If you’re an online business, then freight management is likely to be a big part of your operations. If you’re an online retailer, it’s a certainty. What, then, is the best way to work with your couriers to ensure timely deliveries, provide visibility into a shipment’s status and facilitate fast problem-solving if something goes wrong?
Simple: integrate your freight management and enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.
It’s a combination that makes sense intuitively: customers buy products, so your ERP software should be involved in managing their transactions. But as with so much software, while you can buy different products for different functions (shipping and delivery, in this case), for the best results, integrated systems deliver more information and more insights than even the best suite of non-integrated systems.
Shipping solutions: more data means better control
Freight management systems give cargo owners granular control over their packages. Typical features include the ability to:
- Connect with multiple carriers and receivers
- Get prices
- Book and track jobs
- Print labels
- Reconcile invoices
More advanced features include supply chain analytics, performance dashboards, multi-carrier solutions and warehouse/inventory management. The goal is to provide visibility and control over the entire supply chain so you can track a job from the moment it’s picked to the moment it’s delivered.
These packages also play an essential role in risk management. Not only do they assist with governance and security, but they can also help you identify where problems may be occurring in your supply chain and how you might remedy them.
ERP simplifies freight management
How does this connect with ERP? Simple: by integrating freight management and ERP, you will create a powerful tool to manage a transaction over its complete life-cycle, from initial contact and marketing communications to product selection, purchase and delivery.
Eagle360 offers extensions that work with freight integrators, including SmartFreight and Shippit. These allow for simple integration with multiple shipping providers in a single platform and may be configured to select the lowest-cost provider for customers automatically.
Integration with SmartFreight gives access to more than 650 transport providers, including:
- Australia Post
- Royal Mail
- DB Schenker
- Fastway couriers
- Parcel Force Worldwide
Integration gives your business three critical operational benefits: speed of processing, freight cost details and tracking information.
Fast processing: printing freight provider labels directly and automatically from the ERP saves time and eliminates task duplication. Our courier integrations combine with Eagle360’s Scan Pack offering to automatically calculate shipping requirements.
This includes how many boxes are needed for shipping, based on the ERP’s data on the items included, their dimensions, and available box or packaging volumes.
Our solution also integrates with EDI processing for ASN generation, again saving time.
Freight cost details: When creating the shipment with the freight provider using our integrated solution, the cost is returned immediately. It can be stored in the ERP appropriately and used in processing as required.
Tracking information: The ERP stores tracking information for easy reference. The Scan Pack module also allows the tracking of which items were placed in each box.
Customers expect good service, and they demand efficient and transparent deliveries. By connecting your system, you’ll make it simple for team members to address customer queries.
It’s true that in most cases, a tracking number or a link to your courier’s tracking service will be sufficient. But if something goes wrong, you’ll find it invaluable to have the customer’s entire history with you available at your fingertips.
The other great benefit of connecting your systems is the opportunities it creates for refining your customer knowledge. Using that information to refine your services and offerings to the customer is a great way to cement the relationship.
Combining location information with best delivery times and other historical data can reveal new business intelligence and customer insights, perhaps enabling you to make pre-emptive, pro-active offers to assist the customer.
Does the customer always pick up from the post office? Do they only want deliveries on a Wednesday? Do they make many small purchases or a few big ones? Do they avoid receiving deliveries in person, instead preferring contactless service?
All these data points and more can become sources of competitive advantage when combined with other data to paint a richer, more detailed picture of the customer.
Make your deliveries dynamic
At Eagle360, we recommend Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) as our preferred ERP system. We believe it offers the best combination of features, value and support for most users.
When it comes to freight, we offer custom-built extensions for D365 Business Central, integrating with Australia Post, TNT and SmartFreight. They work seamlessly into D365’s inventory management and warehousing functionality, as well as with Scanpack and EDI.