If you’re considering a freight management system, you’re probably looking forward to all the possible benefits. But before you can see those, you need to make sure you’re making the right decision about which freight management system to use. Like carriers, each freight management system has its own strengths, and some have weaknesses which you’ll need to consider.
So – what goes into a great freight management system? Let’s take a look under the hood at the essential parts of a successful FMS. Make sure any supplier you speak to can guarantee all of these features – otherwise it won’t be worth your while.
As with any software implementation, you want to make sure your new freight management system fits seamlessly with – and enhances – all of your existing systems and processes.
Your FMS should have an accessible and open API, so people within your business with the technical skill can set up the integrations for you. If you don’t have those skills in-house, you need access to a dedicated integration team on the supplier’s end who knows the industry and can integrate with whatever ERP and warehouse management/ecommerce platforms you’re using.
And as we’re talking freight management, you need access to an extensive integrated carrier network from day one – not just a handful of the usual suspects. Being able to compare a wide range of carriers against each other is a huge benefit of getting an FMS in the first place.
Self-sufficient and scalable
While it’s great to have your software provider on hand to provide support, you don’t want to be reliant on them every time you’d like to make a change. You should have the ability to make changes through the freight management system interface without having a huge amount of technical knowledge.
You should be able to:
- Configure company structure
- Add despatch locations (your sites)
- Gather and upload master data i.e. frequent receivers, SKU/Item list (including weights and dimensions)
- Set up your existing carrier accounts and access your negotiated carrier rates
- Bring on new carriers
- Adjust fuel surcharges and other add-ons
- Configure printers (for labels) across all in-scope despatch sites
- Access the reports that matter to you
- Set up cloud access for anyone who needs it
- Add new users
- Onboard users quickly (make sure your FMS provider will train up your staff)
An automated process to manage carrier overcharges
Transport invoice reconciliation could be costing you thousands of dollars a year. Discrepancies between amount quoted by the carrier and the final amount invoiced happen more often than you might think – 7.4% of of consignment invoices have a discrepancy of more than $1, according to an analysis of MachShip’s most-utilised carriers in 2021 (find more stats like this here).
All wholesalers and retailers should be conducting regular freight audits. However, the time involved and the painstaking, tedious process of manually comparing invoices with quotes means it’s often written off as a cost of doing business.
Machship’s reconciliation engine immediately alerts you to variations in the costs of a consignment and the reasons why. We then generate a credit request form, with your branding, with all the relevant information you need to challenge the carrier’s invoice. It’s a concise and professional way to request credit from your carrier.
Automated carrier selection and management
It’s great to be able to compare multiple carriers from within one simple freight management system. But it’s no good if you can’t bring your pre-negotiated rates, or connect to live pricing from your suite of carriers. You also need to be able to be able to send data back and forth after consignments are generated, so that you can report on your freight and pass relevant information to your customers.
MachShip allows you to link direct to your carriers via API. You can instantly pass specific references and all order-related info on to carriers, and in return you get a POD receipt and live performance reporting (including the all-important DIFOT).
Tracking visibility for customer service
Retailers and wholesalers live and die by the customer experience they provide. The freight experience is a huge part of that. Not only is a bad freight experience bad for the customer, it’s also more expensive. Hiring a team to answer phones and chase up lost or slow shipments is a sunk cost that you’re better off investing elsewhere.
Make sure your freight management system includes powerful reporting and visibility tools. MachShip’s Enhanced Customer Experience features include full tracking on orders, with the flexibility to switch tracking on/off across different customers. MachShip also integrates with your ERP platform so your vital tracking data gets where it needs to go, quickly.
Responsive local support
An often-overlooked feature of freight management systems is the human support to back them up. For onboarding, it’s vital – your users need to be trained on the ins and outs of the system so that they can get the most value from it. But ongoing support is also important.
MachShip’s customer support and integrations teams are Australian-based, and love supporting our customers whenever they need us. We work proactively with customers to ensure they’re making the best use of our platform and its features, and we keep in regular contact to integrate suggestions and considerations into our product.