You’re either a Mac person or a PC person.
A Google Chrome person or a Firefox person.
An Android 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 mandated portals, apps, or additional platforms to input updates, when they’re so comfortable with their own operational systems?
These shipper-mandated systems initially seem like the most efficient way to collect data from your carriers, but there are crucial flaws to them that cause inefficiencies, supply chain blindness, and lack of carrier compliance.
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, apps, or operational systems that have to be updated each day. Stopping standard operating procedures to open each shipper-mandated system 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 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.”
The cost of these operational interruptions and additional effort will be passed from the carrier, back to you, the shipper. Allowing a carrier to stay within their operational system allows for them to utilize more efficient operational flows and save time and money for all parties.
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. If details are delayed, your data will be inaccurate, and it’s impossible to make data-driven decisions with inaccurate data.
If your data is being passed back to a consumer for tracking, they will not know when their package has been delivered, resulting in post-delivery damage from weather or stolen packages.
Integrating directly with the carrier’s operating 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 mandating additional platforms to our carriers?
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, increase the cost, and likely result in incomplete and inaccurate data.
As with any relationship, struggles with communication cause tension, and can limit the time of your partnership. High carrier turnover leads to more cost for your company and fluctuating customer experiences.
By removing the portal requirements and utilizing a direct integration, you can open up lines of communication with your carriers, allowing them to provide the information you require to you in real time.
It’s time to upgrade your final processes, ditch the portal, and move towards integrating with your carriers systems. Getting the best from your final mile carriers depends on it.
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.