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3 Questions You Must Answer Before You Build a Visibility Platform

Visibility is the biggest pain point for B2B clients

Visibility is the biggest pain point for B2B clients

Building an RTTVP - Real Time Transportation Visibility Platform for FCL Logistics

Most of you have had the experience/delight/pleasure/displeasure of ordering a product or a service from an e-commerce company at least once in your lifetime. Some of you may be so used to ordering via e-commerce that you have rarely bought anything from the local market in the last few years ! What makes your experience great ? What sucks ? What is missing ?

All of us have our own perspective and experience with different e-commerce platforms. However, there is one element of e-commerce that is common to most services and one that we take for granted - visibility of our order or service.

Order visibility comes in all shapes and forms - It could be event based - e.g. in case of Amazon/Flipkart/Myntra/Snapdeal - Dispatched/Shipped/Out-for-Delivery. It could as well be real-time - e.g. Swiggy/Zomato/Uber/Ola etc. where you can track your food parcel or your cab in real-time and right until your doorstep.

While we all tend to take e-commerce visibility for granted, a great deal of strategic planning and costs go into building such a visibility platform for the customers.

Container logistics is an entirely different world as compared to an e-commerce business.

If your organisation is in the business of providing multi-modal container shipping services, the three fundamental questions below must be answered, before you embark on the journey of building an RTTVP, i.e. Real Time Transportation Visibility Platform for FCL transportation.

1) Why do your customers care about their container's visibility and what are their expectations?

2) Who are your partners in making this product a success and what's in it for them ?

3) Do you have what it takes to build this product - Investing money/people/time ?

Industry View

Once your organisation answers all the above questions and decides to fulfill this visibility need for customers, it is important to have realistic expectations from your platform. According to Gartner's 2020 Market Guide for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platforms, "Although visibility is high in demand and a key priority, companies still struggle with low market maturity for these solutions".

The RTTVP product market for FCL Logistics is still very nascent, however, with the right industry focus, realistic expectations and supporting technology, your organisation can make this product work for your customers's visibility needs.

The Digital Container Shipping Association has recently published a global Track and Trace to enable a standard data exchange protocol and to enable seamless carrier on-boarding.

While these standards are new, the basic idea behind an RTTVP is to aggregate and simplify colossal amounts of data from vastly different global systems - IoT devices/ELDs/Mobile Apps/TMS/On-board GPS/container beacons etc. and bring this to a common place where this information can be consumed by your customers in a useful manner.

Fit for your business ?

The global trucking marketing for FCL logistics is fragmented and profit margins are wafer-thin. In such a scenario, having complete carrier support is cardinal to building the RTTVP product. Always strive to answer - "What's in it for my suppliers ?"

Building an RTTVP is not a short-term tactical step, it has to be ingrained as building an experience for customers and must be a central component of the overall corporate strategy to get the desired focus and push to make this a success.

Eager to hear more on building a great visibility product. What are the learnings, wins and shortfalls ? What do you do to meet your customer's needs in this area?

Relevant reports and links

© 2020 Atul Chopra