Tracking: The Key to Finding Your Hidden Costs

Emily Henderson | ETRAC FINAL MILE

TRACKING IS COMMONLY thought of as a consumer-facing tool to show your customers when they can expect their items. When used correctly, though, the information is a vital internal asset that cuts down on your delivery costs, improves customer experience, and creates a thriving supply chain.

When used comprehensively, tracking becomes more than just location points; it becomes complete visibility to your supply chain. It shines a light on issues that can raise your costs, especially in the final mile, including carrier compliance, order mishaps and inefficient bottlenecks.

Establishing Tracking

Many of your regional and local final mile carriers have the technology in place to provide the insight and visibility you need to find these hidden costs. As their customer, these carriers will often look to you to mandate how you need the information transmitted. You can choose to do this by mandating a driver mobile application, requiring a specific dispatching system, or through integrating to their existing system.

While it initially appears to have a shorter onboarding time and ease, requiring your carriers to utilize a driver application or additional dispatching system increases their costs and operational complexity. Some of these costs are direct—like the fees to use the product—some are indirect—like the operational inefficiency of losing control over drivers or not having a succinct view of their business. Regardless of how they occur, these costs are passed back to you, the shipper, in the form of increased delivery costs.


When you integrate to your carrier’s existing system, they can maintain operational control of their business, including route optimization and driver workloads, and avoid the fees associated with an additional system or app. In addition to being less expensive, this method provides a more comprehensive and accurate view of your supply chain and insight into hidden costs.

Hidden Cost: Carrier Compliance

Your regional and local final mile carriers are the customer-facing component of your supply chain. You rely on them to deliver packages on time, provide thorough updates, and complete your delivery requirements. Having tracking and visibility in place will allow you to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) over time. As information accrues, it can provide insight into which carriers are working for your company and which are costing you.

Important KPIs like on-time delivery and over, short and damage (OS&D) percentages can show patterns in carrier performance. Are your carriers consistently late? Are their packages consistently damaged?

Once tied into your carriers’ systems, you can aggregate the data received to measure your carrier compliance over time. Looking at data historically can show which carriers have a pattern of compliance issues and which are meeting your requirements.

Hidden Cost: Order Mishaps

Order delays and damaged or missing items can cause items being returned or a redelivery to take place—resulting in skyrocketing costs. Comprehensive tracking and analysis systems allow for you to be proactive when something has gone awry.

Don’t wait for a customer to report missed deadlines or damages. By receiving the update to your system, you can automate messages to your customers, leveling expectations for their order delivery and allowing a quick resolution.

Your carriers’ operational systems are likely equipped with the capabilities you need to obtain this visibility. Once integrated, you can enjoy the benefits of real-time tracking and insights on each order. These integrations also encompass the delivery drivers’ applications, allowing ETA’s, GPS locations, and photos captured to be communicated back to you as well.

Along with other compliance KPIs, this data can also be aggregated to provide visibility into each carriers’ history, allowing you to assess patterns of order mishaps amongst your network.

Hidden Cost: Bottlenecks

The inefficiency of bottlenecks in your supply chain is costing you time and money. Without the proper tracking and visibility in place, it’s hard to tell where these bottlenecks are occurring.

Initiating a tracking and visibility tool can not only provide a carrier-by-carrier view of your final mile, but can provide insight into the bigger picture of what your network is doing and where it’s going wrong.

Once the needed integrations with your carriers’ operational systems are established, your aggregated data can give you a complete view of your final mile network. You can then track and review key “bottleneck” signifying metrics such as:

  • Where orders are being held too long
  • Where carriers can’t meet capacity needs
  • Where you may need additional distribution centers (DCs)
  • Where a linehaul delivery to the carrier is arriving too late to meet their delivery times

Having the technology for tracking in place will give you the ability to address these inefficiencies quickly, can save your company time and money, and allow you to provide better customer service.

Saving Time & Money in the Final Mile

The final mile moves fast. Integrating to your regional and local carriers’ systems is going to provide you the most comprehensive tracking. This level of visibility will bring light to your hidden costs, improve your customer service, and help you create a thriving supply chain.

Emily Henderson is the Marketing Manager for eTrac Final Mile, a technology company that specializes in connecting shippers to final mile carriers. For more information on eTrac, visit