The Transportation Execution and Visibility Heats Up

transportation execution

I recently completed my latest study on the transportation execution and visibility solutions market. Transportation execution allow shippers to connect to multiple carriers and then tender, track, and pay in the system.  Visibility solutions allow real-time asset tracking across the entire distribution network.  This enables improved estimated arrival times of goods. These solutions do not include load board solutions or systems with optimization capabilities.

The market is continuing to grow at an impressive rate. Visibility solutions are becoming more necessary.  The need to know where products are, whether they are on the way to the warehouse, store, or customer; it is critical to ensure a positive customer experience.  The rise of visibility solutions at the container level is helping to drive the transportation execution market to new heights.

When looking at the market, technology is at the forefront of the major trends.  Today, it’s all about the data.  Companies are partnering with data aggregators to get a better idea of when shipments will arrive.  This includes port data, social media, news, event and weather (SNEW) data, weather data (to some degree), traffic data, and other available sources to provide an accurate ETA to warehouses, stores, and end consumers.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is driving interest in the market.  For a truer ETA, companies are using IoT data from trucks to get a better understanding of driver behavior, such as typical driving speeds and times, as well as how they operate in heavily congested areas.  Companies can take sensor data from trucks and incorporate hours of ser-vice rules to know when, where, and for how long a driver needs to stop.  These applications also understand that where and when the driver stops will have an impact on the ETA.  This is especially true if drivers stop before a major city and will have to endure rush hour traffic once they start driving again.

Blockchain is important for specific industries.  This technology is all about a digital ledger(s) as it applies to a chain of custody.  For pharmaceuticals, this is a critical component of transporting goods throughout the supply chain.  Most pharmaceutical companies have a small window to get products from point A to B, without any changes in temperature.  Blockchain monitors have access to the temperature data and whether that changes between modes. This will be especially important when a COVID-19 vaccine is manufactured and distributed.

When looking at the key factors contributing to growth are the following, special attention needs to be paid attention to the following.


The continued growth of e-commerce is putting more emphasis on last mile deliveries, and parcel execution is becoming more important.  This is especially true as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in e-commerce. This also means that companies need more visibility into where products are, for a more accurate ETA.  The rise of e-commerce has also made the economy more global in nature.  This is turn has led to the need for consolidation and de-consolidation of shipments in an efficient manner.  Transportation execution and visibility solutions can provide these efficiencies.  E-commerce is also leading to a more open marketplace.  Many manufacturers have seen that they can profit from selling directly to customers, rather than using retail channels like in the past.  This is placing a bigger emphasis on parcel shipping and driving significant growth.

Return on Investment

Transportation execution and visibility solutions can lead to the selection of lower priced, higher service level carriers.  The automation can decrease workloads in the transportation department.  Visibility can increase service levels for customers, which increases revenues.  In addition, parcel solutions have new features and functions that can be used to increase e-commerce sales.

Capacity Fluctuations

The often-reported driver shortage is not a problem that is going to disappear.  However, the bigger issue is the continued shift in available capacity, which continues to be fragmented.  The changing nature of capacity means shippers need access to capacity ahead of demand.  Capacity is likely to continue to tighten as e-commerce continues to grow amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Types of Carriers

The emergence of digital freight matching services and crowdsourced last mile deliveries has opened up a whole new kind of carrier.  Moreover, for larger packages, LTL carriers have begun to move into the parcel space.  For last mile, the drivers are no longer just delivery persons; they are putting items together, taking away packaging when they leave.  All this requires an additional level of efficiency from shippers and carriers.

Improved Technology

Machine learning is becoming increasingly important in transportation execution systems.  The most notable application is generating a more informed and up-to-date ETA for shipments.  Machine learning is working with real-time visibility solutions to learn more about constraints (such as capacity, regulations, and hours of service) and then using that information to give a much better ETA for shipments to warehouses, stores, and end customers.