What's that? You need the best tools to save money on freight and shipping? Check out these seven tips to target the best TMS features that will do just that! TMS, transportation management systems, or shipping software–however, you know it best–gives businesses who ship freight and parcel greater visibility over their supply chains and more options on shipping savings. Below are the essential features your TMS should have. 

1. Cloud-Based Logistics 

Many businesses still rely on the daily logging in and out of carrier websites to manage quotes, shipping, and tracking. Some choose an on-site solution due to issues in finding compatible cloud shipping software that will work with their current ordering or ERP systems. Others are nervous about data security and rolling out a new system. However, many highly secure cloud-based logistical systems are customizable for integrations and designed for intuitive, user-friendly operation.  

Cloud-based logistics saves money by:

  • Reducing software maintenance, upgrades, and support infrastructure costs of on-premise servers 
  • Cuts back on required on-site IT resources and administration, which lowers capital expenditures
  • Saving time by reducing phone and email processing times  

Putting your logistics in the cloud with the right TMS solution, complete with data backups and an external support team, allows you to pull your supply chain systems into a single platform that integrates carrier data, gives you better insight and control, and enables you to serve your customers better.

Download the Shipping Software Buyer's Guide

2. Your Carrier Contract Rates 

Your shipping software should be capable of integrating your own negotiated contract rates. You worked hard for those rates and established carrier relationships and should have the ability to import them for side-by-side, Expedia-like carrier rate shopping in your TMS. You do not want to miss out on the situations where your rates would be cheaper than marketplace rates. Nor do you want to shop marketplace rates in a TMS platform and then still have to log into carrier websites to access your rates. If a TMS solution you are using or considering does not have this functionality, keep searching. 

Additionally, you can further save money by finding those TMS solutions that offer partner rates. For example, with FreightPOP, we offer our own negotiated rates to customers to consider alongside their own rates and marketplace rates, allowing customers to select the best rates on each and every shipment based on money and delivery dates available.  

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3. Intermodal Shipping 

Depending on the size and delivery requirements of a given shipment, intermodal shipping may offer the most savings over direct shipping. To consider intermodal options when you are searching rates, your TMS solution needs to support parcel, LTL, FTL, and ocean shipping. 

This support should include:

  • One screen revealing all the shipping mode options when you search rates
  • A way to book multi-legs on the one platform, with no logging in and out of carrier websites required
  • The ability to track shipments in real-time 
  • Alerting you to hold-ups, such as a Customs block, that you usually would only receive end-to-end updates on

Please see our post 4 Intermodal Tips for Successfully Reduced Freight Costs for more information.

4. Automation 

Automation features are imperative as they help your team be proactive on troubleshooting issues, manage large amounts of shipments with limited staff, and improve internal communications between purchasing and sales. 

Automation's efficiency saves money on:

  • Man hours to manage shipments
  • High volumes of customer service issues
  • Internal teams smoothly processing inbounds and outbounds 

One of our plastic manufacturing customers servicing the aerospace and airline industries offered an excellent TMS team efficiency example via automation. They reported that before using our TMS solution, they had a bottleneck of calls from sales chasing up customer orders with the purchasing department. They lacked adequate visibility and automation tools to facilitate communications. Now, purchasing sets up alerts with a PO number so sales can track when material hits their warehouse and is then outbound to customers. Automated alerts like this and on shipment hold-ups saves time and money in managing shipments. 

Download the Money Saving RFP Template!

5. Ability to Add Carriers 

Diversifying carriers you rely on gives you more options on carrier rates. Your TMS solution should support adding carriers they do not already have integrated into their system, including those mom & pop carriers that serve rural areas and may not even have a proper website to organize shipments. 

Not only do you want to ensure this feature exists, but you want to make sure deployment is quick and straightforward. If you have multiple branches implementing a new TMS, robust, customizable software will offer you the most savings in the end. For example, some carriers can have quirky contracted rates, with a hybrid of parcel and LTL rates. You do not want to miss out on considering these rates and require a system that supports adding carriers.  

6. TMS Contracts and Subscriptions 

Flat monthly rates plus transaction fees are an outdated billing model that costs businesses much more than they need to be paying. There are plenty of TMS solutions that offer tiered pricing based on the size of your business. For example, we offer four levels, from parcel-only to enterprise-level TMS, that can scale along with our customers' growth. There is no longer a need to get stuck into contracts and subscriptions. 

7. Auditing and Reporting

Your TMS solution needs to support running audits and reports to identify waste and opportunities, and generally allow you to make improvements each year. Often auditing is outsourced to a third-party; however, there are limits on what a third-party can do in isolating carrier rate invoice discrepancies. Third-party auditors do not have initial rate and accessorial quotes. The shipper conducts its own auditing best, and there are TMS solutions that support this very well. 

Additionally, the ROI comparisons to help with long-term planning is invaluable intel. This intel enables you to make vendor and carrier decisions and gives you better bargaining power during contract negotiations. For example, imagine how excited your CFO and purchasing managers would be if they had vendor and product-level spending data broken down by locations at their fingertips heading into a new financial year. A reliable TMS solution can offer this kind of analysis and help your managers make better decisions. 

We would love to hear from you if you would like a demo of how FreightPOP provides one-click logistics at a fraction of the cost most TMS solutions charge. And feel free to check out our ebook bundle with tips on shopping for rates, digitizing supply chains, reporting and auditing, and more!

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