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Kuebix Gartner Magic Quadrant Challenger 2020

Kuebix Positioned as a Challenger in the Latest Gartner Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems

Kuebix, a leading transportation management system (TMS) provider and creator of one of North America’s largest connected shipping communities, has been recognized as a Challenger in Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems. Kuebix is a Trimble Company.

“Our velocity in the marketplace continues with 24,000 customers and growing as a result of our superior user experience, rapid implementations, and innovative technology,” said Dan Clark, Vice President of Product Innovation & Strategy at Kuebix. “We are excited to be recognized as a Challenger and believe that Kuebix’s positioning in the Challengers Quadrant validates our leadership, vision, and ability to continuously deliver value to our customers.”

Kuebix TMS can be implemented more quickly than more traditional monolithic software. Kuebix is a modular cloud-based solution that allows small to medium-sized companies up to the largest enterprises to select features and integrations to configure the ideal TMS for their business. In January 2020, Kuebix was acquired by Trimble, bringing Trimble’s network of 1.3 million commercial trucks together with Kuebix’s extensive shipping community, which will create unprecedented opportunities for freight demand-capacity matching and other efficiencies.

“Combining Kuebix’s innovative TMS and growing shipping community with Trimble’s strength and scale will allow us to accelerate the innovation we are delivering to the marketplace,” said James Langley, Senior Vice President, Trimble Transportation. “This combination also positions us to provide maximum transportation efficiency to all of our customers.”

According to the Gartner research, “By 2022, spend on TMS applications will be $1.94 billion, accounting for 31% of the $6.2 billion supply chain execution (SCE) market. This growth will be driven by the replacement of on-premises software with SaaS applications.”

To learn more about today’s TMS marketplace, download a complimentary copy of the 2020 Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems.


Source: Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Transportation Management Systems, Bart De Muynck, Brock Johns, Oscar Sanchez Duran, 25 March 2020.

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.

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 Transportation Management System or 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 the 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 Transportation Management System (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 Transportation Management System (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 of 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 eliminates 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 Transportation Management System (TMS) Software 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 transportation management systems (TMS’s) 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 Transportation Management System?

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.

In conclusion, to learn about Kuebix TMS visit here.

Kuebix TMS Cyber Monday Black Friday Statistics

Did Black Friday/Cyber Monday Tax Your Logistics Operation?

 

This year’s Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail sales broke records. According to Shopify, over 25.5 million consumers made a purchase from a Shopify merchant on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or in between. Shoppers spent an average of $83.05 per order and focused heavily on makeup, mobile phone accessories and jackets. Cell phones dominated the holiday shopping season with 69% of sales made on phones or tablets.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales reached over $2.9 billion, a huge success in comparison to last year’s $1.8 billion. It’s estimated that at the peak of the shopping frenzy, shoppers were spending over $1.5 million per minute!

The Aftermath

Now that orders have been placed, they must be delivered. As a shipper, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • • Can your logistics operation keep up with the velocity of orders speeding through your e-commerce engine?
  • • Will you have to pay expedited freight charges to make sure customers get their orders on-time?
  • • Can you quickly find capacity with your contracted carriers to stay ahead of demand?
  • • Can you easily contract with carriers for any mode to book a load?
  • • Can you effortlessly compare your contracted rates to the spot market to find a better rate?
  • • Once the holiday rush is all over, can you look historically at shipment data to find areas for improvement?

With Kuebix’s transportation management system (TMS), shippers can do all of the above – and more!

Kuebix Shipper is a free TMS that allows shippers of any size to rate, book and track shipments via LTL, TL and Parcel – all in about the time it takes to purchase an airline flight online. Join our online global community of shippers to help match demand with capacity during this busy holiday season.

Kuebix Business Pro is a full-service TMS for multiple users with advanced analytics and carrier scorecards, freight bill audit and pay, claims management and integrations with other solutions. Using Kuebix Business Pro during the busy holiday season allows you to uncover rate exceptions and discrepancies for added savings; integrate your order management system for streamlined transport planning; and leverage analytics to reduce freight spend.

Kuebix Enterprise is a configurable TMS that offers advanced applications to meet your logistics operation’s needs. Managed services provide shippers partnerships with Kuebix freight experts to uncover even greater efficiencies and savings, with full-tracking and visibility of your freight from the dock to your customer’s doorstep.

 

 

 

By choosing the right TMS, retailers can keep up with the exponential growth of their e-commerce operations during this holiday season and beyond!

 

Kuebix TMS Winter Weather Challenges

Keeping Your Supply Chain Ahead of Winter Weather This Holiday Season

It’s the holiday season and the skies aren’t hesitating to remind us that things are about to get very, very cold! Supply chains everywhere are getting ready for the impact.

A winter outlook published by The Weather Company has mixed reviews. It revealed that regions from southwest Oregon into California, the Great Basin, Desert Southwest and southwestern Texas are forecasted to have warmer than average temperatures during the holiday season stretching from December to February. Unfortunately, northeastern North Dakota into northern Minnesota, far northwestern Wisconsin, and the far western Upper Peninsula of Michigan aren’t as lucky. Temperatures in these regions are projected to be near or below average from December to February.

In the midst of the first set of snowstorms, it’s important to consider how these long-term weather conditions are going to impact supply chains nationwide. Low temperatures are frequently paired with snowstorms, black ice and harsh winds – none of which are good for transportation. Regardless of delivery date guarantees, weather can be unpredictable and roads quickly become hazardous. At one point or another, every shipping company experiences delays.

Adverse Winter Weather in 2018

Container terminals at the ports of Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey faced the consequences of severe storms in March of 2018. Weather forecasts of the storm estimated three inches of snow in New Jersey and up to two feet in certain parts of New Jersey. The four main terminals of the ports were closed for nearly four hours.

The southern region of the U.S. dealt with over 500 car crashes as a result of a harsh winter storm in December of 2018. Snow was falling at a pace too rapid for cleaning crews to keep up with and impairing the vision of drivers. Black ice dominated the roads and citizens were urged to stay home for safety. Drivers who neglected the warning were continuously skidding out of control in whiteout conditions. The storm left 385,000 people residing in southern states without power.

Needless to say, all of these barriers stemming from harsh weather conditions pose a challenge to supply chains. Below are a few ways to stay ahead of unexpected winter weather:

Identify if You are in an Area At-Risk of Dangerous Weather Impacts

This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to recognize that snow affects each   region differently. Be conscious of where the base of your operations is and how severe winter weather tends to be in your area. Simply knowing that you are in an area that receives a substantial amount of snow is the first step in preparing for a safer winter.

Gain Visibility Throughout Your Supply Chain

Visibility across each aspect of your supply chain instantly provides an opportunity to be better-prepared. Being able to track your orders and access real-time information about the location of your shipment is crucial for successful communication with customers. Ease frustrations in the midst of weather delays with accurate information about when shipments can be expected and ensure operations are running smoothly.

Learn from the Past to Prepare for the Future

Collecting and organizing data and analytics are an essential part of growing as a business. It’s important to take stock of how well your business operated in such severe weather conditions in previous years. Taking note of how long it took your shipments to reach their destination and the overall cost and efficiency of transportation makes it easier to identify things that could be done better upon the arrival of the next storm.

 

ERP Integration with NetSuite - Kuebix TMS

Optimizing Transportation Management with an ERP Integration with NetSuite

Supply chains are getting leaner, faster and more efficient every year. In order to keep up with rising customer expectations, increasingly complicated shipping processes and growing business, many shippers are turning to ERP integrations to give them a leg up on the competition. Integrating a transportation management system (TMS) like Kuebix TMS with an ERP or order processing system like NetSuite can streamline logistics operations. By adding additional functionality like an ERP integration, any shipper can configure a TMS that is right for their business.

First, we need to understand what an ERP Integration actually is:

An ERP integration is a process that allows information to flow between an ERP system (NetSuite, for example) and a TMS. In layman’s terms, any information inputted into an ERP system can be seamlessly displayed within the TMS, or vice versa. This is especially useful for sharing order, product, and shipment information between systems.

How Do ERP Integrations Work?

By leveraging a common middleware connector, the group performing the NetSuite integration can map ERP order and item information to automatically create orders within the TMS. These orders are stored within the TMS in preparation for shipping departments to simply scan or enter the order number into a lookup field to get rates and begin shipping. Once the order is shipped, the TMS notifies NetSuite and updates the ERP order with shipment details. (Tracking number, cost, carrier, time in transit, GL code, etc…)

Each ERP connector includes a configurable trigger function to automatically create orders, status changes or approval processes to tell the TMS to pull the order details. This process allows for a seamless flow of data between the two systems. Once shipped within the TMS, shipment details are mapped back to NetSuite for accurate record keeping and visibility for all stakeholders.

Why do Shippers Integrate NetSuite with Their Transportation Management System?

With an ERP integration, shippers can:

  • •     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.

Building Trust with ‘Built for NetSuite’ Accreditation

Built for NetSuite’ is a program for NetSuite SuiteCloud Developer Network (SDN) partners that provides partners with the information, resources and methodology required to verify that their applications and integrations meet NetSuite standards and best practices. The Built for NetSuite program is designed to give NetSuite customers additional confidence that SuiteApps have been built to meet these standards. Built for NetSuite Kuebix TMS

When a partner achieves this noteworthy status, prospective integration customers can trust that the integration process has been thoroughly vetted by NetSuite itself.

Kuebix achieved this status in 2018 and maintains it to this day. The SuiteApp is built using the Oracle NetSuite SuiteCloud Computing Platform and drives supply chain efficiencies by providing out-of-the-box and customizable integrations to connect ERP and TMS systems.

With NetSuite and Kuebix TMS, organizations can achieve a significant return on investment by streamlining shipping processes and identifying cost savings. Automation of processes, including re-keying order information, helps eliminate manual tasks while access to more data, such as the cost of goods and SKU level, help organizations make smarter, faster decisions.

Case Study: How One Company Benefits from its ERP Integration with NetSuite

Summit Supply began as a Kuebix Business Pro account with multiple user seats to manage their logistics operations.

They immediately began seeing the benefits of the system, including time savings and reduced freight spend. With Kuebix, Summit Supply ensures that every order is shipped with the quickest or least expensive option to maximize savings and service.

After their first year, Summit Supply decided to expand its use of Kuebix by connecting their ERP functionality with Kuebix TMS through an integration with NetSuite.

Summit Supply NetSuite ERP Integration Kuebix TMS Case Study

An ERP integration serves to automatically populate order information into Kuebix from NetSuite. This means that Summit Supply never needs to rekey line items and they always achieve 100% order accuracy by avoiding human error. After making the decision to integrate its ERP with Kuebix is 2018, Summit Supply was up and running with its integration in about 8 weeks.

According to Cory Storr, a Client Care Specialist who uses Kuebix daily for logistics operations,

“The entire integration process took about 2 months. Kuebix’s engineering and integrations teams worked closely with ours to make sure everything was working the way we needed it to.”

Summit Supply’s logistics processes are now greatly sped up, making it easier for them to focus on their mission to deliver high-quality products to customers quickly and with great service. Instead of wasting time navigating between carrier websites and manually entering order information, all details are automatically populated within Kuebix to make rating and booking fast. Not only that, but documents such as BOLs can be automatically generated with the correct information every time!

Storr goes on to add,

“The integration with NetSuite alone probably saves us 2 minutes on each order. When you multiply that by 80 orders a day, that’s a lot of time savings!”

Summit Supply made the leap to eliminate many of their manual logistics processes by leveraging Kuebix TMS and is benefiting from that choice every day. Now they can be confident that each and every order is accurate based on the

information within their ERP system and know that the lowest cost carrier with the best service is chosen on every load. The company is looking forward to expanding its use of Kuebix by adding in automatic invoice audit to further speed up their operations. With every choice they make, Summit

Supply is able to deliver on its promise of being a team-driven, customer-focused organization that strives to deliver quality products in a timely manner, at a fair price, with unmatched customer service.

AI ML Predictive Analytics

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Predictive Analytics in the Supply Chain

The world of transportation and logistics management looks completely different than it did even 50 years ago. Gone are the days of pen and paper and jotting down haphazard notes when on the telephone with a carrier booking freight. Now, technology is now ruling supreme. With the advent of advanced cloud-based transportation management systems, there is a cornucopia of detailed data that can be stored and accessed on the cloud. Just about every touchpoint in the supply chain can create data, and lots of it, from initial order through final mile delivery. You might hear this type of data referred to as “Big Data.” Simply having Big Data isn’t enough to improve your supply chain, however. It’s what you do with the data that can revolutionize your business.

There are several buzzwords circulating the technology industry that relate to the use of this new-found trove of information. These terms are “Predictive Analytics,” “Machine Learning (ML),” and “Artificial Intelligence (AI).” Each of these buzzwords refers to advanced processes for leveraging Big Data to improve processes and business outcomes.

If you’re like many shippers in an industry undergoing rapid change, you’re probably wondering how these terms apply to you.

Predictive Analytics

Definition: Predictive analytics refers to the concept of extracting information from data (such as from Big Data) using technology in order to decipher patterns and extrapolate likely future outcomes. In other words, using data to forecast what might happen in “what-if?” scenarios.

You might be able to imagine a situation in which predictive analytics could help your company’s supply chain. Maybe you want to know the likely delivery times on a specific lane so that you can determine the lead time you need for manufacturing your product. Or perhaps you want to estimate the likely disruption you’ll experience in the wake of a forecasted hurricane about the hit your service area. These and many other “what-if?” questions can be answered (as close as possible) with the help of predictive analytics.

If you’re like many shippers, this type of advanced technology might seem outside of your grasp. With the help of a transportation management system with built-in predictive analytics functionality, however, any shipper can leverage this futuristic tech. TMSs can provide predictive analytics to give you the immediate intelligence you need to make better logistics decisions every day. Whether it’s holding your carriers accountable through carrier scorecards, managing your yards and docks more efficiently, or simply ensuring that you are paying the lowest rates for the best service, predictive analytics gives you the information you need to make decisions that will be real game-changers for your business.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Definition: Artificial intelligence, often refered to as simply AI, is the practice of training computers to perform tasks that would typically require human-level intelligence to complete.

You’ve probably come across several different forms of AI in your day to day life. Common examples include Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa technologies. These are artificial “humans” which can listen and provide back answers as though having a real-life conversation. In the supply chain industry, artificial intelligence can come in the form of information gathering platforms for customers and suppliers to interact within. Chatbot interfaces and other data-gathering technologies can help retailers, manufacturers and customers work together more collaboratively. AI can help to identify trends and analyze changes in demand.

Machine Learning

Definition: Machine learning is the a branch of artificial intelligence and refers to the method that computers use to learn and change their behaviors based on data gathered through analytical model building. This concept is based on the idea that a computer can process data, much like a human’s brain can, and change its decision making processes to suit the new information without human intervention.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence often get confused because of their close correlation. The simplest way to understand their differences are through examples. One example of ML-based technology is that of any streaming music app. These apps make suggestions to the user based on location, demographics, and other inputs. This is an example of AI. What makes it an example of machine learning is the fact that music apps often “learn” their users’ preferences. As a user spends time listening or fast-forwarding past certain songs, the technology learns the user’s preferences and can suggest more relevant music. Other examples of technologies that “learn” include spam filters on email servers and ads displayed on social media accounts based on past purchases.

While AI is a system designed to act with intelligence, ML is a system designed to use information and learn from it, creating a decision or insight. In the supply chain, machine learning uses historical data to improve existing processes, define new routes, uncover bottlenecks, discover shipping errors and more. It is adaptive so that the data utilized increases efficiencies while providing value to shippers and carriers for things like pricing models.

In an article in Forbes, Machine Learning (ML) is described as making it “possible to discover patterns in supply chain data by relying on algorithms that quickly pinpoint the most influential factors to a supply networks’ success, while constantly learning in the process.”

Determining What’s Best for Your Business

Many people are confused about the differences between predictive analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Predictive analytics uses data to help you understand possible future events by analyzing the past. It uses a variety of statistical techniques, including machine learning and predictive modeling, along with current and historical statistics to predict future outcomes, which may be customer behaviors or market changes.

Bill Cassidy in the JOC says to “think of AI as Machine Learning on steroids. It functions through an ongoing series of algorithms and internet-connected devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), to make data-based decisions before shippers overlook something.” AI can help to better manage freight bills by automating audit and payment processes to uncover billing and compliance issues, for which it can then trigger chargebacks to carriers.

With AI, you can proactively identify potential disruptions, such as changes in weather patterns that can lead to flooding. Proactively mitigating risk ensures your shipments can be made on time to the right place for the right price.

Predictive analytics, AI and ML may overlap in certain areas, but these technologies can help us to uncover hidden capacity or make important cost-to-serve decisions by viewing carrier rates side-by-side. The bottom line is that technology is making shipping operations smarter for companies of all sizes.

Parcel Shipping Best Practices for Companies Preparing for the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season - Kuebix TMS

Parcel Shipping Best Practices for Companies Preparing for the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season

Many companies are currently gearing up for the holiday shopping season. Whether they are brick-and-mortar businesses or e-commerce companies, the peak season for many sellers begins in mid-November and ends in early January. This year, the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s annual shopper survey revealed that more than half of consumers said they would shop online.

To keep up with rising customer expectations about home delivery, even traditional brick-and-mortar companies are branching out with e-commerce platforms so as not to lose business. In order to keep up with the pace of holiday shopping, retailers need to be aware of several parcel shipping best practices.

Best Practices for Any Company Shipping Parcel During the 2019 Holiday Season

Know Important Dates During the Holiday Season

The first thing shippers need to be aware of when planning their shipping strategy for the holidays is important shopping dates. These are days when consumers will be expecting to see discounts and when many shoppers will make significant purchases ahead of the holidays. The unofficial holiday shopping season begins on November 11 and ends January 1 (though returns strategies must continue well past then).

Here is a breakdown of important shopping dates to be aware of this year:

  •  • November 11 – Veterans Day
  •  • November 29 – Black Friday
  •  • November 30 – Small Business Saturday
  •  • December 2 – Cyber Monday
  •  • December 14 – Free Shipping Day

These dates are days that many retailers expect heavy shopping volume and consumers expect discounts and promotions. Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be the most well known of all of these days, but Small Business Saturday and Free Shipping Day can be important to businesses holiday revenue as well.

Free Shipping Day, in particular, is gathering steam and may present an opportunity for retailers to win back market share from competitors who offer free shipping year-round. This unofficial holiday is a one-day event that retailers who are shipping parcel can participate in with a pledge to their customers to have products delivered for free ahead of Christmas day.

By offering specific promotions around any of these important shopping days, retailers can capture new business and continue to delight their customers. However, just advertising around important shopping days isn’t enough if the company fails to deliver products in time for specific days. Be aware of these important shipping deadlines when evaluating your logistics process prior to the holiday season.

  •  • November 28 – Thanksgiving
  •  • December 22-30 – Hanukkah
  •  • December 25 – Christmas
  •  • January 1 – New Year’s Eve

These are the most common days consumers expect to receive their parcel deliveries by. If a retailer cannot deliver in time for a specific holiday, the shopper is likely to abandon their cart and look elsewhere to make their purchase.

Leverage a TMS for Greater Parcel Shipping Flexibility

In order to keep up with deliveries ahead of specific holidays, retailers need to have a strategy to keep up with demand and deliver orders on time. This means doing the work ahead of time to have a concrete parcel shipping strategy in place. For many companies, this means connecting with several parcel shipping services.

Being able to quickly access different carriers’ parcel shipping rates through a single platform is essential for companies looking to optimize operations during the holidays. By leveraging a transportation management system (TMS) retailers can quickly and easily compare different parcel rates to ensure that orders are being delivered to customers before holiday deadlines at the lowest rate. This practice also helps companies organize increased order volume and provide their customers with different self-serve delivery options.

Companies with large e-commerce presences may find it beneficial to set up a direct integration between a TMS and e-commerce platform. By doing so, they give their customers the ability to select the shipping rate and delivery length that best suits their needs. This cuts down on the workload for teams and ensures that customers are always satisfied with their parcel delivery experience.

Consider Offering Free Shipping

According to an NRF quarterly Consumer View report, “75 percent of consumers surveyed expect delivery to be free even on orders under $50, up from 68 percent a year ago (2018).” That’s a big deal for retailers looking to see positive growth in online sales this holiday season. The decision to buy or not to buy can easily hinge on whether or not the retailer offers free parcel shipping.

While many may assume that younger consumers are the ones shifting the expectation of free shipping as an e-commerce norm, that assumption is incorrect. The report goes on to state:

“Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) demand free shipping the most, with 88 percent expecting it. That compares with 77 percent for Generation X (1965-1980), 61 percent for millennials (1981-1994) and 76 percent for Generation Z (1995 and later).”

This proves that no matter which segment of the marketplace your company targets, it’s likely a good idea to offer some form of free shipping. Whether it’s free shipping on orders that pass a certain threshold or free shipping on orders with longer lead time.

Insure Yourself Against Poor Service Levels

One pitfall that companies who ship final mile to their customers’ homes face is the missed delivery. Whether the delivery is simply late, it gets damaged in transit, or worst of all, lost, companies run the risk of disappointing their customers and eating the cost of shipping. This can be a lose-lose situation if a plan isn’t put into place ahead of time.

Shipping partners like Pitney Bowes offer 3-day guaranteed delivery that retailers can take advantage of when shipping products via USPS over the holidays. This Guaranteed Delivery program provides shippers with a full refund if their parcel isn’t delivered within the three-day window. This level of security helps companies confidently expand their e-commerce presence without worrying about the possible negative effects that can arise from unpreventable missed deliveries.

Have a Solid Returns Strategy

Even when the major shopping days and holidays are through, logistics and customer service teams across the country will still be hard at work managing the returns process. Pitney Bowes’ 2019 Holiday Readiness Guide details how companies can best manage post-holiday returns with three tips:

  1. Make Returns Fast and Easy
  2. Challenge Your Real Motivations
  3. Make the Label Easy to Find

Essentially, the returns process for parcel orders shouldn’t be something for companies to shy away from. Consumers will appreciate a fast and efficient returns process and are more likely to turn into repeat customers if their returns experience is treated as a priority by the company. Instead of making the process difficult by hiding returns information in the fine print or charging exorbitant shipping fees, companies can win customer loyalty and positively impact their businesses long term by making the process simple.

The 2019 Holiday Shopping Season is Here

As we approach Veteran’s Day on November 11th this year, retailers should keep in mind these parcel shipping best practices so that they can delight their customers and grow their businesses. Any company that ships parcel during the holidays can benefit from being more informed, having plans and strategies ahead of time, connections with different parcel carriers, and a strategy for post-holiday returns. By following these best practices, companies can position themselves for the best chance of success during the 2019 holiday shopping season.

Customer Experience in the Age of E-Commerce

Customer Experience in the Age of E-Commerce

Retailers used to be able to lean on the stability of brick-and-mortar stores to provide a satisfactory customer experience. When a customer walked into a physical store, they knew exactly what to expect and were rewarded with instant gratification and the ability to take their purchases home the same day. Since the rise of the digital age, technology is shaping how customers purchase from retailers, and the customer experience is fundamentally different online.

According to Gartner, customer experience is defined as “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, channels, systems and products.” At a physical store, a retailer maintains control of the overall shopping experience by training staff, creating a pleasing shopping environment and streamlining the check-out process. With a digital storefront, retailers can only influence their customers’ experience through user-interface enhancements and supply chain improvements. This makes supply chain operations more important than ever.

Improving the Customer Experience

Digital shoppers are expecting more and more from their online shopping experience. These final mile capabilities will help supply chains improve the end customers’ experiences:

• Flexibility – Customers want the ability to choose the service type they need. By allowing customers to self-serve at checkout by picking the shipping time and rate, companies can give their customers additional flexibility. Choosing the mode helps shoppers customize their experience.

• Speed – Getting products quickly and when desired is becoming more important as 2-day delivery becomes the industry norm. Designating when the product will arrive helps customers plan ahead and allows them to be more self-sufficient. It’s important to shorten the lead time by processing orders quickly and working with trusted carriers to deliver products on time.

• Free Shipping – Adding the option for free shipping is a great way to improve customer experience and earn customer loyalty and their repeat business. Free shipping can come with longer lead times or minimum order amounts to reduce costs for the seller. For companies that don’t want to offer free shipping year-round, offering it as a promotion during the holiday shopping season can be a great advertising tool.

• Tracking – Customers everywhere are demanding tracking capabilities. In order for customers to have confidence that their product has shipped and will arrive on time, a standard tracking feature needs to be implemented. These features allow customers to request or view updates in real-time.

• Alerts – In addition to tracking capabilities, up-to-date alerts keep customers’ expectations realistic when unforeseen events take place in the supply chain. Customers appreciate alerts on weather delays and other interruptions so that they can react proactively to late deliveries. Emailing and texting updates when there has been a disruption in the delivery plan shows customers that you respect their time and are doing everything in your power to rectify the situation.

Customer Experience is Important for All Businesses

These attributes are especially important for e-commerce companies processing online orders but can be equally important for brick-and-mortar retailers. When a customer walks in the doors, they expect that their experience of purchasing products in-store will be quick and efficient. If a product isn’t in stock, they will expect it to be available for quick order and pickup. Customer expectations are rising as some e-commerce retailers like Amazon perfect the online shopping experience.

As e-commerce now makes up a total of 17% of all retail sales in the USA, retailers need to put their focus on improving their supply chains in order to win and retain business. According to EFT, “Today’s connected consumers demand both choice and flexibility when it comes to receiving their online orders – and will not hesitate to move loyalty if they encounter unsatisfactory delivery options.” This means that if a company doesn’t put a significant emphasis on improving the delivery experience for the customer, that customer will find it easy to move their business over to a competitor that does.


In order to keep customers coming back, technology needs to be implemented to offer customers choice and tracking capabilities. With the help of a robust transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, retailers can offer their customers this level of flexibility and control directly from their own websites. To read more about how Kuebix integrates with e-commerce and quoting platforms, click here.

Kuebix TMS

How to Buy a Transportation Management System (TMS)

In today’s market, shipping is one of the biggest expenses for any shipper, growing at a rate of over 5% per year, depending on the lane. There are many variables that go into freight costs, including mode, service level and carrier. Manually trying to lower freight spend can be challenging, not to mention extremely time-consuming. Leveraging technology gives logistics teams the boost they need to become more efficient. By implementing a transportation management system (TMS), companies can keep freight costs as low as possible while still meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations.

How to Choose the Right TMS

A broad range of TMSs exist in the marketplace. These range from the old-fashioned on-premise systems favored over the last two decades to more recent platforms that live on the cloud and connect users for heightened levels of collaboration.

Some TMSs incorporate features like automatic invoice audit while others can streamline route optimization and yard management. Many incorporate advanced analytics that can help teams make better strategic decisions about their freight. Others provide seamless integrations to external systems like e-commerce platforms and ERP systems.

With all these features and options, how does a company go about buying a TMS system?

It’s important to determine what your company’s needs are before starting the process to find the right TMS.

Understand your company’s goals for deploying a TMS – is the goal to cut shipping costs, improve customer service, become a preferred shipper, consolidate loads, etc.?

Without a thorough understanding of your company’s goals, you could find yourself locked into a piece of technology that won’t scale as your company grows, or locked into paying for features you won’t use. No company is exactly the same, so make sure to choose a TMS that can be configured and scaled to your company’s needs over time.

Catalog Image 10 Essential Questions Kuebix TMS

Think about how your company could benefit from increased collaboration with other players in the industry. When comparing different transportation management system options, find out if the TMS can connect you with an ecosystem of potential collaboration partners. Programs like built-in truckload spot networks can provide you more capacity at better rates.

A TMS should offer the following:

  • ·       Automatic rating, booking and tracking of shipments, managing carriers and communicating with shippers and customers in real-time
  • ·       A network of carriers incorporating all modes with the ability to consolidate and optimize shipments
  • ·       A wide variety of reports and dashboards to monitor cost, shipping status and service levels
  • ·       Management of the carrier bid process from initial set up to tendering of shipments
  • ·       Extensive analytics to manage performance in real-time
  • ·       A quick implementation time and return-on-investment (ROI)
  • ·       Integration with enterprise resource planning platforms (ERPs) and 3rd party applications
  • ·       The ability to track and trace any shipment in real-time, anywhere in the supply chain
  • ·       The ability to easily add functionality as needed such as order and route optimization, dock scheduling, yard management and container tracking
  • ·      Access to a connected community of shippers, carriers, freight marketplaces, brokers, and suppliers

Some TMS providers like Kuebix offer a free version of their technology to help shippers get started and see real results from their operations risk-free. Unlike a demo, Kuebix Free Shipper gets shippers managing their freight and gaining true ROI even before adding modular features and capabilities.

If you’re looking to improve your company’s logistics operations by adding a true, cloud-based TMS, check out The Complete Buyer’s Guide to Transportation Management Systems to get answers to questions like “What should I look for?” and “How much should a TMS cost?” before committing.

ERP Integration - Kuebix TMS

Extend the Benefits of Your Transportation Management System (TMS) with an ERP Integration

At their core, transportation management systems (TMS) help shippers perform logistics management functions like rating, booking and tracking. These functions help save companies money, improve efficiency and keep data stored in one place for strategic decision making. However, transportation management systems aren’t only limited to rating and booking. If they were, we’d call them “rate aggregators.” What makes a TMS a TMS is the ability to perform numerous supply chain functions to extend the benefit of the technology. That’s where ERP integrations come in.

ERP integrations (integrations with enterprise resource planning systems) are one of the most popular additions shippers make to their TMS. This type of integration extends the benefits of the TMS by sharing data between internal systems. By adding additional functionality like an ERP integration, any shipper can configure a TMS that is right for their business.

What is an ERP integration?

An ERP integration is a process that allows information to flow between an ERP system and a TMS. Essentially, any information inputted into an ERP system can be seamlessly displayed within the TMS and vice versa. This is especially useful for sharing product, order, and shipment information between systems.

How is an ERP integration with a TMS used?

Many teams can benefit from an ERP integration. When the order processing team receives an order from a customer, they can input it into the ERP as usual. With the integration, that order information is automatically displayed within the TMS and is ready for the logistics team to rate and book the shipment. Once the shipment has been processed, the rate along with any miscellaneous charges or accessorials are mapped back to the ERP for financial teams automatically. Instead of managing a huge paper trail of order information, teams all operate from a “single source of truth.”

Why is it beneficial to integrate my ERP with my TMS?

Here are 4 ways shippers benefit from integrating:

  •  • ERP integrations 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.
  •  • ERP integrations 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.
  •  • ERP integrations give shippers 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.
  •  • ERP integrations help shippers 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.

How Do ERP Integrations Work?

  1. By leveraging a common middleware connector, the team performing the integration can map ERP order and item information to automatically creates orders within the TMS.
  2. These orders are stored within the TMS in preparation for shipping departments to simply scan or enter the order number into a lookup field to get rates and begin shipping.
  3. Once the order is shipped, the TMS notifies the ERP system and updates the ERP order with shipment details. (Tracking number, cost, carrier, time in transit, GL code, etc…)
  4. Each ERP connector includes a configurable trigger function to automatically create orders, status changes or approval processes to tell the TMS to pull the order details. This process allows for a seamless flow of data between the two systems.
  5. Once shipped within the TMS, shipment details are mapped back to the target ERP system for accurate record keeping and visibility for all stakeholders.

Click here to learn more about Kuebix’s ERP Integration Highway.


Examples of Companies that Use ERP Integrations

ERP Integration with Microsoft Dynamics and Kuebix TMS

Microsoft Dynamics Integration

OBJECTIVE – Save time and improve order accuracy by consolidating processes into a single transportation management system.

CHALLENGES – TMS needs to integrate with Microsoft Dynamics and connect to a variety of LTL carriers. Scale to incorporate container tracking. Be usable by multiple departments within the organization.

RESULTS – Significant time savings on each LTL order processed. Improved order information accuracy. Optimized interactions between multinational teams.


ERP Integration with NetSuite and Kuebix TMS

NetSuite Integration

OBJECTIVE – Automate the order creation process to save time manually inputting orders and avoid human error while operating in a centralized transportation management system.

CHALLENGES – Previous process was too manual and relied on team members entering orders one-by-one into different carrier websites.

RESULTS – Implemented an integration between NetSuite and Kuebix to automatically allow order information to flow from their ERP system to Kuebix TMS.


Examples of ERPs Shippers Integrate With:

  •  • NetSuite
  •  • Oracle
  •  • Microsoft Dynamics
  •  • Infor
  •  • Quickbooks
  •  • SAP
  •  • Claritysoft
  •  • Epicor
  •  • Sage

Integrating Your ERP with Kuebix TMS

Unlike many TMS providers who direct users to external or third-party integrators, the Kuebix team has internally developed an array of integrations that our customers use to enhance and expand their ever-evolving supply chains. Gone are the days of trying to view a product’s lifecycle by exporting data from internal, carrier, broker and 3rd party monitoring systems. Instead, with an integration, users get the information they need automatically and human error is drastically reduced with the help of technology.

Kuebix offers out-of-the-box integrations based on EDI formats as well as integrations that use more direct APIs/web services. Kuebix can also customize an integration to meet your company’s specific needs.

How a Transportation Management System (TMS) Can Benefit a Business of Any Size

A Transportation Management System (TMS) helps companies streamline their logistics processes so that they are as efficient and connected as possible. Instead of manually managing logistics operations over the phone and email, companies can use technology to save money, reduce processing time, scale operations and improve accuracy. At their core, TMSs help companies rate, book and track shipments. Additional functionality like reports and dashboards, integrations, yard management, financial management and spot services can be added to increase the value companies realize from their TMS.

Many organizations incorrectly believe that TMSs are only for large, enterprise organizations. This notion may have been true once when the time and monetary expense limited the implementation of technology to only the largest companies. Now, however, technology has advanced and companies like Kuebix have democratized the booking for freight with plans for every size company.

According to Inbound Logistics magazine, “most Tier 1 shippers – those that spend $100 million+ annually on freight – already use TMS solutions.” These companies say that a TMS contributes to critical business drivers, such as complexity, scale, customer experience and freight cost savings.*

Smaller firms still use manual approaches to manage their freight, relying on in-house expertise using spreadsheets, fax, phone and email, often resulting in excess admin time, errors and duplicated efforts.

However, with globalization and the growth of e-commerce opening up new markets and reaching customers around the world, the time has come for smaller firms to take advantage of TMS solutions that can bring better customer service, lower freight spend, improve performance and more.

To get up and running quickly, small to medium-sized businesses can adopt cloud-based TMS solutions – getting rates, booking and tracking shipments and communicating with carriers and shippers in real-time – all on a single platform. Because of the cloud, these systems offer a much lower total cost of ownership, are simpler to implement and require no internal IT support.

 

Using a TMS, compared to manual approaches, can help your business to:

• Optimize and consolidate shipments

• Improve service levels, giving customers a great first impression

Save on freight costs

• Lower admin costs and reduce errors

• Access a large carrier pool

• Address all shipping options and modes, all on one platform

• Monitor shipments in real-time

• Quickly evaluate carrier performance through historical reports

• Increase visibility into what is happening within your transport operations

• Communicate shipment status to customers

• Get much-needed carrier capacity in a tightened market

 

What if you need more functionality? Choose a TMS that is flexible enough to grow as your business grows, allowing you to add features in a modular fashion as needed. Kuebix TMS lets you begin rating, booking and managing your LTL, TL, parcel, rail, ocean and air freight in minutes. For more complex supply chains, Kuebix can be configured with Premier Applications and Integrations to meet the needs of even the largest enterprise.

Check out our free Kuebix Shipper TMS for unlimited rating, calculating freight cost, booking, and tracking!

*Primary Research in Evaluating the Business Case and Approval Process for Supply Chain Execution Systems Acquisition – Jim Hendrickson, Professor, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University.

Network-Based Platform

What is a Network-Based Platform?

Every year there are new buzzwords about technology circulating the industry. You probably see terms like blockchain, internet of things (IoT) and big data regularly take over your inbox. The latest trend revolutionizing the software and technology space are Network-Based Platforms. Network-based platforms have been around for several years in the consumer space, but now, this methodology is being adopted in SaaS and other cloud-based solutions to add value for users.

Network-Based Platform: Definition

A network-based platform is a piece of technology or software that connects users with other members of a community to create mutually beneficial opportunities. Instead of simply being a tool to use within the four walls of an organization, network-based platforms help users find opportunities by connecting them with other users in the network while simultaneously fulfilling a function. The usefulness of the platform snowballs as more and more members join the network. This phenomenon is known as the Network Effect.

What is the Network Effect?

“The Network Effect” exists when the addition of another person or company makes all the existing members of the network better off.

“In a November 2014 video for UPS, MIT Professor Yossi Sheffi described the power and value of the network effect as follows:

“The network effect exists when the addition of another element [to the network] makes all the existing elements in the [network] better off,” explains Sheffi, citing cell phone networks and Facebook as examples. “It’s a positive feedback loop. As the network grows, the more value it provides. The more value [the network] provides, it grows even bigger. It’s the economics of having an extra point on the network, and the fact that you can build a lot more services on the existing network, that’s the power of the network.”[1]

Therefore, to paraphrase Professor Sheffi, the network effect exists in transportation when the addition of another shipper, carrier, freight broker, or other participant to the network makes all the existing members of the network better off — by more quickly and efficiently matching demand with supply; by executing transactions in a more streamlined and automated way; and by providing everyone with network-based business intelligence and analytics about capacity, rates, on-time delivery, and other metrics.”

A network-based platform is a piece of technology that builds value by leveraging the network effect.

Examples of Network-Based Platforms

Social media – Network-based platforms have become incredibly popular, and very common, at a consumer level. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram rely on the network effect to retain users and scale their operations. The more people who join the platform, the more valuable the platform is for everyone else.

Ride-sharing – Ride-sharing technology has also taken off thanks to the network-effect. Companies like Uber and Lyft are based on a network of people looking for rides and people who can offer rides for a fee. This service isn’t merely a regular car rental, instead, these ride-sharing platforms connect thousands of individuals who otherwise would never have an opportunity to collaborate.

Fitness tech – The fitness industry has also incorporated the network effect into their technologies. Fitbit, for example, isn’t only a personal health monitoring device, it’s also a service to connect individuals with similar lifestyle goals. Getting people to collaborate isn’t only an added social benefit for users, it can literally make the technology more effective for achieving fitness goals.

What’s the Difference Between Network-Based Platforms and Traditional Software?

Network-based platforms let users connect and collaborate with other stakeholders outside of the four walls of their offices or homes. As more and more people become accustomed to network-based platforms like social media, companies are beginning to expect similar benefits from their business software. Instead of simply managing day-to-day processes with technology, companies are demanding opportunities to collaborate with other stakeholders in their industry directly through the platforms they use every day.

In the transportation and logistics industry, a network-based transportation management system (TMS) allows users to collaborate with a vast shipping community for greater efficiencies such as accessing truckload spot quotes in addition to contracted carrier rates. Unlike traditional platforms for managing logistics operations, a network-based TMS connects shippers with an entire ecosystem of other shippers, carriers, brokers, freight marketplaces and 3PLs.

The Network TMS

Kuebix TMS is the only true Network TMS. At Kuebix, we’re building the largest connected shipping community driven by our modular, cloud-based TMS that scales to meet the needs of small to enterprise companies. Kuebix customers can manage all their modes and contracted carriers in Kuebix as well as take advantage of savings on truckload spot quotes, opportunities to fill fleet backhaul, and other discounts and benefits because they are part of our network. That’s the Network Effect in transportation management at work!

[1] http://talkinglogistics.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/1_The_Network_Effect_Part1.mp4

Kuebix Returns Shipping

How E-Commerce is Changing Returns

The growing popularity of e-commerce has led to exponential growth in number of returns. While they have always been an integral part of shopping, online orders are significantly increasing their presence in the retail and e-commerce industries.

E-commerce platform Yotpo reported that 88% of fashion shoppers surveyed have returned fashion items purchased online in the past year. Of those shoppers, 51% have returned between $50 and $500 worth of merchandise. Consumers often order the same product in multiple sizes or a few options with the intention of only keeping one.

Consumers are making more subjective and less-predictable purchases online. Fit and quality are the top two reasons for returns. When looking at an article of clothing online, it’s often hard to tell how it will look and what size is best. The number of returns is expected to increase steadily with the volume of online orders. Businesses are starting to think of ways to make returns an opportunity for profit rather than a traditional expense.

Many retailers are starting to accept the returns of their competitors. Nordstrom recently announced it will now be taking returns from other stores including its competitors Macy’s and Kohl’s. Popular retail stores are starting to realize that returns don’t have to be viewed as a negative. The origin of the return doesn’t diminish Nordstrom’s opportunity to sell to incoming customers.

Kohl’s recently launched a similar program in which it accepts returns for Amazon orders. Amazon’s popularity is often seen as a threat and this unique approach allowed Kohl’s to use it to their advantage. Their pilot stores in Chicago and Los Angeles saw a 9% increase in new customers and an 8% increase in revenue at participating locations. In response, Kohl’s launched the program worldwide. Returns are providing retail stores losing business to e-commerce a second chance at drawing in customers and selling their products.

Happy Returns, a relatively new startup, is offering to ease the operational burden of returns. The company processes, evaluates and batches returns together at several return bars. Consumers are able to make their return in-person and receive an instant refund. Through implementing Happy Returns businesses can stabilize the cost of their returns and easily receive and process them.

Businesses driving profit through returns can also benefit from implementing technology into the operational side of their supply chains. A transportation management system (TMS) gives shippers complete visibility through their supply chain with real-time information on the locations of their shipments. ERP integrations, such as those with NetSuite or Microsoft Dynamics, can save logistics professionals the increased time as orders are shipped or returned, simultaneously eliminating the risk of human error. All-in-all, modernizing norms surrounding returns are creating opportunities for companies to generate additional revenue.

How to Choose the Right TMS for Your Company

How to Choose the Right TMS for Your Company

Choosing the right transportation management system for your company can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Whether you’re a first-time TMS buyer or a long-time user looking for an upgrade, all you need to do is arm yourself with the right questions to ask before starting your TMS search.

Answering These Questions Will Help You Find the Right TMS for Your Company

Step One: Understand Your Business

Kuebix TMS SolutionThe best place to start is to understand how your company operates and could most efficiently leverage a transportation management system. Having a complete understanding of how your company runs its logistics operations will give you a solid foundation to work from. Before doing research on specific TMS systems available, make sure you know how your logistics operations run.

  •      ☑     How many modes of transportation does my company ship with?
  •      ☑     How many shipments does my company make per month?
  •      ☑     Do we operate out of multiple locations?
  •      ☑     Are there multiple people at my company involved in the shipping process?
  •      ☑     Do we use an ERP system to streamline orders?
  •      ☑     Is routing and shipment consolidation a challenge right now?
  •      ☑     How many invoices do we audit each month?

Click here to discover which solution is right for your business: https://www.kuebix.com/productrec/

Step Two: Understand Your Goals

Understanding why you need a transportation management system will ensure that you implement a TMS that is right for your business. Ask yourself these questions to prepare yourself with a list of “must-haves” before you start researching the industry.

  •      ☑     What type of ROI do I need to see from a TMS? What’s most important:
    •      •     Time savings
    •      •     Bottom-line savings
    •      •     Error mitigation savings
  •      ☑     Does the system need to be highly user-friendly for non-technical users?
  •      ☑     Will this technology need to be able to grow and adapt as our business needs change?
  •      ☑     How much do we want to spend on implementation? How much on subscription costs?
  •      ☑     How quickly do we need to be up and running with this new technology?
  •      ☑     Will we need to integrate to any internal systems?
  •      ☑     Do we want to attain full visibility to all of our shipments?
  •      ☑     Are we looking for a way to find additional spot volume when our regularly negotiated rates don’t cover a load?

Step Three: Understand the Market

Now that you have a solid understanding of your operational functionality laid, you’ll quickly be able to eliminate unsuitable types of transportation management systems. For example, some systems brand themselves as complete TMS solutions, but are in reality, only rate aggregators. If you are looking for a place to conduct all of your logistics operations, you’ll know right away that a simple solution like a rate aggregator won’t work for your company. Alternatively, you may be able to eliminate other TMS solutions that require you to purchase all available features, even ones you won’t use. This will help to narrow down the field quickly.

In your day to day life you probably rely on word-of-mouth and review sites to make important purchases. Buying a TMS shouldn’t be any different. Make sure to check out reputable review sites and research from 3rd party consultancies. These will give you unbiased accounts of the top TMS options available on the market.

Check out these resources to discover some of the leading TMS vendors:

Step Four: Understand a Specific Transportation Management System

10 Essential Questions Datasheet Image Kuebix TMS

Once you’ve reviewed some of the leading research and review sites to discover which TMS solutions have the best reputations for success, you’re ready to dive into researching specific TMSs. Below is a list of questions you should answer when evaluating a specific transportation management system. These questions will help you choose the right TMS for your business.

Download this list as a PDF to have with you during your evaluation process.

  •      ☑     How do current customers rank this TMS on review sites? (Gartner Peer Insights, Capterra, G2)
  •      ☑     What will the implementation process look like and what is the expected turn-around time?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS work for teams across my company? (Logistics, sales, customer support, etc.)
  •      ☑     Are there benefits for being a member of this TMS’ community such as a spot market?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS save me time with a user friendly UI and simple processes?
  •      ☑     Does this TMS have a history of creating outstanding ROI for its users?
  •      ☑     Does this TMS give preferential treatment to any carriers or brokers?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS be able to adapt and grow alongside my business?
  •      ☑     Can I manage all modes of transportation with this TMS?
  •      ☑     Is this TMS cloud-based or a monolithic, in-house model

By following these four steps you will be in the best position to choose the TMS that is right for your business. Click here to contact Kuebix and we would be happy to work with you directly to help you understand your company’s specific needs. After all, the decision to implement a transportation management system can have positive ramifications throughout your entire company and we want to make sure you get the most benefits from your final choice.

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