Web Services: The Missing Link Throughout Your OrganizationWritten by Neal Willis
Web services facilitate communication between two different applications (systems) over an internet connection. They can be used to create a seamless flow of freight-related information throughout an entire organization by linking a shipper’s internal applications (ERP, TMS, eCommerce platform, etc.) with external carrier applications (rating, billing, tracking, etc.). Usually done through an xml solution, web services are used to obtain carrier freight shipment information from within internal platforms. There are numerous departmental benefits of using web services for collecting freight data, and they can be integrated into nearly any application ranging from an AS400 system to eCommerce platforms such as Magento.
Web services can tether a carrier’s rate quote application to an ecommerce platform, making shipping costs for larger items visible to customers at checkout. When freight rates are automatically displayed at order entry, quoting accuracy will be improved, since there’s less manual entry of information involved in the freight quoting process. With the ability to view freight charges for orders up front, sales staff can focus more attention on selling and less on running freight quotes.
Shipments can be linked to orders through a reference number. Any discrepancy in a quoted versus billed order amount is automatically flagged by the system, making it easier to spot potential issues before they become a major problem. Paper costs are reduced with electronic invoicing. Freight charges for orders are received from the carrier faster, which means you can bill your customers for the freight sooner. From freight charges to proof of delivery, all order information can be made available within an internal application, which will save tremendous amounts of time and money normally spent internally tracking down information from multiple sources.
Whether on your warehouse computer or online shopping cart, web services can facilitate rate shopping across carriers and services, which helps ensure least cost carrier routings if cost is the primary concern. Additionally, with freight rates and shipping information already populated at order entry, your warehouse staff can focus more on sending and receiving freight, rather than running rate quotes and determining optimal shipment routings, which translates into faster order processing and turnaround times.
With freight shipment information (rates, proof of delivery, bill of ladings, etc.) imported into internal applications (ERP, TMS, eCommerce platform, etc.), all freight-related information for orders is accessible in one spot, allowing for faster resolution to customer service issues.
Web services are a flexible solution to EDI integrations and, with the right IT resources and contacts, they can be implemented fairly quickly.
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