TL Shipping Software – What Can It Offer Growing Businesses?

If you own a small manufacturing business, there may come a time when you need to ship full semi trailer loads of goods-a process known as truckload (TL) shipping. Compared to less than truckload (LTL) shipping, where two or more companies that have partial loads combine them into a full load and share the price, TL shipping has two advantages: because products are shipped directly to their destination, delivery improves and the absence of warehouse stops reduces shipping cost. But to realize the TL shipping arrangement that best meets your needs, you’ll need to incorporate TL transportation logistics into your shipping process.

When companies need new shipping solutions, they typically secure logistics expertise in one of the following ways: hiring an in house logistics expert; outsourcing logistics needs to a third party logistics (3PL) provider; or implementing TL-shipping software, a specific type of logistics software that allows companies to arrive at TL-shipping solutions. Upon evaluating these options, you’ll discover that each of them has its advantages. But when it comes to improving delivery time while reducing shipping cost as much as possible, TL-shipping software is the superior choice. To understand why, its helps to understand the basic drawbacks of hiring in house experts or outsourcing to 3PL providers.

Having your own logistic expert isn’t a bad decision. In fact, it’s far preferable to outsourcing your shipping process to a 3PL provider that you rarely contact. Yet, hiring even one experienced logistics expert could set you back $90,000 a year-an unnecessary cost considering that TL-shipping software ensures that every potential TL shipping solution is analyzed prior to the recommendation of a best solution. Although having its own shipping fleet and logistics department may be your company’s final destination, there’s no need to pay for in house logistics before you need to when logistics software can do the same work at a fraction of the cost.

Unlike hiring a logistics expert, outsourcing to 3PL providers can cost you less than $80,000, but only if you hire a provider that offers individual shipping solutions and not a comprehensive, innovative approach to the shipping process. The types of 3PL providers that offer individual shipping solutions are two: standard 3PL providers, which offer basic shipping solutions; and service developers, which offer more specialized shipping solutions. Depending on your company’s needs, hiring a specialized 3PL provider could make sense. But if you want your shipping process, TL shipping included, to fall within the same logistics function, simplifying your shipping process with logistics software is the best option.

Benefits of Using Packaged Shipping Software

It’s hard to imagine a shipping business without an IT department nowadays. As technology becomes more and more advanced, carriers keep up by taking advantage of the latest innovations and best practices in the industry in order to remain competitive. Forward thinking operators have taken advantage of the rapidly changing technology by using advanced shipping software solutions to enhance their competitive advantage. However, when it comes to choosing the right software solution, the shipping industry is divided between in-house and packaged solutions. Shipping companies need to analyze their unique requirements to determine the type of business solution that will bring more advantage to their daily operations.

Global operators seem to have conflicting views with regard to the cost-effectiveness of building in-house IT systems compared with buying ready-made, customizable platforms. Both have their own advantage when it comes to streamlining operations that have direct effect on the cost-efficiency of a shipping business. Understanding the specific differences between these two systems can help operators make more informed decisions in using their resources.

Bespoke System

Many operators prefer hiring programmers and software developers, and build customized software to fit their specific business requirements. Doing this gives them full control of software development. However, bespoke or in-house systems will require time until they are working live, which will delay the positive impact of automation sometimes up to 3-4 years as seen for bigger implementations. It will also consume resources on the carrier side not only from the IT but also from the involved departments.

In addition, the fact that technology evolves rapidly, software solutions that have been custom-tailored to support a specific function may date quickly and not work on newer platforms, necessitating a painful upgrade that may include an expensive migration process. For the same reason, in-house systems require skilled IT staff which results in increased operational expenses – something that does not sound interesting in a slumping economy.

Packaged System

Generally, ready-made shipping software are a lot cheaper and easier to implement when compared with in-house systems. In fact, buying off-the-shelf solution can be 10 to 50 times cheaper than developing a bespoke system. In addition, modern packaged software incorporates a switching capability, which allows the user to customize each application to handle specific requirements without any expensive re-programming. Once customized, packaged software have the capability to automate time-consuming and resource-intrusive business processes.

Modern packages solutions are flexible enough to work for almost any carrier, regardless of size, specialization, or local requirements. This capability makes it even more appealing for vessel operators to buy off-the-shelf instead of commissioning expensive in-house solutions.

Packaged software solutions are widely available in the software market and can be purchased at very reasonable prices. In addition, many software companies offer excellent guarantee periods for their products during which any software issues are fixed without extra cost.

Change can be Painful

Despite the impressive features of packaged shipping software solutions, many carriers are still stuck with bespoke systems because of perceived difficulties that accompany a change in IT infrastructure. In most cases, these difficulties have something to do with legacy systems which often control key areas of a shipping business. Change in this case must be managed properly using correct methodologies avoid common problems that usually come with the process of implementing a new business system.

Shipping goods involves too many complicated processes that require focus and expertise in all aspects. To be more productive, operators must focus on their core business which is operating ships. They should not divert large amounts of resources to other activities outside their expertise to avoid uncontrolled expenses that can hurt their business in the long run.

Introduction of Shipping Software and SaaS

Introduction

Shipping software solutions automate the process for manufacturers or fulfillment organizations from packaging, shipment processing, tracking and tracing to invoice editing. The system delivers shipping and logistics processing, export compliance, and customer service functionality in one integrated application, all from the convenience of a desktop PC. Shipping software solutions on web portals, can be accessed any time from any location by the customers to track their orders. The solutions also provide secured layers of technologies for web host servers to communicate over the Internet.

In today’s economic climate where organizations watch every penny, staying up-to-date on the latest requirements and regulations and freedom of choosing carriers, is the need of time. Using the shipping solution, allows real-time access to major carriers such as FedEx, UPS, USPS, and DHL. It also provides rate-shopping, freight pickups, appropriate labels and documentation generation, and also real-time status of shipments that helps to track shipments not delivered on time.

The shipping software solutions provided can collect and store activity information and make data available through reports as per the customers’ requirement. Due to these solutions organizations realize and achieve value from their technology investments and manage the forever changing challenges in a volatile market.

Integration and Monetary Gains

Organizations can maximize savings by integrating the solutions into their business practices, where all cost-analysis and rate-shopping is done automatically, leaving more time and money at their disposal. Integration can be done with systems such as Oracle E-Business Suite, Sage ERP X3, PeopleSoft, Microsoft Dynamics, SAP R/3, JD Edwards EnterpriseOne, JD Edwards World, and others. Time is saved due to the automated order processing with minimal data entry and eliminates re-keying of data during the delivery of the product/order to the customer (fulfillment process).

Cost-effective Software as a Service (SaaS)

The entire software industry is moving towards service-based products (SaaS) rather than one-time purchases and major investment in technology. One of the biggest advantage to an organization is the ability to reduce IT support costs by outsourcing hardware and software maintenance and support to the SaaS provider. Market trends point towards improving business-to-business connectivity that helps organizations in streamlining communications with their customers. Many shipping system vendors have started to offer the option to deploy applications at their customer (manufacturers or fulfillment organizations) site or host the software system through the vendor’s own server.

New Solutions Meet Target

It is critical an organization understands where improvements can be made throughout their process and get the right tools to effect these changes. Organizations who understand the importance of investing in technology and more efficient processes have their eye on the required goal – a return on investments by meeting all the customer requirements.