The automation of order entry or order processing offers various substantial benefits. Especially if order data is still entered manually, automation results in considerable time savings, lower costs and a reduced workload for operational teams. Furthermore, error margins are minimised. The automation of order processing can prove quite challenging due to the fact that different customers supply orders in their preferred manner and will not easily deviate from their own procedures. Within intermodal container logistics, we apply four different ways of automated order processing. In practice, our customers often use a combination of several methods, so that a suitable solution is available for each format in which orders are supplied. In this article, we explain which four methods we use to automate order entry and what the advantages and disadvantages are of each individual solution.
The automation of order entry through traditional EDI interfaces
Parties such as Maersk, MSC, DHL and Kuehne+Nagel often work with their own EDI scenarios for the exchange of their data. This may involve EDI scenarios based on Edifact, XML or JSON files, for example. In their role of inland carrier, our customers have to conform to the manner in which these parties supply data. By means of an EDI interface with the Modality system, we can ensure that this data is processed automatically. The disadvantage of this method is that you are dependent on the (im)possibilities within each scenario, which consequently means that you need to develop an individual interface for each customer. With these kinds of bilateral EDI interfaces, it is often necessary to manually augment the order data; think of information that is sent by the customer in later emails, for example.
Order entry via Modality Client Portal
For parties that are unable to send EDI messages themselves, Modality offers the option to enter bookings via a web portal. This web portal, our Modality Client Portal, is directly connected to the database of the Modality system. Data entered via the Client Portal is directly processed in the database. The Client Portal also makes it possible to monitor the progress of the entered orders (Track & Trace). This method is particularly suitable for customers who book lower volumes.
Automated order processing by Modality API
The development of an interface between the customer’s system and the Modality API is the most ideal solution for both parties. By means of the API, the customer is able to directly exchange data with the Modality system via their system. The data is supplied according to a number of fixed specifications and is processed almost immediately. The interface is developed once, after which it is possible to connect any suitable customer system. The disadvantage of this method is that not every party is willing to make the investment to have their own system linked to the Modality API.
Automatically reading PDF files via the Customer Serive Optimizer
If customers submit orders in XLS, PDF, TXT or CSV format and are not willing to invest in the API-interface with the Modality system, a connection with the Customer Service Optimizer of NexusZ can offer a solution. Modality is the exclusive provider of the CS-Optimizer, which for example ensures that PDF orders are automatically processed into operational Modality orders. For every type of order (and therefore for every customer), a template is developed that converts data from an XLS, PDF, TXT or CSV file into the JSON format and processes it in the system via the Modality API. This can be performed fully automatically or with an additional check by a Customer Service employee. The advantage of this method is that the order processing can be automated without the need for adjustments (or minimal adjustments) on the part of the customer. The disadvantage of this method is that it is more error-sensitive and unstable than a direct API. For example, scanned documents cannot always be read properly and there is the risk that the structure of a document is changed, meaning the template needs to be redefined. Compared to manual entry, automated order processing however yields substantial savings in terms of both costs and time. In our case study with Optimodal, you can read how the integration with the Customer Service Optimizer made it possible to process a volume growth of 8% with the same (employee) capacity.
Combination of methods yields best results
As mentioned previously, the automation of order processing yields a range of benefits. In an ideal scenario, order processing would be fully automated through an interface between the customer system and the Modality API. In practice, this however is often more complicated due to the fact that different customer wishes, requirements and possibilities are involved. Therefore, we often use a combination of the different methods for our customers. We assess the top 50 files of our customers and from this list determine the most efficient and feasible interface method for each customer.
Want to learn more about automating your order processing flows? Contact us right now!