Building Freight Rate Management Software for Seamless Automated Quoting

25 Jan 2024

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To this day, logistic organizations encounter issues in freight rate management and its optimization. Quite often, unstable pricing and quotes, as well as time-consuming manual approaches to rate management, lead to numerous drawbacks, resulting in operational and financial inefficiency.

A freight rate management system can help you overcome this common challenge by automating and optimizing the quoting of freight rates. Implementing such software will help you gain full visibility of quote performance and margins, digitize, centralize and enable easier access to freight rate data.

In this article, you will learn what freight rate management software is, its benefits for transportation businesses, the essential functionality to include, and a strategy on how to integrate such logistics software into your business environment organically.

What Is Freight Rate Management Software?

Freight rate management software is a comprehensive tool aimed to help logistic businesses effectively optimize and manage freight costs. The system offers a set of convenient tools that enable you to minimize manual effort, bringing more accuracy as well as streamlining freight negotiation, selection, and monitoring.

Let's explore how freight rate software can simplify your tasks:

  • ‍Procure, manage, and quote freight prices (including all possible ancillary charges) in less than 2 minutes
  • Digital storefront to serve their customers better
  • Track and trace solutions that help freight forwarders get live locations of vessels and automated milestones within seconds

As the notion implies, the central aspect of the system is the calculation of the freight rate. Let’s see what it is and how these rates are determined. A freight rate is the price at which a certain cargo is delivered from one point to another. The price depends on the form of the cargo, the transport type (truck, ship, train, aircraft), the weight of the cargo, and the distance to the delivery destination.

Many shipping services, especially air carriers, use the dimensional weight to calculate the price, which considers both the weight and volume of the cargo.

Below, you can examine a scheme that represents all operations that make up the freight rating:

Components of freight rating operated in freight rate management software

What makes up the freight rating within freight rate software

Key forms of freighting to be digitized

Freight rate management software enables businesses of all scales and variations to optimize operational efficiency, remaining one of the most demanded logistics trends. It assists in cutting unnecessary manual and unreliable freight rate research and getting a range of tariffs for personalized cargo transportation requirements. So, let’s move on to the main forms of current logistics service providers types and their key functions:

  • Ground frightening. Ground freight transports smaller to medium-sized products or goods, usually within a few dozen or hundred miles. This helps get the smaller products where they’re supposed to be faster while also cutting down on freight costs. Ground freight transportation usually doesn’t go more than a few hundred miles but has been known to go from one end of the country to the other at times.
  • Railroad frightening. Trains can also transport shipping containers from sea freighters and are able to move large amounts of product at a single time. Rail freight transportation is also quite cheaper than air and sea, allowing for a direct line of trade for certain companies or organizations.
  • Ocean frightening. Able to move up to 10 thousand tons at a time, sea freighting vessels also aren’t hindered by railways or roads, making them efficient when having to transport literal tons of cargo over hundreds or thousands of miles. Ocean freighting vessels can transport anything from car parts to food to building materials.
  • Air freights. Cargo transported by air is one of the most modern forms of freighting. Though it does cost more than most other forms of freighting, air freight transportation is much faster than its other transportation cousins. If a company needs to get products or goods to a customer by yesterday, then air transportation is the go-to freighting option.

Even though archaic freighting methods like sled dogs may still be noticed in some parts of the world, there are more comprehensive freighting variations, including private carriers, mail, and drone shipping. Ironically, if you’re a huge air-freighting company or a trucking company, the problems touching capacity planning, variable operating costs, or route optimization may be similar. In this way, the adoption of a freight rate management system is beneficial in both cases.

List of business roles in freight rate control

Freight rate software will spare time for accurate handling of quotes from the most reliable logistics providers and monitoring of shipments without doing unnecessary manual work.

Below, you will find a list of professionals who are engaged in the freight rate management procedure:

Freight rate management roles within freight rate management software

RoleResponsibilities

Freight Rate Analyst

Work on international accounts pertaining to ISO containers, TL, LTL and other modes of transportation. Utilize industrial logistics and strong interpersonal communication skills to develop new business, increase current business, and renew existing contracts

Freight Rate Officer

Responsible for liaising with customers, logistics operators and customs officials for planning and tracking the movement of goods

Supervisor

Transportation and materials moving, a seasoned logistics professional. Manages the daily operations of the freight terminal, ensuring the safe, efficient, and timely delivery of cargo and personnel to various destinations

Accounting

Manages financial aspects of freight operations, including billing and payments

Warehouse Staff

Manages cargo storage, loading, and unloading Coordinates with drivers and dispatchers for cargo handling

Benefits of Freight Rate Management System

Nearly 43% of freight sales executives spend time in rate management and quoting, resulting in between 15%-66% of errors like disparate rates and nearly $700 million in annual losses. Encountering such enormous risks creates a huge demand for freight rates management software capable of enhancing the accuracy of freight rating yet mitigating financial risks.

Let’s examine how you can benefit from integrating freight rate management software into your logistics business:

Automated approach

As mentioned earlier, manual rate management becomes a hassle, appearing inefficient and sometimes destructive to the financial health of the logistics business. Imagine negotiating with multiple carriers and stakeholders with diverse rates and quotes. It’s definitely quite easy to get troubled with comparing and calculating the freight pricing. Moreover, traditional rate management is highly labor-intensive and often leads to discrepancies between contract and actual freight ratings.

The adoption of freight rates management software allows shippers to perform previously manual tasks like paperwork, data entry, and communication with carriers digitally. Besides, such logistics software enhances traceability, contributing to enhanced management and tracking of financial streams and investments.

Discover how Route optimization software can help you save costs in our guide

Freight contract management enhancement

Freight rate software assists businesses in centralized handling, maintenance, and management of all carrier contracts within one unified platform. Besides convenient storage for all contracts and deals, such logistics software performs as a robust instrument for calculating transportation prices for carriers' shipments. Logistics organizations also obtain the ability to swiftly request freight quotes and receive and forward them on the same platform.

Due to the high transparency of all connected operations, logistics businesses can build and maintain stronger relationships with carriers, eliminating the possibility of disputes and financial discrepancies.

Up-to-date quotes and accurate rating

Operating in the logistics domain significantly depends on the outer world conditions that usually impact transportation pricing. Keeping up with the current agenda, touching market conditions, rates from carriers, and shipment specifics is vital for logistics businesses to allocate resources.

Freight rate management software leverages real-time data to provide instant and precise quotes. This positively impacts and enables logistics services providers to make informed and data-driven decisions and ensures their pricing is competitive and reflective of the ever-evolving transportation industry.

Cost saving and margin improvement

The main purpose of adopting freight rate management solutions is consequent financial efficiency and its potential for cost saving. For sure, this logistics software provides a 360-degree view of actual freight transportation costs, enabling more efficient quotes and their management, resulting in improved profit margins with no surcharges.

Moreover, the implementation of a freight rate management system also contributes to operational cost reduction and enables logistics organizations to process complex pricing faster. Due to the minimization of bureaucratic approaches and automation of administrative tasks (freight contract management, transportation tenders, manual price calculation, etc.) logistics businesses can focus on their core competencies and facilitate a competitive edge.

Get a bespoke freight rate management software

With 12+ years of experience in Logistics, our experts are ready to assist you in the creation of a custom freight rate management solution to get a full overview of freight rates

Key Features of the Freight Rates Management Software

Now, let’s explore the primary set of functionalities every freight rate management software must contain:

Key functionalities of freight rate management system

Modules within freight rate management software

Rate procurement module

Rate procurement is the module responsible for systematically acquiring freight rates from multiple carriers. This involves establishing a single view for rates from all sources and putting them into standardized formats. Besides, it includes automation of requesting, negotiation, and providing additional security to competitive rates. Logistics companies use this module to streamline the procurement of shipping services, ensuring cost-efficiency and reliability in carrier partnerships.

Rate management module

Rate management in freight management software facilitates organized administration and optimization of freight transportation rates. This module enables companies to add new rates in multiple ways, search and filter rates instantly using multiple parameters (origin and destination, service type, shipping route, etc.), and automatically add margins using rules.

Also, this module allows you to manage your rate information and contracts in a centralized manner, track rate adjustments, and enforce contract terms within the logistics domain, avoiding discrepancies caused by different rate sheet formats. It consistently applies the most favorable rates across different shipping scenarios.

Quote management module

The quote management module creates quotes in less than 30 seconds and provides a comprehensive overview of all quotes within a unified system. Besides, quotes management and audit obtain more flexibility, as this module simplifies sending quotes anytime and anywhere, minimizing delays. This module facilitates the efficient calculation of shipping quotations based on various factors, enabling logistics professionals to provide accurate quotes to customers.

Customer portal module

The Customer portal module within the freight management system is designed to help logistics businesses provide an intuitive and user-friendly interface for customers to interact with the freight management system. It allows customers to access real-time quotes, track shipments, and manage documentation. Such portal provides transparency and self-service capabilities, adding a self-commitment element to the process

Track and trace module

Track and trace is a freight rates management software module that enables real-time shipment monitoring throughout transportation. This module enables you to know every step of your cargo’s whereabouts as well as get the latest milestone updates of vessels at your fingertips.

This functionality enhances visibility into the location and status of goods in transit. Implementation of this module is needed to facilitate operational efficiency, reduce common uncertainties, and allow logistics operators to address any issues that may arise during transportation proactively.

API module

Generally, an Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of protocols and rules that facilitate the seamless interaction of one software with another. In freight rate software, API is a crucial module for integration with external systems like Enterprise Resource Planning software (ERP), Customer Relationship Management System (CRM), Warehouse Management System (WMS), Transportation Management Software (TMS), etc. This integration ensures efficient and boundless data flow and facilitates interoperability with a broad ecosystem of tools and platforms.

WMS or ERP? Find out what will suit your logistics business in our article

Tech Criteria to Consider Before Implementing Freight Rate Software

Implementation of freight rate management software requires precise planning and thorough risk assessment. Let’s uncover the tech aspects you should consider before committing to freight rates system implementation and adoption.

Integration capabilities

It’d be great to make your new freight rate software be interoperable with other logistics software, right? Integration of this solution into your existing business environment, indeed, can enhance your visibility on operations and facilitate a seamless data flow across the logistics ecosystem. Here are the most common types of freight rates management system integration with other logistics software:

  • ERP systems. Integration with ERP systems enables seamless coordination between operations related to freight rate management and also covers a broader business perspective, such as finance, human resources, and inventory management.
  • Warehouse Management Systems. Integrating with WMS helps logistic businesses to ensure that freight rate management goes hand in hand with warehouse activities, optimizing the shipment and storage of goods within the supply chain
  • Inventory Management Systems. Integration with Inventory Management significantly optimizes shipment planning, digitalizes and automates reordering, and enhances supply chain visibility, resulting in cost-effectiveness. This connection improves customer service and prevents stock discrepancies
  • Carrier systems. Direct integration with carrier systems enables real-time communication and data exchange between your organization and a carrier, ensuring that negotiated rates, shipment details, and tracking information are synchronized.
  • Transportation Management Systems. Integration with TMS provides comprehensive visibility of shipment costs, enabling real-time rate comparison and the creation of better negotiation strategies. This software combination can help you significantly optimize freight spend and minimize financial errors.

However, you can also integrate your freight rate management system with multiple tools:

  • Automated Order Processing
  • Rate Shopping
  • Label Printing
  • Real-Time Tracking
  • Automated Notifications

Plan to embrace AI within your logistics business? Learn what 5 problems AI can solve in logistics

Ease of utilization

The easier your freight rate software is, the faster you’ll start the adoption, logistics process optimization, and consequently savings costs. Software with an intuitive and user-friendly interface may reduce the learning curve for logistics professionals, allowing them to get to work faster and with minimum issues.

Besides, simple logistics software will help you eliminate the possibility of careless mistakes and help your organization save time and costs associated with training sessions and onboard users swiftly.

Logistics regulatory compliance and data security

Working in the logistics domain implies following strict industry-specific regulations and rules that bring another level of security and structuration into the transportation process. The crucial aspect is that you must stick to regulations in your region, as their variability may vary. Here is the set of basic laws and industry regulations to comply with:

  • Data security: GDPR, PIPEDA, PCI DSS, etc.
  • Customs and trade regulations: HS Codes, Incoterms, local Customs tariffs, etc.
  • Carrier contracts compliance: Payment terms, Service Level Agreement (SLA), delivery and pickup requirements, etc.
  • Antitrust and fair competition laws: Sherman Act, European Union Competition Act, Competition and Consumer Act, etc.
  • Tax and tariff regulations: VAT (Value Added Tax), Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Goods and Services Tax (GST), etc.

System’s scalability

As your logistics organization grows, the freight rate management system must have a comprehensive resource to adapt to this. Robust scalability capabilities will enable you to handle expanded data volumes and painlessly accommodate growing user demands.

To make your freight rates solution scalable, prioritize:

  • Cloud data storage
  • Content performance optimization
  • High-quality integration with current logistics systems
  • Responsiveness during load peaks

Automation

The main purpose of freight rates management software is to digitize previously manually-intense processes. Automation is not only a key to increasing operational efficiency but also acts as an instrument that assists logistics organizations in minimizing errors.

Here is the list of freight rate management processes that primarily have to be automated:

  • Upload of rate sheets
  • Tariff updates
  • Generation of real-time quotes
  • Cost calculations
  • Selection of optimal routes
  • Invoice generation and processing
  • Exception management (delays, deviations from planned routes, etc.)
  • Standard and customized reports

How to Implement Freight Rate Management Software for Your Logistics Business

Freight rate software is not just a convenient digital tool for freight rate control but also a reliable assistant in logistics activity quality and efficiency enhancement. Hence, the adoption of this technology has to be thoroughly planned.

Below, you can overview a short list of 5 steps to keep up with during the freight rate logistics software implementation process:

Step 1. Define your implementation goals

To conduct a successful implementation of a freight rate management software, it’s vital to specify why you need it first. This includes problems your logistics organization faces and how the solution may assist you in solving them. Nevertheless, you can go further and try to solve a global problem touching the whole logistics sector. Besides, think about what your current business strategy lacks and how the freight rates software can enhance your operations.

For sure, you’ll have your unique list of requirements. However, it may also include the following:

  • Reduction of manual work
  • Automation of rate procurement
  • Enhancement of rate management
  • Real-time quoting data operation
  • Cost optimization
  • Automated cost calculation
  • Better adherence to regulatory compliance, etc.

Step 2. Choose a reliable IT vendor

The choice of tech partner and the quality of freight management system development services they provide definitely influence the outcomes of freight rate software implementation.

We’ve prepared a short list you should seek from your future IT partner:

  • Define if the potential partner has extensive experience within the logistics domain as well as comprehensive knowledge of industry-specific regulations
  • Check out platforms like Clutch to examine vendors' previous clients, their feedback on received outcomes, and the company’s approach to cooperation
  • Determine if the vendor has experience in integration with other logistics systems and tools like TMS, WMS, ERP, or third-party APIs
  • Request their portfolio to uncover insights on their past projects, logistics expertise, and ability to deliver a tech-savvy and functional solution

We provide a wide range of logistics software development services to assist you in the creation of reliable transportation solutions

Step 3. Gather software requirements

A precise freight rate management system requirements composition will help you deeply understand the capabilities and functionality of freight rate management software to address your logistics business needs.

At this point, you and your tech partner decide on the following:

  • Appropriate tech stack
  • Freight rate management solution architecture
  • Logistics API to implement
  • Needed integrations with existing logistics management systems
  • Feature set
  • Scalability options
  • Regulatory compliance to adhere to, etc.

This stage may help you establish strong project management, minimize misunderstandings, and obtain an understanding of logistics solution development cost and time estimation.

Step 4. System development and integration

During solution development, your tech partner will work on designing and implementing freight rate management software modules using a suitable tech stack. Usually, the whole process is divided into sprints, in Cleveroad, their duration is 2 weeks. Before the beginning of each sprint, the team agrees on the scope of work with you. After each sprint is ended, the team represents the piece of crafted functionality for you to examine and approve.

Throughout the whole freight rate system development, the QA engineer tests the functionality. If any malfunction or bug is spotted, the expert reports it to developers to fix it.

Also, at this stage, logistics software engineers integrate the freight rate management system with existing logistics solutions within your ecosystem, ensuring seamless data flow and strong interoperability. Intuitive and user-friendly interfaces are developed, and continuous testing during the whole development process helps to ensure logistics software stability, functionality, and reliability. The deployment stage also includes user training and ongoing support of delivered logistics software.

Step 5. Support and scalability

After deploying the system in your business environment, your logistics IT vendor will help you establish a comprehensive support plan for the newly delivered freight rate management system. This plan usually includes ongoing support for troubleshooting and addressing any possible issues. Moreover, this process engages the implementation of updates or solution infrastructure enhancements.

Keep in mind that regular maintenance is the first step to ensure high-quality freight services, bugless freight rate software functionality, and robust software security. Additionally, plan for scalability by designing the software architecture to handle increased data volumes, user loads, and additional features as the business evolves.

Cleveroad Expertise in Logistics Software Development

Cleveroad is a logistics software development company with 12+ years of experience in the logistics domain. We help logistics organizations of different scales create digital solutions that enable businesses to automate and optimize supply chain and transportation management.

These logistics solutions assist transportation businesses in increasing operational efficiency and enhancing performance metrics (shipping cost per order, warehouse utilization, etc.) that enable them to cut costs.

Our team has practical experience in building and delivering various logistics solutions, such as Transportation Management Systems, Warehouse Management Systems, Enterprise Resource Planning systems, Last Mile Delivery Software, Freight Rate Management Systems, and more.

Cooperation with us will serve you with many benefits, such as:

  • Custom logistics software development to satisfy your logistics business needs, including strengthening relationships with other businesses and carriers and optimization of workflow, time, and budget
  • Diverse and convenient cooperation models — Time & Materials, Dedicated Team model, Fixed price model, etc. — for you to choose from based on your timelines and budget requirements
  • Practical experience in integration logistics software with various third party services, such as maps (Google Maps, Oracle Maps, etc.), TMS (Shiptify, Shippo, etc.), asset tracking (Asset Panda, UpKeep, etc.), WMS (SkuValut, Zoho Inventory, etc.), accounting software (Quickbooks, Xero, etc.) and more
  • Strict control over alignment to logistics-specific regulations touching transportation, data security, and integrity
  • Cooperation with a partner with ISO 9001:2015 (quality management) and ISO 27001:2013 (security information management) certification

To prove our expertise in Logistics, we’d like to present to you our recent case - Transportation Management System with route planning.

Our customer, a warehousing and cargo long-distance delivery company, needed to create a transportation management system with automated route planning. The logistics software implementation was essential to obtain increased performance efficiency, streamline shipment delivery, and reduce manual effort.

We’ve proceeded with building a custom transportation management solution that facilitates digitalized route planning with manual adjusting options. Besides, our experts created a driver’s app for smoother navigation through custom routes.

Within the TMS development, our software developers implemented the following modules:

  • Route planning module. These components allow the client’s logistics organization to develop the shortest and the most convenient routes for more efficient deliveries and cost-reduction
  • Fleet management module. This tool enables our client to classify and manage fleets by vehicle types, modifying them in case of changes in business flow.
  • Delivery points management module. This module allows software users to track fleet location in real-time
  • Access system for company’s staff. This tool provides access level management through Role-Based Access
  • Jobs for delivery module. As each delivery process appears as a sequence of tasks and functions, the job for delivery module helps our client to assign tasks, track their completion, as well as optimize and manage these tasks more efficiently

As a result, the client received a custom transportation management system with an automatic route planning module. The software was successfully integrated into the client’s current business system Also, operating in a unified TMS environment made it possible for our client to complete operations in less time, resources, and financial contribution, resulting in a gross profit increase.

The delivered logistics solution enabled our client to minimize occasional shipment losses and significantly optimize delivery time.

Transportation Management System made by Cleveroad

Transportation Management Software designed by Cleveroad

Simplify freight rate management with us

The Cleveroad team will help you develop freight rate management software that enable your business clients track rates in real time, and build robust relationships with carriers

Frequently Asked Questions
What is freight rate management?

Freight rate management is a process of managing and optimizing rates associated with delivering goods from one place to another. This involves negotiating with carriers, as well as analyzing and monitoring freight service prices, to choose the most convenient and cost-efficient option.

How do I get the best freight rate?

Getting a profitable freight rate involves a deep understanding of its structure that includes your cargo weight, fuel cost, freight classification, shipment distance, and much more. Besides, the adoption of technological solutions like freight rate management software will help you optimize and automate manual operation, boosting your logistics business operational efficiency and consequently cutting on investments.

How to build a freight rate management system?

The creation and implementation of a freight rate management system primarily requires an assessment of your implementation goals. Then, it’s vital to find a reliable logistics software development partner who will assist you during requirements gathering and ongoing logistics software development stages. Besides, your IT provider will help you decide on API integrations to include and will be capable of supporting and maintaining freshly delivered freight rate solutions in the future.

How much does it cost to build freight rate management software?

It’s challenging to tell how much your freight rate software will cost straightaway. Primarily it will depend on your business’s specific needs and your personal requirements for freight management software. However, the approximate cost to develop logistics software varies from $100,000 to $250,000.

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About author

Evgeniy Altynpara is a CTO and member of the Forbes Councils’ community of tech professionals. He is an expert in software development and technological entrepreneurship and has 10+years of experience in digital transformation consulting in Healthcare, FinTech, Supply Chain and Logistics

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