It’s an exciting time to be in logistics right now. With cross-border e-commerce booming and strong merchandise trade growth numbers in the first half of 2018, the pressure is on for logistics companies to become technologically savvy so they can meet these increased demands. Fortunately, technology brings with it a potential win-win for customers as well as they leverage the technology to capture savings and discounts.
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The rise of logistics re-sellers
Affordable shipping rates are becoming accessible for businesses of all sizes, thanks to third-party logistics re-sellers. In the past, small businesses had to take it upon themselves to approach carriers themselves and negotiate discounted rates. This could be difficult for newer businesses since they can’t guarantee their shipping volumes just yet.
Now, for a low monthly fee (or even for free) any small business owners can use a shipping software that give them access to already discounted rates, without having to negotiate anything.
Eliminating the negotiating barrier allows small businesses to get their logistics up and running a lot quicker so they can immediately start selling and shipping worldwide.
APIs are strong contributors to logistics innovation
With a carrier Application Programming Interface (API) it’s possible for third-party logistics re-sellers to get direct access to important carrier information. Additionally, carriers, warehouses, and online sellers can use APIs to communicate and send information to each other in a standardized way.
For example, my company uses the information from carrier APIs to run comparisons, show the historical performance on our platform, and more. They also help us better understand the carriers we work with and the industry overall.
The industry insight we end up gaining through this method proves valuable to us. We are then able to pass this information to the seller so they can find the best logistics solution in the fastest way possible. Carrier APIs can also be used to create customizable shipping solutions.
As previously mentioned, in the past it was difficult for small businesses to negotiate discounted rates with carriers because they couldn’t guarantee volumes. However, those concerned with pricey express carriers were left with postal solutions that, while cheap, left much to be desired service-wise.
Thanks to APIs, it’s possible to provide hybrid, multi-leg solutions to fit the needs of these businesses. These hybrid solutions combine postal and express couriers, making them affordably priced and “the best of both worlds” in terms of service level.
Carrier APIs can even solve the problem of failed deliveries, as they offer address validation and return feedback about the quality of information provided. This ensures shipping labels are generated correctly the first time, effectively reducing delays, miscommunications, and failed deliveries. The result? Less logistical headaches and happier customers.
Blockchain - the future of logistics
There’s been a lot of buzz on EBN and in the logistics industry about the opportunities that blockchain can provide. Even shipping companies like Maersk have teamed up with IBM to create an electronic shipping platform that will benefit all parties involved in global trade.
Imagine being able to minimize delays in communication between 100 people, and getting rid of the 200 pieces of paper needed just to get a cargo shipment from Point A to Point B.
While it doesn’t take 200 pieces of communications to process the type of shipments my company does, we still rely on paper for documents such as commercial invoices and customs declarations. I look forward to the day this technology becomes more viable – I’m happy to take advantage of those blockchain benefits!