(Even if you think of yourself as a tech-enabled shipper)
Here’s how every shipper can get more from logistics technology and build a complete platform to transform its transportation operations.
The value and importance of logistics technology for every company that ships anything is not up for debate anymore. So, even while some lagging companies may be slow to adopt automation or use technology to improve how their logistics department operates, smart shippers understand they need technology, like a TMS.
But what many companies don’t realize, sometimes even more progressive ones, is that a TMS is not always a complete solution by itself. Yes, a TMS performs many important tasks and is a cornerstone technology to better shipping execution, but it’s not the only part of a complete logistics technology stack.
Getting the most from a TMS requires connections outside the system to access the information that drives and makes it all it can be for users. With a TMS as the starting point, shippers can add pieces to create their own best combination of logistics applications and shipping-related data-sources.
The Most Important Step Towards a Complete LogTech Stack
When considering technology, most shippers’ priority is to connect their TMS to a source for rates, capacity, and tracking information. All are now easily integrated into modern TMS systems, primarily with pre-built APIs and EDI connectivity.
The reason most technology stacks take shape this way is because while a good TMS platform is a powerful tool, it’s only as good as the data available to it. A TMS can’t fix bad rates and routing decisions by users. It also can’t make up for non-existent or delayed tracking information missing from carriers. The good news is these are exactly the problems specialized logistics technologies solve. And together with a TMS, fill in the missing parts of any shippers’ technology needs.
Saying the only benefits of building on a TMS are lower rates (which many do) is selling the idea of what logistics technology can be short. The right integrated solutions can provide a TMS (and the shippers who count on them) advantages, including:
- Qualified and pre-vetted carriers based on known needs and shipping patterns
- Transparency into appropriate rates and transit-time options for all shipping modes
- Faster access to capacity for difficult to cover loads
- More in-depth and accurate data enabling strategic and data-driven decision making
- Real-time track and trace
- Better inventory visibility
Most shippers will see several advantages on this list as areas they’d like to improve within their logistics operation. Fortunately, each is also probably more attainable with technology than they realize.
Logistics Technology Is Easier Than You’d Think
Technology implementations have a bad reputation for being expensive and difficult to start using. This perception is a hold-over from the past when connecting systems and sharing data was hard. Modern platforms are built with the expectation that they need to be simple to start using and share data with other systems freely (most often through pre-built APIs.) There is also much more emphasis placed on the user experience with technology today, so training and operating costs are much lower.
The point is that using foundational technology like a TMS and building on it is the minimum you should be doing now. A well-planned technology stack is not difficult, nor is it expensive. And, having only basic logistics technology is not a way to be better than competitors; it’s a way to merely keep up.
However, smart and progressive companies are aware of the benefits of combining exceptional logistics technologies can provide.
Interested in building on your TMS to improve your logistics tech stack? Download our eBook How To Level-Up Your Logistics Tech Stack (Without Heavy-Lifting) for everything you need to know.