How To Know What’s Missing From Your Logistics Technology Stack

(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.

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[WEBINAR] 5 Tips to Supercharge Your TMS

In this on-demand webinar, join Hunter Yaw, VP of Product at Loadsmart and Adam Wells, Director of Strategic Alliances at MercuryGate, as they walk through five ways shippers can leverage Loadsmart and MercuryGate to deliver tangible cost savings, improve service, and get more out of their TMS.

They discuss how to…

  • Accelerate rate discovery by adding instant rates to your TMS
  • Beat the market by making your routing guide responsive to market conditions
  • Eliminate surprises by tracking freight in near real-time
  • Find the best carrier, faster with algorithmic sourcing
  • Maximize open loading docks with Smart Scheduling

News: Loadsmart now provides shippers with instant pricing via Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets

Today we released our Simple Quote add-on for Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel. The integrations provide shippers the ability to price and book truckload shipments in seconds directly from within a spreadsheet — without the need for a transportation management system (TMS).

While we already provide instant truckload rates inside most major TMSs, enabling Fortune 500 companies to book a truckload in seconds, we are now the first provider to level the playing field for smaller shippers with the new integrations.  

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How We Help Our Clients Reduce Spot Market Exposure by 50%

On May 15, 2018, we wrote about the first fully automated intelligent routing guide with dynamic rates in the US. That powerful tool enables shippers to automatically book a truck before the shipment turns into a spot load and has reduced spot volume for Fortune500 Shippers by as much as 50 percent. Loadsmart accepts 100 percent of tenders received from the dynamic routing guide, guaranteeing capacity. This feature helps shippers avoid the same-day/next-day markets, which are known for steep prices and service failures. Given the huge interest and questions we got from the logistics community, we decided to expand and explain the reasoning behind it and how it actually works in a granular way.

At Loadsmart, our mission is to do more with less. That’s why we innovated with a major customer to help them drive down their spot market exposure by 50 percent. We worked with our customer to help them do more with less by pushing market-based truckload rates into their TMS for every load that goes through their routing guide. Simply put, we do three things:

  • Provide real-time pricing on every load in the routing guide via API;
  • Auto-accept every tender we receive;
  • Guarantee capacity for all of those auto-accepted tenders.

This explains how we went from participating in a daily spot auction via email to a full-fledged integration with our customer to reduce spot volume.

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