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Clear and transparent communication is one of the most important attributes a logistics company can possess. With technology accelerating quickly these days, many transportation and supply chain providers are integrating advanced communication platforms, such as API software to streamline and improve the communication between multiple programs. However, just like any other technology solution, knowing the facts about API will permit you to determine if it’s a good solution for your logistics-based company.
Noted below we’ll outline some of the Pros and Cons of API software and a few reasons why any supply chain organization can benefit from their use.
Have you ever wondered how one computer program on your desktop can link to another? Well – that’s done through Application Programming Interface (or API). In the simplest form to explain, an API is a computer code that permits two independent computer programs to communicate with each other. Essentially, the API sets up a series of answers to questions asked from one program to another. It then permits the efficient flow of data to the other programs, to be used based on your individual needs.
API’s have been around for quite some time. They became popular when social media websites like Facebook and Twitter began to rise in popularity. This use of API’s made it “socially acceptable” to publish them in a scalable and secure environment on the web. When this occurred, use of APIs in multiple industries – and customizing their application to benefit specific industries became commonplace.
Here is a real-world example of how API’s are used daily.
• Social Media: The use of API’s permits apps to interact with the functions of social media platforms.
• Embedding: An API allows you to embed programs like Google Maps, YouTube videos and more into your website.
• Digital Downloads: Programs like Dropbox were created by the integration of API’s.
• Popular Website Platforms: For those who use Content Management Systems like WordPress, for example, are able to build and customize their website with relative ease thanks to an API.
If you operate a transportation, shipping, 3PL, or other supply chain company, it’s quite possible that you’re using API software and have no idea. API is commonly used in CRM’s and TMS’s that are utilized by logistics companies every day. They help to bridge the gap of information between carriers, shippers, brokers, and other supply chain partners. Some of the most common transportation-related systems that utilize API’s in their technology include:
• Freight Rating: The API software is used in a TMS to send freight quote requests to several carriers at the same time while returning estimates to the customer with lightning-quick response time.
• Freight Tracking: API’s permit shippers and carriers – and even third-party recipients to track the movement of their freight in real-time. Updates on the transit time can be relayed via email, text messaging, or even desktop/laptop alerts thanks to API interface.
• Freight Dispatching: When a shipper contacts a carrier to set up a pick-up time, the API software allows them to send the request, receive confirmation, and respond with confirmation when picked-up.
• Retrieving Documents: API integrated into a TMS or CRM permits the user to request, search, upload, download, print, or review documents by tracking number, customer, and other data-specific searches.
Now that it’s clear how API’s are used in today’s modern supply chain, it’s important to determine why using an API-based solution helps a logistics company accelerate into the future. Beyond speed and ease-of-use, here are a few other reasons why an API is so critical to integrate into your logistics company.
• It helps improve the communication between partners: API’s help partners within the supply chain communicate with each other quicker and more efficient.
• It’s simple to connect: API’s are activated through a simple internet connection.
• It improves transparency: Since an API network is two-way, communication between partners is more transparent.
• API link 3PL’s and shippers to the carrier’s online platforms. This allows the customer to easily and quickly review tracking info, review and download proof of delivery forms, and ensure rates are accurate and updated.
• Permits shippers to receive, review, and submit automated billing. This reduces mistakes and billing errors.
Today’s supply chain depends on the smooth, quick, and efficient flow of data and communication. The use of API software not only streamlines these vital components but also sets up a supply chain partner for success in the future.