No longer able to compartmentalize their various business channels, today’s retailers need help running seamless, omni-channel systems that incorporate bricks-and-mortar, online, mobile, catalogue, and other sales channels under a single umbrella.
As TMS use has grown, the application’s global footprint has increased exponentially. “A software market that originated in the U.S., and that has historically had a sort of ‘trucking flair’ to it,” says Banker, “is now growing and more effectively handling modes like ocean and air.” As a result of these growing capabilities, TMS is gaining ground in European and Latin American markets. “What we’re seeing now in terms of global TMS growth will continue to radiate out and encompass more markets,” Banker adds.
Historically, a TMS is a great tool for determining the best way to ship, say, 2,000 orders over a 24-hour period. But larger shippers want more than just a deterministic view of how to ship those orders—they want to also be able to do effective forward-looking planning.
Up until now, most attempts to marry product-forecasting systems with transportation have failed. That’s changing, says Klappich, as vendors like Terra Technology produce solutions that help companies manage market volatility by using demand sensing, inventory optimization, and transportation forecasting.
Bombarded daily by terabytes of digital information, shippers need a way to wade through the data, select its most useful components, and then use that information to make the best possible transportation decisions.
From his vantage point as principal of supply chain consultancy Chainalytics, Matthew Harding keeps a close eye on what’s going on in the TMS sector. One of the trends Harding has picked up on recently involves the Big Data sets being generated by TMS.
Retailers and grocers are particularly interested in not hauling empty trucks back to their DCs after the goods have been delivered, says Rishi Raina, principal of North American supply chain technologies at Capgemini. “They want to be able to utilize their networks more efficiently, and they’re looking to their TMSs for help in this area,” Raina adds.
Right now, TMS vendors are looking for ways to better tie planning and execution systems into their platforms. “Traditionally, those systems have operated within their own silos—and with no tie-in to transportation,” Raina points out.
Other trends unfolding in the TMS space include the continued interest in cloud-based solutions that require low upfront fees and minimal IT infrastructure; an ongoing push to upgrade older systems and replace them with state-of-the-art platforms; and the need for holistic TMS that can do more than just track transportation movement and spend. Raina adds that the latter will likely help drive TMS growth and innovation well into 2014.