The transportation management system industry is saturated with subpar TMS solutions, but we think we’ve got the best one out there in Brokerware™.
We might be tooting our own horn a little bit here, but hey…
When we decided to build a simple, quality TMS, we knew we were climbing one of the toughest mountains out there. Trying to sort your way through what looks like a sea of similar TMS solutions can drive a person crazy.
It’s not uncommon for a TMS to be incredibly complex and riddled with useless or unnecessary features, so much so that even their creators don’t know what the heck they do anymore.
Now, this can’t always be avoided. A truly quality piece of transportation management system software needs a veritable cornucopia of features. In fact, many TMSs out there are so overburdened with features that you need extensive training just to use them.
We’ve written about this problem before (called feature bloat), but you can’t simply discard features completely.
Simplicity is key (well, it’s key if you want your employees to actually use the software you just paid for), but there’s still a core group of features that you need to make any TMS worth the money you’re paying for it.
One of those features is the ability to interface with other pieces of software, something known as an API.
The article I linked to above explains a little bit about how APIs work in the transportation management system software industry, and you can read a more generalized explanation here, but you may not have time to read all of that, so I’m going to give you the quick explanation.
Here’s what an API is and how it adds incredible value to your software:
An API is a feature that allows your TMS software to communicate directly with your carrier’s website or software (just to start).
You’re smart, so you can probably see the benefits of this already. However, for the sake of form, let’s break it down.
If your TMS can communicate directly with your carrier’s website or software, many tasks can be automated, which means not only do you not have to pay someone to complete these tasks, but you can severely reduce the number of errors that copying and pasting naturally introduces.
(And frankly, your employees are probably not super excited to complete some of these repetitive tasks anyway, like mirroring the base rate you purchased from SMC3 into your TMS.)
Building service lanes, putting in FAKs or discounts, building a tariff, these things no longer have to be done manually.
And I think we all know the advantages of automating services and reducing or eliminating manual tasks.
Electronic data interchange is an extremely oldschool way to transmit and monitor data. Back in the day (and I mean way back – when fax machines were considered revolutionary technology), they were a much faster way to get the data you needed than having to mail price sheets or call every carrier in your address book.
They work by doing a massive data dump, or upload, at a single point in time, updating everything in the system based on the time of the update.
EDIs work well when you need extreme security, or specifics of documentation formatting, or similar types of extremely strict adherence to regulations.
But we’re not talking about banking, secure corporate documentation, trade secrets, or money transfers.
We’re talking about managing your carriers, shipments, or shipping lanes. We’re talking about your local accounting, on board tracking, load boards, mile markers, and a myriad of other sources of information that need to be updated in real time.
EDIs don’t provide that – but APIs do.
APIs allow you to communicate directly with just about any source of information your business needs to, well, do business.
Want to connect with load boards and see what’s available for partial or full loads right now? An API can do that. An EDI, meanwhile, will tell you what was available at the time of the last sync – which may have been 10 or 15 hours ago. Those trucks are all long gone by the time you see the load board postings!
Want to connect with Quickbooks and manage your accounting? An API lets you do that – an EDI won’t respond quickly enough to keep up with modern accounting tool needs.
Need to connect to your clients’ WMS platforms, allowing them to seamlessly manage their entire supply chain…with your help, of course? A transportation management software that utilizes an API will do that – an EDI is too slow to keep up.
TMS solutions need an API if they want to compete in this day and age.
If your TMS can communicate directly to your carrier’s website, they don’t have to log into your software, for any reason (if it’s built correctly).
Which means they’re more likely to complete the tasks you need them to complete (because it’s simpler and easier for them). They can do these things more effciently and more productively than ever before.
This lets your customer book shipments, view rates, trace their shipping information — all from the comfort of their own website.
It’s a truth of human behavior, but we don’t just want what’s simple, we want what’s fast. We want what’s easy to use. We want what’s user friendly – and we want it in a single piece of software.
This isn’t just laziness, this is the reality of business today. Your customers don’t always feel that shipping holds the same value that you and I know it does.
Unfortunately, many of them view what we do as a commodity. They think anyone can do it. They don’t understand what we’re really doing for them, how we’re really making their lives easier.
So, we want to make things as simple, as easy, and as annoyance free as possible. By integrating with their website or their software, an API turns your TMS solutions into their shipping solution.
Suddenly, you just made their life easier.
Which makes them happier.
Which makes you happier…and more profitable.
There’s really no excuse for any piece of TMS software to not have API integration these days.
If it’s missing, that’s a problem, or maybe the TMS provider has just lost their mind.
You never have to worry about that with Brokerware™.
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