The logistics industry has gone through a technology transformation over the last decade. Shippers of all sizes can now go online and shop for a freight provider with the same ease of use as shopping for an airline ticket or hotel room. Between premium carriers, economy carriers and third party providers, users have access to various price points and service levels to compare quotes and book within minutes.
“Garbage in, garbage out” is a common phrase meaning the quality of the input determines the quality of the output. This phrase is true for any program where the user is entering information and looking for a response. Regardless of how superior the app or technology, if the initial information is flawed then the answer will not be valid – this includes logistics.
Technology has leveled the playing field when it comes to third party logistic providers (3PL), but not all offerings are created equal – especially for the small to midsize clients who may not have dedicated logistics resources or years of industry knowledge under their belt.
As a 3PL one of the biggest customer pain points we hear time and time again is “I wasn’t billed what I was quoted.” There are many reasons this can happen, but the most common are changes in pieces, weight or class from quoting to shipping. When utilizing an online tool the user is responsible for accuracy regardless of whether they know the correct NMFC or how to properly classify their freight. Many users will guess based on previous shipping history or utilize a class that will net the least expensive rate. Either way, the carrier will reclassify the shipment to the proper NMFC and adjust the rate accordingly.
Below are items to consider when selecting a provider's technology and structuring a freight process.
- Scale the product: Estimates on weight or piece count can and will affect charges.
- Look for a density calculator: This will help the user clarify how to calculate density and proper freight class which is a key factor in determining an accurate LTL freight quote.
- Review the disclaimer: Providers will utilize this space to include exceptions and procedures that are important to understand in the day to day shipping process.
- Understand your resources: When you have questions or a site isn’t giving you the options you’re looking for who can you call?
Utilizing technology in the shipping process can be a great time saver and cost benefit when applied properly. Accuracy is the key to any reliable quote and clean freight invoice. Taking the time to understand your commodities and how to obtain accurate shipment details will ensure every quote matches your freight invoice.