Electronic Bill of Lading (eBOL) Guide

How eBOL is transforming the shipping industry

Electronic bill of lading (eBOL) is a major step forward in the digital experience for today’s LTL shipper. eBOLs provide better end-to-end visibility and reduce entry errors, invoice delays, and administrative costs. They also improve dock efficiency, and accuracy of data and billing which creates an ideal shipping experience.

Improve shipment visibility with eBOL

Enabling eBOL across LTL further enhances visibility through digital capabilities, reducing paper-driven processes. Through these enhancements, C.H. Robinson strives to improve the customer and carrier experience—reducing errors in process.

Electronic BOL: How it works

  1. Navisphere sends shipment information to the LTL carrier via API
  2. LTL carrier sends an assigned PRO number back to Navisphere electronically
  3. A scannable barcode is added to the BOL and pallet label, enabling faster tracking when shipment is in transit

Shipping using eBOL

Today, when a driver arrives at a shipper for pickup, the shipper provides the driver with a paper bill of lading (BOL) that is manually labeled with a tracking number (PRO) by the shipper or driver. The BOL is then brought back to the terminal for the carrier to enter all shipment details manually. Entry errors in this process can result in shipment delays, invoice delays, bill-to corrections, and the need for secondary invoices.

With eBOL, the need for manual data processing is removed and the potential for exceptions is drastically reduced. Data flows between C.H. Robinson and LTL carriers electronically, allowing for PRO numbers to be assigned within seconds providing faster visibility to tracking and allowing for further digital connectivity through the life cycle of a shipment.

Key eBOL benefits

  • Reduce entry errors and manual touches: eBOLs eliminate the need for a clerk to enter shipment details manually at the terminal after pickup reducing the possibility of entry errors.
  • Improve visibility: Get access to the PRO number for faster updates to your freight being picked up rather than the next business day. Enabling eBOL can also unlock future automation opportunities such as pre-pickup visibility, in-transit visibility, preliminary invoicing, and more.
  • Save time on the dock: Since the eBOL is already created and sent to you and/or the shipper, shippers save time by not having to locate carrier PRO books, add PRO stickers to the BOL, or wait for a driver to arrive before being able to PRO your freight.
  • Reduce invoice delays: Carriers scan the barcode on the eBOL following pickup, allowing the clerk to invoice the correct party from the start reducing delays, errors, and bill-to corrections.

eBOL frequently asked questions

Q: How do eBOLs help with shipment visibility?

Your shipment will have a PRO number assigned before it’s been picked up, and tracking is enabled quickly. Prior to eBOL, you may not have received a PRO number until the next business day, when your shipment was already in transit.

Q: How can eBOLs reduce invoicing delays?

The eBOL removes the potential for manual data entry errors, so carriers can be confident that each shipment is set up with accurate information. Time spent reviewing and correcting invoices (or sending secondary invoices) is drastically reduced.

Q: How does the eBOL effect my dock team?

Because the eBOL process has already assigned a PRO to your shipment, your dock team will not need to manage PRO books, place PRO stickers on bills of lading, or wait for drivers to arrive to assign PROs.

Q: How does eBOL impact my bill of lading (BOL)?

If you’re using the C.H. Robinson BOL, you’ll now see a PRO number and scannable barcode on your documents. You can access them via Navisphere or have them emailed to you directly.

Q: Do I have to use C.H. Robinson’s BOL?

No. If you have the ability to create Barcode 3of9 scannable barcodes you can continue to use your own BOLs. In this case, you will receive your PRO number in Navisphere via EDI connection. It is then your responsibility to create the scannable barcode based on that PRO and add the barcode to your bill of lading.

Still have questions?

Connect directly with your C.H. Robinson representative or connect with a shipping expert.