Adoption of real-time, direct connections with carriers is growing exponentially in popularity – 3PLs and commercial shippers alike see the value in increased efficiency when it comes to something as business-critical as shipping.
But amidst all the buzz, we’ve seen some SCARY things like vendors who only offer APIs, or don’t have a single carrier connection in Canada or Mexico.
So, in the spirit of fall and the SPOOKY festivities, we’ve pulled together 3 things that should make you shiver when shopping for a solution for live connectivity with your carriers.
Be scared if: They only offer APIs
While the transportation and freight industry has recently put an increased emphasis on API technology, it is important to note that API connectivity is just one part of the total picture of live carrier connectivity.
API stands for application program interface, but, in layman’s terms, it is technology that allows different computer applications to communicate with each other. When employed correctly, APIs can transmit live data between computers instantaneously. This is beneficial to professionals in the logistics world as it lets them see live shipping data promptly, as well as letting them receive up-to-the-minute information directly from their carriers.
There are two primary issues with selecting a carrier-enablement solution that only provides APIs:
1. Using only APIs limits your functionality
If your carrier-connectivity solution only uses APIs, you’ll miss out on functionality that is critical to managing the entire freight cycle. It is not uncommon for carriers to provide an API for rating, but not provide tracking/tracing, invoicing, or documentation through that same API.
2. Using only APIs limits you to an elite subset of carriers
While API connectivity is growing in popularity, it is important to note that not all carriers support APIs. If you select a vendor that only provides API connectivity, you will be limited to an elite subset of carriers, which often comes at a higher price.
When shopping for a live carrier connectivity, make sure that they provide alternative forms of connections, to ensure you’re not limited in carrier selection OR in functionality.
Be scared if: They don’t offer multimodal connections
As online shopping continues to expand into new markets, like fresh-food and pharmaceutical delivery, the demand for goods shipped to consumers’ doorstep will only increase. This shifting consumer demand creates a ripple effect on the entire industry – for example, instead of retailers relying on a network of DCs, they now are increasingly putting pressure on suppliers to have flexibility and ship-on-demand.
When you have multimodal connections, not only do you have increased flexibility to support the ever-changing market; you also can easily see rates for different modes of shipping, ensuring you always get the best price.
Be scared if: They only offer US carrier connections
In 2016, the value of the freight flowing between the United States and Canada was $544 billion. Of that $544 billion, 60% of the freight was shipped using trucks. For freight moving between Mexico and the United States, the numbers were pretty much the same. For the southern route, $525 billion of freight was moved between the two countries. Like freight coming and going from Canada, 71% of freight on the Mexico-America route was moved by trucks.
That means, combined, freight moving between the United States, Mexico, and Canada is valued at over $1.6 trillion. This makes it especially scary that many live connectivity solutions only offer connections in the US. While it is a scary fact, it is not surprising that many connectivity solutions only offer US connections, because it can be time-consuming and complex to initially navigate the landscape and build the international connections. And because many connectivity solutions today have only been in the space for a few years, they just simply haven’t had the time or experience to build out their connectivity network.
When evaluating your solutions for carrier-enablement, make sure the system you choose isn’t limiting your geographical options. And when shopping for a live carrier connectivity solution, don’t take “soon” for an answer: The opportunity cost of not operating in Canada and Mexico could be a deadly blow to the future of your business. Cover all your bases in North America by selecting live carrier connections that are currently connected to carriers in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
When making an important purchase as a consumer, we often do our thorough research, comparing the functionality of all of the available options. However, because it’s been such a buzzword in the industry, some shippers will stop the comparison when they hear “APIs”.
At Banyan, we know that the best live connection solution is more than just APIs limited to the US. Our international and multi-modal live carrier connections extend way beyond APIs to offer our users full visibility into the freight cycle.
If you want to learn more about live connectivity solutions, click here to schedule a demo.
Subscribe to the Banyan Blog to stay up-to-date with the latest in shipping technology: