Mastering Transportation Management: How to Choose the Optimal Freight Carrier, Route, and Service Every Time

Getting goods from point A to point B is never as simple as it sounds. The ever-increasing complexity of global transportation networks, shifting shipping regulations, and persistent carrier capacity restraints make it tough for companies of all sizes to ensure their freight gets where they need to be—without accruing excessive costs.

Unfortunately, many companies make things even harder for themselves by relying on outdated—and often ad hoc—approaches to transportation management. Employees manually search for and compare carriers until they find a few that meet their needs, then calculate costs on the fly to make their final decision.

This method is inefficient and labor-intensive at the best of times. During periods of high-volume shipping, it becomes a serious drain on resources—and a bottleneck waiting to happen. Orders go out late. Mistakes are made. And with no consistent, reliable process, costs can fluctuate dramatically from one shipment to the next, making it impossible to accurately forecast future transportation spend.

Clearly, this approach isn’t ideal. So what can companies do to ensure their shipments are executed on time, every time—and always at the lowest cost?

Build a diverse, vetted network of carriers

To cut down on time spent comparing carriers, companies may be tempted to put all their eggs in one basket. While choosing a preferred carrier can sometimes come with the added benefit of volume-based pricing, this approach can also limit profits because it prevents companies from securing bigger discounts with other carriers down the line.

On the other hand, building a huge carrier network isn’t the answer for most companies, either. Vetting carriers takes time, and ensuring those carriers remain insured, compliant, and cost-effective demands ongoing evaluation and relationship management.

Instead, companies should look to build a trusted carrier network that’s proportionate to their current shipping needs—both in terms of size and services offered. Carriers that offer LTL shipping, for example, may be especially useful for companies that ship frequently but in small batches, while others may benefit more from finding carriers that offer a wide range of freight modes under one roof.

Leverage data—and keep it up-to-date

The ad-hoc shipping approach forces companies into a short-term mindset. By worrying about how the next shipment—and only the next shipment—will go out, they lose sight of the big picture. In doing so, they lose out on the savings that come with a more strategic, long-term approach.

The answer? Data. The more data a company has going into the carrier selection process, the easier it is to find the optimal carrier for any given shipment. That involves gathering both freight-specific data (like weight, dimensions, and origin) and bigger-picture inventory data—then ensuring this information is accurate and up-to-date.

With this information in hand, it’s easier to spot optimization opportunities, like consolidating multiple shipments in a single truck.

Utilize a robust transportation management system (TMS)

Manually comparing carriers, services, and routes isn’t efficient or cost-effective. It might yield a discount here and there, but it won’t provide the maximum savings over time—and it isn’t sustainable as a company scales, either.

A robust and reliable TMS solution can change all that. With an integrated TMS, companies can bring all their data together in one easy-to-view platform, making it easy to optimize loads and manage orders. The right TMS also streamlines carrier selection, letting companies select the optimal carrier, freight mode, and route for each shipment at the click of a button.

Processes that once took hours can be accomplished in seconds, freeing up staff to focus on the things that really matter—instead of exhaustively comparing shipping options.

CTSI-Global’s renowned TMS solution and managed TMS services have helped companies of all shapes and sizes optimize their shipment processes and bring costs down. And with a network of 20,000 trusted carriers at our fingertips, we can leverage our relationships to generate even more savings.

Find out more about how you can save time and money by streamlining your shipping processes with CTSI-Global.

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