Transportation management systems are essential tools that enable shippers to optimize and automate their freight operations. With the market full of TMS providers claiming to offer the best TMS for shippers, it can be tough for shippers to select the right solution for their needs.
This article reviews the leading TMS logistics platforms for shippers based on capabilities, specialties, and value delivered so you can find the perfect partner for your organization.
And when you’re finished reading, check out the other articles in our ‘Shipper TMS’ series:
- How can TMS integration benefit shippers?
- Guide to buying the right shipper TMS for your business
- Best TMS providers for shippers
Quicklook: 5 top shipper TMS providers
- Best for small truckload shippers: Truckbase
- Best for large shippers: Trimble
- Best for carrier management software capabilities: MercuryGate
- Best for omnichannel distributors: Manhattan Associates
- Best for international shippers: BluJay Solutions
Best TMS software for shippers
If you’re in need of transport management solutions with capabilities tailored specifically toward your shipping needs, you can’t go wrong with the TMS companies on this list.
Truckbase is perhaps the ideal TMS solution for small truckload shippers due to its affordable price point, ease of use, and focus on core transportation planning software functions. This TMS tool is an accessible entry-level option for basic load booking, dispatch, tracking and carrier communications. With simplified features and lower cost SaaS model, Truckbase offers an attainable TMS system for shippers to manage their basic logistics needs.
Best for: Small truckload shippers
- Intuitive load management interface
- Carrier database and tendering
- Load tracking and visibility
- Driver mobile app
- Integrates with accounting software
- Customizable dashboard
- Fast and easy to implement
- Very user-friendly system
- Provides basic TMS shipping software functionality
- More affordable software for transportation than larger systems
- Good for managing core truckload operations
Disadvantages: Lacks advanced shipping optimization and analytics capabilities
Pricing: Starts around $500/month per subscription
Trimble is considered one of the best TMS systems for shippers due to its comprehensive transport management software solution, strong optimization and routing capabilities, and deep expertise supporting shippers across many industries. With customizable solutions for shippers of all sizes and excellent customer service, the company offers robust features for planning, execution, visibility, and analytics. Trimble’s TMS platform specializes in helping shippers improve procurement, expand carrier networks, and drive efficiency across global multimodal operations.
Best for: Large shippers
- Optimization engines for routing, load building, mode selection
- Appointment scheduling and yard management
- Robust analytics and KPI reporting
- Multimodal support including parcel, LTL, FTL, rail, ocean
- Carrier communication portal
- Load tracking with GPS
- Reduces freight costs through network design and load efficiency
- Improves asset utilization
- Increases visibility and control over transportation operations
- Expands carrier base and improve procurement
- Enables collaboration across supply chain partners
Disadvantages: Not ideal for small shippers with basic needs
Pricing: Based on number of TMS application users
MercuryGate is one of the top transportation management systems for shippers looking to improve carrier management capabilities. Its TMS service platform specializes in helping shippers optimize carrier selection, expand networks, improve procurement, and enable carrier TMS collaboration.
Best for: Carrier management software capabilities
- Carrier communication portal
- Automated freight tendering
- Carrier sourcing and contract management
- Carrier evaluation and performance analytics
- Multimodal transportation support
- Appointment scheduling optimization
- Expands carrier base and partnerships
- Optimizes tendering to improve cost and service
- Increased visibility into carrier operations
- Tools to identify high performing carriers
- Improves carrier procurement and contract negotiation
- Enables collaboration with carriers
Disadvantages: Can be complex for small shippers
Pricing: Monthly subscription model based on users
Manhattan Associates’ is regarded as one of the top TMS software providers for omnichannel distributors due to its strengths in distribution planning, execution, and optimization. With its focus on optimizing distributed order fulfillment and inventory planning, Manhattan’s TMS supply chain management solution is tailored to support complex distribution supply chains.
Best for: Omnichannel distributors
- Optimization engines for routing and consolidation
- Real-time TMS tracking of inventory in motion
- Appointment scheduling and dock management
- Yard management integration
- Returns and reverse logistics management
- Analytics for distribution KPIs
- Increased distribution efficiency across channels
- Improved asset utilization
- Reduced miles driven and distribution costs
- Enhanced visibility across supply chain
- Support for direct-to-consumer fulfillment
- Data-driven distribution planning
Disadvantages: Higher cost, complex for small operations
Pricing: Quote-based enterprise pricing model
BluJay Solutions is regarded as one of the best transportation management systems for shippers that need to manage cross-border multimodal transportation. Its logistics network, international focus, and expertise in customs and trade compliance make it an ideal choice for global freight shipping.
Best for: International shippers
- Ocean, air, rail, and truck transportation management
- Landed cost management and freight audit
- Customs filing, screening and compliance tools
- Support for dangerous goods shipments
- Global trade content and restricted party screening
- Multi-language support
- Optimized routing, carrier selection and consolidation for global shipments
- Ensured compliance with international regulations
- Reduced costs through freight audit programs
- Improved supply chain visibility globally
- Scalable for any region or volume
Disadvantages: Can be complex to implement across regions
Pricing: Quote-based enterprise pricing
Why do shippers need transportation management system software?
By providing optimization, automation, visibility and data analytics, a robust TMS is a mission-critical application for shippers seeking to transform their logistics operations. Here are some of the key reasons shippers may decide to invest in it.
- Improved efficiency: TMS systems for shippers help plan optimal routes and consolidate loads to reduce miles driven and costs. Automated processes also increase efficiency in areas like shipment booking, tendering, and freight audit.
- Enhanced visibility: Real-time tracking of shipments and inventory in transit provides visibility across the supply chain to improve planning and exception management.
- Better carrier management: TMS systems provide tools to source, onboard, manage, and optimize usage of carriers through features like contract management, tendering, and performance metrics.
- Data insights: Robust analytics and reporting unlock insights into KPIs like on-time rate, capacity utilization, cost per mile/load, etc., to inform decision making.
- Better collaboration: A TMS allows shippers to digitally collaborate with carriers, 3PLs, suppliers, and other partners through shared platforms.
- Regulatory compliance: TMS helps shippers meet regulations related to safety, food transportation, custom clearance and e-logging mandates.
- Contingency planning: Transport management system software supports rapid adjustment of routes/carriers in response to supply chain disruptions.
- Business scaling: As shipment volumes grow or enter new markets, a TMS provides the flexibility to scale and adapt transportation strategies.
Find the right TMS company to suit your needs
With transportation being one of the highest costs for shippers, selecting the right TMS can lead to significant savings through optimized routing, improved carrier management, and data-driven decision making. Shippers should identify their key transportation pain points and requirements, then evaluate leading TMS solutions against those needs through demos and trials. By finding the best fit TMS platform for their operations, you can transform your supply chain visibility, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.
A transportation management system (TMS) is a software platform that enables companies to plan, execute, track, and optimize the movement of freight. TMS is used by shippers and logistics companies to manage all transportation activities.
Key TMS capabilities include route optimization, load consolidation, carrier and rate management, real-time tracking and visibility, freight audit and payment, analytics, and supply chain coordination. A robust TMS improves efficiency, reduces costs, and provides data-driven insights.
The TMS integrates with other supply chain systems to receive shipment requests, then uses optimization algorithms to plan routing and tender loads to appropriate carriers. It provides visibility through status updates from carriers, allows users to manage freight, and offers analytics on transportation KPIs.
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