While many people think of visibility as a single problem, it's really two problems: The first problem, "Where's my customer's freight?" and the second, "How do I tell my customer where their freight is?"
Thankfully there are armies of technologists working to solve both of these problems. Companies like Project44, Fourkites, Overhaul, Terminal49, and Vizion API are tackling international freight visibility head on.
Using machine learning, AI, and advanced analytics, they can help you get a clearer picture of what's going on, and (even better) what is about to happen. Additionally, ocean carriers are working feverishly to make their data more transparent and accessible via APIs.
Armed with this data, you can spend less time chasing information and more time worrying about challenge number two.
Where’s Your Freight?
Communicating where a customer's shipment is and, more importantly, when it will arrive is both a science and an art.
Each customer is unique, but you can't scale a business by handling each customer's visibility needs individually. Instead, take a lesson from retailers and embrace an omni-channel approach. Create multiple ways for customers to engage and request the information they need. This includes web portals, email automation, APIs, and legacy EDI.
Thankfully again, there are a wealth of software solutions to help automate these various solutions. Platforms like Con-Linq, Descartes Kontainers, and Magaya Digital Freight Portal provide easy to use portals for customers who want to interact via the web.
Robotic Process Automation and email management solutions like RPA Labs and SEDNA can take the sting out of dealing with the customers who still want to email you about every shipment. Chain.io can handle those customers who need you to send data proactively to their own APIs or EDI endpoints.
Connecting Your Tech
A third, more complex problem, hides beneath these two challenges: "How do you get all this technology to work together?"
If you are fully committed to being best-in-class, you may end up with one or more global visibility providers, a TMS, direct carrier connections, a reporting platform, a web portal, an email automation solution, a legacy EDI platform, an API connectivity solution, and all of the leftover tech you still have to maintain from your last decade of software investments.
That's where the Chain.io Visibility Suite comes together to seamlessly organize and orchestrate your end-to-end visibility needs. Bringing together both data collection and information delivery, Chain.io Visibility Suite makes sure you're efficiently leveraging your data providers to provide maximum value to your customers.
Enabling Better Visibility
The journey begins with the Chain.io Visibility Provider solution which connects to your preferred global visibility platform and routes the data to both your operational TMS and any additional data lakes or reporting platforms within your ecosystem. Leveraging Chain.io's purpose-built native adapters, you can quickly add new visibility sources like direct carrier, customs broker, or overseas agent feeds to augment your asset based visibility while making sure all data lands in the right place in your TMS without writing a line of code.
Next, we add Chain.io Data Aggregation to create a real-time stream of data from your operational TMS to your data lake and/or Web Portal. By leveraging Chain.io's simplified data structures, you can feed a consistent and accurate stream of data for your analyst or website developers to utilize without forcing them to become experts in the nuances of your TMS's (possibly) archaic data formats.
This is also great if you have multiple TMS solutions for different countries or modes of transportation. Chain.io Data Portal normalizes all of this data so your team can focus on a great end user experience instead of trying to deal with the inconsistencies among all of your systems.
And for those pesky customers who still want to email you for status updates, Chain.io Embedded let's your RPA and Email Automation providers dynamically access your TMS via a limited and secure API so they can magically prepare responses to your customers' inquiries without making your team look up shipments manually.
Finally, there are those customers who need data fed directly to their internal TMS systems whether via their system's unique API, legacy EDI, or some custom file format they developed themselves. Chain.io ASN/Milestone Automation plugs into your TMS or data lake once and handles all of the complexity of delivering freight milestones to your customers in their preferred data format. It supports multiple file formats, event code transformation, event filtering, a range of system protocols, and more. More importantly, it frees your technical team from dealing with each unique customer interface so they can focus on innovation and operational excellence.
Let Chain.io Help
Bringing all of these solutions together, the Chain.io Supply Chain Visibility Suite is your holistic answer to both of your core visibility challenges, "Where's my customers' freight?" and "How do I tell my customer where their freight is?"
Ready to give your customers a more transparent shipping experience? Set up time with a Chain.io supply chain expert today.Book a Demo