Quotation to Clients
The quotation functionality supports quote creation, modification, and analysis. A portal may be configured and made available to clients, who in turn submit requests for quotation directly. The client profile determines the default location and the item information available. A customer may only see their information and load history, and references may be entered or made mandatory where required.
Operations may model various scenarios by mode, carrier, routing, equipment and services based upon different tariffs. The user may also leverage historical data to analyze previous quotes. A complete list of carriers allows the user to send an email quote to some or all carriers, which in turn may respond to the quote directly by clicking on the email link and entering the quote amount.
Once all quotes have been received, the user reviews the responses to determine which carrier is awarded the load. The awarding process need not be based upon cost, but it can be chosen by ranking performance or routing guide.
A pro-forma sales invoice can be made available in a specific format as determined by the user and delivered via fax, EDI, iDoc, or email. An activity can be triggered to record the submission and required follow-up date. If accepted, the quotation may be automatically moved to a shipment or load, at which point the cost file is tracked and the reference number created.
The customer may stop at this point and save this information as a quote, which is then assigned a quote number and can be brought up by the customer and shipped up until the pre-determined expiration date. If the shipment cannot be quoted online, a message is displayed to let the user know that you will contact them with a quote.
Once the customer selects a rate, a confirmation screen containing a configurable disclaimer (indicating that the rates provided are only as good as the information that they entered) is displayed to the client.
Web requested bookings are available if the carrier subscribes to these services (regardless of mode). In some cases, these services may need to be configured or developed. MercuryGate TMS supports EDI, XML, or flat file formats. Once the user determines service level/carrier, data is automatically moved to the shipment level. At that point, the BOL can be printed/saved and is in compliance with industry standards.
Upon receipt of the booking confirmation, the shipper is also notified of the acceptance. If required, the shipper can send a PO containing item details sufficient to build a load. Data can be loaded in any format and referenced back to the client’s system. The PO may contain unlimited line items with specific areas to identify customer data (i.e. product codes, commodities, cross reference, export/import classifications, hazmat, etc.).
Shipment templates may also be created for repetitive moves, and scheduled to automatically create shipments based on different calendar specifications (i.e. a standard shipment moving every Tuesday from Location A to Location B). These repetitive moves can be scheduled for automation creation and routed without approval/intervention.
Your client can enter their shipment information, tender the shipment to the carrier, book the shipment, and display a printable bill of lading. The document displayed is based on the user profile as well as the mode selected (for example, parcel shipments print labels with tracking numbers).
Foster a paperless environment by emailing the documents and/or making them accessible within the TMS as an attachment to the shipment.
An agent may schedule an appointment with the cartage company for pickup and delivery of goods or equipment to the warehouse or final destination customer. Once the carrier confirms the rate, the load is ready to be dispatched and the activity of “dispatch” is available. If empty moves are required to get a container to a customer, the TMS will facilitate this process by identifying the pickup and dropoff locations, dates, and times.
Warehouse Entry and Output
If routing to a warehouse is required for deconsolidation, cross-docking, assembly to transshipment, an integration point with the client’s internal WMS may be recognized (the WMS can electronically update the TMS).
Once the shipment leaves the warehouse, the TMS can be updated electronically from the WMS. This milestone can be visible within the shipment data.
Once the agent confirms that the information is accurate, the TMS saves the shipment, tenders the shipment to the carrier, books the shipment, and displays the BOL for the agent to print/save. Provided there is connectivity, shipment details for insurance purposes can be sent electronically to an external provider.
Supplemental screens support entry of additional data for export/ import to be rendered on the documentation. International moves may require compliance with export/import formalities that must be satisfied with electronic filings to regulatory agencies. With local level external customs system integration, the TMS can provide data flow out to customs agencies to provide goods and shipment data.
MercurtyGate TMS can also receive data extracts from any external organization with configuration, connectivity, and in some instances, development. Compliance with national level procedures at the destination location is available (i.e. for shipments destined to the US, ISF data can be electronically sent to US Customs and Border Protection).
The customs broker at the destination can be granted access to data and documentation, and also has restricted data entry capabilities as defined by the user.
Departure & Pickup Confirmations
Departure confirmation data can be transmitted electronically to the TMS by subscribing carriers, or it can be manually updated by the user. In the event that a sailing has been missed, an airline connection missed, or a container rolled, exceptions can be created via the reporting tool as defined by the user. The TMS also allows shippers, carriers, and customers to leverage the best method to communicate “live” tracking and related information. For example, if the driver’s phone number was entered in the delivery order/dispatch, the TMS can be prompted to directly SMS text the driver. Smartphone and tablet mobile apps can also be used to convey the information quickly and efficiently.
Populate notification of arrival information and cargo availability data in the TMS based on carrier information data feeds (direct manual entry, web portal updating or electronic feed). The user can customize the requirements as needed in the alert and the mode of which it is delivered (i.e. emails, SMS text or historically created report).
A delivery order can be generated from the shipment data in the TMS, which can optimize shipments to offer the best delivery scenario based on customer expectations for requested delivery date, overall cost efficiencies, and mode of transport (FTL, LTL and parcel). Once the carrier has been selected and has accepted the load based on the users requirements, the TMS is updated manually or electronically (from carrier) and the shipment is prepared for delivery. Delivery orders can then be printed and saved.
Visibility “Track and Trace”
Any reference number entered on the load/shipment is immediately available for tracking and tracing purposes. Customized reporting can be set up according to the user’s needs, and freight forwarders can provide each customer with a view of the appropriate data and data elements. Only privy to information made available via their allowed access, customers can have a unique look and feel as they log into the solution to see their information. Customizable screens and reports allow the logistics provider to present information with simple configuration and without the need for costly consulting and/or costly, time-intensive development.
Once the load has been confirmed as delivered, the carrier has the ability to upload a POD or utilize the TMS Mobile App to advise a signature at the destination. Depending on the user setup, POD’s can be received as images, scanned and attached as an image or carriers can provide a link to their system for POD image visibility. All of these options can be prompted via email.
Audit Freight Invoices
Upon receipt of carrier invoices, the TMS compares rated vs. invoiced amounts and displays the differences. Automatically send “matched” invoices to your Accounts Payable system for payment. Invoices with discrepancies are placed in a queue for resolution, and those received within previously identified tolerances can be passed through to accounting for payment processing (without manual intervention). Any invoices that do not match the agreed upon rates are clearly visible in the invoice reconciliation screen.
If your audit process includes receipts of proof-of-deliveries (POD), you can receive PODs and link them to completed shipments in the TMS. The invoice audit report will indicate whether a POD has been received and give you the option of proceeding with payment or not.
Occasionally, an incoming invoice won’t match with any known shipment in the system. In these instances, MercuryGate TMS will query your shipments to find possible matches with the details of the invoices and allow you to manually link the documents for auditing purposes.
Create Billing and Financial Closure
All costs associated with the load can be tracked and invoiced within the TMS. If additional services are required, then these are accrued to the shipment for invoicing. In addition to the vital data applied to the shipment, the cost file or price sheet is available to report detail for accrued costs, actual costs, and profit margin. The TMS handles invoicing in different currencies and maintains a current rate of exchange file.
Once changes are made, the system automatically adjusts receivables, commissions, and other variables as outlined in the customer profile. The TMS can supply the appropriate GL codes to accessorials/charges to pass to the internal accounting system. Once approved, any variations to the original payable are processed as designated in the customer profile, allowing the charges to be absorbed, passed through or uplifted as desired.
An overall summary of shipper costs at the master container level can be extracted from the TMS.
Knowing that commissions are often distributed among multiple parties based on their respective roles in the process, the TMS reviews payables and receivables to determine what commissions will be paid. The customer profile determines how commissions are calculated and determines them based on the margin generated at the desired point in the process.