Choosing a Transportation Management System (TMS)

Written by Paul Forand

API LogisticsYou’ve been tasked by the senior management team to implement a TMS system. What’s the first thing you think of? Head on over to Google!

Wait! This may not be the best approach. You already have a contract with a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, who is an expert in shipping, transportation and TMS systems, and you should probably reach out to them and start asking questions.

A 3PL provider at the most basic level provides support for all shipping operations. Whether it be for inbound, outbound, brokering, LTL or TL, they should be able to support you. 3PL companies pride themselves on being able to assist companies with their shipping needs. Most 3PL companies are TMS agnostic, meaning they should be able to work with any system their customer brings to them.


One of the first questions you should ask your 3PL provider is how flexible a TMS should be. If your company needs to import data frequently, do they support APIs, EDI or any other means to automate that data upload? If it can’t be automated, how tedious is it to get the data into the system?

Custom data reporting is a huge need for most clients. Most of the time, management has certain KPIs (key performance indicators) they are looking at on a day-to-day basis, and if their new TMS does not offer that KPI, they may be a little hesitant to move forward with the proposed system. Here at ReTrans Freight, if you can dream it, we can create it. Our data analysts love a challenge for new ways to present data.


With the advent of the cloud, most SAAS (software as a service) providers are publishing their software to the cloud instead of installing their software locally on each PC. The benefit of the cloud is portability. If you have the internet, you have access to your TMS. Our software is in the cloud and is always ready to be used immediately; no installation required. ReTrans Freight has multiple data centers housing our cloud to make sure you can access freight rates and shipping documents whenever you need to.


There are several different costing models out there for a TMS. There is a subscription model where the buyer either pays monthly or yearly for the software and licensed by each user. The benefit of a subscription model is that the buyer always has access to the latest software, and support is included in the subscription. The downside of the subscription model is that there is still an overhead fee to pay and when more users are added, the cost rises.

Another costing model is a one-time purchase. As you can imagine, the one-time purchase model benefit is there is a single cost associated with the acquisition of the software, which is excellent for the accounting side of it. The downside is as the software ages, or if you require customizations or support, you will have to pay for that separately. The last costing model is freeware (free software). Freeware does not mean zero cost. It’s usually bundled in with another purchase or subscription as a bonus. The software that we offer at ReTrans Freight is labeled freeware. If you are a customer of ReTrans Freight, you gain access to our software for free!

A 3PL freight transportation company like ReTrans Freight can assist in numerous ways when choosing a new TMS. We can point you in the right direction based on your needs and goals. We are also TMS agnostic, so if you do choose another platform over ours, we can still get your data into the platform of your choosing by using APIs and EDI.