7 Ways Shippers Can Use Data to Collaborate with Carriers

Communication is central to effective shipper-carrier relationships, especially in today’s competitive operating environment. With new developments in transportation management software (TMS), shippers can bridge the divide with carriers by connecting through a unified platform to create win-win scenarios.

Here are seven critical areas where TMS systems can add immediate value to shipper-carrier relationships:

1. Data-Driven Decision Making

A TMS is more than a transactional system. It is a business intelligence and analytics tool with rich data. Shippers and carriers that connect through a unified platform can share this data to drive conversations, set realistic expectations and hold each other accountable.

The ability to make decisions and have discussions based on a single source of data helps to keep everybody grounded and leaves no room to hide information.

2. An Improved Procurement Process 

The data a TMS generates is useful in several areas of the supply chain, starting with the procurement process. In today’s operating environment, shippers no longer can take a set-it-and-forget-it approach. They must collaborate with carriers to find mutually beneficial partnerships.

When you’re in a rising rate environment or a fluctuating rate environment, like we are in now, you really have to go back to the data. Sharing access to data on lanes, historical rates, and previous business practices is particularly important.

3. Shipper of Choice

The capacity shortage continues to affect the transportation industry. Shippers that set themselves apart from their competitors are minimizing dwell time and improving communications. Dwell time is a top concern among transportation providers because it can lead to missed deliveries and unhappy drivers. Carriers that use a unified platform with shippers can easily look at the data to identify which shippers will receive capacity.

4. Ideal Schedules

A unified TMS platform allows  shippers and carriers to take data on dwell time a step further and look at when the dwell time occurs. For example, a consignee might take six hours to unload a truck when a driver arrives at 6 a.m., but that dwell time might drop to one or two hours if the driver came in at 11 a.m. or 1 p.m. With these insights, carriers and shippers can work together to create an ideal schedule.

5. Better Communication

The last couple years have shown the critical need for removing silos and increasing collaboration between shippers and carriers. Historically there has been an “us versus them” mentality. Shippers wanted to get the best discount and carriers wanted to get top dollar for a lane. Today, both sides understand the need to work together to create a win-win scenario and can do this by using a unified TMS platform. 

6. Limited Hardware and Staff Needs

TMS solutions were among the first enterprise applications to move to the cloud. Software-as-a-service TMS solutions continue to add new ways for users to save time and money.

On-premise solutions require significant overhead for hardware investments, data redundancy, disaster relief planning, and staff to maintain the systems. SaaS solutions allow users to avoid these costs. What’s more, a SaaS solution is portable and is accessible from anywhere to expand connectivity and visibility. 

7. A Scalable Solution

With SaaS, companies can scale up and down as their needs grow. Plus, cloud-based TMS providers continually make investments in software to make it faster, stronger, and more scalable to their customers’ needs.

Shippers can take advantage of modern, cloud-based TMS platforms that keep them connected to a community of performance-minded carriers to better control costs and maintain service levels. Collaboration is always important, but even more so now given the supply chain disruptions, capacity and driver shortages, and uncertainty in today’s market.

Chris Noble is senior product manager at PCS Software. For a more in-depth analysis of what technology and strategies will most help shippers successfully navigate the road ahead in 2022, please download our guidebook.