Many retail logistics managers are constrained by a TMS that no longer fits their needs. Limited visibility keeps them from using the data they have to gain valuable intelligence. We have been focusing on retail for the last couple of years and we’ve learned that the market is ready and asking for a solution like ours. It’s not only the big box retailer but also the supplier, large and small, to the retailer that can benefit from ShipLinx TMS (in whole or in part) and Intelligent Invoice Management℠.
We’re looking forward to discussing our solution for retailers at the upcoming Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) Retail Supply Chain Conference, Feb. 12-15, in Orlando, Florida.
The Same (Old) TMS
What we’ve seen in retail is that most companies are using the same solution for their TMS. The features and functions are geared towards planning and tendering freight to a carrier with little to no thought to the invoice management and intelligence side. Many companies are trying to leverage their TMS solution to do things that it just wasn’t intended to do such as consume non-order data. The TMS solutions for retail are good at receiving large amounts of order data, planning the loads, and tendering the shipments via an EDI 204 or an EDI 211 message to the carriers.
The shipper can create some rules around how the carrier is chosen and what can be included in the tender records. But on the data visibility side, the track and trace information is very limited and there’s no place for very many custom rules around the different statuses such as delays, canceled, ready for delivery, etc. On the invoice side, EDI 210, it’s purely a match to the original tender. So this does the shipper no good when there was no tender, or when the invoice doesn’t match the original tender. There’s no thought given to how the shipper could actually use this data to provide the intelligence that they are seeking so they can understand how they’re transportation is performing.
Some Big Data Solutions Stop Short
There is a growing conversation that traditional freight audit will be obsolete in 5-10 years as big data takes on a bigger role in logistics management. I would say that has already happened. But many suppliers who are talking about using big data for retail solutions are too narrowly focused on just paying an invoice. It’s as if they were building a car and concentrating on how to get the gas to combust in the engine; that’s too short sighted. Instead at RateLinx we are focusing on all the places you can go if you had a car with an internal combustion engine instead of traveling by foot or on a horse. That is what makes ShipLinx TMS and Intelligence Invoice ManagementSM (IIM) a more suitable choice for retailers, especially because ShipLinx can be used with an existing TMS.
The Common Retail Challenge—Solved
All of our retail customers started with the same challenge: how can we leverage all this data to gain intelligence around their freight spend? That’s why we typically start with IIM. We connect this to the data feeds to capture the EDI 204, EDI 214, EDI 210, and EDI 211.
IIM will then cleanse all the data to accurately and easily show the trends that are plaguing the shipper’s freight strategies. As part of the cleansing process, we work with the carriers and the shippers to clean up the address information, mileage calculations, any accessorial rule applications, which results in correctly invoiced freight AND real intelligence. By cleansing the data, we’ve made freight audit obsolete. Not only is the invoice correct before it is paid, we’ve now created a set of data that can be used to show the shipper the exact number of times they really had a detention charge, exactly where it happened, was there a seasonal reason for it, etc. This intelligence is not possible with traditional freight payment
Now strategies can be developed and tested against the clean dataset to show the impact the strategies will have. Finally, when the strategy is deployed, IIM is used to measure and monitor the successful implementation of the strategy. It usually takes retail companies about a month to start seeing results from the strategies. Then the whole cycle begins again to see what’s next in terms of improvements.
Visibility Brings Clarity and Savings
The savings retailers see with RateLinx is typically 5-10 times the cost. For every $10 saved, the cost is $1. Yet, some companies are reluctant to put traditional freight audit in the review view mirror despite savings often totaling millions of dollars. The typical objection I initially hear from retailers is that it’s hard to understand how RateLinx is going to take the same dataset they currently receive and transform it into a crystal ball. We are able to do this, and are doing it every day, because of how our solution is built and because of how we collaborate with all parties involved—the shipper and carrier.
If you would like to reach me at RILA stop by our Kiosk at SCAN2, or shoot me and email here.