Why a free freight carrier system, isn’t really free Freight Controller

Why a free freight carrier system, isn’t really free

Independent freight multi-carrier system benefits

With the exponential growth occurring in technologies these days we can all point to an example of a system that is free, whether that be a free CRM platform, free texting, free social media, free mobile apps and so on. And in the freight industry you can draw a bow from this to the free carrier systems that are available to shippers when they sign a contract to use their rates and services. But are they really free? We would argue they are not, let us explain.

We all know the phrase “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” right? So what is really going on with all this free stuff? With the example of a free CRM, we can see that obviously they have upgraded platforms that users pay for. Fair enough we all say, but the free platform is usually also used to help the CRM Company to build its network. Facebook, as an example of social media, well I think we’re all clued up by now to the fact that it’s all about growing ‘eyeballs’ for their advertisers, and collating data on our buying habits that can be sold as well.

“If you’re not paying for it you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold”.

(Quote is attributed to blu_beetle, who wrote this in regard to the controversial Digg upgrade).

So where is the connection to free carrier systems, you ask.

Free carrier systems are helpful; they allow you to:

  • Book your freight; send the data straight through to the carrier and print out a compliant barcode/label.
  • They automate the process, saving you time and money with handwritten con notes and in minimising human error
  • They provide you with track and trace through to your carrier’s website portal with the ability to see exactly what stage of the journey your freight is at
  • Some of them even allow you to run a few basic reports.

I’m sure that most of you can see some of the obvious catches with a free carrier system, just as you can with the other examples mentioned above. A free carrier system:

  • locks you in with the carrier
  • limits your ability to add new carriers
  • makes integration of your systems difficult
  • outsources the carrier’s work to you

Let’s look at these, one-by-one in more detail.

Locks you in with the carrier

Once you’ve installed the carrier system; got your (often also free) printer connected to the system; trained your staff on how to use it, making the choice to change carriers becomes less simple then it used to be.  Changing carriers means going through the whole process again and that’s enough to make a logistics manager think twice.

Limits your ability to add new carriers

Shippers can gain competitive tension by having more than one carrier to choose from. Some niche carriers are able to provide both superior service and lower rates to certain destinations. Many shippers will either A) choose to use the one carrier, one system despite the lack of freight savings and contingency planning this entails or B) gain the savings and risk mitigation from having more than one carrier; train and install on 2 or more systems with separate printing set ups for each one.

We’ve talked about the problems that are inherent with option A. Option B slows down the speed in which warehouse staff can enter consignment data as they are swapping between 2 or more systems, having to stop and think each time, which is the best system to use for this consignment? Customer service staff must also look through several systems when answering a query on the delivery status of a client order.

Makes integration of your systems difficult

Integration of a dispatch system with a WMS or ERP provides even greater efficiencies with reduction of double entry of data on several systems, and the minimisation of human error. Integration can provide a reduction of up to two minutes in the time that it takes to process an order; which means either less resources required, or more orders completed in a day and therefore growth opportunities for your company.

Modifying your enterprise software to suit a carrier dispatch system however can be a mistake, as it either locks you into their service, or if you decide to move to another carrier, means that you will have to go through the trouble and prohibitive expense of re-programming your system.

Outsources the carrier’s work to you

By providing you with a free system, the carrier also passes on the work of entering the consignment details into their systems onto you. You gain the benefit of automated labels over handwritten con notes, but this is not a transparent, mutually beneficial situation. They have captured that data into their system, for their purposes; (automating accounting and sometimes sortation), not yours.

How paying for a dispatch system means paying for freedom

We can put a price on free; we can’t put a price on freedom. We all like to reflect on the value of freedom on days like Anzac Day. Our freedom comes at a price, and therefore we value it all the more.

Paying for an independent multicarrier dispatch system gives you:

  • the freedom to change or add carriers at will; as staff are trained on the one system, and new carriers can be added quickly and easily
  • the freedom to compare carriers rates and services for each consignment to select the carrier by least cost or service parameters
  • the freedom to enter all consignments and to track all freight through one system; speeding up the consignment entry process and providing better customer service to your clients
  • the freedom to collate, analyse and own globally all of your freight data through the one system
  • the freedom to produce reports such as carrier invoice reconciliation to ensure accurate billing and therefore reduce freight costs
  • the freedom to consolidate same shipping day orders to first generated consignment for one basic charge cost
  • the freedom to integrate your dispatching system with your other systems for further automation and efficiencies

When you add all the above points up, you can see quite readily how paying for a multi-carrier dispatching system is the price of freedom, because in fact, the system is created for customer’s purposes, not the carrier’s. And as such will provide the paying customer with many ways to save both time and money. An independent multi-carrier system is an investment with a quick payback period.

Independent equates with freedom. And that is what you get with an independent, multi-carrier system. To learn more about such systems please contact us at Freight Controller and we will be happy to provide you with a demonstration of the independent carrier system that we endorse for our clients.

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