3 Reasons Why a New BOL API Standard is Positive

Electronic bills of lading (eBOL), an increasingly critical process of shipping via LTL, will move towards a standardized API format beginning this July. How does this impact your business? Here are three reasons why the National Motor Freight Traffic Association’s (NMFTA) Digital LTL Council announced a uniform format for transmitting eBOL data via APIs

One BOL Standard Gives Shippers Flexibility

A standard eBOL API program gives shippers the digital flexibility to integrate with multiple carriers. Before, shippers would need to develop multiple programs to integrate their APIs into carriers’ systems, a potential blocker for eBOL adoption. But with standardization, only one program is needed for all participating carriers, TMS providers, and 3PLs.

It’s no secret that LTL has been an industry laggard in implementing digital technology. A rising tide lifts all boats, and with 29 partners – including Old Dominion – on board with this approach, it can increase the adoption of eBOLs. 

Digital BOLs Reduce 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. But this leaves room for handwritten errors, misbilling, and an inefficient way to transmit data. There are also hundreds of ways to transmit eBOL data in the marketplace right now, and for carriers, it becomes nearly impossible to have the technology to read each eBOL format. 

Digital BOLs Improve 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 will be 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.

Consider an example from a large LTL shipper in the commercial printing industry. The shipper optimized its transportation spend by digitizing their activities, 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, and better transmitted data to its customers.

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

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

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