As noted by Gartner, RateLinx is the only logistics software provider who both consults with retailers beforehand and then implements a customized, integrated solution with our own staff. We call our approach Logistics in 3D: Diagnose, Develop, Deploy and close to 100 retailers are taking advantage of RateLinx to get what they need most—clean data in real time.

Retailers Want Clean Data in Real Time

With freight volumes increasing and customers expecting faster service, retailers are reevaluating how they are managing their freight. Because of this, clean data that provides transparency to freight spend, along with visibility to the shipment as its moving, is causing retailers to look beyond their traditional TMS for a solution that can provide clean data in real-time. Not only can RateLinx provide clean data in real time, our ShipLinx TMS and Intelligent Invoice Management℠ can easily augment an existing TMS without the need to replace an existing system.

Diagnose, Develop, Deploy

To implement our customized solution, we first diagnose our customer’s current situation. We always start with the data. We ask the company to provide historical freight data which we put into our modeling system. Typically, this is supplied as an Excel spreadsheet. The results of the modeling provides us with a clean dataset that allows us to understand the retailer’s freight profile and where the potential savings opportunities exist.

The architecture of our system allows us to quickly and easily customize Intelligent Invoice Management℠ (IIM) and ShipLinx TMS for the particular needs of the retailer. Because many standard features in our system are typically used for most solutions, the RateLinx implementation staff only needs to develop code for specific sections to provide the required customization that will deliver the savings opportunity uncovered by the modeling engine. The resources required from the retailer are minimal, and sometimes all we need is an operations person to provide us with the required carrier rates, with no IT support required.

With a customized solution, each time we deploy is different. But we always integrate into the retailer’s current process.

Develop Real-Time Strategies

Once RateLinx is installed, the retailer uses their clean dataset to perform their own logistics in 3D (diagnose, develop and deploy). To diagnose an underlying problem in logistics management, the clean, standardized data provides needed transparency in real-time. For example, during the summer months a retailer may have product that requires refrigeration at a certain temperature. During the winter months, the retailer may have a rule that the carrier won’t charge them for refer fuel since the ambient temperature outside is cold enough to keep the product at the correct temperature. The Dashboard allows the retailer to monitor the refer fuel charge in real-time to ensure that the dollar amount trends down in the winter. If it doesn’t then they can easily spot the trend, identify the carrier, and solve the problem.

Next, the retailer can use the data to develop strategies to address problems and test the strategies against the clean dataset. ShipLinx TMS can be used as a real-time analytics engine that can run different scenarios against each shipment. Or the historical data can be pulled into the modeling environment where different strategies are tested to ensure that a positive outcome will occur. We like to say that the modeling environment shows you the unintended consequences of your actions before you make a change.

Once the strategy is deployed, the retailer can use IIM to measure and monitor the success of strategy implementation. This is where ShipLinx TMS is used as a real-time analytics engine. ShipLinx TMS performs a “before and after” analysis on each shipment to measure the success of the strategy. It also re-rates each shipment using the strategy to ensure it is being followed.

On occasion a strategy doesn’t work as intended. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it is nice to have real-time access to the data so you can stop it right away. Usually it’s a scenario where a location or a vendor doesn’t change the way they’re routing their freight. Since ShipLinx TMS is re-rating each invoice it receives in IIM using the current strategy, you can see the exact shipment, order number, item, location, etc. that is causing you to be out of compliance with your own rule.

You can have Clean Data in Real Time

With more than 300 customers, we’ve seen a lot of unique solutions to the challenges facing shippers today and we are excited to continue to customize solutions for the retail industry. If you would like to learn more about the unique solutions RateLinx develops for retailers, contact me here.

Shannon Vaillancourt

Shannon Vaillancourt

Shannon Vaillancourt is president and founder of RateLinx. He started the company in 2002 with the idea that there was a better way to give companies complete visibility to their supply chain. Since then, RateLinx has become a leading supply chain software and data services company with the only integrated Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) technology platform. RateLinx allows companies to gain access to the right data to create world-class logistics strategy, improve supply chain management, solve problems and reduce costs.

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