Transport Management Systems (TMS) are a powerful tool for businesses that need to manage complex freight networks, whether it's for local operations or global deliveries. In this guide, we'll explore the benefits of implementing a TMS and how they're revolutionizing the logistics industry.

The Complete Guide to Transport Management Systems for businesses in 2024

A transport management system is software that helps businesses to manage their logistics and transport needs. It is an online, digital software that helps to have a single-point overview of the company's logistics. It can be used to optimize the distribution of products and ensure that they are delivered on time, as well as track and provide visibility over all shipments.

The Transport Management System can be used by any type of business - from small to large scale. Yet the bigger amount of people & shipments to handle the bigger the effect. 

The most common TMS-using companies are Manufactures, Wholesalers, Retailers, and E-commerce businesses.  

How can Transport Management Software (TMS) help businesses?

Here is a good guide to features and possibilities of how TMS software can help businesses in their logistics and freight management.

  • Dashboard - consolidates all freight info into one view and provides total visibility over every shipment, regardless of the shipping mode, carrier, or software user. Transparent overview of all company's bookings and software user's activity in one window.

  • Rate management - allows you to manage all your freight rates with just one system. Regardless of the size and scope of your data or the number of price lists you need to manage, it can be done efficiently from one central hub. Centralized freight rate management software saves you time and hassle by consolidating all rates from sea, air, courier, and road freight transport. You can also see any surcharges and have a breakdown of historical data. Whether you work in the purchase, sales, logistics, warehouse, or accounting, everyone accesses the same data.

  • Shipping Calculatora tool that calculates the price and transit times for different carriers & shipping methods in one view. 

  • Quotations - TMS system enables to send ad-hoc shipping inquiries to different carriers to get online shipping prices & transit times back to TMS for business shipping needs. Shipping quotes are estimates of the price of moving goods, which may involve transporting them by road, rail, or sea. Freight quotes depend on many factors but the main affecting parts are goods type, size, collection, and delivery destinations of your shipment.

  • Booking - enables the possibility to place bookings to various carriers from Transport Management software. Carrier integration software should be built-in: best TMS systems have integrated all carrier e-environments and bookings are sent to their systems via API connections. For those smaller carriers who don’t have e-environments, transport bookings will be sent via a standardized e-mail (PDF).

  • Tracking - provides shipment location overview, either via carrier tracking link and/or milestones overview in software. Usually shown in the shipments overview (dashboard). In some systems that offer a more detailed level of visibility, shipment or vessel (van, truck, container, airplane) live GPS location will be shown on the map.

  • Documentation -  generates and enables to upload and store shipping/freight documents per shipment. Best Transport Management Systems automatically generate documents such as shipping labels, waybills (Consignment Note), e-Waybills (e-Consignment Note), CMR, Dangerous Goods Declaration (DGD), Bill of Lading and enables to upload more relevant freight documents for both parties (Shipper and Carrier) - Pacing List, Goods Invoice (Commercial Invoice), Proof Of Delivery (POD), Transport Invoice, Goods Origin, Insurance Certificate, Letter of Credit, Certificate of Origin, Export License, Dock/Warehouse Receipt, and more relevant documents.

  • Communication - provides an online conversation module for operational conversation between the Business (Shipper) and Carrier (Logistics Provider). Best Transportation Management Systems provides a real-time shipment-based chat module to store all relevant info for each shipment and has mobile applications to support flexibility. 

  • Notifications - has automatic notification system for sending out operational info to TMS users, suppliers, customers and carriers. Best Freight Management Softwares offer branded & customizable shipment notifications with different notification types - Booking confirmation; Label forwarding; Truck License Plate update; ETA update (Estimated Time of Arrival).

  • CO2 measurement -  calculates & stores business CO2 emissions by different freight type air, sea, road, and train. Best TMS software pre-calculates CO2 emissions for each shipment before placing an order and takes account carrier fleet & service speciality. 

  • Reporting - enables the business to have market intelligence and key performance indicators for operational information in a systemized way. Those reports can usually be sent automatically via e-mail or downloaded as per request.  
    • Marketing intelligence reports - Market overview, Cost insight, Lane insight, Contract versus Spot rate, etc.
    • Operational KPI Reports  - Loading time, Transit time (ETD- Estimated Time of Delivery vs ATD - Actual Time of Delivery), Delayed shipments, Incomplete Loadings, The Delivered Parcel report, etc.

  • Statistics - a module that provides a factual overview of the shipper’s data in TMS - cost, savings, payweight, bookings, lanes, carriers, suppliers, prices, addresses, transit times, etc. Best Transport Management Systems not only provide CO2 emissions statistics, but they also offer an interface to visualize raw data in either a graph or a table (excel).

  • Address Book - a contacts database that automatically stores all suppliers, and customers' contact information - name, e-mail, phone number, address, comments, and default features. Top Transportation Management Software has google integrated smart address books, to help users when inserting addresses for the first time.

  • Dock Scheduling -  is the use of optimization and scheduling tools to automate warehouse dock or yard schedules. In the dock scheduling software, you can see all the constraints of the docks, such as when it's open/closed, what commodities are accepted, and which trailer types, etc. There are tools that can help you with those simple ramp scheduling needs if you are a small or medium size company (, but there are also more sophisticated Time Slot management systems to take care of more specific requirements (GoRamp or Transporeon).

  • 3-rd Party access - Grants access to TMS using companies’ suppliers to create bookings, print labels and CMRs on behalf of TMS using business. Third party ordering Gives TMS users a full overview of their company transport orders that are made by themselves or by their suppliers -  inbound, outbound & domestic.

Transport Management System, a Logistics Professional's Best Friend to Save Time & Money (8 reasons why)

A transport managment software can help a company to streamline their operations, and it's becoming more of a necessity for any company with a global footprint. Here are 8 simple reasons why to use the Transport Management Software.
Time is money
Time is money

  1. Communication & transport ordering with different carriers in one window - the most optimal transport option. Direct benefit - TRANSPARENCY, COMFORT, TIME SAVINGS

  2. An overview of your own and all of your colleagues' transport orders. Direct benefit  -  TRANSPARENCY, COMMON INFORMATION FLOW, VACATIONS / REPLACEMENTS / NEW EMPLOYEES, TIME SAVINGS, COMFORT

  3. Pricelist management and shipment based price, transit time & CO2 emissions comparison. Direct benefit  - COST SAVINGS, BEST POSSIBLE TRANSPORT CONDITIONS,  CONSCIOUS DECISIONS, MEASUREMENT

  4.  Spot freight price inquiries. Direct benefit - SPEED, INFORMATION IN ONE PLACE, TIME SAVINGS

  5.  Automatic notification system to inform customers & suppliers  (ETA, ETD, Labels, Change updates & Truck licence plate numbers). Direct benefit  -  TIME SAVINGS, INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL UNIFIED INFORMATION - COLLEAGUES / CUSTOMERS / SUPPLIERS, ENHANCED CUSTOMER SUPPORT

  6. Shipment milestones & tracking in one logistics dashboard. Direct benefit - INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL UNIFIED INFORMATION - COLLEAGUES / CUSTOMERS / SUPPLIERS, COMFORT, TIME SAVING, ERROR OVERVIEW


  8. Integration between Transport Management System and business software or e-shop. Direct benefit - AUTOMATION, TIME SAVINGS, COST SAVINGS, REDUCED ERRORS, COMFORT

How to Choose Which Transport Management System Fits Your Business Needs?

Choosing the right TMS is a very important decision that has to be made carefully. It's not just about picking a system that you can afford, but also about finding one that will suit your needs and business goals. There are many different types of TMS software out there, and it's difficult to know which one would work best for you. Here are a key points to consider when looking for the suitable TMS software. 

  • Business industry - Manufacturer, Wholesaler, Retailer or E-commerce
  • Size of your company
  • Complexity of processes
  • Number of shipments
  • Type of shipments
  • ERP, WMS or E-commerce integration (depending on your industry)
  • Carrier integrations
  • Additional features
  • Budget

Manufacturers, Retailers, Wholesalers, and E-Commerce businesses have different needs and aspects to consider when choosing a TMS.

When choosing a TMS for Manufacturers, the main aspects to weigh are how Transport Management software can support an organization's production planning, yard management, an overview of inbound & outbound freight deliveries, and providing transparency into cost and transit time when shipping goods.

When choosing a TMS for Wholesalers, the main focus points should be a clear overview of all inbound, outbound, domestic and cross-trade shipments, reducing the number of errors and mistakes that are made by the employees, automatically informing of your suppliers & customers, and making sure that your goods manufacturers and customers are kept discreet from each-other when dealing with mediation.

When choosing a TMS for Retailers, the main aspects to weigh is on time deliveries to get products from the manufacturer to the customer in a timely manner. It is necessary to pay attention to the features to track and trace shipments, have a shipment-based milestone overview, and get alerts from delayed shipments. It's also important to quantify KPIs while measuring specific metrics for your retail business. For example to make further carrier or lane-based analyses like comparing ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival) to ATA (Actual Time of Arrival) or ETD (Estimated Time of Delivery) to ATD (Actual Time of Delivery) in order to measure On-Time-Deliveries (OTD).

When choosing a TMS for E-Commerce, the first thing to establish is to understand whether the goods that you sell in your e-commerce are cartons and packages or you sell also goods that are shipped on pallets or truckloads. As this divides e-commerce automated shipping solutions for two. For smaller goods, packages, and cartons there are lots of solutions and platforms to be used - some are Third-party service providers (like Shipstation, Shippo, Outvio) and some TMS software (like nShift) that has integrations with couriers. For bigger goods - pallets, LTL, and truckloads there are already different types of carriers that need to be integrated and only some good TMS software for e-commerce to choose from. 

How Transport Management Systems can Help: 3 Case Studies

Manufacturing company case study
How a manufacturing company spent 20-30% less time per day on ordering transportation. Global packaging manufacturing company shares their best practice on how the Transport Management System has helped to make the company more efficient by automating some of the logistics tasks and having all transport partners in one system. The Manufacturing company case study.

Wholesale company case study
How a wholesale company can monitor the information in real-time! Regional electrical equipment wholesaler shares their story of how Transportation Management Software has added value to their customers and how they don't have to do repetitive manual work anymore. The Wholesale company case study

Retail company case study
How a retail company has access to statistics to make relevant everyday business decisions. Regional furniture retailer shares their story of how using TMS software saved work time and direct cost for them and helped to manage seasonality in their business. The Retail company case study

Additional resources

Conclusion: Start Using a Transport Management System Today to Supercharge Your Logistics Processes

The implementation of a TMS will not solve problems overnight, but it can help to improve day-to-day operations. A good TMS will enable your business to have transparency over freight management,  automate some of the processes that you currently do manually and provide you with insight to identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement. 

Interested to see how Transport Managment System (TMS) actually works?