Chicago-based FourKites, a provider of real-time tracking and visibility solutions across transportation modes and digital platforms, recently announced it has rolled out a new multimodal purchase order (PO) tracking for all freight in the FourKites system.
The company said that this offering provides shippers, carriers, and receivers with the “power, flexibility and granularity to track the full lifecycle of shipments using their associated PO numbers,” adding that PO tracking greatly simplifies freight visibility for stakeholders—including inbound logistics, track-and-trace, customer service, procurement/materials management, merchandising—that manage the exchange and transportation of goods primarily via PO numbers.
What’s more, the company said that this offering was developed on a collaborative basis with Meijer, a Walker, Michigan-based supermarket chain. FourKites said Meijer has implemented it throughout its procurement, materials management, transportation, and merchandising teams, which has resulted in simplifying and streamlining the scheduling, transit, and on-time delivery of Meijer’s POs from its vendor facilities to its internal facilities and also between its distribution centers.
FourKites Chief Product Officer Priya Rajagopalan told LM that many supply chain teams work with PO numbers instead of load numbers (the default way of tracking), including inbound logistics, track-and-trace, customer service, procurement/materials management and merchandising.
“That’s a significant number of people who can leverage real-time visibility to make more informed decisions in their daily operations, but previously had to go through several steps to match load numbers to relevant PO numbers in order to use the tracking information in real-time visibility platforms,” she said. “Now, workers across the supply chain who primarily work with POs can seamlessly track freight by PO number without having to jump in and out of multiple systems. Our customers are at the heart of all our product innovations, and we knew this would make a big difference in the lives of our existing users, while also opening up real-time visibility to new users. There is also a significant downstream benefit when customers can manage the lifecycle of their POs.”
When asked what the biggest benefits of this offering are for FourKites’ shipper customers, Rajagopalan explained that in the past, many supply chain teams had to work within multiple systems (ERP, CRM, OMS, TMS, YMS) to painstakingly identify all of the individual load numbers associated with any given PO in order to track the lifecycle of that PO, a process she said is incredibly inefficient. And she also commented that this offer does not just give time back to users, as the benefits are far-reaching, including:
- Better Forecasting: By monitoring the fill rate across all suppliers, including vendor prepaid loads, procurement teams can better understand transit times on critical product deliveries, thereby enabling them to derive optimal lead times for their ordering process;
- Optimized Merchandising Fulfillment: By sharing the exact product-level details along with shipment status, procurement and transportation teams can enable merchandisers to proactively plan for their delivery in retail stores; and
- Improved Customer Service: All the teams within the shipper and their customers can now easily access information and have visibility into the full lifecycle of a PO until the items are delivered
“We co-innovated on this product with Meijer and other major shippers, so we know it directly addresses the pain points of global, multimodal supply chains at retailers and their suppliers,” she said. “From a competitive standpoint, this allows us to expand to new users and teams within our existing customers, and gives us an advantage for the many companies that wish to unlock value by managing end-to-end PO lifecycles. Perhaps most importantly, we understand that many companies have limited budgets for new technology investments, and multimodal PO tracking allows for all teams within an organization to gain visibility and take action.”
About the Author
Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman