SMC³ LTL APIs Digitize Express Logistics’ Shipment Lifecycle from Quote to Delivery
Authored by SMC³ on October 19, 2023
Excitement can reach a fever pitch when shippers and third-party logistics (3PL) providers make the decision to automate freight transportation, and for good reason. Traditional manual practices of rating carriers, receiving quotes, scheduling pickups, tracking shipments and gathering all the necessary documentation can be time-consuming and inefficient.
Iowa-headquartered Express Logistics, Inc., an award-winning 3PL specializing in less-than-truckload (LTL), truckload, and intermodal brokerage services, was very enthusiastic when it first began using application program interfaces (APIs) to digitize its freight transportation. The company made the wise decision to leave manual processes behind so it could achieve optimal efficiency and enhance customer service for LTL planning, execution, and visibility.
However, it didn’t take long for Express Logistics to see the limitations of the LTL API solution it had implemented with another provider. There were daily rating challenges, delayed information flow, and manual tracking of accessorial costs. Most problematic, there were persistent delays in carrier onboarding. The wind quickly went out of its sails when the company realized it had to revert to manual processes, perform workarounds—or not rate some carriers at all.
As Dianna Giltner, Director of Operations at Express Logistics, recounts, “We had been waiting to get some carriers onboarded for over six months … and there were pockets of carriers we couldn’t rate. Carrier onboarding delays with our previous API provider led to inefficient, manual processes across the full lifecycle.”
Time for an Upgrade
It wasn’t easy for Express Logistics to walk away from its initial LTL API technology and provider. After all, the company had invested time, finances, and personnel to stand up the solution. However Express Logistics knew of SMC3’s reputation and staying power in the LTL industry, so it made the leap to achieve its goals and increase its overall efficiency in freight transportation. The company partnered with SMC3 and switched to its LTL API solutions—with an aggressive 60-day conversion timeframe to go live and onboard 25 carriers.
It was a heavy lift, but the SMC3 team brought its unparalleled transparency, responsiveness, and communication to the table during the fast transition. If issues arose, SMC3 was there to proactively communicate and creatively solve the problem. In the end, SMC3 and Express Logistics met the implementation deadline, and now the company has a fully automated LTL shipment lifecycle from quote to delivery.
It’s Now a Completely Different World
With SMC3’s LTL APIs, Express Logistics receives quotes, dynamic pricing, and transit schedules from multiple carriers. It uses an electronic bill of lading (eBOL) to quickly and securely transmit digital information to carriers and self-assigns PRO numbers prior to pick-up. The company also digitally schedules pickups and receives immediate confirmation. In addition, it can monitor shipments via real-time messaging and view and download all documentation.
All of this made an immediate positive business and customer impact for Express Logistics. Business operations are far more productive and the company uses its newly found time and resources to bolster its customer service efforts. It has a 100% carrier rating ability and streamlined shipment lifecycle management, automating pricing, tendering, status, and documents. In turn, Express Logistics’ customers enjoy a better experience with accurate access to pricing, service options, and timely communication.
When Giltner looks back at its original API implementation and the experience of transitioning to SMC3’s LTL APIs, she’s clear-headed about the rewards Express Logistics has reaped. “When APIs work and the data can be trusted, it’s a game-changer. Tough decision to make a change, but so glad we did.”
Is It Time to Digitize the Shipment Lifecycle?
For shippers and 3PLs still relying on manual processes for freight transportation, the answer is a resounding yes. Think of all the time your organization can save and redirect to other high-value tasks that boost the bottom line. Think about the efficiency gains that can help you streamline operations and improve customer service.
Leading transportation management system (TMS) providers like MercuryGate, Oracle, and Blue Yonder partner with SMC3 to provide their customers with unmatched LTL freight shipment expertise. But you don’t need a transportation management system (TMS) to digitize the shipment lifecycle with SMC3 LTL APIs. We developed the easy-to-use LTL GO web application so shippers and 3PLs can access shipment visibility and document retrieval functions. Through LTL GO, users can connect to multiple carriers, get price quotes, schedule pickups, check shipment statuses, and receive digital shipment documents through a single online solution.
Read the full Express Logistics case study here.