The Logistics Questions You Should Be Asking in 2020

Amanda Bohl | Primus Solutions

As we approach the TIA 2020 Capital Ideas Conference & Exhibition, it’s important to ask if your business is ready for what’s to come. Is your supply chain entering the next decade behind the curve—or ahead of it? A modernized and tech-enabled supply chain is more important than ever, and so is the ROI to prove its worth.

As new supply chain technology and innovations enter the market, shippers and 3PLs are using these innovations to drive competitive advantage. According to research advisory firm Gartner, Inc., worldwide investment in supply chain management software topped $12.2 billion in 2017.1 With more tools than ever at their disposal, building a technology-enabled supply chain can provide massive benefits to shippers and providers by:

• Streamlining operations;

• Reducing the cost of goods and labor;

• Increasing service levels;

• Enabling businesses to scale faster without adding staff; and

• Boosting profitability and customer satisfaction.

For providers, technology can also deliver a competitive edge by empowering shippers to manage their freight alongside their companies. It’s a good time to evaluate if your business has the logistics tools it needs for success. Here are three major questions to consider as your business looks to integrate technology into your supply chain.

Automated vs. Manual?

Many supply chain processes are prime candidates for automation, which can help reduce spending on labor and goods without compromising the quality of service. Yet too many businesses are still performing tasks like quote management manually when they could be automated. This leads to wasted hours shopping for the best rates, delayed information, and uncertainty about whether they’re choosing the best carriers and the most effective modes.

An API-enabled TMS can help streamline operations and improve service levels through smart automations. Creating a centralized platform for vendor and carrier integrations allows 3PLs and shippers to increase efficiencies in key areas like:   

Rate Shopping: Allow your business to pull carrier rates directly into your TMS, eliminating the redundant task of gathering rates from multiple carrier sites.

When vetting technology solutions, look for a platform that offerS transparent pricing and is easy to use out of the gate, so you don’t waste precious time and resources during the onboarding process.

Shipping: From small packages to LTL and FTL providers, TMS-enabled automation allows businesses to dispatch electronically and create BOLs and labels directly in the platform in under a minute. There’s no need to enter data again on the carrier side saving time and stress.

Tracking: Using direct-to-carrier APIs, your TMS can automatically pull real-time status updates on shipments and proof of delivery when available. This allows users to keep tabs on shipments each step along the way—without having to check multiple carrier sites.

Invoicing & Aging: Toggling between multiple systems to track invoices from multiple carriers is an exhausting time drain for businesses. With the right TMS, you can push your accounts payable and receivable directly into your accounting platform of choice. This eliminates double entry, which frees up your time and effort and improves overall efficiency.

How Much Are We Investing in Technology?

As you plan your budgets, it’s important to consider not only what you’ll spend, but also what you’ll get in return. With TMS software, that return often comes through more efficient workflows, increased automation, and the ability to pivot on a dime during disruptions without compromising customer service. According to McKinsey, businesses that digitize supply chains can boost their earnings before interest and taxes by 3.2%.2

That’s why it’s important to find a provider that is not only a vendor, but also a reliable “technology partner.” This kind of partner should be willing to grow with your business to provide custom solutions exactly when you need them. Each company has a unique workflow, and while developing roadmap solutions is the norm, a partner can add value when they’re willing to help customize solutions.

When vetting technology solutions, look for a platform that offers transparent pricing and is easy to use out of the gate, so you don’t waste precious time and resources during the onboarding process. Pricing for BOLs should include everything from quoting to ongoing support, equipping your business to work much more smoothly. Look for a partner with industry experience as a team and the willingness to provide different solutions that can help your business grow.

Is My Supply Chain Ready for the Future?

With supply chain costs on the rise, it’s crucial to have a plan to drive efficiency. Business’ logistics costs rose across the board between 2017-2018, highlighting the need for new tools that can help boost efficiencies.

Facing often unpredictable or tumultuous market conditions, 3PL providers are increasingly migrating to tech solutions—and those who don’t will be at a distinct disadvantage in the marketplace.

According to Logistics Management, 93% of shippers say tech capabilities are a critical part of their 3PLs expertise, yet only 55% are satisfied with their partner’s IT capabilities.3 That is exactly where tools like an API-enabled TMS come into play. Logistics providers can utilize this technology to rate shop, execute electronic dispatches, track shipments, and invoice while connecting customers to their data and tools. This can also enable 24/7 access to shipping information, making the TMS a key, on-demand tool for logistics providers.

 While the future itself may always be uncertain, your business can gracefully plan for whatever may come by integrating the right technology, right now. Investing in your future will not only benefit your company, but also your customers, and will equip you to face the new year—and new decade—head-on.        

Amanda Bohl is the CEO of Primus Solutions, an API-enabled TMS, allowing logistics providers to rate shop, electronically dispatch, track, POD and invoice while also connecting customers to their data and tools on demand 24/7. Bohl is an industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience leading global software development and customer success teams and holds a deep belief that logistics technology is the key to ensuring sustainable growth in the increasingly competitive transportation service industry. Contact Amanda at abohl@shipprimus.com.

References

1 Gartner. “Gartner Says Worldwide Supply Chain Management Software Revenue Grew 13.9 Percent in 2017.” 18 July 2018. < https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2018-07-18-gartner-says-worldwide-supply-chain-management-software-revenue-grew-13-percent-in-2017>
2 Gezgin, Enis, Xin Huang, Prakash Samal, and Ildefonso Silva. McKinsey & Company. “Digital transformation: Raising supply-chain performance to new levels.”
<https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/digital-transformation-raising-supply-chain-performance-to-new-levels>
3 Berman, Jeff. “2019 3PL Study highlights ongoing changes in shipper-3PL dynamics” 1 Oct. 2018. <https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/2019_3pl_study_highlights_ongoing_changes_in_shipper_3pl_dynamics>

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