Managing Vendors & Inbound Shipments with a Vendor Routing Portal

Written by ReTrans Freight

managing vendors.jpgThere are still a number of companies that use paper routing guides to convey shipping instructions to their vendors. Since a paper guide needs to be printed, distributed, and updated periodically, once these routing guides are sent to the vendors, communicating any changes to these guides can be a time consuming process. Also, without an easy method to monitor a vendor’s compliance to your shipping instructions, your best efforts at negotiating with your carriers for the most favorable shipping rates may not be realized. There will always be vendors who choose to continue to use a carrier you did not authorize and incur higher freight charges as a result. Even if you require your vendors to acknowledge receipt of your routing guide and/or institute a charge-back process when the designated carrier is not used, someone has to take on the responsibility and the paperwork that goes along with it.

When it comes to vendor management within your supply chain, the overriding theme must be control. Inbound shipments don’t just appear on your dock. Many companies do not apply the same efforts to their inbound freight management as they do to their outbound freight, which makes this a great opportunity for efficiency and cost savings. There is a simple way to get control and visibility over when and how products are shipped to you and your customers - a vendor routing portal.

inbound shipments.jpgWhat is a vendor routing portal? It’s basically a web-based routing guide that gives your vendors real-time shipment routing instructions and gives you visibility of vendor shipments for tracking and reporting by creating a digital paper trail from start to finish. Much like a paper routing guide, by directing your vendor to log in to the portal, you are automatically providing them with the most up to date routing and shipping information. However, unlike a static paper routing guide, you now have the flexibility of providing your vendors with real-time data that can automatically be adjusted to accommodate a broad spectrum of variables, such as changes in freight carrier options or fuel surcharges, for example.

Vendor routing portals can be designed to route freight via the least cost carrier or by transit time and can include tools such as the phone number to call for pickup or to generate a bill of lading. A vendor routing portal can easily be scaled from small to large in terms of functionality based on your needs, and companies of all sizes with varying degrees of technological sophistication have found this to be an effective tool for containing and lowering freight costs in addition to ensuring vendor compliance.

From a management point of view, requesting your vendors to utilize a portal allows you to capture vital information about your inbound and drop ship orders, including freight costs and tracking information, before a shipment is received. By simply requiring your vendor to input a PO# or reference #, all relevant shipment information can be tied to that number and you’ll be able to proactively identify any discrepancies between freight quotes and actual freight invoice amounts.

A vendor routing portal is an effective management solution that provides multiple benefits. You will gain control and shipment visibility, improve vendor compliance, and drive down the direct and indirect costs associated with your inbound freight management. Phone calls from vendors for rate quotes and routing information will be drastically reduced and the majority of your vendor transactions will now occur in a safe, secure, and efficient online environment.

Some of the most successful companies are those that make it easy to do business with them, and having this type of tool available for your vendors will go a long way in developing long-term relationships.