You’re either a mac person or a PC person.
A Google Chrome person or a Firefox person.
A Samsung person or an iPhone person.
We get stuck on an operational system, its flows and functions, and it’s almost impossible to switch to another one, especially in the middle of a work day.
So why do we force carriers to use our portals and web entry systems to input updates, when they’re so comfortable with their own operational systems?
Portals initially seem like the most efficient way to collect data from your carriers, but there are crucial flaws to portals that cause inefficiencies, supply chain blindness, and lack of carrier compliance.
It may seem like providing a portal login to your carriers to submit updates and information is the easiest way, but the data you will receive could be incomplete and not provided in a timely manner. In a world that revolves around data, this can negatively impact your ability to make data-driven business decisions. This is in addition to slowing down your carriers operations as they try to switch back and forth from their operational systems to a variety of portals and browsers.
Consider Carrier Operations
When determining how your carrier is sending you information about your shipments, it’s important to place yourself in their shoes. These carriers likely have multiple large shippers they’re working for, so they may be keeping track of multiple portals that have to be updated each day.
Stopping standard operating procedures to open a portal or browser causes delays in flows and inefficiencies. More than likely, your portal will not be updated until the end of the day or overnight, once driver paper manifests make it back to the office and into someone’s in-basket, as the carrier updates all of your orders at once. Your status updates are then keyed into the portal way after the event, and manual entry can lead to manual mistakes.
As one of our carrier partners* put it, “We currently use at least 4 portals plus our software. If they were integrated it would save a lot of time.”
Another carrier, who requested anonymity, said “…the expectation for real-time updates and requests for receiving, scheduling and OFD updates, adds a lot to our administrative costs and strains the overall resources of the company. It is assumed that the carrier will have economies of scale once you have an abundance of the same type of customer but this is just not the case. Each customer has specific and different SOP requirements which not only strain our fleet of drivers but again increase the admin costs which we are not compensated for within the prescribed and scheduled delivery rates.”
Allowing a carrier to stay within their operational system allows for them to utilize more efficient operational flows and save time (and money.)
Consider the Data You Need
Most carriers won’t turn away business because of a mandated portal or website entry system. As another carrier partner* said, “We have always believed and operated that we’ll do whatever it takes to be a good partner with all our 3PL’s. If it means jumping through a few hoops to keep them happy we are better for it at the end of the day.”
Though, if a carrier is waiting until the end of the day to input your order information to a portal or browser, they’re likely missing many crucial details, and you miss the timeliness of the data.
Details such as GPS coordinates where the delivery was made, the time the delivery was made, and box damage information, can’t be recreated or are hard to remember after several hours.
When details are delayed, your data will be inaccurate, and it’s impossible to make data-driven decisions with inaccurate data.
Integrating directly with the carriers operational system and driver applications provide more accurate insight into what is happening in the final mile. Your system will receive notifications when the order is dispatched and sent to a driver. Drivers are able to record information as the delivery is made, and the application will grab accurate GPS coordinates and time information during the delivery. If there are any discrepancies in the order, the drivers notes can be added right there in the app, with the order in front of him.
66% of supply chain leaders say that advanced analytics are critically important. As real time and complete data are crucial components of these analytics, why do we continue to insist on portals?
Consider Your Relationship with the Carrier
Having a portal likely won’t prevent a carrier from accepting your business. It will slow down the carrier’s operations and likely result in incomplete and inaccurate data.
The eTrac team has decades of experience in working with final mile carriers and their operations. We utilize this wealth of knowledge to assist our 3PL’s and shippers build and grow their final mile, including helping them:
- Build their delivery network
- Integrate through a single point of integration
- View all their final mile data in a reporting dashboard
Can we help you say “Goodbye” to portals and browsers for good? Let’s show you what eTrac can do. Schedule a demo here.
*Thank you to David Metzger with Jet X Delivery, Mark Lucas with Corporate Couriers & Logistics, and all carriers who submitted feedback on portals and web entry systems. All respondents are members of the eTrac Carrier Partner Program. Contact us for more information on this program, and how it can help you grow your network of final mile carriers.