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Network Effect Kuebix

Enabling the Network Effect in Transportation Management [eBook]

According to Adrian Gonzalez, President of Adelante, SCM, Supply Chain Operating Networks are the business equivalent of LinkedIn and Facebook. These cloud-based networks can enable companies to embrace collaboration and realize huge efficiencies. But Supply Chain Operating Networks are few and far between. One of the reasons for this absence is because the majority of technology traditionally used by supply chains have been housed within the “four walls” of individual companies. New SaaS, cloud-based technologies like Kuebix TMS are changing this.

As traditional, on-premises transportation management systems become replaced by SaaS, cloud-based ones, companies have the opportunity to digitally connect with one another via new Supply Chain Operating Networks. Kuebix is the first TMS to fully embrace this concept, with Kuebix’s technology acting as the backbone for a rapidly growing community.

The swift growth of Kuebix’s shipping community is proving the idea that the Network Effect can be used to great advantage in the supply chain industry. With over 16,000 companies in the Kuebix’s shipping network, thousands of suppliers, shippers, carriers, brokers, and other supply chain players are able to connect with one another for new collaboration opportunities.

These opportunities can lessen the impact of tightening capacity, help fill empty backhaul miles and ensure that shippers are always aware of the most cost-effective and customer-friendly options to ship.

Read an excerpt of Gonzalez’s eBook, Putting Community in TMS: Enabling the Network Effect in Transportation Management, to learn more about the Network Effect in transportation and supply chain operations.

Transportation management is inherently a network-based business process. It involves an ecosystem of different parties — a community, if you will, of shippers, carriers, consignees, brokers, and others that need to communicate and collaborate with each other in order to transport products and utilize assets and labor as efficiently as possible.

This transportation community is analogous to the connections and relationships enabled by social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. A big difference, however, is that unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, which are powered by network native software, the transportation community has historically been powered by enterprise-centric software — that is, transportation management systems (TMS) that were designed for, and used primarily by, the transportation function within the four walls of a company.

This fragmented, “inside the four walls” approach makes it challenging to quickly and efficiently match transportation demand with available capacity, as companies of all sizes experienced in 2018. This growing need in the market for better matching of supply and demand, coupled with the rise of cloud computing, software-as-a-service (SaaS), application programming interfaces (APIs), and other emerging technologies, is driving the next evolution of transportation management systems.

Simply put, transportation management systems are transitioning from being “inside the four walls” applications to becoming operating systems that power transportation communities and enable network effects.

Click here to download the full eBook!

 

What is a Transportation Management System TMS?

What is a Transportation Management System (TMS)?

The term ‘Transportation Management System’ or TMS has become more common in the supply chain industry as companies turn to technology to stay competitive in a changing marketplace. Technology has revolutionized everything from how we watch TV, to how we buy our groceries, and even how we meet each other. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that a key component of the American economy (the movement of goods, materials and other freight) would eventually turn to technology to keep pace. Transportation management systems are the logical next step. Now, companies of all sizes are researching transportation management systems to learn more about how technology can save them money, streamline logistics operations and improve customer satisfaction.

But What Exactly is A TMS?

Definition – According to Gartner, an analyst firm providing companies with insight, advice and tools to evaluate technology:

“A TMS (transportation management system) is used to plan freight movements, do freight rating and shopping across all modes, select the appropriate route and carrier, and manage freight bills and payments.”

Simply put, a TMS is a system that companies can use to digitally manage their freight operations instead of calling and emailing internal and external partners. Transportation management systems often sit between a company’s ERP system and a warehouse management system (WMS) and connect the two for increased supply chain efficiency. Orders flowing between these systems create continuity and speed up the time from customer order to final delivery.

At their core, most transportation management systems have rating, booking and tracking functionality. Others have advanced reporting and dashboards, freight pay and audit, and other modular features that can be added as needed. Transportation management systems come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are some of the potential benefits companies can gain by implementing a TMS:

  •      •     Save money and grow your bottom-line
  •      •     Save time and repurpose labor to value-added projects instead of “firefighting”
  •      •     Improve customer satisfaction
  •      •     Get insight into your operations to make strategic changes
  •      •     Grow your business!

Step-by-Step Guide on What You Need to Know About Transportation Management Systems (TMS)

Types of Transportation Management Software – Transportation management systems have been around since the 1980s, but they’ve come a long way from the clunky, monolithic machines of the past. Now there are many varieties which cater to companies from every industry and of any size. Some TMSs focus on small – to – medium-sized businesses (SMB) and only offer very basic functionality including rating and booking. Many TMSs that cater to a smaller market don’t offer customization or advanced features like reporting and analytics or integrations. Instead, they focus on being low total cost to own (TCO).

Other TMSs focus on the high end of the market and cater to enterprise-size companies. These TMSs often only have a few customers and their price-points make it nearly impossible for smaller companies to benefit from them. According to Adrian Gonzalez, President of Adelante SCM, “In the case of shippers, large enterprises (over $1 billion in revenues) were the early adopters of transportation management systems (TMS), due in large part to the high cost of buying and implementing on-premise applications (typically over $1 million).”

Kuebix IntegrationsEnterprise-class TMSs usually offer advanced functionality like integrations, freight pay and audit, order and route optimization, and many other features. Unfortunately, most of these legacy systems come as a complete (and pricey) set, leaving companies who don’t need certain features with a bill for technology they won’t use.

The solution to this is to find a TMS that will expand and contract along-side your business so that you always have the features you need and aren’t paying for the ones you don’t. Transportation management systems like Kuebix TMS are built to serve companies of all sizes and needs.

Kuebix Free Shipper was the industry’s first truly free TMS and has removed all barriers to entry to SMB customers looking for rating, booking and tracking functionality. Companies looking for financial management, advanced analytics and other premium features can upgrade to Kuebix Business Pro and Kuebix Enterprise and then seamlessly add additional features.

What’s the Difference Between Cloud-based / SaaS, and On-Premise TMS?

Besides being geared toward specific audiences, transportation management systems are housed and accessed in two different ways. The traditional way which many early adopters of transportation technology used was on-premise software.

On-premise software is installed and run directly on local computers. This requires a representative from the TMS provider to physically install the TMS “on-premise” at the user’s headquarters so that the company can gain access to it. This can cause difficulties whenever a problem arises or a new version needs to be updated, not to mention the customer’s inability to take their TMS on the road with them.

Cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) TMS are becoming strongly preferred over on-premise software. They are much more agile and easier to install, maintain, and upgrade, leading to a faster return on investment (ROI) and less hassle. With software that is housed on the “cloud” (online), users can access it from anywhere, even from mobile devices, and aren’t constrained to “the four walls” of their office building.

Most cloud-based transportation management systems are sold as software-as-a-service (SaaS). This means that users subscribe to the technology on a monthly or annual basis instead of purchasing the technology outright. Not only is this more cost-effective, it also means that users are always on the most recent version of the software.

What is the Core Functionality of a TMS?

As mentioned above, most transportation management systems provide these three core features:

  1. Rating
  2. Booking
  3. Tracking

This means that any logistics professional with a TMS can easily find rates for their customers’ orders and book those orders for delivery. Instead of needing to call individual carriers or visit each carrier’s website, the user can simply access the TMS to see all of their negotiated rates laid out side-by-side. Then they can quickly choose the rate with the best price and service level and book it directly through the system and track it through delivery.

Common TMS Upgrades

Though most TMSs provide the standard rating, booking and tracking, other more advanced TMSs also offer additional features. These can sometimes be added on in a modular fashion so that the user only pays for what they need, or may come as a package deal with the TMS. Here are some of the common capabilities of more advanced transportation management systems:

  •      •     Freight Pay and Audit – This feature helps companies automatically audit each carrier invoice. TMSs like Kuebix indicate which bills are within the predetermined threshold and can be paid and calls-out others which do not fall within the limit. This makes it much faster for financial teams to pay carriers and helps them avoid overpaying on accident.
  •      •     Order Integrations – An integration between the TMS and an ERP or a financial system like NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics, or QuickBooks can vastly improve the speed and accuracy or booking. Order information flows directly from the ERP system and automatically populates within the TMS so that users never need to re-key information. This eliminated user-error which can lead to endless firefighting and incorrect deliveries.
  •      •     Order and Route Optimization – Some TMSs offer load and route consolidation and optimization through algorithms within their technology. The system can suggest the most efficient and cost-effective method of shipping a group of orders and the user can book the load quickly and easily.
  •      •     Reports and Dashboards – Analytics are a major draw for many companies interested in improving their logistics processes. Actionable reports and dashboards let users understand every detail of their freight spend and make strategic decisions on the basis of data. They can be used to evaluate carrier KPIs, total freight spend by item, and to provide insight to leadership.

Order and Route Optimization Infographic What is a Transportation Management System TMS?

How Can a TMS Save Me Money on Freight Spend?

Compare Rates: Transportation management systems let users automatically access all their negotiated carrier rates side-by-side for easy viewing and comparing. TMS users save time by no longer switching between individual carrier websites but instead have all their tariff information contained in one, user-friendly screen. Often, logistics professionals don’t have time to check the rate with every carrier, so inevitably end up missing out on quality rates. With a TMS users can choose the most attractive rate out of all their carriers for each shipment, saving them money on every load.

Pay Bills Correctly: Invoice audit is another way many companies use a TMS to save on total freight spend. Often, accidental or incorrect charges can be added to a shipment. Things like lift-gate fees and incorrect detention charges can increase the final amount on an invoice. These miscellaneous accessorial fees are easy to overlook when manually auditing invoices and are often even intentionally ignored because they waste too much time to rectify. These fees add up quickly, however, so having a system to automatically audit every carrier invoice can save huge amounts each year.

Understand Freight Spend: With a TMS that isn’t tied to a certain carrier or 3PL, users can access all of their rates side-by-side in an unbiased way. And with the addition or reports and analytics, users know exactly how well each carrier is performing on each lane. With this knowledge and understanding of the market rate, TMS users are positioned to negotiate for better rates and service levels with their partner carriers. This saves money overall and helps to improve relationships and customer service all at once.

Gain Visibility: Shippers leveraging a TMS like Kuebix also gain benefits from improved visibility to their supply chain operations.  All stakeholders can use the common platform to plan their moves, receive alerts to changes as they occur, see every status update made, and make real-time adjustments to keep the supply chain moving smoothly and the customer happy. By sharing a single common system, suppliers can plan inventory levels more effectively to offer better customer service. Carriers can move shipments in and out more efficiently, making their operations more cost effective and the customer can improve the management of their inbound operations and warehouse.

Optimization: For companies with large or complex supply chains, features like order and route optimization can also save significant money. This is because manually building the perfect load is a challenge, and more often than not too time-consuming to bother with. There are countless factors a logistics professional needs to take into consideration such as delivery date, location, class, weight and size. Weighing all of these factors without the help of technology usually results in missed opportunities and wasted resources. Instead of pouring through spreadsheets and manually grouping orders onto a single truck, Load Builders and Optimizers can be leveraged to help logistics teams build and optimize the perfect load every time to save significant money.

Click here to see how one company saved $2.2 million dollars in cost-avoidance within one year by leveraging a TMS!

Will a TMS Save Me Time?

Many people are concerned that a TMS won’t actually save them time because they’ve been doing their job for years and know how to do it like the back of their hand. While “tribal” knowledge and relationships gained over a career aren’t easily replaced, a TMS can speed up even the most seasoned logistics professional. Instead of managing an inbox and voicemail of hundreds of loads, every load and stop on a route is tracked in one place. Spreadsheets are no longer required to transfer order information back and forth and users can spend more of their valuable time working on strategic projects instead of troubleshooting errors.

From shippers with only a few loads a week to enterprises with hundreds of complex orders to sort through each day, leveraging technology can save countless hours. ERP integrations to automatically flow order information back and forth between systems not only improves accuracy but also makes the process of rating and booking much faster. Auditing and optimization features remove previously tedious processes and result in a faster speed from order to delivery. A few minutes saved per order adds up quickly no matter what size company is doing the shipping.

Inmod Furniture Case Study

Not all TMSs are created equal. Make sure to be aware of these common TMS challenges and if you’re thinking of implementing a TMS within your organization:

  •      •     Not every TMS supports all modes of transportation

What to ask: Ask the TMS provider what modes of transportation they do support and whether support is included in all of their purchase levels. Find out if they support full truckload (FTL), less-than-load (LTL), ground freight, air, intermodal, and ocean.

  •      •     The technology wasn’t built on the cloud

What to ask: Find out whether the technology is/ has always been housed on the cloud. If it hasn’t been, make sure that customer reviews reflect the provider’s ability to support a cloud-based technology. Many legacy transportation management systems have not had smooth transitions to a SaaS cloud-based model.

  •      •     Biased in favor of one carrier or 3PL

What to ask: Ask whether the technology is owned by a carrier or 3PL. If it is, determine whether you will be able to add all of your negotiated carrier rates to be viewed side-by-side in the technology. Many TMSs owned by a carrier or 3PL have preferred rates which could detract from your savings. Remember, a TMS should give you an agnostic way to find the best carrier rates.

  •      •     Bad customer reviews

What to ask: Ask to see some customer references before deciding on a TMS. If the TMS provider cannot show you any customer case studies or videos, that should be a red flag. Check out technology review sites like Capterra and Gartner Peer Insights for unbiased reviews from real customers.

So, what is a TMS?

A TMS is a tool that any size company can use to improve the efficiency of their shipping processes. TMSs like Kuebix TMS help companies capitalize on supply chain opportunities through visibility, control and the use of predictive analytics. And since Kuebix is built on the latest cloud technology, it can be implemented quickly so that any company can begin seeing rapid ROI.

Kuebix - Magic Quadrant for TMS

Kuebix Advances Position in 2019 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems

It’s a known fact that technology is helping companies around the world speed up their supply chains. According to Gartner research*, “The challenges in transportation around scarce capacity, higher costs and more demanding customers are increasing the need for technology.”

Making the decision to implement any new piece of technology can be a large commitment though. That’s why it’s essential that companies thoroughly understand the different transportation management system (TMS) options before they commit to what could be a lengthy and expensive implementation process if they don’t choose wisely.

Luckily, Gartner, Inc. provides the unbiased insight into the TMS marketplace that business leaders need. Each year, Gartner releases the Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems*. This analysis covers all major players in the TMS marketplace and highlights their varying strengths and cautions. Some TMS’s positively advance their position and others descend.

Kuebix is proud to have advanced its position in this year’s Magic Quadrant for TMS and be recognized for its ability to execute.

“Over 16,000 companies have joined the Kuebix shipping community, recognizing that we are providing an easy to use, fast-to-implement, enterprise-class TMS that delivers the lowest total cost of ownership in the industry,” commented Dan Clark, Kuebix Founder and President. “We believe that Kuebix’s advancement in the 2019 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems is due to our unprecedented market growth, product innovation, and commitment to the success of each and every one of our customers.”

Shippers in any industry with freight to ship can leverage Gartner’s research to help them determine which TMS will provide them the best tools and service to improve their supply chains. They can also view first-hand reviews by real customers on Gartner Peer Insights. Read reviews about Kuebix such as “Core product exceeded expectations as did integration team” and “Implementation was very collaborative and they presented real solutions.”

To learn more about today’s TMS marketplace, download a complimentary copy of the 2019 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems.

*Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems, Bart De Muynck, Brock Johns, Oscar Sanchez Duran, 27 March 2019

Gartner Disclaimer

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, express or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Final Mile Kuebix

The High Costs of Final-Mile Delivery

The final mile of delivery is said to be the most expensive portion of the equation. BI Intelligence equates the share of the total cost of shipping for the last mile at 53 percent of delivery costs overall.

It is costly because it has a larger human element than the other segments of transportation with drivers going door-to-door to drop off packages. In an urban environment, the distance between deliveries can be a couple of flights of stairs, but in a rural scenario, drivers may have to drive miles and miles before they get to their next drop-off point.

If the last-mile delivery experience is poor, such as a package arrives damaged or is left out in the rain, then this can have a negative impact on a company’s brand. Sometimes deliveries have to be made several times because the recipient was not at home and the delivery requires a signature; this hikes up the delivery costs even more.

In some instances, the final mile delivery is the first personal contact between the consumer and the product. If the delivery is poor, then the brand is affected. Was the driver late? Is the packaging damaged? Was the delivery person rude? With customer expectations so high, a lot is at stake if a delivery goes awry.

The last-mile is expensive, inefficient and risky (for a firm’s reputation) – yet people want that “Amazon Experience” where they can track their package via a mobile phone app, with alerts if the package will be delayed and notices when a package has arrived. This type of transparency requires visibility and real-time tracking of orders.

Says Business Insider, “The costs and inefficiencies of the last mile problem have only been further compounded by the continuous rise of e-commerce in US retail sales, which has dramatically increased the number of parcels delivered each day, as well as raised customer expectations to include not just fast, but also free, delivery.” In other words, the issues surrounding the last mile are not going away.

So, what can you do?

Companies can ensure that their organization has complete visibility to any delivery delays, exceptions or missed appointments with the use of technology. Whether a company is delivering to a residence or business; utilizing owner operators or asset-based fleets; or is delivering a unique one-time shipment with a rate from the spot market, a transportation management system can help.

benefit flow kuebix tms medium

The Benefit Flow of Using a Transportation Management System [TMS] *Infographic*

Transportation management systems (TMS) are becoming more and more common throughout the supply chain. TMSs used to be reserved only for the largest shippers and cost exorbitant amounts of money, making them inaccessible for shippers with smaller freight spends. With the dawn of Software as a Service (SaaS) technology and cloud-based systems, any size company that ships freight can implement a TMS to improve their logistics operations without breaking the bank.

Take a look at our infographic to learn more about how a TMS can bring improvements from initial customer order to post-delivery.

Kuebix - Benefits of Using a TMS

Centralize Information

A TMS will centralize all information so that every stakeholder in the supply chain can easily view and access the same data as their peers. Working off of the same set of information reduces the risk of error and makes processes flow more smoothly.

Minimize Manual Entry

With the addition of an ERP integration, orders flow automatically into the TMS for easy rating and booking. Instead of rekeying orders, logistics professionals have all the order information at their fingertips!

Save Money – Add to Your Bottom Line

One of the basic, and most potentially lucrative, functions of a TMS is the ability to compare multiple rates from different carriers side by side. Instead of navigating to dozens of different carrier websites (or worse of all, not comparing rates), logistics professionals can quickly select the rate and service type for each shipment that saves the most money and delivers the best customer satisfaction.

Optimize Loads and Routes

Optimization tools built into a TMS help logistics professionals build the optimal load and route with the help of algorithms. Parameters can be inputted ahead of time to specify how the load needs to be built, and the technology suggests the optimal consolidated shipment and lane. This helps to cube out every truck, save money on fuel expense, and reduce the number of touches an order undergoes.

Track & Trace Orders – Gain Visibility

Being able to track and trace orders down to the SKU level improves Customer Service teams’ ability to inform customers of changes to their orders and troubleshoot issues as they arise. It also means that teams can proactively make changes and maintain a complete understanding of their supply chain. With all of this data housed in one place, reports and dashboards can also be access directly from the TMS.

Improve Customer Satisfaction

All of the aforementioned benefits contribute to improving customer satisfaction. Orders can be processed more quickly, booked for cheaper rates, and remain visible throughout every node of the supply chain. This helps shippers meet rising expectations around shipping costs and times. Knowing when an order will be late and proactively communicating that with the customer will go a long way to building strong customer relations.

Leverage Actionable Analytics

Even after an order has been delivered to the end customer, a TMS doesn’t stop providing benefits. All shipment data is stored within the TMS and can be viewed in customizable reports and dashboards. Shippers can analyze overall carrier performance, make changes to their standard processes, and proactively leverage the analytics to improve customer satisfaction and lower costs.

breaking down tms transportation management system jargon kuebix

Breaking Down Transportation Management System (TMS) Jargon

There is a lot of jargon associated with transportation management systems (TMS) that many people find hard to navigate at first. You may never have come across some terms if you don’t have a history of working with TMSs or other forms of tech. The saying “it’s all Greek to me!” might spring to mind.

If you find yourself lost in TMS jargon, take a look at this list of some of the most common phrases and terms used when talking about transportation management systems.

Transportation Management System (TMS)

This one might seem obvious, but actually understanding what a TMS does is crucial before you can understand how the other terms relate. A TMS is a collection of tools housed under a single umbrella technology that help supply chain professionals manage transportation operations. These systems usually sit in between ordering systems (ERPs) and warehouse management systems (WMS) and help streamline rating, booking, and visibility to orders, among other things.

Integration

The term Integration in regards to a TMS means to digitally connect the TMS with another, external system. Intuitively, an integration is a pairing or merging of two entities, ie two pieces of software. Common integrations to a TMS include ERP integrations, API integrations and e-Commerce integrations. Information flows between the TMS and the external system that is integrated.

Software as a Service

Software as a Service, more commonly known as SaaS, is a method of delivering software to users. The software is accessed via a subscription model as opposed to being paid for and owned by the end-customer. This makes implementation, managing issues and getting updates much easier.

Cloud-based

This term is used to refer to a piece of software that was built to be accessed from the internet or “cloud.” Cloud-based applications or services are available on demand via a provider’s cloud computing servers. Cloud-based TMSs are becoming more common as supply chain professionals increasingly need to access their systems remotely.

On-premise

On-premise is the opposite of cloud-based software. Instead of the software being housed online, the software is installed and runs on local computers. This was the first method of selling software and has become an outdated model as the benefits of cloud-based software become even more apparent. On-premise TMSs are becoming obsolete as cloud-based ones are implemented quicker, return faster ROI, and are generally easier to manage.

Managed Services

Transportation-related managed services are programs provided to companies wishing to partially or fully outsource management of their logistics operations. Some companies choose to outsource certain processes to experts to gain efficiencies and dedicate more time to other areas of their business. These programs are often run in tandem with transportation management systems.

Logistics Community

A logistics community is a collaborative group of shippers and carriers around the world. Members of the community benefit from opportunities to collaborate and community-specific functions like truckload spot markets. Communities can be built around a TMS and foster an environment where freight savings and efficiencies can be gained.

Optimization

When someone talks about optimization and TMS together, they are usually talking about load and route optimization capabilities. Advanced TMSs offer optimization tools to their users to build perfect loads based on a variety of parameters. Instead of manually pouring over spreadsheets, TMS users with Optimization functionality can automatically build consolidated loads and route them efficiently.

continuous improvement kuebix

Creating Continuous Improvement Within Transportation

Continuous improvement programs are important for reducing waste within your transportation processes – and overall business environment. With rising freight rates, lack of capacity, and the driver shortage, transportation operations must create strategies to eliminate waste, while lowering costs and boosting efficiencies.

Continuous improvement is defined as “a method for identifying opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste.” Often businesses and manufacturing companies create continuous improvement initiatives to eliminate waste throughout their organization, including too much inventory, movement, time, and more. Establishing a formalized continuous improvement program helps companies identify cost-saving opportunities and work better and smarter.

What constitutes waste within a transportation operation?

One of the biggest wastes in transportation is empty trucks. This could refer to empty backhauls, insufficiently cubed out trucks, and trailers that lay empty in yards because a process to track them isn’t easily available. In a world where there is a capacity crisis and roughly 10 loads for every available truck, it’s unthinkable that there should be empty capacity. Supply chain professionals can work on continuously improving their trailers with the help of technology.

There are many ways technology can aid in continuously improving the efficiency of trucks. Technology like Kuebix’s FleetMAX program helps pair available backhaul capacity with matching freight to fill empty miles. Rating and booking with a TMS allows shippers to compare different modes side-by-side to optimize their shipments and optimization technology can be used to build the best load and route for every order. Adding in a modular yard management system (YMS) can help to streamline operations in the yard and at the dock, making truck turn-around time faster and wasting less capacity.

Another common waste in the supply chain is the underperformance of carriers. When a carrier shows up late, doesn’t have the right size truck, doesn’t have the right number of people to help load and unload, or, even worse, doesn’t even show up, your transportation operations suffer, along with customer satisfaction. Establishing and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) and sharing these results with your carriers can help to improve their performance and keep your operations running smoothly. Predictive analytics can be used to generate scorecards on carrier performance to show savings to upper management. Leveraging analytics to continuously improve your supply chain can reduce freight spend by 10-20%.

Many TMS systems include business intelligence and reporting capabilities, which can be used to help management make better decisions. These decisions can lead to continuous improvement of transportation operations. By continually improving these operations, your business can lower costs, better meet customer expectations and sustain profitability.

If you are doing business the same old way you have been doing for years, then you are not continually improving. With a continuous improvement program, your business will strive for excellence – and will deliver significant value to customers and shareholders.

kuebix 10 reasons to get a tms

10 Reasons Every Shipper Should Get a Transportation Management System (TMS)

Transportation management systems (TMS) are becoming more widely adopted throughout the industry as these systems become cheaper (or free like Kuebix Free Shipper) and easier to use and implement. But some companies are still on the fence about whether to manage their logistics operations the old-fashioned way with phone calls and spreadsheets or to leverage technology to help streamline the process.

According to Bart De Muynck, Gartner’s research vice president, transportation technology, “Last year was a great year for TMS. In fact, in 2018 we saw investments go up across the entire supply chain technology spectrum.”

Companies are implementing TMSs at record numbers to achieve many different benefits. Here are 10 ways getting a TMS can help your business:

Everything in one place

By using a TMS, companies can manage their entire transportation operations all from a single place. This means they can rate, book, track and interact with their orders no matter whether they’re full truckload, LTL, parcel, air, intermodal or ocean. It also means that they don’t need to bounce between different carrier websites to rate shop.

Lower freight costs

Transportation management systems almost always help to lower overall freight costs for companies. By being able to rate shop within a single screen, logistics professionals can choose the least expensive option at the service type they need every time. It also means that companies have easier access to more carriers, creating beneficial competition and providing more options.

Reduce manual entry

With a TMS, especially one that is integrated with an ERP or ordering system, manual entry is greatly reduced. Information like PRO numbers, pallet weights, and destinations can be automatically populated to reduce human error. And instead of making notes on stickies or disjointed spreadsheets, all the order and route information is in one place, meaning reliable information can be transferred between stakeholders.

Optimize routing and load consolidation

With many TMS systems, you can build more efficient loads and routes with the help of an optimizer. Optimization tools allow the user to specify different parameters for the load and then suggest or even build the optimal load and route for easy tendering. Users can even view the route on a map to have a visual of where the order is planned so that they can make changes as necessary.

Get meaningful analytics

Since all of a company’s logistics information will pass through the TMS, that data can be transformed into actionable reports and dashboards. With a TMS companies can see freight cost per item right down to the SKU level to make strategic changes that impact their bottom line. They can also see things like carrier KPIs, real-time tracking data and vendor scorecards. These reports and dashboards help logistics professionals stay on top of key metrics affecting their company’s profits.

Gain visibility

With real-time tracking and analytics, you can provide your customers with the visibility to their orders that they expect. You can even add features like Dock Scheduler, RFID and ELD integrations, and Gate Check to make it easy to tell exactly where each truck is on the route.

Make paperwork easier

Transportation management systems make the little paperwork that is still necessary way easier. BOLs, PODs and other paperwork can be printed directly out of the system to make processing easy, efficient, and most importantly correct every time. This not only puts time back into the day, but it also speeds up pickup/drop-off times when drivers have accurate information with them.

Scalability

With a TMS, a company is free to grow or change their business without having to worry about how they will handle their transportation operations. When new facilities or more products are added to the business, the TMS will scale right along-side it. TMSs with modular features offer companies extra customizability. For example, if the company begins to sell products online, they can add an e-commerce integration to improve shipping options for their customers.

Meet rising customer expectations

Speaking of e-commerce, the growth in popularity of online shopping is changing customer expectations and making shipping more difficult for supply chains. Companies need to get orders to their destinations faster, cheaper, and with complete visibility. With a TMS, all three of these things are made possible and companies can provide exceptional customer service while meeting rising customer expectations.

Integrate external processes

Another benefit many companies take advantage of once they implement a TMS is to integrate it with their other systems. As mentioned above, some choose to integrate with their e-commerce platforms or their ERP and ordering systems. These and other integrations help to smooth processes across different teams and departments to help keep the flow of information clean and consistent, not to mention speed up the entire operation and improve overall visibility.

All-in-all, there are plenty of reasons a company should consider implementing a TMS to manage its transportation operations. These span from cost to time savings and improve data accuracy and visibility. As put by Logistics Management in their 2019 Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Market Update, “As the true workhorses of the supply chain management software cluster, transportation management systems (TMS) have become the “must have” for companies that—working under the pressures of e-commerce and omni-channel—need to move beyond clipboards, spreadsheets, and phone calls to manage their increasingly sophisticated transportation networks.”

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How Integrating Your ERP With Your TMS Will Make Life Easier

Hardly anyone will deny that technology is the future. For companies with supply chains, this means utilizing some combination of a transportation management system (TMS), enterprise resource planning system (ERP), yard management system (YMS) and warehouse management system (WMS) just to keep up with the competition!

That’s a lot of different technology to manage, especially since these disparate technologies don’t usually “talk” to each other. Transferring important order information back and forth from an ERP ordering system to a TMS can be particularly tedious and inefficient. That’s why smart integrations between a TMS and an ERP system like NetSuite, Quickbooks, or Microsoft Dynamics make so much sense.

Shippers who integrate their ERP with their TMS can:

Facilitate the rapid creation of shipments

With an order integration between a TMS and an ERP, orders automatically flow from the ERP to the TMS for easy rating, booking, and tendering. Instead of going back and forth between systems and spreadsheets, the order information is automatically populated, eliminating the need to rekey anything.

Ensure 100% order accuracy

Since information is automatically populated within the TMS, the information is right, every time. It’s amazing the difference it can make when there is no longer any risk of human error because of rekeying. PRO numbers, product SKUs, weights and every other metric of an order appear automatically, resulting in 100% order accuracy.

Gain complete order visibility

Once an order has been booked for shipment, shippers don’t lose visibility to that order. All shipment details are mapped back to the target ERP system for accurate record keeping and visibility for all stakeholders.

Understand the true landed cost of goods

Since all order information is tracked and shared between systems, shippers can leverage reports and analytics to view the true landed cost of goods down to the SKU level. This means they can make smarter decisions regarding their company’s bottom line when they integrate purchase orders directly from an ERP system.

Shippers that choose to integrate their ERP systems with a TMS like Kuebix TMS will rapidly begin to see the time and money savings. Orders are created, booked, and visible at every stage of the supply and can be accurately measured for better strategic decision-making. To learn more about how an ERP integration process with Kuebix is managed, check out the ERP Integration Highway datasheet.

Customer Service Kuebix Transportation

Importance of Customer Service in Transportation Operations

Good customer service is a must in any business that wants to not only survive but thrive within its industry. Good customer service means customer satisfaction. Ever been to a restaurant and the server never came to bring you a menu? Or have you waited in line for a bank teller only to have them close their window when it was your turn? These experiences left a bad taste in my mouth and it was all because the business lacked good customer service. Business should make customer service a company priority.

By providing good customer service in the logistics operation, such as the ability to track shipments and alert customers if their orders will be delayed, you will increase customer satisfaction. Tracking deliveries in real-time and communicating any issues which arise, alerts customers to problems and gives them time to make adjustments, such as finding an alternative source. Superior customer satisfaction and service sets your business apart from the competition and ensures customer loyalty.

Good customer service equates to a greater customer experience while they do business with your company. Poor customer service will drive people away from your brand. If a customer uses social media to inform others of your poor customer service, it can damage your brand’s reputation, which is hard to recover. However, an apology goes a long way. If something goes wrong, such as an order arrives late or a product is broken, quickly acknowledging the error and replacing the defective merchandise along with sending a sincere apology will deter any complaints and shows that your company cares for their customers. Showing you care through good customer service will do your business and your brand a world of good.

Showing respect, sending apologies, acknowledging errors and quickly fixing problems is what makes for good customer service. Improving efficiencies, such as in return processes and inbound shipments, will speed operations and deliveries to help you satisfy time-sensitive customers. Focuses externally on customers, putting their relationship first, helps to ensure customers will feel valued and want to continue working with your company.

In logistics operations, shippers establish KPIs to measure the performance of their carriers, such as the percentage of missed and on-time deliveries, loading and unloading times, truck turnaround times, etc. Using the performance data and actionable reports from a TMS, you can collaborate with carriers to identify how to address any issues that have arisen, especially issues that affect customer service. Focusing on improving your operations using KPI measurements and reporting keeps transport costs down, while increasing efficiencies, leading to greater customer service.

Since consumers today have heightened expectations about customer service, wanting their orders the same day and to know exactly when the order will arrive, businesses have to step up their game when it comes to improving customer service. Technology that gives visibility up and down the supply chain is the answer.

Kuebix Freight Pay and Audit

Are You Still Manually Auditing Your Freight Bills?

Freight pay and audit can be a very tedious and expensive function. Money is wasted when companies pay outside firms by the invoice while the company may still be left dealing with difficult exceptions directly with the carrier. With the help of technology, the entire process can be streamlined and automated. This makes auditing invoices and handling exceptions highly efficient.

Automation means never accidentally overpaying for freight

Did you know that 15% of carrier invoices are incorrect and, more often than not, those erroneous bills are not in the shipper’s favor? Manually using carriers’ paper or email invoices to validate billed amounts can result in errors or even approvals without proper research. Overcharges can occur when all invoices are generically approved for remittance simply because the effort involved to research discrepancies is too time-consuming.

Automation makes auditing faster

By integrating carrier invoices directly with a TMS, carrier bills can be automatically audited against the approved rate quote for each shipment. If an invoice doesn’t match the agreed upon rate or falls outside an acceptable threshold, a rate exception claim can be created. Rate exception claims should include details of the actual discrepancy to make it easy to dispute. Then, the ERP system can be automatically updated with the new invoice information and payments can be made with confidence. When manual freight pay and audit functions are replaced with automatic ones, shippers only spend time looking at the invoices that are incorrect and always know where the discrepancies lay for easy disputing.

Automation helps to better manage cash flow

Paying invoices too early can reduce cash flow for the company. Kuebix keeps track of the payment terms with carriers and helps ERP systems pay carrier invoices on time, ensuring that invoices are not paid too early. The Kuebix platform automatically alerts the user which invoices to process for payment and on what date, ensuring cash-flow is managed correctly.

Automation provides more accurate financials

With technology, shippers have the ability to add important GL codes to the invoice so that their accounting teams can properly class the financial information for every line item on every shipment.  Enabling the smooth exchange of all associated financial data helps the company keep track of specific expenses by various product lines and business functions. By leveraging automation technology, opportunities to squeeze savings from shipping operations can be identified and implemented as well.

Kuebix TMS offers out-of-the box solutions to automate Freight Pay and Audit functions. This means that detailed rate exceptions can be viewed in one place instead of painstakingly researching discrepancies on each mis-matching invoice. By collaborating with Kuebix’s experienced team of implementation experts, a customized carrier invoice auditing integration can be created to fit any company’s specific needs.

Kuebix Consumer Packaged Goods

How One Consumer Packaged Goods Company Keeps Up with Its Speed of Growth

Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies are growing as convenience, drug and discount retailers gain industry presence due to their improved customer experience when compared with traditional brick-and-mortar. Stocking these smaller format stores, combined with the general nature of the merchandise, means that CPG supply chains are both high velocity and prone to demand spikes. Growing CPG companies looking to expand their order volume and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction are turning to technology to gain a competitive advantage.

180 Innovations, a private-label manufacturer offering a full range of health and beauty products, implemented Kuebix TMS to stay ahead of their increased shipment volume while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.

The company specializes in thermometry and produces oral, skin and hair care products. They supply retailers such as Marshalls, Rite-Aid, and CVS, and distribute across North America. Moving their freight management process from paper to one optimized for the digital age was an obvious choice for the manufacturer.

In 2016, the company began seeing a rapid period of growth, necessitating the move away from small parcel shipments via the postal service and toward LTL shipping. With these increased freight needs, 180 Innovations decided to optimize their processes rather than scaling an old system. To do this, the company adopted Kuebix TMS as their transportation management system.

Davor Vucic, an industry veteran with 20 years’ experience at 180 Innovations under his belt, manages the company’s shipping and receiving operations. Now, with Kuebix, he can rate, book and track shipments with ease as well as automatically create BOLs. In addition to the core functionality, Vucic has been able to leverage the power of the TMS to get ahead of his workload.

The ability to easily edit shipments has also been a benefit for 180 Innovations. If something needs to be added onto or removed from an already finished shipment, they can easily do so. Having the flexibility to modify shipments helps to keep product flowing and customers happy.

Kuebix TMS has made 180 Innovations’ transportation operations faster and more efficient. The manufacturer has been able to handle their increasing business without needing to scale their previously manual process. Davor Vucic reports that he is 5 times faster with Kuebix. Saying that “it’s the only way we are able to keep up with the speed of growth 180 Innovations is experiencing.”

To read more about this CPG company’s experience using Kuebix TMS, click here.

Stop the Double-Entry Madness!

When most people think of the supply chain, they picture pallets arranged on trailers or colorful shipping containers being loaded off of ships. However, there are a lot of moving parts to the supply chain even before product starts moving from point A to point B. Getting those pallets and containers to where they need to be takes time and a lot of pre-planning. To keep the supply chain running smoothly, orders need to be received, product needs to be produced to meet demand and transport needs to be arranged for pickup.

These steps require a high degree of attention in order to work successfully. Orders are tracked by PO number, SKU and many other metrics which might encompass anything from dimension to Haz-Mat classification. Many shipping departments studiously key order information from their ERP systems to their carriers’ websites to arrange transport. In some cases, printouts are even being re-keyed into spreadsheets. For anyone who has keyed product or order information back and forth between systems, you know that it can take considerable time and be riddled with manual errors.

Technology is helping shipping departments stop the double-entry madness. By integrating purchase orders directly from their ERP system, logistics professionals can automate the rapid creation of shipments by avoiding the need to re-key a long list of order line items. Integration is also two-way, meaning financial and customer service teams can gain visibility on all transactions as information flows seamlessly back to the ERP system.

By allowing order and product information to populate automatically, the need to re-key information between systems is completely eliminated. This decreases labor costs by saving time manually typing orders while simultaneously increasing order accuracy. Better order accuracy means never shipping the wrong product or quantity because of a simple typo and never having to explain to a customer why human error was to blame for your poor service.

Leveraging technology to automate a previously manual and tedious process is saving countless companies valuable time. Some companies have been slow to integrate their ERP with their TMS for fear of a long, complicated process. However, by seeking a TMS that offers a common integration approach to all ERP systems, shippers can be assured of rapid implementation and ROI. Kuebix TMS offers out-of-the-box ERP integrations. Click here to check out how we integrate with Microsoft DynamicsNetSuite and QuickBooks!

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So Your TMS Isn’t Working for You, Now What?

Many companies still use the TMS they installed 20 years ago, but technology has immensely changed in the past two decades. If you’re still using an outdated transportation management system (TMS), you probably aren’t getting the transparency and visibility you need to monitor shipments, optimize routes, lower costs and improve efficiencies. Customer expectations probably aren’t being met either since customers have become accustomed to Amazon-like delivery options and visibility to their orders. With legacy transportation management systems, you can’t tell if a delivery is going to be late so you can warn your customers. You don’t have the ability to collaborate in real time with your carriers and onboarding new carriers is a hassle. Your old TMS is simply not keeping up with consumers’ changing expectations and the increasing demands of the modern supply chain.

What do you do now?

Upgrading an older system is rarely an option. To compete in the modern supply chain where visibility and flexibility are key, you need to implement a cloud-based TMS. A cloud-based TMS offers faster start-up, lower usage costs, greater flexibility and rapid return-on-investment. Lower maintenance and support costs are a big plus, too. With a cloud-based TMS, any size business is given a fair chance at competing with larger companies because of low start-up costs and easier upkeep.

Modern transportation management systems can do a whole lot more than they used to.

Scalability is something that most legacy, on-premise TMS solutions do not offer because of their rigid infrastructure. With scalability available in newer TMSs, you are able to add new features and functionality to your system without starting from scratch. Your TMS should be flexible to grow as your business grows. Start with just rating, booking, scheduling and tracking, then add modular features like freight bill pay and audit, order consolidation, route optimization, and collaboration portals as needed to help you customize the technology to best fit your needs.

Complete supply chain visibility is another feature which only new, cloud-based TMSs can offer. From the loading dock to the final mile, a TMS should track and trace orders down to the SKU level, giving visibility to what is on each truck, how many items there are and where the truck is. A TMS should help you answer questions like whether the truck is delayed by traffic. Are items missing from the order? Is the driver taking scheduled breaks to ensure HoS compliance?

Do you have the ability to streamline inbound freight management with your old TMS? Probably not. Inbound freight management is often overlooked because it’s complicated, yet when done right, provides enormous savings. A new, cloud-based TMS should help to modify supplier and carrier behavior by enforcing specific procedures with routing guides and vendor compliance procedures that ensure maximum efficiency. Making sure that suppliers show up on time to the warehouse, which has the appropriate number of workers for unloading, helps to get the truck back on the road as soon as possible.

Most legacy TMSs do not integrate well with other systems. Today’s cloud-based transportation management systems have the ability to easily connect and share with customers, suppliers and carriers, on any device, wherever the stakeholder is. New systems integrate purchase orders directly from any ERP system to facilitate the rapid creation of shipments, avoiding the need to re-enter the order, which can lead to errors and increased admin time. Retailers with their own e-commerce engine should be able to connect directly to the TMS by using open APIs, adding shipment tracking and the ability to rate, book and schedule deliveries.

If your TMS is not cloud-based, isn’t able to manage inbound freight, will not integrate with other systems and cannot provide end-to-end visibility, along with flexibility and scalability to easily add additional features, then it is time for a change. With a cloud-based transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, all of this is possible. Check out our technology now with a free 14-day trial.

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