3 Reasons to Adopt the eBOL API Standard

In July 2023, the National Motor Freight Traffic Association (NMFTA) announced the first rollout of a standardized API for Electronic Bill of Ladings (eBOLs). With over 70 partners – including Old Dominion – on board with this approach, shippers only need one API setup to work for all participating carriers, TMS providers, and 3PLs. 

In March, the NMFTA’s Digital LTL Council released updated eBOL 2.1 standards. Here are three reasons adopting this standard can save your business time and money.

One eBOL Standard Gives You Flexibility

A standard eBOL API gives shippers the opportunity to integrate one API with multiple carriers, TMS systems, or 3PLs. Before, shippers would need to develop multiple programs to integrate their APIs into carriers’ systems, a potential blocker for eBOL adoption. But with standardization, you only need one API program. This makes it far easier to implement in-house. 

One eBOL Standard Reduces Errors and Cost

The LTL industry has been slow to adopt digital technology, and handwritten BOLs have been standard operating procedures for many shippers for a long time. There are also hundreds of ways to transmit eBOL data via API right now, and for carriers, it becomes nearly impossible to have the technology to read each format. This contributes to handwritten errors, misbilling, and an inefficient way to transmit data.

Consider an example from a large LTL shipper in the commercial printing industry. Despite investing in an enterprise TMS, the shipper was using manual processes to conduct business, whether they were calling a carrier to agree on a rate or sending an email to dispatch. Additionally, they were using costly, legacy EDI connections. This shipper optimized its transportation spend by adopting API connections directly into their TMS, which digitalized their shipment processes, including their Bills of Lading. They estimated that they saved $250,000 per year by reducing 700-900 daily manual calls*. The shipper noted that it shipped faster, more efficiently, reduced manual errors, and improved communication with its customers.

One eBOL Standard Improves Communication and Service

With a single digital format in place, eBOL data can be transmitted and processed faster, potentially saving hours of work. The data is in a cleaner, more concise format that improves communication between the shipper, carrier, and other consignees. Couple this with increased accuracy, and this can lead to an improvement in service from your carrier.

The NMFTA is continuing to build additional APIs to help with other business processes, including in-transit visibility, tracking, and rating. You can learn more about those here.

We operate in an environment where speed matters, but so does the level of service you receive. A standardized eBOL can accomplish both.  The improved service will only improve your processes over time and strengthen your relationship with your carrier and customers.

*According to NMFTA’s July 2023 Digital LTL Council Case Study.

Get Started with API Setup

OD’s team is here to guide you through the API setup process. Follow the link to download our API guides, including eBOL, and contact our team.