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February 16, 2023
What a transportation management system (TMS) delivers for shippers
“Dynamic.” “Uncertain.” “Volatile.”

There are many words you may hear used to describe the supply chain today, but the theme is consistent: With rate fluctuations, world events, and more, the landscape for a shipper to navigate has never been so complex.

Technology has played a key role to address this, and one tool in particular that is helping shippers are transportation management systems (TMS). TMSs bring a semblance of order to the chaos and complexity of the supply chain. They are a cutting-edge technology that streamlines logistics in a cohesive way.

As the research firm Gartner puts it, TMSs help organizations “manage disruptions and mitigate risks” while driving efficiencies.

What is a transportation management system (TMS)?
At its most basic, a TMS is a tool for shippers to plan, book, and track all their shipping needs. The simplicity of the system lies in the fact that a shipper can do much of their job from one place, because data from different sources (e.g. carriers, brokers, etc.) is all routed into the TMS.

A helpful analogy is to think about how you may book a vacation using a travel booking site. After entering your departure city and destination, you are served up fares and flight times from a variety of different airlines – all in one place. This allows you to select the flight that best fits your travel plans.

Different needs, different TMSs
Like all technology tools, TMSs come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the shipper.

Larger organizations often have high freight volumes and complex supply chain needs. They traditionally partner with TMS providers who offer a wide breadth of capabilities including order management, planning, and analytics, among others. Smaller shippers tend to turn to TMS systems that offer a simpler yet effective solution. They rely on a streamlined way to consolidate their freight shipments, connect to their carriers, and manage their freight transportation needs.

Either way, a TMS offers value to any organization looking to modernize and simplify otheir freight operations.

What it means for shippers
The benefits are many and differ depending on the TMS provider, but it boils down to a top few. The first is ease of use.

Because a TMS has all the information in one place, this saves shippers time having to check for rates in multiple areas and replaces what has traditionally been a process done in spreadsheets (or even paper ledgers). Some TMS providers make the experience even more seamless by tailoring their tool to a shipper’s systems and specific needs.

At the same time, a TMS offers efficiency benefits. In the past, gathering the latest rates may have involved phone calls to different carriers, negotiating, and then signing the paperwork. With a TMS, shippers can shop for multiple rates (typically instantly) and find the ones that fit best with their routes. Its flexibility saves time by largely eliminating the need to build new relationships from scratch because shippers can access capacity from whoever has it available.

And, finally, there is visibility. Shippers don’t like the unknown nor have time to track down all the answers. TMSs can offer a consolidated view to critical information such as order status, location of the load, BOLs/PODs, and invoices. Because of this, it all gives shippers greater confidence in their decision-making.

Amazon Freight and TMSs
Ultimately, a TMS is another method for a shipper to get their loads where they need to go. Here at Amazon Freight, we have been integrating with TMS providers as part of our aim to offer the best solution for whatever a shipper’s needs may be.

It’s tech on your terms. Whether via APIs, EDIs, TMS integrations, or directly through our portal, it’s all a part of our desire to put Amazon Freight’s network to work for shippers and be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.”

Looking ahead, complexity will continue in the supply chain and TMSs will advance and adapt. Shippers need to rely on technology to take some of the worry out of the process. As one shipper shared, the most rewarding part of their job “is mental peace after successful shipping.”

Interested in learning more about how Amazon Freight is integrating with TMS providers to offer shippers more flexibility and options? Contact us.
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