Ocean container tracking is a vital part of freight management, but the events since 2020 have created an all-out war on legacy systems and a lack of container visibility. As e-commerce demands grow and the push for a more efficient and sustainable supply chain continues, the old days of typical supply chain management are virtually dead and gone. There's also a growing consensus that 2022 will not see a return to pre-pandemic normalcy, but there's still hope for businesses that want to adapt.
According to The New York Times, finding a light at the end of the tunnel of container shortages and efficiency needs "will require investment, technology and a refashioning of the incentives at play across global business. It will take more ships, additional warehouses, and an influx of truck drivers, none of which can be conjured quickly or cheaply. Many months, and perhaps years, are likely to transpire before the chaos subsides." However, the right ocean container software tracking features can help freight management parties stand out from the competition. Thus, it's vitally crucial for shippers to know the top features of the best ocean container tracking software and how they can help businesses run more smoothly.
Real-Time Visibility Into Current Container Status
Real-time visibility into ocean container status means that businesses have up-to-date information on their containers and what is happening with them. GPS tracking capabilities enable real-time traceability of containers, so companies always know where their goods are and can be alerted immediately if there is a problem. This helps reduce lost or delayed shipments, generating substantial cost savings for companies.
Enabled Exception Management Through Automated Alerts
The next in-demand feature of the best ocean container tracking software is enabled exception management. Exception management in freight is the capability for ocean container tracking platform to recognize exceptions, such as an ocean container arriving with damage or missing contents. The same technology uses GPS-tracked containers to alert the appropriate party (e.g., shipper, receiver) of these different statuses and generate necessary reports for any damages sustained. In turn, shippers are better able to respond to problems requiring intervention and mitigate losses around the clock.
An Open-Standard API to Pipe Data Into Your TMS and Enable Holistic Intermodal Freight Management
Technology is an invaluable resource in today's freight world. The ability to share data forms the basis of accurate, meaningful supply chain visibility, but that's only possible through the use of connected systems. The best systems must make connections a priority from electronic data interchange through robotics process automation. Further, connectivity via an open-standard API helps ocean container tracking software communicate with existing systems of record to increase visibility into ocean cargo activity.
Getting a head start on ocean container software that will revolutionize the industry is the only way businesses can ensure they're not left behind in 2022. With ocean shipment tracking capabilities, shippers will be able to stay one step ahead of their competition and do it all without the hassle of traditional, complicated integrations between systems.
For example, the best ocean container software tracking features must include integrating the tracking platform and the transportation management system (TMS). Most TMS users tend to think of a TMS as a system solely for over-the-road transport, but they should use it to track all freight movements across all modes.
This inherently means tracking containers from well beyond their point of sailing or arrival at the dock. It means tracking containers through in-land rail and knowing how to use that information to understand what containers are available, full, in-transit, or otherwise needed.
Predictive ETAs to Coordinate Drayage and Next Steps
With proactive exception management features and a real-time data stream, the next prominent feature of a world-class container software tracking platform is predictive estimated times of arrival (ETAs). Tracking the ETA of containers helps shippers identify and reduce the risk of rolled cargo.
Remember that rolled cargo describes ocean cargo that hasn't yet been loaded onto the ship for transport. In these cases, the shipment is "rolled" to the next available sailing, and with global container prices at all-time highs throughout much of 2021 and little evidence of retreat in 2022, rolled cargo can lead to massive supply chain headaches. This all comes from this one delay's effect on all downstream supply chain processes.
Therefore, shippers need to know when the ETA changes or is generated based on the actual time and conditions under which a ship set sail. This goes hand-in-hand with automated status updates regarding ocean cargo arrival, departure, and delivery. Such capability further includes receiving notifications when ocean cargo arrives at a destination or remains in transit for an extended period, helping to keep everyone informed, and to avoid hefty detention and demurrage fees and other per diem fees.
Cross-Carrier Container Tracking Capabilities
Another core feature of the best ocean container tracking software is cross-carrier container tracking. The ability to track a container across carriers involves leveraging a truly connected ocean container platform so that everyone involved in the ocean cargo process has access to the same real-time supply chain information. This enables transparency and avoids issues with dropped or incomplete information from any part of the supply chain carrier network. Furthermore, ocean container track and trace across multiple carriers is of the utmost importance due to the genuine risk of errors in ocean invoicing.
Invoices are prevalent in ocean invoicing, and while the majority of such errors do not result in discrepancies in billed rates, errors are still errors. They may lead to inappropriate freight cost allocation and additional trouble understanding profitability. Regardless, the best way to avoid the issue is to leverage a system that seamlessly pours this data into all existing systems of record, from the CRM software to the freight auditing platform, to measure and improve your overall ocean transport health truly.
A High-Quality, White-Label Customer Portal
Ocean container software tracking platforms must offer a high-quality, white-label customer portal to keep customers happy and coming back for more.
This portal must be easy to use with a straightforward and intuitive layout. Customers should be able to track their containers from start to finish and get updates on their order status and estimated delivery dates in a customer-facing fashion. In other words, the portal should be easy-to-navigate, intuitive, and well-laid-out.
Essentially, the customer portal should provide a one-stop-shop for all shipping-related inquiries regarding ocean container status. This includes getting help with completing orders, planning drayage based on current data, tracking expected shipping rates, and obtaining up-to-date tracking information. A well-designed customer portal can go a long way in creating satisfied customers who are likely to return in the future, and in turn, more shippers in need of ocean will result in a self-propagating cycle.
For instance, growth in the value of customer-facing portals will help the biggest and best ocean container tracking software vendors to grow. Shippers will have better experiences and be more apt to use the same resources and carriers in the future. Better carrier experiences further help to promote the ocean carrier tracking software and increase the value of data sharing throughout the supply chain.
This all occurs at the same time and triggers even more demand on the industry, reiterating the need for an ocean software visibility platform that can have a meaningful impact on the transparency and actionability of data.
There is also another substantial benefit that's closely linked to the white-label customer portal. Using such a portal effectively lessens your team's burden of tracking containers. As a result, your back-office expenses decline without sacrificing the quality of service.
Using integrated systems and a customer portal means your team could empower customers with a self-service option to track their freight. Together, these features combine to create an ocean container software system that's far more efficient, and you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing your business is in good hands. Meanwhile, the cost reductions in the back-office can be used to improve performance further, identify missteps in current operations and promote a more cohesive and collaborative supply chain.
Industry Leaders Need High-Quality Ocean Container Software Tracking Features to Survive in 2022 and Beyond
Like all things in the industry, collaboration is ultimately king, and the right container software tracking features go a long way toward reducing costs and optimizing your network.
The ocean container software tracking market is booming, and container visibility platforms need high-quality features to survive. A high-quality customer portal, easy-to-use integrated systems, and self-service options can help businesses thrive. Still, it's equally important to realize that automated exception management, real-time status updates, and the like contribute to a unified, transparent, and meaningful tech stack. That's part of the reason why the ocean container software market is expected to grow significantly in the next few years, and software vendors need to be prepared with the best features to stay competitive.
There are many features that the best ocean container software should have to provide maximum visibility into ocean cargo activity. Using such software ensures your business can stay ahead of the competition and avoid pandemic-induced disruptions. And the best container tracking software is alive and well at OpenTrack. Connect with an expert to learn more about how OpenTrack powers the next age of enlightenment in container management and traceability.