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E-Business & Logistics

Creating Partnerships Online

by Ian Lodge

The last few years have brought about dramatic changes in the e-business arena, as buying and selling online have become easier with product information available at the click of a mouse. The growth of e-business has resulted in an increase in online purchasing traffic, as well as concerns regarding the logistics community’s ability to meet online fulfillment needs. As a result, logistics providers have begun exploring ways to work more efficiently through established partnerships, better serving the needs of the market.


In an effort to keep product deliveries on time, logistics providers have begun to collaborate with one another and customers via the Internet. By sharing information in real time and partnering with each other, logistics providers are able to curb some of the common routing and scheduling problems such as requests for shipments smaller than a truckload and overloaded shipping schedules during certain times of the year.

Working together to address these issues, companies can reduce costs, increase efficiencies and improve customer service.

Take, for instance, a case in which a Calgary, Alberta-based shipper does not have a full truckload for a scheduled route to Buffalo, New York. At the same time, a second shipper is trying to get a small, rush shipment delivered to Ottawa, Ontario. This company will not have another truck routed near the destination for a full week. Should the two decide to partner, the Calgary-based provider could pick up the Ottawa-bound shipment and deliver it en route to its own destination. If both shippers send the orders separately, neither one is fully using its resources. By combining their cargo and making only one trip, the shippers would be able to save on transportation costs. Cost savings achieved through increased efficiency and asset utilization could then be passed on as savings to both customers.

In order to achieve these benefits, the shippers must first make a connection with one another.

Developing partnerships through public marketplaces

One way to identify viable partners is by becoming a member of a public e-marketplace such as i2’s FreightMatrix™, an online marketplace where the logistics community can buy and sell logistics services, plan to better manage transportation networks and execute the movement of materials around the world.

Best-of-breed public marketplaces simplify the process of creating new partnerships by providing a single connection that gives members access to a larger carrier base, international shipment execution, rail and intermodal services, all from within the same workflow. The availability of information through a centralized location is particularly beneficial to companies that may lack the time or the resources needed to develop partnerships through more traditional means.

Once part of a marketplace, a company can test potential partners on a job-by-job or customer-by-customer basis. Partners can be compared by cost, reliability, responsiveness, market coverage and other important factors. Because of the nature of a public marketplace, companies have the means to reward partners that deliver on their promises with new business and referrals immediately, and to replace partners quickly when relationships fail to meet expectations.

Why partner through public marketplaces?

Public marketplaces bring speed to partnerships on many levels. With thousands of participants and access to information in real time, the timeframe necessary to identify partners can be reduced substantially. Smaller, regionalized companies can develop relationships with providers who cover additional markets, and expand their reach into the global marketplace. Conversely, larger global companies that may be overwhelmed by online business can quickly farm out smaller jobs to regional carriers.

By sharing information in real time with online partners, logistics providers are able to increase process efficiencies and improve asset utilization, resulting in better delivery cycle times, increased responsiveness, lower costs, enhanced customer service and a better managed supply chain. Public marketplaces provide the tools and the connections necessary for logistics companies to take advantage of new e-business opportunities, increase potential revenue generation and improve market share.

As Internet sales increase on both the business-to-consumer and business-to-business fronts, partnerships will become a critical success factor for most logistics providers. Success in the industry will hinge on, more than ever, a provider’s ability to deliver at the right time, for the right price. Those who take part in public marketplaces will be able to better manage the exploding demand for services, while maintaining superior customer service levels and delivery performance.

i2 provides a wide variety of collaborative e-business services for both the early stages and the next generation of e-business adoption, with each service supported by decision optimization, transaction management and content management solutions. i2 North, Canada’s mid-market solutions provider, markets and implements i2’s solutions to growing and mid-sized companies.