With over 70% of the freight moved in the U.S. going on trucks, the industry is only growing each year. But it's also constantly changing with new technological advancements.
One of the areas freight shipping has been most affected by the digital era is in invoicing and payment. Freight payment systems continue to be shaped by ever evolving technologies.
And they're not done advancing — these fast developing tech movements are going to continue to shape the industry over the next decade.
Let's talk about five digital trends that are currently shaping freight payment.
5 Digital Trends Shaping Freight Payment Technology
1. Last Mile Delivery
The big dogs like Amazon, FedEx, and UPS are investing in last mile delivery technology. This makes it a quick developing sector for freight.
The technology is advancing in unique ways. Drones, bike couriers, and autonomous vehicles now deliver goods to the consumer much quicker in the "last mile."
Local delivery companies are stepping up to the plate as well, shuttling only short distances from warehouse to consumer. They are capitalizing on filling the gap where large companies haven't yet.
Many local delivery companies work with large corporations to cover their last mile delivery services. This allows the larger company to focus on their long-haul efforts.
What does this mean when it comes to freight payment? Simply put, consumers are willing to pay more for instant gratification. In fact, 30 % of younger consumers are willing to pay a high-cost premium for same day and instant delivery.
Advancement and investment in last mile delivery technologies mean freight companies have a chance to get ahead of the curve. The adoption of meeting this need will become a differentiator. Inevitably, it will set them apart in the future and allow them to make more money by offering their consumers faster delivery.
2. Digital Invoices
There are several challenges in keeping freight costs down. One major factor is internal and external payment processes. It's key to have them as transparent as possible.
Technology is helping with transparency and simplicity. Advancements are improving freight quotes, invoicing, and payments. Digital efforts are taking freight payment processes off paper and into the digital space... improving efficiency and lowering costs.
Your digital invoice system should meet the following requirements:
- Each shipment should be verified for legitimacy and accuracy. This means checking for duplicates and ensuring the numbers are correct.
- Full backup detail. It should be clear on the invoice all the shipment activity for the specified payment period.
- Secure payment method. Internal processes for payments should be secure and have a paper trail.
Consider all these factors when choosing your digital invoicing system. You want to ensure accuracy and efficiency above all else. But not all digital invoicing systems are created equal.
Carefully weigh out your options before you invest.
3. Tracking Loads
When it comes to finding and tracking loads, technology is ever advancing in the digital space.
Transportation Management Systems (TMS) used to be unattainable for many. They were financially unrealistic to most small or medium sized freight companies. But now, investment in the industry has allowed affordable advancements in tech to make TMS more available.
In addition to tracking loads, a proper TMS system has many great benefits. They include but are not limited to:
- Keeping quotes organized
- Matching loads with proper couriers
- Collecting data for future reference
The newfound affordability of this technology is quickly making it an industry norm. TMS is now standard when it comes to tracking trucks and ensuring invoice payments.
Gone are the old days. Manual driver check-ins have turned into GPS tracking. This allows for regular accountability and constant access to location information.
Make sure you find a TMS system that integrates with your existing internal processes. It's also important the technology won't be extinct in the next few years. It needs to be at the forefront of advancement and constantly bettering their system.
4. Better "Big Data" Analysis
When it comes to Supply Chain Management, there's a place for big data analysis.
Previously, big data wasn't considered scrutinizing. The convoluted and time-consuming manual process wasn't worth the investment.
But now, new developments in technology are making it easier to understand the quantifiable data. Yes, the technology collects numbers. But it also turns those numbers into meaningful insights.
These insights are critical for making better business strategy decisions.
So what does this mean in relation to freight payments?
Analyzing big data allows companies to make sure payments are correct and ready before they're invoiced, rather than after. Let me explain.
Big Data analysis takes information from multiple sources — route schedules, delivery times, payment collection — and turns it into predictions. This data allows you to make real-time decisions based on what's happened in the past.
Then, you can work preemptively to fill orders before they've actually come in.
You'll be more prepared, and therefore more efficient, in the freight payment process. Big data analysis, to an extent, allows for predicting sales.
5. E-Commerce Logistics
With over half of Americans saying they prefer to shop online, e-commerce is becoming an increasingly popular retail strategy.
This means retailers will continue to widen their distribution networks and e-commerce efforts, creating more business for freight companies. Mastering e-commerce freight payment methods and the ability to deliver quickly will continue to be top priorities for the industry.
As this business to consumer sector of the freight industry continues to grow, it's important to adapt. Invoices are no longer less in quantity and larger in value. Smaller dollar amounts in large quantities are the wave of the future — so managing freight payment records is more imperative than ever.
Going forward, an extremely efficient invoice management system will be the only way to stay on top of the e-commerce trend curve.
The Freight and Tech World, Going Forth Together
With technology advancing regularly, the freight industry must accept digital evolution and adapt it into their freight payment processes.
If you're having trouble with taking a tech savvy approach to your freight business, we can help. ComFreight is an app that takes a big-picture perspective on the freight industry. It helps shippers get the best freight bids, carriers find loads and get paid, and brokers find shippers on trucks.
No matter what area of the industry you're in, find out more about how this technology can help you.
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