Did you know that even the smallest shipper can take advantage of the huge advances in freight technology simply by using the right transportation partner? That is not the only good news. These platforms are available at no cost to the shipper or their business. Whaaa? Yes, it is true.
There is no better time than 2021 to embrace a data-driven mindset, and the reasons are many—the most important one being because you simply can! Freight brokers and 3PLs have invested millions in the digitization of the supply chain, optimizing every step of a shipment transaction so that freight moves more quickly, accurately, and cost-efficiently than ever before. That saves shippers thousands on freight spend each year. Since all this newfangled tech is free and easily accessible, why wouldn't a shipper want to use it?
There are several perceived “barriers” to entry regarding the adoption of new transportation software. It is human nature to avoid things that may seem too complicated, or that we do not fully understand. That is where we, as a value-added 3PL, love to come to the rescue.
Understanding the Benefits
You don’t need to know how to build an engine to be able to drive a car. So is it with adding revolutionary new software to your bag of tricks. The “heavy lifting” of these innovations has already been done; all you need to do, figuratively speaking, is turn on the ignition, and the world of optimized logistics is in your hands. But you have to realize that it’s worth it to turn that key in the first place. If you don't understand what the software can do for your supply chain, there is no reason to want it or seek it out.
What if you could see patterns through aggregate data that reveal you are consistently paying higher than normal detention fees at several repeat-offending locations? You could then make the necessary adjustments to your shipping schedule to avoid, or at least improve on, those recurring wait times. Choptank has its own customer portal, ORBIT TI®, in which a feature called "Stop/Arrival Times" does just that. You can become your company’s all-knowing guru when it comes to dwell times and exposing other pain points.
That is just one example of the advantages you can get from using a transportation intelligence platform. There are loads (see what I did there?) of features that will help you make smarter and faster decisions about your freight. One of the main functions with ORBIT TI is the ability to track your freight in real time from beginning to end, letting you be proactive with information if a sudden change occurs instead of reactive. We know that things happen in the world of freight. Trucks break down, reefer units quit working, a driver gets sick, but it is how quickly a shipper reacts to the unexpected that keeps their customer's happy and solidifies the shipper/customer relationship.
Other useful data in Choptank’s customer portal includes on-time percentages for all stops, cost-per-pound metrics, total spend, and average lead times. Wouldn’t it be helpful to see how well you are optimizing each truckload for maximum efficiency? ORBIT TI will shine a light on that too.
There is also a market intelligence feature of the platform that provides shippers with customized views or “watch lists” that report metrics on frequently run lanes, market conditions, outbound tender rejections, truck-to-load ratios, and even current weather conditions and fuel costs by region. You can even get instant quotes on frequently run lanes and load history for all your Choptank shipments at the click of a button. It doesn't get much better than that!
Now that you have a clearer picture of the enormous benefits, why do shippers still hesitate to sign up for new technology?
Fear of the learning curve
Shippers often fear the learning curve associated with new technology, and it is usually a two-part objection. The first part is the fear of failure and not knowing if they can navigate the program well enough to get the desired information out of it. The second concern is the time investment needed to get themselves and their shipping team up to speed on the platform.
Both anxieties are based, no doubt on previous experiences, but easily can be eliminated with the help of a good transportation provider. There should be little to no struggle on the shipper’s part regarding adoption. If it feels too complicated, no matter how much free training is offered, shippers, warehouse workers and manufactures just will not use it.
The best solution to allay these fears is to have your sales representative provide a test run on the platform with you. That way you can get an inside peek into the product, walk through the features, and then try it out on your own, asking as many questions as you want along the way. Remember, 3PLs like Choptank want to be more than just a transportation provider, they want to be information providers as well.
Security concerns about proprietary company information
ORBIT TI is a secure platform that requires a secure username and password. All the information within the program is held as confidential and proprietary. You can choose who in your company has access to it and who does not.
The feature in ORBIT TI called “subscriptions” pulls your individual company’s data and metrics and creates easy-to-read reports for you to present to your team or your company’s CEO and VPs. You can use the standard reporting that comes with the platform or create custom reports using information from your most commonly run lanes.
The accounting tab in ORBIT TI allows you to view aged receivables, displaying all your invoices and payments in one convenient place, saving you time by avoiding unnecessary phone inquiries. The latest feature in the platform is called ORBIT PAY. Through it you can securely and quickly pay your invoices online.
No matter what emerging technologies you choose to optimize your freight, make 2021 the year you embrace them. With industry challenges like driver shortages and imbalanced market conditions, data-driven companies will undoubtedly be the ones that come out ahead. Those who choose not to adapt and adopt are bound to feel the limitations sooner rather than later. Not only will they risk being labeled as Luddites, they will be putting their freight at risk and their bottom line at a great disadvantage.
We wish you and your freight a smooth and profitable 2021.