Consumer demand is driving innovation in last-mile delivery. Bill Catania, chief executive officer of OneRail, explains how shippers are benefiting from a range of new options in parcel and courier services, and how technology is making it possible.
Shippers today are “trying to take control of their destiny,” which means being able to choose from among a wider selection of carriers for last-mile delivery, Catania says. They are reacting in part to big rate increases by the dominant parcel carriers, including a disproportionate rise in pricing for oversized items.
It’s modern-day technology that allows shippers to “mode shop.” Traditional transportation management system (TMS) software can help them decide on the best carrier for a given shipment, but such applications aren’t granular enough to offer the full range of possibilities, including regional parcel carriers and couriers. What’s needed, says Catania, is an orchestration platform that can augment the TMS while providing a broader view of capacity. “There are a lot of great carriers out there,” he adds. “It’s a matter of using technology to harness all that supply so that it aligns with demand.”
The current orchestration platforms can help shippers view order data and make decisions that result in the best carrier and routing, while optimizing cost and meeting the customer’s preference for retailer and channel. “Without technology, it’s hard to do that,” Catania says. “You end up in a hard-wired decision, with the order defaulting to a certain carrier or SLA [service-level agreement].”
The final piece of the puzzle provided by orchestration platforms is visibility. The customer needs to know where the order is, as well as any cancellations, exceptions or changes in delivery time.
The technology allows for the “triangulation” of data in real time, Catania says, linking inventory, transportation and customer preference. “That’s what allows retailers to truly evolve their omnichannel strategy.”
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