; it’s an opportunity. Here are 4 ways that clever packaging choices can represent immediate shipping savings.  

  1. Eco-Friendly Materials: Not only can they lower costs, but environmentally conscious packaging options can also be a selling point.
  2. Custom Packaging: Fits more in less, reducing the need for excess filler material and lowering dimensional weight.  
  3. Utilize Poly Mailers: For non-fragile items, these lightweight mailers can mean significant savings on weight-based shipping rates.  
  4. Package Inserts: Marketing materials or thank-you notes can serve double-duty, reducing the need for separate mailings.  

Charting a Course with Technology 

The digital era has not only transformed commerce but also introduced a variety of methods to make the shipping process more efficient and cost-effective. In this section, we explore the tech solutions available to fortify a cost-conscious shipping strategy. 

Shipping and Transportation Software Solutions  

Modern shipping software has the capability to resonate well beyond purchasing discounts.  

  1. Real-Time Rate Shopping: Ensures that you’re always getting the best price for the shipping method you choose. 
  2. Integration with Marketplaces: Seamlessly sync orders from marketplaces with shipping systems, reducing manual data entry.  
  3. Multi-Carrier Support: The capacity to handle various carriers within one system can add a layer of insurance against service disruptions.
  4. Batch Label Printing: Drastically cuts processing time by printing labels for multiple orders at once.  
  5. Automated Returns: Providing customers with an easy-to-use return process can streamline and reduce the costs associated with return shipping. 

Conclusion  

Reducing shipping expenses is not just a matter of money; it’s about gaining a competitive advantage in a saturated market with ever-changing customer demands. Understanding how shipping costs affect financial performance and taking proactive steps to minimize them can boost profits and customer happiness. By leveraging innovative technologies and enhancing packaging strategies, companies can reap significant rewards beyond simple cost reductions. 

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March 20, 2024

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5 Shipping Fails that can Sink your Business Reputation

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Shipping, the silent engine that powers global trade, often stays unnoticed when it runs smoothly. However, when it falters, it becomes the focal point of customer dissatisfaction and can have a catastrophic impact on your business’s reputation. In a world that revolves around digital reviews and instant feedback, shipping mishaps are akin to iceberg-sized PR challenges. Here are the top five shipping mishaps that might lead your business astray, along with strategies to navigate back on course. 

1. Perils of Late Shipments 

Late shipments have significant repercussions. A 2023 industry report reveals that more than 69% of customers are unlikely to make a repeat purchase from a company due to delayed deliveries. This data underscores the crucial role of punctual shipments in upholding customer satisfaction and loyalty. Delays can trigger negative feedback and social media posts, greatly affecting a company’s reputation and deterring potential customers. 

Strategies for On-Time Deliveries: 

  • Reliable Partnerships: Building strong relationships with carriers and logistics providers ensures more reliable services.  
  • Contingency Planning: Unexpected delays can be less disruptive when there are backup plans in place. 
  • Transparent Communication: Keeping customers in the loop regarding any delays is a trust-preserving habit. 

2. The Domino Effect of Missing or Damaged Items 

When items arrive missing or damaged, the ripple effect on customer trust and business reputation can be profound. According to a survey conducted by Packaging Digest, nearly 34% of consumers have received an online order with damaged goods, and an astonishing 45% reported receiving packages with missing items at least once in the past year. This level of discrepancy not only leads to immediate customer dissatisfaction but also raises significant questions about a company’s quality control and overall reliability.  

Strategies to Mitigate Risks of Damage and Loss: 

  • Quality Packing Materials: Investing in durable and appropriate packaging can drastically reduce the chances of damage. 
  • Barcode Scanning: Using barcode scanning drastically reduces item and quantity mistakes in packing; scanning is 5-7x faster and 10,000 times more accurate than keyboard data entry. 
  • Inventory Management Systems: Implementing sophisticated inventory management can help ensure accurate order fulfillment. 
  • Carrier Accountability: Establish clear accountability measures with shipping partners to address mishandling. 

3. The High Cost of Expedited Shipping: A Double-Edged Sword 

Offering expedited shipping has become a quintessential requirement for businesses aiming to stay competitive, especially in the e-commerce space. However, this convenience comes with a steep price, both literally and figuratively. These elevated costs not only affect profit margins but can also set unrealistic expectations for delivery times among consumers, creating a scenario where satisfaction is harder to achieve consistently. 

Strategies to Balance Expedited Shipping Costs: 

  • Dynamic Pricing Models: Implementing flexible pricing for expedited shipping can help offset costs. Leveraging a multi-carrier shipping software can provide this flexibility and even allow you to shop different modes for the best pricing and delivery window options. 
  • Customer Loyalty Programs: Offering expedited shipping as a perk for loyal customers can enhance value without broadly impacting margins. 
  • Efficient Logistics: Streamlining the logistics process can reduce the time and cost associated with expedited deliveries. 

4. Addressing Mistakes: More Than Just A Detour 

Errors in address information not only delay shipments but can substantially inflate operational costs. A study by the USPS revealed that address errors can add up to $45 per package in operational costs. This mistake is also one of the leading causes of returns and lost packages, further affecting customer satisfaction. 

  • Strategies to Overcome Address Related Errors: 
  • Use of Address Verification Software: Implementing software that verifies addresses in real-time can significantly decrease the likelihood of errors. 
  • Customer Double-Check: Encouraging customers to review their shipping details before finalizing orders can catch mistakes early. 
  • Data Cleansing Practices: Regularly updating and cleansing customer data ensures accuracy and reduces shipping mishaps. 

5. Packing List Errors: The Ripple Effect on Vendor Relations 

Packing list errors, though seemingly minor, can have significant repercussions throughout the supply chain. A survey by Logistics Management found that nearly 30% of returned items were due to packing list errors. Such mistakes can lead to confusion, returns, and even lost revenue, straining relationships not only with customers but also with vendors and suppliers. These errors cast doubt on a business’s operational efficiency and can degrade trust over time, posing long-term challenges to maintaining strong business relationships. 

Strategies to Reduce Packing List Errors: 

  • Automated Packing Solutions: Leveraging technology to automate the packing process can greatly minimize human error. 
  • Regular Training: Ensuring that staff are well-trained and aware of the importance of accurate packing lists. 
  • Quality Control Checks: Implementing stringent quality control measures before shipments leave the warehouse can catch errors early. 

Real-world examples of how 3 shippers are improving their shipping to foster positive customer and partner relationships 

Intelligentsia Coffee reduces days with missed targets by 80% and ships with 99% accuracy 

By focusing on accuracy, reliability, and customer communication, Intelligentsia coffee managed to improve their shipping accuracy to near perfection. This not only enhanced their customer satisfaction ratings but also significantly reduced the operational costs associated with shipping mishaps. Intelligentsia’s story underscores the importance of adopting a proactive approach towards shipping and logistics, demonstrating that with the right systems and practices in place, businesses can turn potential shipping fails into powerful tools for building a solid reputation. 

TrakMotive is now serving a broader customer base and improved their accuracy to save over $19K annually in retailer fees

Manual keystroke errors presented a significant hurdle for TrakMotive. However, the introduction of 3G has enabled them to streamline shipment processing by implementing scanning and minimizing keystrokes. This seamless data flow effortlessly integrates across all their database and supply chain systems. By incorporating integrated carrier options, TrakMotive has successfully expanded its reach and enhanced service for a wider customer base. Discover more by watching the customer video to hear insights from their VP of IT & Risk Management, and delve deeper into the story by reading it here

Home City Inc. improves accuracy with address validation and minimizes delays and carrier imposed penalties

Home City Inc., by implementing 3G’s address validation module, has significantly improved their shipping accuracy, leading to a decrease in delays and a reduction in carrier-imposed penalties. This strategic move has not only streamlined their shipping process but also bolstered their reputation for reliability and efficiency in fulfillment. For an in-depth look at Home City Inc.’s success story, see the full details and watch the video here

Conclusion 

In the fast-paced world, your shipping operations can make or break your success. By avoiding these common shipping fails and investing in quality control, dependable carriers, and transparent practices, you can ensure that your business reputation remains afloat in the sea of competition as a trusted partner to your customers. Remember, in the world of shipping, the smoothest course is always the one of meticulous preparation and careful execution. 

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March 19, 2024

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Revolutionizing Rate Shopping: The 3G Pacejet Shipping Contract Rates Module

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In the labyrinth of the LTL freight market, where consolidation coexists with fragmentation, finding the best rates can be a challenge. The dominance of the top 25 carriers leaves a substantial portion of regional carriers untapped. Enter the connectivity game-changer: API. While national carriers leverage API connections for efficiency, smaller regional carriers often lack this convenience, leading to untapped cost-effective capacity. 

The Connectivity Conundrum 

API connectivity, once a boon, has inadvertently become a barrier for regional carriers without the resources to invest. This has allowed national carriers to accelerate rate increases, despite lower-cost alternatives available with local and regional carriers. With market dynamics shifting, how can shippers leverage the situation without sacrificing the efficiency of cross-carrier rate shopping? 

Introducing the 3G Pacejet Shipping Contract Rates Module 

3G takes the lead in addressing this challenge with the introduction of the Pacejet Shipping Contract Rates Module. This innovation makes our shipping software a single access point for all your contracted LTL rates, irrespective of the carrier or connectivity method. Now, cross-carrier shopping is convenient without compromising access to all available rates and services. 3G customers using the Pacejet Shipping platform can seamlessly integrate this module, enhancing their rate shopping capabilities. 

Curious about how this industry-leading feature can benefit your shipping operations? Reach out to our sales team and discover the future of rate shopping with 3G. 

Thank you for joining us on this journey through the intricacies of LTL logistics. We look forward to shaping the future of shipping together. 

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March 3, 2024

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Embracing Regional LTL: A Versatile Shipping Solution

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In the world of shipping, Less Than Truckload (LTL) stands out as a versatile over-the-road mode, catering to businesses of all sizes with diverse shipping needs. While many are familiar with its application, the lesser-known benefits of leveraging regional LTL carriers can spark innovative ideas. Let’s explore two powerful ways regional LTL can drive efficiencies when utilized effectively. 

Capacity Sourcing & Utilization 

Freight capacity is a common concern in any market, and LTL is no exception. The top 25 North American carriers dominate 80% of the total LTL capacity, granting them significant pricing power. However, the remaining 20% lies with hundreds of smaller regional carriers, often overlooked due to technology gaps. Bridging this gap through third-party technology opens up substantial capacity, benefiting shippers with existing contracts or those considering regional carriers. 

Negotiation-Free Spend Reductions 

Reducing shipping costs often involves negotiating lower rates, a challenging and uncertain endeavor. Regional LTL offers an alternative by empowering shippers to shop across carriers, gaining control over costs. Beyond carrier selection, efficient rate shopping and automation through shipping software reduce labor costs, putting shipping back under your control. It’s about implementing tools for optimal decision-making without solely relying on large carriers. 

As we delve into the dynamics of regional LTL, remember that knowledge is only half the battle. The other half is implementing the right software to control your LTL shipping operations. Curious about your options or looking for ways to enhance efficiency? Let’s start a conversation! 

Stay tuned for the final chapter, where we unveil a groundbreaking solution for rate shopping across LTL carriers. 

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March 2, 2024

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Unlocking LTL Excellence: A Customer-Centric Journey

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At 3G, we cherish the wisdom shared by our customers, recognizing that their insights not only strengthen our relationships but also shape the way we perceive our industry. Recently, during a vibrant focus group involving five esteemed manufacturing and distribution partners, we delved into their perspectives on Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) logistics and unearthed their key priorities. 

Navigating Top LTL Subjects 

In the dynamic realm of LTL, our customers highlighted three crucial subjects: shipment and load consolidation, customer-directed carrier selection, and the importance of packing flexibility. 

Shipment & Load Consolidation 

Efficiency is the name of the game in LTL logistics. When numerous small orders share a common destination, consolidation emerges as a cost-effective transportation mode. Whether it’s consolidating multiple orders from a single customer or combining orders from various customers in a geographic region, the potential for savings and reduced environmental impact is significant. However, our customers expressed a common desire for a streamlined consolidation process, emphasizing the need to make LTL consolidation more accessible. 

Customer-Directed Carrier Selection 

Empowering customers to choose their preferred carriers is a common practice, but it comes with challenges. While customers may have negotiated favorable rates, operational optimization becomes a concern for shippers. Timely pickups and seamless connectivity are essential, and late pickups can lead to congestion and data inaccuracies. Our focus group revealed the need for efficient data transfer and addressing challenges associated with customer-directed carrier selection. 

Packing Flexibility 

Consolidation’s effectiveness hinges on packing flexibility. Streamlining the packing process, especially in multi-level scenarios with EDI transmissions, is crucial. Simplifying carton-level consolidation and pallet construction processes can enhance efficiency and ensure on-time deliveries with no penalties. 

At 3G, our commitment to customer feedback has driven us to build comprehensive transportation systems. We understand that continuous improvement is key, and we invite you to explore how 3G can meet your current needs, fulfill future requirements, and shape the future of logistics together. Reach out – we’re eager to hear from you! 

Stay tuned for the next installment, where we explore the significance of regional and local LTL carriers in the logistics landscape. 

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March 1, 2024

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Optimizing LTL Freight Shipping With A Transportation Management System (TMS)

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Third-party logistics providers offering less-than-truckload (LTL) freight and shipping options are subject to several challenges. From insufficient consolidation to poor pricing and cost management to unsatisfying transit time variability, shippers become bogged down by the weight of these burdens. But the right transportation management system (TMS) can change that.

Implementing a TMS solution can automate documentation creation, provide effective route planning, fill trailers to the safe maximum weight, and enhance all aspects of the operation. With such newfound efficiency, companies can stay ahead of the always-advancing competitive curve, exceed client expectations, and overcome obstacles with relative ease and speed.

The world is only set to become increasingly digitized. Still, with a high-quality transportation management system, 3PL LTL and other shippers, won’t need to worry about being kicked to the side.

Understanding LTL Freight Shipping

Less-than-truckload shipping is a transportation type used when the shipment’s size or weight doesn’t require a full truckload. In this industry, multiple customer shipments are consolidated into one truckload, spreading the cost and sharing the space for more efficient fuel and resource usage. 

Unlike FTL (full truckload) shipping, which fills whole trucks, LTL shipments are smaller quantities and use only a fraction of trailer space. So, shippers with smaller volumes share transportation costs with another shipper, benefitting from lower prices, competitive rates and boosted flexibility.

Despite the benefits of LTL freight services, a few common challenges create significant pain points unless sufficient systems are in place.

Common LTL Freight Logistics Challenges

Difficulties exist in all industries. However, those in the less-than-truckload sector are particularly grueling, covering everything from competitive pricing, and cost management to communication, compliance, visibility to transit time variability, and insufficient consolidation. Discovering the details of each challenge ensures leaders are ready to manage them, proactively preventing profit-losing downtimes in the future.

  • Insufficient consolidation — Consolidation is the bread and butter of the less-than-truckload freight logistics. It’s the ticket to effective route planning, optimally utilizing trailer space, and adequately planning loads. Insufficient consolidation leads to improper routing, poor LTL shipment load planning, and nonsensical trailer space utilization. Ultimately, these factors can reduce provider reputation, damage present client relationships, reduce cash flow, cause resource loss, and cause many more unfortunate happenings.
  • Pricing and cost management — Controlling costs and managing the pricing side of LTL shipping presents a considerable challenge for business leaders. Everything from weight to accessorial charges to distance to shipment dimensions contributes to the pricing of a particular order. Providers work tirelessly to provide accurate prices to their customers. Still, they fail to offer a consistent scale without the proper technological installations, as cost management is a near-impossible task. 
  • Transit time variability — Customers don’t want unreliable shipping times, especially since providers like Amazon provide exceptionally speedy and dependable shipping dates. However, variability in LTL freight shipping is a common occurrence. The “hub-and-spoke” business model is crucial to this type of shipping, meaning shipments can pass through several legs and get transloaded a few times at terminals before hitting their final-mile delivery section. And the more complex a provider’s network, the more opportunities for missed pick-ups and delays. Thus, delivery days or times in less-than-truckload shipping aren’t typically guaranteed.
  • Communication and visibility — Real-time shipment tracking is a must-have, but it’s incredibly challenging for LTL shippers. There’s very little visibility and minimal communication during the LTL lifecycle, creating difficulties in tracking and managing shipments. Whether it’s adverse conditions, capacity issues, or limited technological infrastructure, this part of the industry is plagued with visibility tribulations.
  • Compliance — Non-compliance with regulations can bring about hefty fines, lengthy delays, and considerable reputational damage for LTL freight shipping providers. However, standards are constantly changing, meaning leaders must spend a significant portion of their working lives remaining abreast of evolving regulatory additions or adaptations. Plus, professionals must ensure documentation, such as bills of lading, shipping labels, and customs forms, are completed accurately, presenting even more challenges.

The Role of a Transportation Management System (TMS) in Optimizing LTL Freight

Sometimes called a transportation management solution or transportation management software, a TMS provides LTL freight shippers with the technologies they need to plan, execute, and optimize the movement of goods. Whether ingoing or outgoing, the system ensures proper documentation is available, the shipment is compliant, and loads are effectively managed. 

Businesses can rely on the platform for unparalleled visibility in day-to-day operations, trade compliance data, and documentation. This increases the likelihood of shipments arriving on time, regardless of destination locations and of the innate complexities seen in less-than-truckload consolidation.

Transportation management systems are the backbone of the modern LTL freight world, giving professionals the technological power to optimize almost every facet of their operations.

Key Features of TMS for LTL Freight Shipping

Transportation management systems come with seemingly endless lists of features. However, LTL freight shippers will benefit most from the six below:

#1 Remote Access

The most critical feature of transportation management systems for LTL carriers and freight shipping providers is that it gives them the much-needed power of on-the-go knowledge. Remote access allows businesses to know how, when, and where their freight is handled through real-time system access, offering shippers peace of mind through the availability of important information.

Enhanced visibility promotes accountability, too. Boasting consistent, to-the-minute shipment updates, TMSs reduce the time needed to pinpoint issue sources. Leaders know when and where their chains become tangled, helping them rectify the problem quickly and seamlessly.

#2 Load Optimization

Every logistics provider understands the importance of load optimization. However, it becomes even more crucial in the less-than-truckload shipping world. Since no singular shipment fills an entire trailer, professionals must expertly coordinate a plethora of shipments into one truck, multiplying the complexity of the operation. 

Many years ago, this tricky process was an extensive, manual procedure. However, transportation management systems allow LTL freight shipping companies to harness the power of its technology for this purpose, streamlining and accelerating the ordeal.

A TMS has the tools to optimize every load by regulatory requirements and vehicle specifics. Input the truck’s dimensions, save them for later dates, and automatically assign the day’s shipments. Depending on the particular TMS, the load planner may have a 3D feature, allowing professionals to see cargo distributions onscreen.

#3 Route Planning

Route planning is just as vital as load optimization for LTL freight shippers. They may be able to fill a truck, but how it gets to its many destinations is the next most significant hurdle. And yet again, the tools TMS solutions provide can automate the process. 

The best TMSs come with built-in mileage and routing features that consider all aspects of the truck’s journey and automatically produce the most cost-effective, fuel-efficient route, improving operations from the bottom line.

#4 Integration

Creators of transportation management systems understand the cruciality of their products and their ability to work synergistically with current systems. Connectivity across a wide range of platforms is the name of the game in today’s LTL freight shipping world, so TMSs come with innovative features that allow for precisely that.

Whether businesses have a warehouse or order management systems, they can rest easy knowing that their new implementation will slip seamlessly into their workflows. There’s no place for information silos in 2024, and TMS solutions ensure companies can say goodbye to them once and for all.

#5 Payment and Audit

Freight bills can be incredibly complex, mainly where less-than-truckload freight is concerned. Thankfully, transportation management systems remove the headaches from the process. 

Various tools within the accounting features of the program automate invoicing and payments, completing duties like correct application of LTL shipping rates, invoice validation, discrepancy reconciliation, and so much more. By automating the process, companies can ensure they comply with auditing needs, save time, and decrease errors throughout the supply chain.

#6 Reporting and Analytics

Alongside the real-time tracking feature mentioned earlier, TMS software provides real-time analytics and a variety of custom reports for professionals to generate. Generally speaking, businesses use them to monitor predetermined performance indicators to make informed decisions that improve intrinsic workflows and boost profit margins.

That said, such reports are also critical for compliance with various industry standards. By taking advantage of the included analytics, less-than-truckload shippers can stay more appropriately aligned with the regulations set by policymakers.

Addressing LTL Freight Challenges Through TMS Implementation

The features discussed above work in unison to optimize the less-than-truckload freight shipping operations, addressing the challenges mentioned in a previous section as it does so.

Following proper implementation, transportation management software for LTL service providers makes capturing and analyzing data from across the business a breeze. Generating comprehensive reports becomes a non-issue, giving profound insights into potential opportunities for further optimization and value-adding decisions.

That said, TMS truly comes into its own when preventing the difficulty of insufficient consolidation. Its automation allows professionals to rapidly and accurately fill trailers with appropriate shipments, even when picked up at different points.

Benefits of Optimizing LTL Freight Shipping with TMS

Beyond its ability to address the challenges mentioned earlier, TMS offers several benefits, including:

Improved Operational Efficiency

Efficiency is the answer to longevity, but freight operations are complex processes. So, how can the LTL industry and freight services providers overcome the complexities and offer seamlessness within their operations? By using a transportation management system to:

  • Track shipping lifecycles;
  • Optimize routes based on fuel efficiency;
  • Plan loads to utilize trailer space effectively; 
  • Reduce human error through label and documentation automation;
  • Improve resource allocation and planning.

Less-than-truckload freight shippers who firmly rely on a high-quality, integrated TMS are more likely to reap overall efficiency-improving benefits.

Enhanced Visibility and Tracking

LTL freight class shippers need complete transparency with their clients in this day and age. As such, they require all information at their fingertips — a near-impossible feat without the technological prowess of transportation management systems. 

Providing to-the-minute tracking updates to clients is one of the primary ways to exceed expectations in 2024 and beyond. TMS uses the ever-advancing Internet of Things to monitor trucks at all times, offering perfect visibility to users and their customers.

Beyond automatic shipping notifications, less-than-truckload shippers can use the information to track shipments, detect delays and communicate transit times and durations to suppliers. Ultimately, this keeps accountability and reliability high, a must-have for LTL freight shipping providers.

Cost Savings and Effective Resource Utilization

Using a TMS as an LTL freight shipper brings excellent cost savings into an otherwise expensive process. System users can reduce shipping costs, administration expenses, and inventory charges as the integrated platform decreases paper usage, automates cost calculation, and uses resources effectively.

Through complex algorithms, the platform generates the best (i.e., most cost-effective) routes for drivers to take and fills each truck to maximum capacity. Saving money and utilizing resources properly in freight movement allows businesses to improve processes in other areas.

Improved Informed Decision-Making

Transportation management systems also give business leaders extensive opportunities to make split-second decisions that will benefit the company in the short- and long-term. Choices need no longer be made without access to in-depth analytics. TMS integration bridges gaps to offer a complete picture of the company before finalizing a decision. That way, leaders can be assured they are making a valuable addition. 

Today’s competition for special services is exceptionally fierce. Thus, only those who can stay adequately ahead of the curve will remain afloat, boosting the necessity of transportation management systems.

How to Implement a Transportation Management System

Implementing a transportation management system is essential for proper uptake, decreased resistance, and meeting goals. Companies should heed the following steps when integrating a new TMS:

#1 Define Goals

As mentioned above, TMSs can benefit LTL freight shipping businesses in many ways, including automated invoices, improved communications, route optimization, enhanced visibility, efficiency optimization, and more. However, the only way to reap such rewards is by understanding how the system will integrate into an existing process. 

Thus, companies should ask themselves the following questions:

  • What does success look like after implementation?
  • What achievements are desired?

Businesses should have a clear picture of what their operations look like post-implementation. This proves much easier with a strategic business plan in place. It helps leaders figure out the potential ROI of the transportation management system.

#2 Find the Best TMS

TMS options are plentiful, but they aren’t all the same. Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, the wrong TMS can result in lost resources, money, and time. So, choosing the perfect one is essential. To do that, consider the following:

  • Interface — It should be easy to use. After all, everybody throughout the business needs to use the system, so an unnecessarily complex design can sully the implementation. The interface should be intuitive and streamlined, with sensical processes and workflows.
  • Flexibility — Business needs change. Thus, any TMS should be easy to modify based on ever-evolving requirements. As mentioned previously, one size does not fit all.
  • Updates — Transportation management systems must keep up with quick industry changes. Therefore, companies should consider how often the platform updates and its updating processing. Cloud-based provisions are usually the best, offering more frequent and accessible system updates than those housed on servers.
  • Integration — Businesses should consider how the new system will integrate with current ones. For best results, they need to work synergistically. 
  • Accessibility — Whether the TMS is cloud- or server-based affects how easily users can access the information remotely. As the IoT becomes more apparent, having a transportation management system in the cloud will be crucial for successful integration.

#3 Get Staff On Side

Some employees may be resistant to change. After all, it’s a ubiquitous part of human nature. However, leaders need to break through this resistance. Why? Staff members are the key to successful implementation. If they’re happy and willing to use the system, transitioning to new working methods won’t be difficult.

Companies should focus on clear communication and change management to get staff on the side before going live. Following the first two steps, getting people onboard should be more accessible.

#4 Prepare for Success

Intricate preparations can begin once everyone agrees that the change will help the business meet its goals. People should be excited about the new implementation, and this feeling needs to continue. To help it do so, leaders can:

  • Dedicate extra resources to the project.
  • Create a committee to organize and oversee implementation efforts.
  • Acknowledge and create a plan for potential setbacks or challenges.
  • Communicate transparently to ensure people are updated and involved at every stage.
  • Assign a project manager to run the implementation.
  • Meet with relevant stakeholders to talk about integrations with other systems.

#5 Create and Follow a Plan

Depending on what LTL freight shipping businesses want the system to do, implementation can take several days, weeks, or even years. Therefore, having a clear plan (and sticking to said plan) will ensure that teams keep momentum throughout the process. 

Leaders must set a realistic timeframe, alongside budgeting and action points, to guarantee they stay on track. Plus, thorough documentation is necessary to keep moving forward, regardless of the process length.

Statistical Insights into LTL Freight Shipping

Daily necessities, electronic products, medicine and chemistry, and industrial parts are just a few factors driving growth within the LTL freight shipping market between now and 2030. As the demand for such products increases, so will the sector’s expansion. Air, ocean, land, and LTL freight shipments are expected to witness significant growth in the coming years, paving the way for more providers to enter (and stay) on the scene.

However, LTL shippers can’t do it alone — they need the help of a reliable, high-quality TMS to skyrocket them to the dizzying heights of success. It’s already working its magic in several areas, with companies witnessing profound efficiency and cost improvements, as proven by the following statistics:

  • TMS can reduce costs by 5% to 15%.
  • TMS-provided automation saves five to ten minutes per order, reducing labor costs by 3% to 4%.
  • In some cases, TMS reduces lead times by two days.

Integrating TMS with Other Freight Management Systems

A TMS is only as good as its integration capabilities. If it doesn’t work with an LTL provider’s current shipping systems, they won’t find much luck with their latest addition. 

Thankfully, most TMSs work seamlessly with other freight management platforms, ensuring unified workflows in all aspects of the business. Two of the most essential integrations are as follows:

WMS Integration for Streamlined Warehouse Operations

When integrating warehouse management systems and TMSs, the goal is to create a single source of operational truth for providers’ warehouse operators. The dashboard/platform must offer the most accurate, to-the-minute information to the entire organization. 

By combining TMSs and WMSs, LTL freight shipping companies create a one-stop-shop solution that details inventory and shipping data in one easy-to-use location, ensuring greater accuracy, better decision-making, and more effective predictions of shipping needs.

Fleet Tracking System Integration for Enhanced Shipment Visibility

Enmeshing TMS and fleet tracking systems allow businesses to make the most cost-effective decisions. With all the information they need on one screen, leaders can weigh service versus cost in real time without flipping between systems for enhanced accuracy and efficiency.

Integrating fleet tracking with TMS positively impacts ROI on optimization and automation technologies. It’s a win-win!

Experts anticipate these future TMS trends will have a positive impact on LTL freight rates for shippers:

  • The ever-advancing intelligence of IoT devices
  • A more widespread uptake of real-time GPS tracking
  • Automated customer service and support
  • Blockchain technology for supply chain transparency
  • Enhanced machine learning

Final Thoughts

LTL freight shipping companies have plenty to gain from a TMS, including improved reporting and analytics, boosted operational efficiency, ideal visibility and tracking, and effective resource utilization. With a full-spec transportation management system by their side, the sky is the limit.

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February 15, 2024

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Seamless Operations: Unleashing Efficiency With NetSuite Shipping Integration

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Logistics companies face a myriad of challenges — constantly changing government regulations, data security stressors, digital transformations, supply chain disruptions, and heightened customer service demands — as they move into 2024. Only those who overcome the difficulties will be afforded longevity. So, how can businesses make sure they remain ahead of the curve?

The answer lies in streamlining shipping operations with NetSuite shipping integration, a management and automation tool that creates seamless processes. Such seamlessness improves customer satisfaction, saves money, enhances supplier relationships, reduces risk, boosts data accuracy, and raises visibility for prolonged market success. 

As the world moves into complete digitization territory, logistics providers must embrace new shipping methods and technology to achieve the long-term prosperity they require.

Understanding NetSuite Shipping

NetSuite shipping integration is cloud-based, allowing businesses to streamline and simplify order fulfillment. The NetSuite shipping software has various functions for optimizing everything from sales order picking to packing to shipping, improving efficiency and customer experience in one fell swoop.

For most logistics companies, automation is the critical factor influencing their decisions to move to NetSuite. Gone are the days of manually creating labels that comply with industry regulations. The platform guarantees compliance, generating labels with AI-driven ease.

No matter the company’s size, NetSuite has a productivity-boosting shipping software solution.

Features and Capabilities

Streamlined operations aren’t the only thing awaiting providers who implement a NetSuite shipping integration; businesses can also expect a cross-functional staff team thanks to the key features and capabilities outlined below:

  • Pack and ship — Whether domestic or international orders, NetSuite eliminates unnecessary steps in the pack and ship process, automatically determining the best carrier, printing labels, and creating documentation.
  • Multi-order picking — The platform doesn’t select orders based on chronology. Instead, it considers all the orders requiring fulfillment and staff tasks to complete simultaneously.
  • Pick strategies — Predefined strategies let companies customize how and when inventory should be used to fulfill orders. Thus, optimal resource utilization is achieved. Once set, NetSuite uses the pick strategies to recommend bin locations based on various concepts (e.g., FEFO, pick to fill, etc.).
  • Real-time data — Providing real-time data enhances visibility, increasing the likelihood of providing accurate ETAs and making value-adding decisions for the business.
  • Advanced shipping — While the standard shipping elements are fantastic, NetSuite goes one step further by giving users an “Advanced Shipping” tab to keep separate records for each phase of fulfillment and billing.
  • Shipping label generation automation — After integrating NetSuite with FedEx, UPS, USPS, or all three, companies can print shipping labels straight from NetSuite using thermal or regular printers—no more switching interfaces for simple tasks.
  • Multiple shipping routes — Items in one order aren’t always going to the same place, presenting new challenges to manual logistics teams. NetSuite shipping, however, deftly handles multiple routes, planning the most efficient journey in a matter of moments.
  • Compliance guaranteed — During the automatic carrier selection process, the software will create the documentation needed to comply with state or country regulations based on the package and its contents.

Integration Customizations

NetSuite’s standalone shipping offerings work wonders, but companies have a wealth of custom integrations that further enhance its features, such as:

  • XPS Ship — Despite providing many of the same capabilities as NetSuite shipping software (e.g., label creation, order processing, real-time tracking), XPS Ship amplifies the seamlessness provided by the base software upon integration. All shipping data is accurately updated for a cohesive solution.
  • Extensive Order Manager — It’s a centralized hub for end-to-end validation, customer service, order management, and order processing flexibility, highlighting NetSuite’s functions.
  • MyCarrierTMS — Unlike the integrations above, MyCarrierTMS focuses on streamlining transport management, offering features like freight optimization, shipment visibility, and carrier rate negotiation.

Benefits of NetSuite Shipping Integration

When implemented successfully, the features inside the platform bring businesses a bunch of benefits, three of which can be found below:

Enhanced Efficiency and Accuracy

Warehouses are busy places. So, it’s only natural that mistakes are made, miscommunications happen, and orders are fulfilled slowly or inaccurately. Unfortunately, such errors can have less-than-ideal consequences.

Luckily, NetSuite shipping software’s advanced capabilities limit the likelihood of human error by automating monotonous tasks like label generation and customs document creation. With these processes taken care of, employees can focus on value-adding tasks, increasing profits while enhancing efficiency and precision throughout the company shipping workflow.

Real-Time Tracking and Visibility

Real-time visibility isn’t a pipe dream; NetSuite shipping software has made it a reality, allowing users to see all aspects of their operations, regardless of where they are. Everything is handled in one seamless portal, from inventory levels to shipment status.

The enhanced visibility ensures that companies can make punctual, data-driven decisions to reduce shipping costs and rapidly respond to ever-evolving market conditions. Ultimately, this guarantees them a spot ahead of the competition as shipping technology advancement accelerates.

NetSuite shipping software’s real-time tracking allows logistics providers to give customers to-the-minute information regarding their orders, increasing satisfaction.

Cost-effectiveness and Resource Optimization

NetSuite shipping software helps shippers, freight carriers, and logistics companies save cash by minimizing the necessity for manual labor, reducing human errors that can have costly consequences, and improving inventory management.

Unnecessary usage of resources burns money and increases waste, preventing businesses from reaching their climate goals. Thus, the cost-effective resource optimization benefit provided by the software is a game-changer for forward-thinking providers.

Implementing NetSuite Shipping

As mentioned earlier, attaining these benefits requires properly implementing the shipping technology. Careful planning should be conducted before going live and integrating any solution — NetSuite shipping integrations included.

Planning for Implementing NetSuite Shipping

Before starting the full-blown implementation and integration, companies should plan thoroughly. Without sufficient preparation, employees are more likely to resist change, impeding the success of the eventual rollout. The recommended planning stages are:

  1. Shared objective — There is always a reason for changing working methods or software utilization, and employees must understand the reason (i.e., the objective) to avoid facing unnecessary opposition.
  2. Possible hindrances — If previous new implementation attempts have failed, ask why. By identifying pain points, leaders have the best chance of success. 
  3. Understand users — Those who’ve enacted the change aren’t necessarily the individuals who will be using the software daily. As such, leaders must identify users’ challenges and needs to create adequate training solutions. 
  4. Communicate — Transitions, including digital ones, require regular, transparent communication. Employees should be engaged from the very start for maximum positive impact.
  5. Test — Randomly select individuals to crash-test the platform before going live. This is especially vital when transitioning to an entirely new software as it gives IT teams more time to fix the problem.

The Integration Process

When it’s time to integrate NetSuite shipping software, companies should follow these setup and integration steps:

Initial Setup

  1. “Setup” > “Accounting” > “Shipping.”
  2. Select the “Charge for Shipping” box to charge for shipping orders automatically.
  3. To charge shipping and handling separately, check the “Charge for Shipping” and “Charge Handling Separate from Shipping.”
  4. Head to the “Carrier Registration” subtab and register a USPS, UPS, or FedEx account.
  5. To bill integrated shipping charges to UPS or FedEx accounts, check the “Third Party Billing” box.
  6. Go back to the “Shipping” tab.
  7. Choose the “Default Shipping Carrier.”
  8. Choose the “Default Shipping Method.”
  9. Select the “Shipping Label Creation Stage” to receive tracking numbers and automatically print shipping labels with NetSuite shipping label integration.
  10. Enter a “Default Item Weight in Lbs.” for when an item weight isn’t recorded.
  11. Add the “Number of Days to Shipment.” This is an average.
  12. Add information in the “Cutoff Time for Shipments” field.

Enable Shipping Label Integration

  1. “Setup” > “Company” > “Setup Tasks” > “Enable Features.”
  2. Hit “Transactions.”
  3. Scroll to the “Shipping & Receiving” section. 
  4. Check the “Shipping Label Integration” box.
  5. Click “Save.”

Overcoming Challenges

Even when following the preparation and integration steps above, challenges may arise. Some of the most common include:

  • Resistance to change
  • Adjustment struggles
  • Data migration complexities
  • Lack of practice or training
  • Customer concerns

While they may be challenging to overcome, they aren’t impossible. By clearly defining business goals, working to create a detailed plan with team leaders, and ensuring change management is in place, companies can prevent these challenges from rearing their heads.

The Expected Impact

Every software implementation requires monitoring after the initial rollout to ensure it has the desired impact on productivity, efficiency, customer satisfaction, and everything in between. While the only way to know the true influential power of NetSuite is to integrate it, companies who’ve already done so have been more than willing to share their experiences. 

For instance, Phil Negri, the CFO of Action Health, notes they’ve seen a whopping 20% improvement in employee productivity after implementing NetSuite and the related process changes. Likewise, Kent Yeo, the Group Financial Controller at Yang Kee Logistics, mentioned that deploying NetSuite allowed them to make faster strategic business decisions and focus on their growth goals. 

Magnus Logistics echoes these sentiments, adding that complete visibility across all shipments and transport, alongside process automation, has saved time and money while increasing customer satisfaction.

Best Practices for Optimal Efficiency

NetSuite shipping integration alone will improve volume and efficiency beyond predicted levels. However, the following three best practices amplify the software’s abilities to streamline the shipping process and improve operations at other stages.

Streamlining Workflows

Despite common belief, bottlenecks are more than just a floor-level problem; they can occur at every stage of an organization, even leadership and ownership. Those at the top of the ladder who need to adapt to company growth typically slow growth, fail to manage resources properly during accelerated expansion and refuse to let go of tasks when delegation is needed. 

On the production side, reducing bottlenecks starts with identifying them before operations grind to a demoralizing halt. Whether it’s poor communication, a piece of equipment, sales workflow flaws, or a poorly managed process, the core issue must be defined to avoid long-term problems. 

And once such bottlenecks are corrected, businesses are left with streamlined workflows. Thankfully, NetSuite shipping software makes this process much less time-consuming by automating many processes, like label generation and form creation, to avoid errors and a backlog of shipments. The platform even increases communication and resource management, offering unparalleled seamlessness.

Utilizing Advanced Features

There are plenty of essential functions that give NetSuite shipping software its core usability. However, its advanced features will emphasize efficiency and unlock the ideal logistics scenario. 

Advanced shipping provides shipping and accounting departments with different processes for fulfilling and invoicing orders from various carriers. The former carries out part or all of the order. The latter creates an invoice for the rendered services. While splitting them can seem time-consuming, it’s worth it in the end, as it allows businesses to track partial shipments and invoice customers for entire orders.

Continuous Improvement Strategies

Companies, especially those in the logistics field, change constantly. And as their needs and goals evolve, a NetSuite shipping integration must adapt. So, professionals must continuously monitor their processes to alter them to fit turning tides.

Customers are constantly demanding faster proceedings. However, companies should have continuous improvement strategies to meet rising requests and stay ahead of the competition.

Automation complexity, real-time data demand, supply chain agility, digital evolution, and supply chain transparency will hit the industry in 2024 and beyond. The technology revolution is underway, and businesses will be protected with NetSuite shipping software. 

The platform deftly deals with increasingly complicated regulations, shipping rates, and expectations, offering flexibility and the ability to grow. Scaling operations and changing to comply with real-time visibility becomes a breeze, as the integrated shipping technology does the brunt of the work.

And there’s no need to wait to adapt to the future. Preparation is vital; adopting NetSuite before automation is imposed upon the industry is a savvy move for any leader.

The Bottom Line

NetSuite shipping, a cloud-based solution that automates and streamlines critical shipping processes, brings logistics providers cost savings, resource optimization, enhanced efficiency, unparalleled accuracy, and powerful real-time tracking. Harnessing the potential of shipping technology allows companies to stay ahead of the looming competition and remain market leaders as the world “goes digital.”

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February 12, 2024

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How To Use TMS Software To Revolutionize Your Freight Operations

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Alongside warehousing and manufacturing, transportation plays a significant role in the supply chain. Many processes must be appropriately handled, from delivery planning to shipment tracking to carrier management, to ensure efficient, money-making freight operations. And that’s where TMS software comes into play.

TMS software (otherwise known as transportation management software) assists in the planning and execution of the physical movement of goods. Its features are designed to automate and streamline essential workflows to increase profit margins, improve working relationships, and optimize infrastructure.

Today’s freight operations landscape is mired with challenges, including shipment coordination, ever-rising customer service demands, and tracking problems. Still, the right TMS software can minimize or eliminate these difficulties.

Understanding TMS Software

A transportation management system’s primary function is planning, ensuring operational efficiency, and seamlessness for freight operations. Utilized by all supply chain members and vendors, including manufacturers, distributors, and 3PLs, it’s the backbone of shipment coordination and execution in the modern world. With it, companies can stay within the competitive curve.

In other words, TMS software is a control tower that oversees the entire shipment process. It does everything, from capturing data in real-time using EDI and API technology to automatically generating bills of lading, creating shipping labels, sorting tendering, and more.

Key Features and Functionalities

As the above would suggest, this software category boasts many features and functions worth exploring to understand the full extent of its power. Some of the core qualities are as follows:

  • Order management — There are two primary functions in order management: order entry and order overview. The former can be manual or automatic and includes filling in essential details, such as commodity, weight, location, and destination. The system then generates a route, assigns transport, and sets ETA. The latter shows created orders to planners and drivers on a seamless dashboard, allowing them to manage their day’s workload.
  • Tendering — Most high-quality TMS software tenders shipments automatically. Carrier lists are organized so users can access the vendor according to predetermined parameters or let the system assign carriers. The majority boast many tendering methods, commonly status, broadcast, and waterfall. Some offer auto-award, least-cost, service-based allocations, and other tendering strategies.
  • Shipment rate management — This is unarguably one of the most crucial elements of a TMS. A rate engine calculates the transportation rates for the truckload, parcel, intermodal, or LTL shipping based on specific rules (i.e., base rates, contract agreements, and discounts). The best transportation management systems craft custom pricing rules to allow for complex tariffs and the automatic sending of client quotes.
  • Load planning — The load planner lets freight companies plan the loading space inside containers, trucks, and trailers. The software considers the maximum loads and weight, instantly calculating the free loading space. Users must input vehicle measurements once and save them for future reference. Some systems come with a 3D load plan feature, allowing professionals to see the cargo distribution in the space.
  • Fleet management — TMSs let fleet managers see all their assets in one place. Not all transportation management systems come with advanced fleet management features, but even the most basic boasts the ability to assign drivers, select equipment, manage dispatch, and deal with financial settlements for drivers. Those with dedicated fleet management integrations offer fuel consumption control, environmental impact, and tracking maintenance activity.
  • Dock scheduling/yard operations — Shippers typically spend their days scheduling dock appointments, while drivers waste time sitting in a queue. However, integrating a TMS with a yard management system or WMS ensures automated dock scheduling and load sequencing for boosted efficiency and workflow. It collates all warehouse and transportation constraints in one place, affording workers more accurate schedules. This key feature proves particularly beneficial for freight companies looking to boost their customer service, as load statuses are always available.
  • Documentation management — Transportation is a paperwork-heavy process. However, TMSs let companies automate many aspects, including invoice creation, digital bills of lading generation, shipment label production, and freight auditing conduct. Streamlining billing and invoicing is a significant pain point for many freight businesses, but modern transportation management systems eradicate it through automation.
  • Connectivity portals — Most TMS software connects customers and partners via email. However, higher-end solutions go a few steps further, allowing users to customize self-service portals. In other words, companies can allow their customers to create and view their order statuses while they publish tender offers and review/submit invoices.
  • Tracking and tracing management — The latest track and trace tech lets companies track the movement of items in real-time, eliminating the need to contact the driver to discover the truck’s location. This feature typically gives customers accurate information on their shipment location and for scheduling and security purposes. For the function to work, a telematics device inside the truck/on the driver’s smartphone links to the TMS via GSM, UMTS, or GPRS. 
  • Analytics and business intelligence — Alongside real-time tracking, TMS software offers real-time analytics and a range of custom reports for management professionals to generate. Professionals tend to use them to monitor various performance indicators and make informed decisions that improve operational workflows and enhance profit margins. Providing businesses utilize a top-notch TMS provider; the BI capabilities are limitless.

Addressing Common Challenges in Freight Management

When TMS software is implemented effectively, the features mentioned above work wonders to address the top four common challenges experienced in freight management

#1 Coordinating Shipments

The supply chain is more globalized than ever, necessitating cross-border international shipment coordination. However, this is easier said than achieved due to the ever-changing local regulations, language barriers, and complex international customs procedures.

Advanced carrier TMS software applications automatically consider the above, smoothing the otherwise arduous carrier coordination task and ensuring freight is moved on time and within budget.

#2 Visibility and Tracking

Companies are increasingly struggling to keep up with shipments due to the need for accurate tracking information and visibility throughout the supply chain.

Tackling the issue requires a high-quality transportation management system that utilizes IoT telematics to allow users to see the progress of their shipments in real-time. With this to-the-minute information, they can make decisions to prevent delays or other problems.

#3 Customer Service

Titans like Amazon have made people incredibly impatient when waiting for deliveries — if it isn’t fast, they aren’t happy. As such, freight operators are under even more pressure to provide timely, responsive services, regardless of where their customers are located. And with that, the need for a reliable technological solution like TMS software becomes obvious.

#4 Documentation

Depending on customs and the type of goods, a slew of documentation may be needed. Whether it’s permits, clearances, pro forma invoices, certifications of compliance, or something else entirely, the manual creation of such paperwork needs to be revised and more manageable. Luckily, TMSs shine in this situation, automating the generation of necessary documents.

Benefits of Implementing TMS Software

The benefits of implementing TMS software are plentiful due to the innate breadth of the platform. However, the top three are easy to discern. They are as follows:

Improved Operational Efficiency

It’s no secret that freight operations are complex processes. Thus, efficiency is the ticket to long-term success — and TMS software helps carriers achieve that by:

  • tracking shipping lifecycles
  • optimizing routing
  • aligning dock scheduling
  • reducing human error through documentation, label, and fulfillment automation
  • improving warehouse productivity

The more businesses take advantage of all the features provided by TMS solutions, the greater the efficiency-improving benefits become.

Enhanced Visibility and Tracking

TMS software makes transparency across the entire supply chain a reality. It combines all process data into one place, giving companies previously unachievable levels of real-time access, thus allowing them to recognize and act upon possible pain points promptly and effectively.

Likewise, the solution provides to-the-minute shipment tracking, allowing organizations to make necessary adjustments to avoid service outages. The software automatically calculates the route time, developing more realistic schedules.

Real-Time Data Insights for Informed Decision-Making

Similarly to the above, transportation management systems give companies real-time data insights about every supply chain section. No stone is left unturned, giving leaders the best chance of making value-adding organizational decisions. Today’s industry competition is fierce, and only those who can stay ahead of the curve will remain afloat. 

How to Select the Right TMS Software

Deciding on the perfect TMS software is essential to achieve the desired effect. As such, leaders should pay close attention to the steps set out below to increase the likelihood of making the best choice:

  1. Consider current technology environment — TMS software must integrate with current technological capabilities to be effective. Assessing present capabilities and future needs ensures that companies know the features they should look for in their TMS. For example, companies already invested in a CRM may not need a one-stop-shop-esque transportation management system. Helpful questions to ask at this stage include:
    1. How old is the current system?
    2. Are they sustainable?
    3. Does the current system already include reporting platforms or CRMs?
    4. What are the positive and negative sides of the current system?
  2. Decide the budget — TMS platforms can be costly, especially when custom solutions integrate with standard features. While the improvements gained are worth the price, it’s still important to consider the maximum investment to avoid going over budget. This should include the total cost of ownership.
  3. Define goals — Outlining goals for the new transportation management system creates a checklist by which companies can evaluate each vendor. Plus, it ensures budgets aren’t wasted on less-than-satisfactory software. Some benefits or goals may include:
    1. boosted visibility
    2. bottom-line savings
    3. time savings
    4. transaction automation
    5. top-line growth
    6. efficiency improvements
  4. Ask questions — When evaluating providers, companies should ask as many questions as possible to ensure their needs are met. The easiest way to do this? Create a list of queries in advance. While the specifics may vary from business to business, the most crucial include:
    1. Will the TMS work for the type of freight moved?
    2. How much time can the system save?
    3. What systems does it integrate with?
    4. How are updates handled?
    5. What ROI can be expected?
    6. What sets the provider apart from the rest?

8 Factors to Consider

A comprehensive checklist of all the features/functions desired is essential to ensure the right software is purchased. Companies should use the following as a guide for everything high-quality applications offer:

#1 Custom Options

There’s rarely a one-size-fits-all option where freight operations are concerned, and TMS software is no different. Companies should examine the customization options of their preferred logistics service providers to ensure the platform will genuinely enhance workflows and operations rather than hinder them. In other words, it must be flexible to support and improve business requirements.

#2 Automation

Without automation, TMS software becomes nothing more than a cumbersome spreadsheet collector. Therefore, an automated solution is essential for efficiency and workflow optimization. 

Many elements of freight operations can be automated with the right logistics platform, including:

  • alerts
  • document generation
  • ELDs
  • geofencing
  • tracking
  • load board integrations
  • emails
  • settlements
  • and more

Some advanced options provide point-and-click facilities to build workflows on the go — no coding required!

#3 Centralized Communication

TMSs must facilitate team collaboration by gathering all communications in one easy-to-use place. Integrated messaging must be involved in every workflow, ensuring visibility for teams and customers.

The integrated messaging platform should offer supreme functionality, making it the “record of truth” for all business communication. In-use email servers should easily integrate with the software for best results.

#4 Mobile Access

The chosen TMS should offer role-based profiles to provide every staff member with the system and data they need to conduct and execute their core responsibilities. Setting up permissions and access hierarchies is an integral but easily overlooked part of a transportation management system. It is one of the most crucial aspects to consider when choosing the best transportation services vendor.

#5 Billing Capabilities

Companies don’t have the same billing methods or types. Therefore, the TMS software must have fully functioning billing capabilities to suit the company’s specific transactions. Most platforms offer a wide range, but checking before committing to a single solution is always best.

#6 Flexibility and Scalability

Some providers have gated models with limited functionality and a set user number, forcing businesses to move to the next bundle for full functionality. To avoid this, businesses should look for comprehensive TMS solutions with unlimited users at zero extra cost and immediate access to all the features.

#7 User-Friendliness

Transportation management system software must be easy to navigate, boasting an intuitive user interface. After all, it’s a near-useless addition if those who need to utilize it can’t get to grips with the platform!

Additionally, the interface should be customizable to the needs of the business, with various built-in features that simplify daily operations.

#8 Vendor Reliability and Support

A TMS is only as good as its development team, so reliability and support are significant factors to consider when choosing the perfect solution. The software deserves high marks if the developers offer more than code customizations.

Customer service teams should be responsive to comments and concerns, incorporating relevant improvements into their system upgrades. 

Implementation and Integration

Choosing the software is only part of the deal. Companies must also implement and integrate the desired TMS solution appropriately. Follow the recommended steps to ensure businesses avoid poor adoption and reap the system’s full benefits.

7 Steps for Implementing and Integrating TMS Software

  1. Create an implementation team comprised of employees from wide-ranging backgrounds. 
  2. Make a plan with clear objectives and goals to ensure the investment pays off.
  3. Use the factors above as a checklist to evaluate the various TMS platforms on the market.
  4. Spend time demoing the platforms to analyze the various functionalities each offers.
  5. Carefully plan the transition, offering sufficient training to combat the poor adoption potential. 
  6. Prioritize integration requirements.
  7. Allocate staff before going live to offer users plenty of support during the initial rollout. 

Security and Compliance Considerations

Both data security and industry compliance are imperative in the logistics industry. As the sector becomes increasingly complex, businesses can only remain abreast of all the information if they employ a technological solution.

Ensuring Data Security

Cybersecurity is an increasingly important aspect of any software adoption. As such, the best TMS platforms offer a wealth of security-enhancing facilities, including:

  • Data encryption during transit and at rest
  • Intricate access control and authentication
  • Data anonymization and pseudonymization
  • Data and activity auditing and monitoring

Complying with Industry Standards and Regulations

Compliance is critical. Businesses must comply with regulations and laws surrounding vehicle maintenance, driver hours, documentation, and qualifications. TMS software helps companies remain compliant by automating the process of document generation and driver hour tracking.

Overcoming Challenges in TMS Adoption

Even the best-laid plans can go awry — and adopting TMS software is no different. Thankfully, those who realize the potential for things to go wrong can take proactive measures to prevent the struggles from happening.

TMS Software Hurdles and Solutions

Challenge Solution
Limited/No integration with current systems Ensure the TMS software is compatible with other systems used in the company. Custom integrations may be necessary.
Employees are resistance to change Involve employees in the implementation process. Demonstrate benefits of utilizing the new system. Offer incentives/rewards for system utilization.
Users don’t understand the new system Provide sufficient training and support through online tutorials, helpdesks, and in-person training sessions.
Initial investment cost Look at scalable solutions for gradual implementation.

The Growing TMS Use Trend

TMS software use has seen exceptional growth since 2013. However, during the pandemic, things really kicked up a gear, as cloud-based transportation management system solutions made it possible for people to transition to remote work without noticeable disruptions. And this is only set to continue as the popularity of autonomous and connected vehicles keeps booming.

The World Economic Forum noted that digitalization in logistics could unlock a whopping $1.5 trillion by 2025, spurring an ever-growing 35% of businesses to use the platform for transportation network management. 

Those who’ve implemented the software have reported shipping cost savings of 5% to 15%, thanks to the automation and optimization of loads, rates, and modes. Plus, teams have spent 75% to 85% less time managing loads and assigning loads after implementing a TMS.

TMS Software Success Stories

It’s no wonder TMS software is witnessing supreme growth — industry titans have nothing but praise for the application!

The finance director at AW Jenkinson Transport notes, “The facility is leading to definite benefits in improved load allocation,” and the managing director at TWE Haulage says, “We can now invoice straight away, increasing cashflow by four or five days.”

Likewise, Jenny Hill from Jentone Freight mentions they’ve ” achieved many things we could never have achieved with paper-based systems.”

Today’s TMS software is already brilliant, but the advancement is only set to gain pace, with a few of the following trends expected to appear in the near future:

  • Optimized visibility advancements will bring even more accuracy to real-time shipping information. Couple that with IoT telematics. This trend will help reduce delays, boost supply chain efficiency, and detect inefficiencies early.
  • Unprecedented security is set to come to such applications thanks to the increased use of end-to-end data protection, transparency measures, and role-based access controls.
  • Inter-management collaboration is a fast-approaching trend for the industry, with TMSs boosting communication to achieve higher ROIs and lower shipping rates.

Transportation management software can transform freight operations and future-proof businesses of all shapes and sizes. Whether companies desire basic features or the most advanced capabilities, there is a carrier TMS software solution to suit them.

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February 8, 2024

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Multi-Carrier Shipping Software: Streamlining Logistics Operations

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The logistics industry has faced many challenges, from increased demand to ever-changing regulations and money-wasting inefficiencies. And while there isn’t a once-size-fits-all solution to the age-old difficulties, multi-carrier shipping software (otherwise dubbed MCSS) makes them preventable.

By harnessing the power of these AI-backed platforms, industry participants can benefit from boosted communication, improved overall efficiency, mitigated risks, real-time data insights, and more, ultimately giving them the leg-up they need to thrive in such a competitive field.

Traversing multi-carrier shipping software’s intricacies sheds light on this must-have addition to any logistics company or shipping business.

Understanding Multi-Carrier Shipping Software

As the name suggests, multi-carrier shipping software lets logistics companies load and manage numerous carriers in one easy-to-use platform. It centralizes all shipping processes, regardless of whether businesses deal with package delivery, postal or parcel shipping, less than truckload, national, or regional carriers, truckload, domestic, international shipments, or most of the above.

The tech boom has given rise to MCSS, which automates most related processes, such as rate-shopping, label-printing, zone-skipping, business rules, reporting, freight rate calculations, routing, pre-manifesting customer needs, and so much more. It’s the hub for all companies’ shipping operations.

Diving Into Features and Functionalities

While specific offerings depend on the specific multi-carrier shipping software, all platforms contain variations of the following features:

  • Shipping process automation — This is the primary function. Shipping profiles, rules, and pre-set package types allow businesses to automate the otherwise arduous shipping process and reduce human error.
  • Rate shopping — The software allows users to compare shipping rates from various carriers side by side. This is particularly beneficial for businesses looking to reduce costs while guaranteeing timely delivery. Alternatively, the platform can compare carriers automatically, instantly selecting the most cost-effective carrier.
  • Label generation — The label and document will be generated (and sometimes printed) automatically, guaranteeing consistency and accuracy. 
  • Real-time visibility — Multi-carrier shipping software offers real-time visibility and tracking of all shipments. Companies and their customers can track package progress with ease. Plus, businesses get a complete shipment history in one place.
  • Analytics and reporting — Robust reporting and analytics are must-haves for compliance and making value-adding decisions. MCSS has both in spades. 

Addressing Common Logistics Challenges

The above-discussed functions and features can prevent and solve a few common challenges in the logistics industry that plague both small and large businesses, such as:

  • Tracking and visibility woes — Optimal tracking is crucial yet difficult to attain, especially as consumer demands keep rising. However, multi-carrier shipping software gives businesses many visibility and tracking options to enhance transparency and increase their reputation.
  • Incorrect customs forms and duties declarations — Customs forms for international shipping can be complex, changing drastically from country to country. By adopting a fully automated multi-carrier shipping system, companies can avoid this headache-inducing task and never fail to produce the correct forms or documents. The software does the hard work for them.
  • Regulation changes — The logistics and supply chain industry undergo unpredictable regulation adaptations, causing compliance problems and increased costs for providers. Businesses can stay ahead by taking a technological approach to compliance with multi-carrier shipping platforms and making proactive decisions based on future predictions.

Benefits of Multi-Carrier Shipping Software

The competitive advantages of multi-carrier shipping platforms are innumerable. However, the most commonly noted benefits are detailed below:

Improved Operational Efficiency

Nothing screams “improved efficiency” like automation and reliability — the two significant elements multi-carrier shipping platforms provide! Whether directly comparing prices across ten carriers, transitioning to regional carriers for their dependable delivery promises, or letting software generate shipment labels, MCSS can do it all for maximum operational effectiveness.

Moreover, humans won’t have to waste time on boredom-creating tasks, increasing their motivation to work more efficiently and productively elsewhere. It’s a win-win for companies’ bottom and front lines. 

Enhanced Visibility and Tracking

Knowing exactly where shipments are is vital for the customer and businesses. Keeping a close eye on orders’ whereabouts lets professionals avoid delays and customer dissatisfaction.

With multi-carrier shipping technology, companies can abolish disparate systems and fragmented integration, turning toward a cohesive, all-in-one-place system to obtain boosted visibility and tracking. Precise locations increase the likelihood of picking up on delayed days before it’s too late.

Real-Time Data Insights

Real-time data and the benefits above go hand-in-hand.

Thanks to artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, logistics companies can process and analyze real-time data in previously impossible ways. By leveraging the advanced technology inside multi-carrier shipping platforms, providers obtain real-time visibility and an instant competitive advantage. They can optimize routes, make informed decisions, predict demand, and manage fleets.

Reduced Delivery Costs

One of the main draws of transitioning to an MCSS is the carrier cost reduction. As mentioned earlier, the software automatically compares shipping rates from multiple carriers, selecting the best on the market and saving companies significant amounts of cash. Various businesses note that switching to multi-carrier shipping software saved them 35% on shipping expenses compared to carrier-supplied platforms.

It isn’t just about the direct cost savings, however. The software reduces employees’ time on mundane tasks and increases the time spent on creative, value-adding duties, ultimately raising and saving profits for the entire business.

Streamlined Communication and Collaboration

Collaboration is essential for logistics companies, but with a centralized place for communication, everything becomes more transparent. Thankfully, multi-carrier shipping software provides a blended environment for businesses to streamline collaboration with internal employees and external partners (carriers included). 

Everyone can access the information they need regardless of the location of individuals or departments. It will be the most updated version as MCSS changes in real-time.

Mitigated Risks

Companies that rely on a single carrier are more at risk than those who deal with multiple carriers. Why? It’s similar to investors; if they put all their money into one asset class, they play a riskier game than those who diversify. Should one asset class fall, they have plenty of others to bolster them. Likewise, if one shipping company goes awry, they have others to turn to.

Even though businesses that work with significant, well-known carriers may feel safe sticking with only one preferred carrier, anything can happen. It’s best to mitigate risks with a backup plan (and one fool-proof software solution to coordinate everything flawlessly).

Multi-Carrier Shipping Software Implementation Strategies

Implementing multi-carrier shipping software takes time and many change management principles. People naturally resist change, necessitating a careful yet forthright approach to adapting working methods.

The following details practical steps for integrating MCSS and ensuring a smooth transition.

The Process for Integrating Multi-Carrier Shipping Software

  1. Invest in your preferred multi-carrier shipping software (use the tips in the following few sections to help).
  2. Once installed, set criteria for carrier selection. These shipping rules should consider factors like delivery speed, cost, and reliability.
  3. Enable other automations as per the software’s help resources.
  4. Provide training so all staff members can easily use the new system.
  5. Use the platform’s real-time data to monitor effectiveness and closely change shipping rules.

Best Practices for a Smooth Transition

There are always hurdles when transitioning to a new system. However, companies have the power to reduce (and sometimes eliminate) said hurdles by:

  • Utilizing the software’s dedicated support teams to help users before, during, and after the transition.
  • Setting up feedback sessions to deal with employee concerns and pain points.
  • Holding a live demonstration session before fully transitioning. 
  • Tell employees about the change early and communicate progress regularly.
  • Ensuring address books, ERP systems, accounts, carriers, price lists, and other aspects integrate before switching.

Choosing the Right Multi-Carrier Shipping Software

Even the best implementation strategies will be successful only if companies choose a multi-carrier shipping system that meets all their needs.

Since businesses are different, the answer will be different for every owner or manager, so they should begin by actually defining their needs. Needs include the number of shipments, specific carriers used, shipping destinations, location of distribution centers, and the types of products included. By doing this, professionals can quickly weed out the software that doesn’t fulfill this simple requirements list.

After defining specific shipping needs, companies should consider the following seven factors to guarantee that the multi-carrier shipping system is right for them.

#1 Cost-Effectiveness vs ROI

Granted, the upfront cost of multi-carrier shipping software is a vital consideration. However, it’s just as essential to assess the overall cost of ownership beyond shipping costs, which includes training, implementation, and ongoing maintenance.

Looking beyond the affordable price tag and thinking about the long-term returns helps businesses achieve the operational efficiencies more flexibility and cost savings they’re hoping for.

Most things in life abide by the “you get what you pay for” adage — and multi-carrier shipping software is no different. Companies must prepare to pay a relatively higher price for a solution that streamlines and future-proofs their operations. 

#2 Scalability

Supply chains are never static, regardless of what happens in the world. They twist. They turn. They contract. They expand. They’re constantly evolving, so the multi-carrier shipping software you choose must be able to handle these fluctuations. In other words, it needs to be scalable.

A solution barely covering a company’s shipping volume will only lead to bottlenecks when the brand expands. Any MCSS worth purchasing must seamlessly cope with boosted order volumes, new market opportunities, and extra fulfillment locations.

#3 User-Friendliness

Sometimes, steep learning curves are necessary, but that should be different with a multi-carrier shipping system. User-friendliness is the ticket to successful implementation in an organization as it flattens the learning curve and ensures all team members can leverage the technology as quickly as possible.

While the specific inclusions that make an MCSS user-friendly differ from platform to platform, they generally include (but aren’t limited to):

  • intuitive navigation
  • seamless device configuration
  • streamlined deployment
  • direct communication with other systems

Not only does this minimize training needs, but it also reduces workstation burdens for maximum efficiency.

#4 Customization

Just like every human being, every company is different. As such, they all have unique shipping needs and branding specifications. Therefore, organizations need to look for multi-carrier shipping software that lets them customize shipping labels to maintain brand cohesion. With changeable labels, businesses can keep a consistent look and feel across every shipment, working to enhance recognition and customer experience without harming compliance.

Of course, shippers must be aware of the differences between mapping label data and genuine customizations. Some need help understanding the fundamental difference, which doesn’t bode well for compliance. That said, the right MCSS can solve this all-too-common problem.

#5 Network

The size of the shipping software’s carrier network will directly impact users’ flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Companies should look for a platform with varied carriers and service options to guarantee they fulfill every need. A few of the most sought-after carriers include:

  • DHL
  • FedEx
  • TNT
  • UPS
  • USPS
  • APC Logistics
  • Canada Post
  • DoorDash
  • GLS

A diverse carrier network will allow businesses to compare carrier rates and save money by selecting the cheapest and most efficient option for every order or ensure the best one is automatically selected, depending on the platform and preferred carrier’s abilities.

#6 Customer Support

It’s easy to forget about the importance of customer support until something goes wrong. However, it’s always wise to consider the quality of the service before buying into an MCSS. Why? Because then companies have a reliable team to turn to during their hour of need, getting them back up and running in no time. There’s nothing worse than unreachable support staff when time is of the essence.

Platforms should also have various training resources for companies’ teams to understand the features and functions. 

#7 Automation Capabilities

In this fast-moving, digitally focused world, automation is the all-star player. It’s the ticket to simplifying and streamlining shipping processes. Businesses should look for multi-carrier, multi-carrier shipping solutions and software that automates:

  • printing labels
  • printing packing slips
  • sending shipping notifications to partners and customers
  • choosing the optimal carrier for every shipment
  • determining transport prices
  • updating tracking information

Although, the above only scratches the surface. Shipping processes are convoluted, involving manual processes and many moving parts. Thus, the best software offers comprehensive automation capabilities beyond the abovementioned options.

Security and Compliance Considerations

No industry is exempt from security and compliance measures, but logistics is arguably one of the most stringent. Whether it’s domestic shipping laws, cybersecurity legislation, or international customs rules, the regulations often need to be more straightforward to keep up with. So, why not let MCSS handle it?

Complying with Industry Standards and Regulations

Carriers are constantly updating their requirements to align with regulation changes, and missing these alterations can have expensive consequences. 

But MCSS demystifies this otherwise confusing (and time-consuming) process, acting as a real-time truth source and notifying shippers’ systems as carrier regulations adapt. Most systems also automate label creation to reduce the likelihood of mismatched formats and devastating typos from incurring penalties.

Naturally, compliance is an even more complex procedure for international shipments. Yet, MCSS helps calm the chaos by integrating all country-specific regulations via business rules. 

Guaranteeing Data Security

Data security isn’t negotiable; retaining positive reputations and avoiding breaches that cost thousands of dollars (if not more) to rectify is mandatory. Luckily, the best multi-carrier shipping software has measures to guarantee they adhere to industry-standard security protocols and meet various regulatory requirements, like SOC 2. 

Statistics on Multi-Carrier Shipping Software Use

The worldwide multi-carrier shipping software market is expected to rise considerably quickly from 2023 to 2030, paving the way for an automated future. But even with today’s figures, these platforms create an exceptional difference, significantly raising operational efficiency.

For instance, it’s well-documented that companies using the platforms save up to 20% on shipping costs while regaining time to focus on other aspects of the business.

Costs aren’t everything, however. Businesses can save time and triple their shipping efficiencies with the right MCSS, extensively increasing capacity and reducing costs.

The logistics world has a lot to look out for in 2024. From the continued fight to reduce carbon emissions to the increasing adoption of cloud-based tech solutions, like multi-carrier shipping software, companies must be able to adapt to remain relevant. 

Usage of MCSS is expected to peak this coming year as businesses laud services that permit extensive suite customizations.

Emerging Tech and Innovations

It isn’t just trends to be excited about. The sector is expected to welcome emerging technologies and innovations as the calendar keeps flipping in an increasingly dystopian future.

Hybrid Fleet Management Systems

Demand is one of the biggest logistics industry challenges associated with last-mile delivery. Busy days often cause considerable delays due to the need for more drivers. And on the other hand, there are some days in which drivers are on the clock, but there are no deliveries to be made. 

That’s where hybrid fleets come into play. 

Such models combine companies’ fleets with third parties (e.g., other trucking companies, independent contractors, or freelancers) for increased flexibility and reinforcement. Businesses can reduce transit time and still maintain smaller fleets having the resources available to meet high demands during busy seasons.

However, at-scale collaboration demands technology to ensure it runs smoothly. Hybrid fleet management systems do just that. Many experts predict the future will see these platforms dominate the market, thanks to their abilities to coordinate native fleets and third-party providers.

Advanced Tracking Technologies

The need for more transparency and traceability of orders is a primary concern for the modern customer. While they’re notified when their order leaves the hub, they typically need to know how long it’ll take to reach them, almost nullifying the original notification. 

Emerging tracking technologies hold the key to abolishing inappropriately long delivery windows. Today, the “norm” involves telling the customer when a delivery is coming and offering a rough time slot. However, RFID and GPS tracking technologies are set to break into the market, giving consumers the power to track their packages in real-time. The future is undoubtedly transparent. 

Robot Deliveries

Serious tech fans consider the possibility of robot deliveries to be the most exciting industry innovation. And even though it sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi novel, it may be the reality in a few years. 

In fact, Amazon, Google, and UPS are already conducting trials of robotic deliveries, noting that self-directed vehicles could make up a massive 80% of last-mile deliveries in the next quinquennium. 

Naturally, some issues with this possibility require placating before such vehicles become commonplace, but it’s more on the cards than ever before.

Multi-Carrier Shipping Software Implementation Success Stories

Thousands of companies have succeeded with multi-carrier shipping software, but one of the most notable is Kuehne + Nagel. Founded in 1890, the company has become the globe’s leading logistics provider, boasting more than 63,000 employees and over 20 facilities in the US alone.

After an acquisition, the enterprise needed to replace its now obsolete shipping system. Thus, they turned to a highly flexible multi-carrier shipping software, giving them some unique advantages — offering customized shipping solutions is perhaps the most admirable, with more than 500 customers worldwide requiring a slightly different experience.

Joining Kuehne + Nagel is ALOM Global Supply Chain Management, who implemented a multi-carrier shipping software to reduce processing and response times. After integration, the company:

  • Tripled their productivity to 1.25 million packages in the first six months.
  • Increased their maximum number of packages shipped daily to 30,000 from 7,000.
  • Boosted their average per-day shipments to 9,000.
  • Reduced shipping time from around 20 seconds to three seconds.

The Bottom Line on Multi-Carrier Shipping Software

Improved communication, boosted efficiency, enhanced visibility, and real-time data insights await businesses implementing multi-carrier shipping software. With so many unique options available, professionals must consider scalability, cost-effectiveness, compatibility, automation capabilities, network size, and customer support to ensure they choose their perfect platform and unlock the profit-increasing benefits. 

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3G

Publish date

February 5, 2024

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Shippers

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