A partnership announced Monday by US Bank Freight Payment and project44 to provide shippers with faster access to payment-related information on their less-than-truckload (LTL) moves is another sign that software vendors are keen to partner to provide more value than their individual solutions might offer.
US Bank’s system, for example, enables shippers to audit and pay their freight bills to carriers, while project44 provides shipment visibility as well as a suite of multimodal application programming interfaces (APIs) related to transit times, rates, and other service elements.
Integrating the two systems will make it easier for US Bank customers to access LTL carriers’ bills of lading, invoices, delivery receipts, and weight certificates, according to the companies. “This capability helps automate the audit exception process, reducing the time spent needed to approve freight bills and ultimately improving carriers’ days sales outstanding,” the companies said, noting that getting the required paperwork to resolve audit exceptions usually requires emailing or calling the carrier and, as a result, could take as long as 72 hours.
Todd Wilson, director of revenue management and customer integration at LTL carrier YRC Worldwide, said in a statement that there’s growing demand from customers for faster access to freight documentation. As US Bank customers, shippers will now have real-time access to audit exception documentation, he said. “Plus, it frees our staff up from gathering and sending documentation, so they can work on more strategic, value-creating initiatives.”
US Bank’s model is designed to help carriers get paid more quickly while not impacting shippers’ payment terms. The bank does so by charging a percentage of the invoiced amount owed to the trucking company in exchange for faster payment. For shippers, the system also provides analytics based on invoice data, while US Bank also cuts the actual checks, relieving shippers of the accounts payable function to each individual carrier they use.
The integration of US Bank’s product offering with that of project44 is a sign that shippers are looking for more than just in-transit shipment data and predictive estimated times of arrival (ETAs), a space in which project44 competes against a number of software providers in the US domestic freight space. They also want real-time visibility into freight-related processes, such as invoicing and payment.
Shippers and freight audit and payment (FAP) vendors have posited that audited invoices provide the truest data in logistics and could be better leveraged to inform future procurement cycles and carrier diversification.
US Bank Freight Payment processes more than $27.6 billion in freight payments annually for its corporate and federal government clients, according to company figures.
In the final quarter of 2018, Chicago-based project44 landed a $45 million funding round, bringing the total venture capital invested into the company to $90 million, and acquired Danish counterpart GateHouse Logistics to build its visibility capability in Europe.