The transportation and logistics industry is in a rapid state of flux. Whether they operate by sea, air, rail or road, shipping carriers are challenged to get goods from A to B with greater speed, transparency, customer service and cost-efficiency.
The global dynamics disrupting the industry are many. B2B shipping customers expect a more consumer-like digital experience from an industry known for complexity and tons of paperwork. An increasingly digitized omnichannel supply chain ups the ante for data-driven insights that trim costs and accelerate delivery.
And automation — from sensor-based Internet of Things (IoT) data to the potential for driverless trucks — is challenging carriers to embrace innovation. Yet many shippers are not well positioned to excel in the fast-changing industry, according to the global consultancy PwC.
“Established commercial freight and logistics companies are generally not suited to satisfying their customers’ full range of new preferences,” PwC said. “Their network configurations, physical assets, skills and service offerings are the product of an earlier set of market conditions and customer expectations.”
A key culprit is on-premise business management software that’s outdated, inflexible or limited in functionality. As a result, carriers struggle with fragmented data and poor visibility into financial and operational performance. And, they face heightened competition from rivals that upgrade to modern cloud solutions for ERP, CRM and other functions.
Flexport Scales for Global Growth
Flexport and OmniTRAX are among the transportation companies that have recently turned to NetSuite to help power insights, agility and growth. Each of these companies is streamlining its business with a scalable platform geared for data-driven visibility, customer-centric operations and mobility.
Based in San Francisco, Flexport is a global logistics provider with a mission to fix the user experience in global trade. The four-year-old company has grown rapidly with its unique web platform that provides consumer-like ease of use for clients shipping cargo around the world. That growth soon outstripped the capabilities of QuickBooks and Bill.com systems that Flexport used.
With NetSuite OneWorld, Flexport has new capabilities to manage six subsidiaries, including offices in the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China, while transacting in nine currencies. Accounts payable is saving 10 hours with NetSuite, while data reconciliation time has been cut from up to three days to five minutes. The dramatic time savings enabled Flexport to avoid hiring four full-time employees otherwise needed.
“With the increased complexity of new offices and territories, NetSuite gives us scalability for growth and real-time insights across our global subsidiaries,” said Philip Hall, Flexport Director of Finance. “NetSuite is built to scale, and can scale right along with our growth without ever hitting a breaking point. NetSuite positions us for any sort of future growth or transaction we might pursue.”
OmniTRAX Speeds M&A Value
Acquisitions and diversification are big parts of the growth strategy for OmniTRAX. The Denver-based company, one of North America’s largest private railroad and transportation management companies with a network of 21 regional and short line railroads in the U.S. and Canada, moved to NetSuite OneWorld from an outdated SAP ERP system in place for 10 years.
“We’ve already acquired several companies in the past two months that we were able to stand up in NetSuite in minutes,” said Tim Harrington, OmniTRAX CIO and VP of IT. “That would have taken months with SAP.”
With NetSuite, OmniTRAX is avoiding the cost, complexity and manual work it experienced with its previous SAP application. It’s managing six subsidiaries and building on its NetSuite core platform with complementary cloud solutions including UltiPro for HR, Celigo for integration, AvidXchange (Piracle) for certain payments and more.
OmniTRAX also replaced an on-premise Microsoft Dynamics CRM application with NetSuite CRM, gaining a natively integrated system for ERP and customer management. With NetSuite as its single unified suite, OmniTRAX can gain greater transparency and control for customers through a NetSuite B2B Customer Portal that is currently being developed.
"There’s going to be a lot of additional value that we realize by having a centralized source of truth with NetSuite, particularly around the customer community,” Harrington said.