A few weeks ago, I wrote an article that gave a snapshot of the transportation execution and visibility systems market. In that article, I highlighted the evolving nature of technology and how machine learning, IoT, and blockchain are helping to fuel market growth. I also highlighted the that are contributing to rapid growth, such as the ROI connected to these systems, capacity fluctuations, and e-commerce. In order for the market to continue to grow, buyers and suppliers alike need to have the right strategies in place. This article will highlight a few of these strategies for the buyers and suppliers.
Strategies for Buyers
Research Transportation Execution and Visibility Systems Purchases
This goes without saying, but make sure to do your due diligence when shopping for a transportation execution or visibility solution. This means understanding how that specific solution will meet your changing needs. It also means aligning the individual supplier’s modal strengths with the modes you will need. For example, it does not make sense to purchase a solution that is functionally strong in parcel when your business relies on ocean or air.
ARC offers a supplier section guide for transportation execution and visibility systems that is configurable. The guide offers nearly 100 features and functions. Prospective buyers can delete criteria that do not apply to them, add criteria that are missing, and weight the remaining criteria in a way that best addresses the needs of their business.
Criteria include features related to the technology and architecture of the product, functionality of the product, customer support, product leadership, and complementary products offered by the supplier. The guide contains not only a description of the features and functions, but also a way of measuring from better to worse the robustness of features and functions.
Transportation execution and visibility solutions offered by the leading suppliers are highly configurable. Generally speaking however, there are rarely good reasons to customize the base code. Those customers that do end up paying for the customization experience challenges associated with longer implementations, not to mention difficulties when it is time to upgrade the solution. The return on investment (ROI) from going with the base package is significantly better, even if that means modifying existing processes.
Strategies for Product Suppliers
Enhance Machine Learning
Machine learning is really shaping the visibility side of the transportation execution and visibility market. Machine learning can be used to “learn” about different constraints, such as capacity, regulations, and hours of service to name a few. This learning allows companies to properly plan shipments to meet stringent deadlines. This gives a much better estimated time of arrival for of shipments, to warehouses, stores, and the end customer.
Continue to Look to the Cloud
SaaS solutions are driving the transportation execution and visibility market, accounting for nearly 90 percent of all revenues. This is not a position that is going to change, and suppliers that are still locked into an on-premise model need to embrace the Cloud. While it features the same functionality as on-premise solutions, the cloud offering opens up a larger pool of prospective clients, especially those smaller tier 2 and tier 3 customers that are looking to lower their cost of ownership for a solution.
Focus on the Last Mile
Last mile is the most difficult and most expensive part of the supply chain journey. The growth of e-commerce is only going to make the last mile more important. Parcel solutions are becoming more important for providing efficient deliveries. Better ETAs and better visibility into when orders will arrive are a requirement.
Embrace Capacity Fluctuations
The often-reported driver shortage is not going away. However, the bigger issue is the continued shift in available capacity, which continues to be fragmented. The changing nature of capacity means shippers need access to capacity ahead of demand. Capacity is likely to continue to tighten as the ELD mandate takes full effect, especially with the looming deadline for AOBRD technology to be phased out.
The transportation execution and visibility systems market has seen significant growth over the last few years due to a variety of factors, including the growth of e-commerce, the strong ROI tied to these solutions, the rise of control towers and visibility requirements, capacity fluctuations, and the expansion of e-commerce. Buyers and suppliers need to have the right tool set in order to make the most of the solutions available. Potential buyers need to do their due diligence about the solution, its strengths, and potential shortcomings. Additionally, buyers need to minimize customizations to speed up the implementation and upgrade cycles. Suppliers need to continue to enhance machine learning and look to the cloud. An emphasis on last mile will also be important as the e-commerce market continues to grow. Finally, suppliers need to embrace capacity fluctuations.