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As Volumes Fall, Shippers Turn to API Shipping

December 8, 2023

As the global logistics market continues to recover from the supply chain chaos following the COVID-19 pandemic, logistics professionals face an issue not seen in years: plummeting freight volumes. According to FreightWaves, the December 2022 outbound tender volume index, or OTVI, has fallen by a staggering 26.08% YoY. While OTVI metrics can be affected by changes in tender rejection rates, the stark difference between 2021 and 2022 shows that, for shippers, the boom times are over. 

As volumes fall and rates follow, shippers are forced to streamline operations for greater cost efficiency. Increasingly, shippers are turning to innovative developments in shipping API, or application programming interface, to improve efficiency throughout operations. 

However, API shipping can be daunting to many shippers wary of complicated technology and costly initial expenses. For nervous shippers looking for advice on how to use a shipping API to improve operational efficiency, we’ve dug into how today’s logistics professionals are optimizing operations with API shipping. 

What is API Shipping?

Invented in the early 2000s, application programming interfaces (APIs) were designed to allow various technology systems to communicate with one another toward a common purpose. Early APIs were largely used by fast-growing e-commerce companies like Amazon and eBay. With an API, fledgling e-commerce businesses and other software-focused companies could quickly scale operations without being held back by the limitations of their own tech stack. 

API shipping has been embraced in the transportation industry as an effective means of integrating ground-level ocean freight visibility solutions, data, workforce management, and billing into a single, streamlined API shipping interface. By making these vital software assets accessible through a single ocean freight visibility portal, API shipping has helped the transportation industry improve efficiency and eliminate countless time-consuming manual processes.

How Can API Shipping Optimize Logistics Operations?

 A shipping API enables businesses to integrate communication applications, real-time visibility applications, and more into a single API shipping interface allowing different applications to communicate across multiple platforms. With various software functions working together, API shipping has given shippers improved access to a wide variety of logistics solutions.

Improved Freight Visibility

With only 37% of shippers utilizing in-transit visibility solutions, such as a freight shipping API, according to a 2021 survey from FreightWaves, it’s clear that the logistics industry has a freight visibility problem. 

While this lack of freight visibility may spell trouble for the logistics industry as a whole, it provides a valuable opportunity for shippers hoping to stand out from the competition in an increasingly competitive transportation marketplace. With an API shipping platform, shippers can easily integrate real-time visibility into their daily operations, providing customers with the information they demand while optimizing processes throughout the supply chain.

Real-Time Exception Alerts 

Today's shippers face a vast array of threats to logistics operations. The troubling potential of labor strikes threatens to leave West Coast freight at a standstill. The recent reopening of Chinese markets following the end of Zero-COVID policies could lead to chaos in trans-pacific operations. It's not if an exception will occur, but when.

Real-time exception alerts, easily accessible through a shipping API,  provide shippers with immediate access to vital information, helping them make informed decisions without sacrificing response times. Shippers can quickly resolve exceptions before they affect operations by utilizing the streamlined communication strategies integrated into an API shipping platform.

Streamlined Multimodal Operations

Without a shipping API, shippers must contend with increasingly unpredictable multimodal operations. Persistent labor shortages and an ongoing chassis shortage mean that drayage issues can quickly lead to late deliveries and disgruntled customers.

With the real-time visibility provided by an API shipping platform, shippers can predict drayage delays and issues at the port before they snarl supply chains. By integrating real-time visibility assets, easily navigated analytics, and improved communication assets into a single platform, shippers using a shipping API can confidently navigate delicate multimodal operations.

Optimized Industry Collaboration

The global logistics industry relies upon collaboration. While this has always been true, transportation professionals saw that collaboration put to the test during the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing supply chain chaos. As a result, shippers bolstered relationships with 3PLs and freight forwarders, building a web of connections to ensure shipments arrived on time. However, these webs often become tangled, leaving shippers unsure of how to communicate with logistics partners throughout their supply chain.

API shipping platforms provide a solution. By integrating communication software into the same program as data management, real-time visibility, and automated exception alerts, shipping APIs help shippers share data and insights across logistics channels. By providing unprecedented access to cloud-based, actionable insights, API shipping helps strengthen industry bonds while optimizing relationships for success.

The Future of API Shipping

As technology progresses, API shipping continues to transform and adapt to the expectations of a fast-changing logistics industry. The future of API shipping is unpredictable, but increasingly experts are looking to a single field for cutting-edge supply chain innovations: artificial intelligence. 

The purpose of API shipping, ultimately, is to streamline communication, both between software assets and logistics partners. Artificial intelligence enables shippers to abandon much of the manual, often inefficient logistics communication processes in favor of machine-learning-driven efficiency solutions like automated allocation processes, responsive routing, and optimized TMS (transportation management system). Eliminating costly, time-consuming manual processes can offer shippers unprecedented logistics efficiency, allowing transportation professionals to focus on providing their customers with best-in-class ocean freight visibility. Integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning into a shipping API will enable shippers to build operations around proactive rather than reactive decision-making.

Facing Falling Volumes, Shippers Choose OpenTrack.

As volumes and rates fall, shippers facing an unpredictable inflationary landscape are turning to improved real-time supply chain visibility through cutting-edge shipping API to improve service and lower operational costs. OpenTrack offers a robust suite of integrated freight visibility software tools for shippers demanding the latest API shipping technology.

  • Intermodal Visibility ensures that shippers can offer their customers best-in-class real-time supply chain visibility, whether at sea or on the rails.
  • White Label Customer Portal allows shippers to integrate OpenTrack’s freight visibility shipping API into operations without overhauling existing web infrastructure and tech stacks.
  • Real-Time Exception Alerts help shippers maintain critical response times, ensuring that freight arrives on time, regardless of the challenges faced by today's global logistics industry. 

Book a demo with OpenTrack today to see how real-time supply chain visibility through a cutting-edge API shipping platform can help your business navigate even the most turbulent logistical waters.

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