Leveraging TMS to Become Shipper of Choice

Everytime trucking capacity gets tight, as we find ourselves in today, you hear a lot of discussion about the importance of becoming a “Shipper of Choice” in the eyes of carriers. But what does that mean exactly? What do carriers value the most today? And how can a transportation management system help shippers secure more capacity and develop stronger relationships with carriers?

I discussed those questions and more with Anthony Vitiello, Director of Marketing at UltraShipTMS, in a recent episode of Talking Logistics.

Gaining Back Lost Time and Productivity

There are a lot of things shippers can do to win favor with carriers, but what’s most important today?

“Things like paying carriers on time and having proactive communications with them are always important,” said Vitiello, “but that’s not enough to make you stand out in a carrier’s mind today when they have so much business to choose from. Shippers today have to find innovative ways to help carriers get back some of the time and productivity they’re losing due to regulations such as the electronic logging devices (ELD) mandate and tighter hours of service (HOS) rules.”

Vitiello pointed to “the hours that drivers spend waiting to be loaded or unloaded, sitting idle while their service hours burn away,” as one big issue. Although carriers charge shippers detention fees for long delays, they much rather keep their trucks and drivers moving.

Advanced Appointment Scheduling

What transportation management system (TMS) features or capabilities can help carriers win back time and productivity?

“Advanced appointment scheduling capabilities is a great example,” explained Vitiello. “By automating the scheduling of pickups and deliveries between vendors and shippers on the inbound side, or between shippers and their customers on the outbound side, you’re able to minimize or even eliminate the time carriers waste waiting [at a shipping or receiving location].”

On the surface, appointment scheduling might sound like a simple process, but there are several different approaches that companies can take, as Vitiello described:

  • You can provide carriers with real-time visibility to available loading bays, hours of operation, and loading times for each bay. Carriers can then select from a list of available appointment times displayed on the screen.
  • You can set up fixed appointment times for each carrier at a given facility when the carrier is added to the system. The TMS then automatically schedules a carrier’s appointment based on their assigned time slot.
  • You can provide the appointment time on the order. You can set pickup and/or delivery appointments in your order management system and transmit them to the TMS along with the other order information prior to tendering a load to a carrier.

“In our experience, shippers that have highly-efficient appointment scheduling capabilities achieve much higher tender acceptance rates than shippers that don’t have it,” added Vitiello.

Real-time Temperature Tracking

Another way that technology is helping carriers win back time and productivity — and reduce costs — is via real-time tracking of temperature-controlled loads. “This new capability eases the burden of claims on carriers,” explained Vitiello. “When a receiver refuses a shipment claiming it has arrived outside of temperature limits, they typically file a claim with the shipper,” which then triggers a lot of back and forth between the shipper, carrier, and receiver, a process that consumes a lot of time and resources. “Whether it is a load of steaks, produce, medicines, plasma, or any other temperature-sensitive product, you’re talking about a lot of money at stake.”

How does real-time temperature tracking save carriers time and money? What other ways can shippers leverage their TMS to differentiate themselves in the eyes of carriers and become shippers of choice? Watch my conversation with Anthony for additional insights on those questions and more. Then post a question or comment and keep the conversation going!