Transportation management systems (TMS) are vital to navigating the challenges of a changing economy—especially as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to alter the business and logistics landscape, according to a recent study from logistics solutions provider Odyssey Logistics & Technology Corp.

Odyssey’s survey of more than 350 shippers revealed the critical role cloud-based TMS solutions play in improving transparency and communication among shippers, their customers, and carriers. The researchers said TMS solutions have helped shippers increase shipping transparency, improve risk mitigation, automate cost management, close the customer communication gap, and maintain remote work capabilities—during and after the pandemic.

They said improved communication is among the greatest of those advantages.

“It’s critical for logistics professionals to maintain continual communication with customers, yet it’s also the leading cause of disruptions to logistics operations,” Albert Lee, Odyssey’s chief technology officer said in a statement announcing the findings. “Our research indicates that customer communication is the one activity that consumes the most time for planners and a centralized, automated TMS can reduce this stress and labor.” 

The research anticipates that shippers will spend an average of $60 million on domestic freight in 2020, underscoring the need for a technology system that can help manage and streamline the transportation process. With so much on the line, respondents said that accessing shipment status information (81%) and transportation cost analysis by lane and mode (70%) were highly important for their shipping operations. They said their top challenges are visibility, track, and trace (42%) and communication with customers and carriers (37%). 

Other survey findings include: 

  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents (65%) said having cloud-based access to shipping operations is either critically important or very important considering the effects of Covid-19 on logistics operations and office support. 

  • Nearly two-thirds of respondents (63%) currently use a TMS, are in the process of implementing a TMS, or are evaluating or planning to implement TMS within the next 24 months. 

  • The top two drivers for using or planning to use a TMS were cost management (68%) and track and trace (61%) capabilities. 

  • As the pandemic continues, more than half of respondents (56%) said they were very likely or somewhat likely to reassess the integration of a cloud-based TMS.

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