Supply Chain Expertise and Technology Blog by TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson

3 Ways API Technology Can Improve Your Supply Chain

api-supply-chainsAs technology continues to revolutionize the way we do business and meet customer demands, are you leveraging the latest innovations to optimize your supply chain and stay ahead of your competition?

Across industries, technology platforms, tools, and applications are built to help your business save time and money, help manage behind-the-scenes operations, and provide a competitive advantage. But for a long time, those programs were built to keep others out. Working in silos meant they couldn’t talk to each other or share information—thus negating some of the intended efficiencies they’re meant to provide.

That’s where application programming interfaces (APIs) come into the equation. APIs make it possible to move data between an organization’s various internal and external programs, which allows businesses to exchange information faster and easier.

The way business is being done is changing, and so is technology in the transportation management system (TMS) arena and the integration of APIs into logistics processes. APIs play an integral part in the ways in which companies approach business challenges, solutions, and operations. In fact, API use is expected to increase to more than 80% by the end of 2018¹.

So how can APIs benefit your supply chain?

3 ways that APIs impact businesses and supply chains

  1. Achieve near real-time visibility. With constant communication between systems, thanks to API technology, it’s easier to connect all of the dots that impact your supply chain. Think about the possibilities, for instance, if you could log into one centralized platform to know precisely where a shipment is, track where potential weather systems will cause delays, and be aware of traffic jams or road closures. Supply chain APIs are also a gateway to predictive analytics,which can provide alerts to potential disruptions and recommend actions to circumvent those disruptions.
  2. Reduce costs and delays. Another advantage of supply chain API technology is the reduction in human errors that can occur along the shipping process—errors that can quickly increase costs, lead to shipment delays, and negatively impact relationships with customers. While no process is ever 100% foolproof, technology does help eliminate some of the loss of information or mistakes that can happen during a string of emails or phone calls.
  3. Gain greater access to data and analytics. Shipping technology with API capabilities provides greater access to data and analytics, which empowers smarter decisions about shipping operations. With the right data accessible, businesses are better positioned to negotiate more competitive rates and have a direct line of sight into shipping patterns, lane usage, and more.

The way business is being done is changing. So is technology and the integration of APIs into logistics processes. Are you taking full advantage of it?

1 Kepes, Ben, and Mark O’Neill, “10 Best Practices for Thriving in the API World,” Supply Chain 24/7, July 9, 2015.