Consumerization is taking logistics by storm, and trucking is no exception. Active engagement between retailers and consumers during the fulfillment and delivery stages have become increasingly valuable to customers, with 82% saying it’s critical to their decision-making when shopping. Likewise, supply chains are experiencing the strain of expanding e-commerce, growing consumer demands, supply chain bottlenecks and a shift in markets. Customers today are expressing the need for more information about their shipments, including expected arrival times.
Conglomerates like Amazon.com and Uber have set the bar high when it comes to visibility. Customers can easily see where their package or driver is at any time. Now, the same standard is expected for shipments across the supply chain, and smaller, legacy companies aren’t exempt. Without collaboration and total transparency, smaller companies will fail to meet expectations, especially when unforeseen events like public health emergencies or natural disasters strike. When businesses don’t provide this type of visibility, customers become frustrated and are likely to take their business elsewhere.
Trucking, for its part, is growing increasingly interconnected and collaborative instead of purely competitive. From brokers and carriers to operators and drivers, more collaboration across the supply chain will ensure that companies smaller than Amazon can keep up with evolved customer expectations for 24/7 visibility.
Collaboration Is Key
Sizable changes both in technology and mindset are critical for businesses if they want to keep up with consumer expectations. Simply offering a shipment confirmation and expected delivery date is no longer enough. Businesses must offer real-time tracking and consistent updates on estimated time of arrival, with all parties working from the same information. A modern-day transportation management system (TMS) enables every stakeholder across the supply chain to collaborate and achieve complete visibility.
When disparate systems fail to communicate, the result can be a mismatch of misleading data. For example, one source might generate the quote and send it to the customer, while another is responsible for sending the actual invoice. When these are done within different systems, there’s no single source of truth for accurate information. A TMS is built on the principle of collaboration, with the goal of streamlining the whole entire process.
When information isn't centralized and a disruption occurs, a company can quickly become vulnerable to a loss of productivity and security. A TMS prioritizes visibility and gathers all relevant data in one place. Supply chain partners get real-time access to relevant data, including the driver’s hours of service and estimated time of arrival.
In addition, a TMS logs and stores all vital data, enabling brokers and carriers to set up reporting that will enable them to make better business decisions.
Uniting Disparate Stakeholders
When drivers utilize a mobile app, they can reduce paperwork through digital signatures and better manage key documents. Data is made quickly accessible, with fewer errors. A chat feature enables drivers and dispatchers to keep their conversations organized and logged when it’s time to audit.
Freight providers that hang their hat on quality of service must do more than tick the boxes. To meet ever-evolving customer expectations, they must disassemble the walls between them.
In the wise words of Henry Ford, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Collaborative trucking is the future of supply chain visibility, and in the age of supply chain logjams, siloed information isn’t going to make the cut. Brokers and carriers that add a TMS to their toolbelt will enhance collaboration, reduce delays, provide clear communication and enable all parties to see where a shipment is at any time.
Justin Bailie is co-founder of Rose Rocket, a provider of transportation management software.
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