Shipping Software is a common term with several meanings in the logistics industry:
- Shipping products that usually implement the small parcel mode through carriers like UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the US Post Service.
- Carriers can provide web portals to allow shippers to print a shipping label and arrange for pick-up by the carrier for delivery to the recipient in the parcel world like FedEx.
- Software that is used to ship a physical product to a domestic or international destination
Shipping software is also known as transportation management software whose function is to plan physical shipments, label or create bills of lading, schedule a carrier pickup, and track the shipment to the destination.
Here are more in-depth descriptions of the components of Shipping Software and Transportation Software
- Modes: This describes the type of transportation carrier or modality of the carrier. The most common modes are: parcel, truckload, less than truckload, private fleet, ocean, air, and rail. There is also a multi-mode category that uses truckload on to a rail car and then back on the road as a truckload. Additional modes also include pipelines and barges, but these are not typically included in transportation management software.
- Planning: This starts with either an inbound or an outbound demand in business systems. An outbound demand is commonly called a sales order or a work order in manufacturing. Inbound demand is driven by the purchase order process managing the flow of purchased products. The most optimal way would be to run the carrier selection and load planning at the start of the picking, or to build processes that anticipate the transportation capacity needed for the shipping window. This process can complicate further when the shipper assists the carrier in optimizing the routing details by shipping to a cross dock function (pool points) or doing backhauls during the outbound drop.
- Shipment Execution – At the point of shipping there will have to be a method of package identification. In the case of small parcel, a carrier label will be applied. In the case of most other freight shipments, like LTL and TL, a bill of lading must be generated to serve as the document that travels with the shipment until it reaches its destination. A TMS will generate one or the other, and sometimes both documents can be generated. With more up-to-date systems, electronic manifesting, dispatching, and tendering are standard methods of communication between the shipper and the carrier.
- International Shipments – Automation in a TMS will package international shipments in accordance with the documentation requirements needed in relation to the origin and destination of the shipment. An example would be the AES requirements for shipments over $2,500 to contain an electronic SED document that will receive an AES provided ITN# that will be used by US Customs to track the shipment.
- Visibility to Shipments – The post-ship functionality is enhanced by the TMS through either tracing shipment in transit, or by providing the final proof of delivery (POD) documentation used along with the legal means of the recipients’ acceptance of the shipment. This visibility can be provided, usually on demand, by the shipper or it can be sorted by the TMS to filter exceptions that can be set by the shipper.
General market segmentation of shipping software has areas of emphasis and functionality that can be categorized by modes available and how functionally deep the system will be in performing the basic tasks described above.
ClearView offers a full-functioning TMS that can deliver real-time rating and visibility that far outpace the legacy TM systems of yesteryear.