Since I am in the process of updating our Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Worldwide Market Outlook study, I was recently briefed by INTTRA and CargoSmart, two providers of ocean tendering and execution solutions.
INTTRA is a privately-held company headquartered in New Jersey with more than 270 professionals located in eleven countries. The company offers the largest multi-carrier e-commerce platform for the ocean shipping industry. In terms of the TMS study, INNTRA is a provider of ocean transportation execution services.
Demand for single instance, multitenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions has grown in recent years, particularly in the transportation management industry where the value of a network is most evident. INTTRA and CargoSmart have always had a network-based architecture.
INTTRA connects to 30 ocean carriers which represent about 80 percent of the world’s container shipping capacity. These carriers, in turn, are connected to more than 20,000 companies. More than 300,000 full container load orders are initiated on the INTTRA platform each week. This represents roughly 10 percent of global ocean container trade. While INTTRA enables shippers, freight forwarders, third-party logistics providers, brokers and importers to electronically plan, process and manage their shipments fast and efficiently (replacing the traditional use of faxes and phone calls), the transactions are paid for by the ocean carriers.
In some ways, what INTTRA provides is simple—i.e., there is no complex optimization involved. However, networked solution providers tend to start with simple solutions, which get more complex over time and ultimately lead to optimization capabilities getting added. INTTRA is at the very beginning stages of this process.
INNTRA’s new eInvoicing solution is a good example of the differentiated value a network-based solution can provide. Because INNTRA sits in the middle of buyers and sellers, and receives information from both sides, it is ideally positioned to help manage disputes by reconciling payments with invoices. Without a neutral broker in the middle, these kinds of disputes can drag on for months and require substantial labor and paperwork on both sides to resolve. The reconciliation process now becomes easier and less costly.
CargoSmart is another SaaS network provider that supports ocean execution processes. The company’s network includes 19 ocean carriers (75 percent of the top 20) and is used by 17,000 companies in North America, Asia, and Europe. Shippers can execute ocean shipments on CargoSmart’s platform—e.g., importers and exporters can look up vessel schedules, submit booking requests and shipping instructions, and print bills of lading (B/Ls). The solution also includes centralized storage of electronic documents and it supports ocean trade compliance requirements, such as Automated Export System, Importer Security Filing (aka 10+2), and China’s 24-hr rule documents, which are all important in executing ocean moves.
CargoSmart is ahead of INTRRA in terms of providing more complex supply chain solutions like visibility. The solution offers robust ocean event management capabilities, as well as visibility to multimodal shipments if the ocean carrier is responsible for rail moves. Multi-partner visibility and task management allows a shipping manager to assign tasks to co-workers and supply chain partners across various departments and nodes. Event management includes not just current estimated times of arrival and departure, but it also displays more than 20 milestone events, from empty container pickup through empty container return. Several of these events can help shippers avoid detention and demurrage charges. In other cases, these events can help shippers track more complex moves, such as ships that need to arrive at a transshipment port and be unloaded promptly in order to ship out on time. The solution also provides EDI performance reports that allow shippers to monitor the quality of information they are receiving from their carriers.
Other providers of ocean tendering and visibility solutions include Descartes and GT Nexus. I am out of space today, but I’ll comment on these providers down the road.
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