How to Identify a Best-in-Class Global 4PL: Core Capabilities to Look For


    For shippers considering a collaboration with a global 4PL—or a global transportation management system (TMS) provider that offers managed services, it is important to review the capabilities of prospective providers to ensure they have the optimal features and functionality for your business. These capabilities are essential to optimize operations, control costs, and maximize the return on investment of a TMS.


    Find a provider that supports the modes you ship today as well as those you may need in the future, whether that’s truckload, less than truckload (LTL), consolidation, parcel, flatbed, intermodal, ocean, or air.

    • Drives carrier-specific integration strategy across modes
    • Supports the management of any method of transportation
    • Drives standard processes while understanding modal nuances


    Implementing, or even upgrading, a TMS can be costly and time-consuming. But experienced providers have both the tools and expertise to support both domestic and global implementation processes.


    Qualified supply chain experts complement your existing resources to help your TMS operate smoothly without adding headcount.

    • Acts as an extension of your team
    • Understands your business strategy
    • Provides a neutral platform and level playing field for carriers
    • Follows your procurement strategy and an unbiased carrier selection process
    • Combines on-going continuous improvement initiatives along with expert TMS service maximize value
    • Leverages technology, processes, and expertise to identify actionable insights and make recommendations
    • Translates needs into supply chain solutions that save you money, improve performance, and optimize processes


    With the right provider, you gain the ability to simplify payment processes and reduce costly mistakes with proactive freight auditing. Through this process you can accelerate your overall freight payment process and focus attention on true exceptions.

    • Reviews carrier invoice receipts and payments
    • Provides all carrier and modal invoices in one platform
    • Automates invoice comparisons against TMS shipment data, accrued rate, and invoice details to make quick and accurate decisions on what to pay


    The ability to make pickup and delivery appointments enhances operations for both inbound and outbound shipments, not to mention maintains dock efficiency.

    • Increases visibility
    • Improves load planning
    • Rises service standards
    • Reduces carriers’ administrative costs
    • Alleviates congestion with efficient dock scheduling
    • Avoids detention charges with carrier appointments


    Determine if the TMS architecture’s underlying structure complements your business’s data management processes, including how data is collected, stored, and utilized. While there are many architecture options to consider, a quality provider can offer:

    • Single cloud-based platform

      With everything in one place, it enables the democratization of data required for real-time visibility and predictive analytics.

    • Scalable global processes

      This, along with consistent data integration across nodes/regions/providers, can help your business be proactive about future growth.

    • Agility and flexibility

      Both in terms of technical integration and deployment along with the ability to aggregate data via IoT devices, adaptability is important for unexpected disruptions or shifts in demand.


    Visibility to transportation milestones in real-time helps you better understand where shipments are and where they are going to be. This level of insight can inform and help you achieve performance goals.

    • Proactive alerts
    • Panoramic view of the entire supply chain
    • Cleansed and accurate data to drive actions
    • Track-and-trace capabilities for inventory in motion
    • Micro and macro level details (SKU-level to global shipments)
    • Proactive exception management to reactive corrections after issues occur


    Intuitive analytics and reporting for various areas of your supply chain can informed supply chain decisions. Unlocking high-value insights improves real-time decision making and enhances long-term business strategies.


    As companies work to be inclusive of language, unit of measurements, and currency, user experience is key. Reduce the need for multiple providers by choosing one single provider that supports all the regions you operate in—and those you may expand into—from North and Latin America to Europe, Asia, Oceania, and beyond. Ensuring your provider has the right integrations in place can help facilitate real-time rating, carrier management, and more, in all corners of the globe.

    • Manages shipments at any location or border crossing
    • Keeps data secure, private, and confidential as part of standard contract language
    • Coordinates contracts, carrier qualification, rates, and shipment schedules around the world
    • Connects to suppliers, carriers, and other transportation providers for automation and visibility
    • Feeds real-time updates via API or EDI from sources that impact supply chain performance: weather, traffic, natural disasters, and current events


    Strong planning and execution tools can streamline your supply chain in many areas. Examine your current and future transportation needs and examine if the provider’s capabilities match your unique needs:

    • Automates and optimizes

      From manual tasks like order entry, tendering, and event and exception management to optimizing complicated multi-leg shipments including international shipping, crossdocking, and pool points, the ability to automate areas of your supply chain can eliminate many bottlenecks.

    • Streamlines and consolidates

      Complex shipments can benefit from the ability to consolidate orders and create efficient routing and scheduling plans. As an additional benefit, the ability to accurately rate across modes and service levels helps drive the optimal balance between cost and service.


    Whether you’re looking to reach company-wide sustainability goals, identify and correct inefficiencies, or reach performance metrics, the right provider can help you uncover opportunities to implement.

    • Tracks and analyzes carbon emissions for more sustainable business decisions that achieve cost and service goals
    • Defines performance metrics and standardizes scorecards for each global market, carrier, supplier, or other levels of interpretation to optimize operations
    • Monitors, manages, and implements corrective actions across supply chain and transportation providers


    Not all 4PLs are equal: Find the one that fits your needs

    There’s a lot to consider as you search for a TMS. The core capabilities above are a general idea of what to look for—be sure to tailor the list for your specific needs.

    You can use our request for proposal (RFP) template to help evaluate and compare vendors. Or connect with an expert today to learn more about TMC’s combination of global TMS technology and full suite of logistics, managed services, and supply chain consulting solutions. See how we can help reach your supply chain goals.

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