It’s easy to make a confident, data-backed decision, but that decision won’t be a good one if the data you use to justify it is wrong. It’s a predicament even the biggest companies face when choosing freight carriers. Even with a huge database of potential partners, stacks of requests for proposals (RFPs) and bids, and all the information needed to select a carrier, decisions may be flawed if that information isn’t organized, current, or accurate. As a result, “informed” decisions made with bad data could end up costing companies.

Common Problems with Freight Data

  1. Incorrect information entered from RFPs – If RFP data isn’t entered correctly, your perspective on carriers changes. What happens if you enter their per-mile rate wrong, for example? You’ll get an invoice that matches what’s in your system, but not one that matches your expectations. Your entire perception of a carrier could change if you’re not entering data from RFPs accurately.
  2. Miscategorized carrier lanes or capabilities – Does Carrier A offer special LTL (less than truckload) capabilities? Can you use Carrier B for a cross-country shipment? Knowing the capabilities of your carriers means getting a complete picture of your options. Carrier A might beat the LTL rates of every other carrier in your profile, but if you don’t have them grouped with your LTL providers, you’d never know!
  3. Duplicate or incomplete shipper data – Duplicated shipper data is a bane for freight auditing. Imagine trying to reconcile invoices for Company XYZ, Company XYZ Inc., XYZ Company, and Company XYZ Ltd. – only to find out they’re the same carrier with the same cost center. Data integrity matters! Consolidate records for carrier “aliases” and keep them available under a single name for simple selection and reconciliation.
  4. Antiquated shipper information – Mergers and acquisitions happen all the time in the freight industry. Are your records up to date to reflect them? You might try to contract ABC Carrier, only to realize they’ve merged with EFG Company — along with their rate structure. You need to know the new entity and rate schedule before choosing that carrier, and it’s only possible if you maintain an updated carrier database.
  5. Obfuscated rates and fees – Does your current Transportation Management System (TMS) outline rate schedules and fees in an easy-to-view way? If not, you could trip yourself up when choosing a carrier. Seeing the per-mile cost isn’t enough information. Make sure you have a way to break down per-mile costs, surcharges, accessorials, and any other charges that affect rates.

Strategies to Improve Freight Data Accuracy

Checking your data accuracy starts by looking at simple variables like organization, presentation, and timeliness. Then, once you have a system of records, you can practice good data hygiene – updating (cleaning) records, scrubbing outdated data, and grouping carriers by specific variables. These practices add up to simple solutions that bring clarity to otherwise obfuscated freight data. You can follow these strategies to improve your freight data accuracy:

Data Audits: To find trends of inaccuracy and opportunities for improvement, routinely audit your shipping procedures and data.

Frequent Training: Inform your staff about the value of correct data entry and data management best practices.

Carrier Partnerships: Select dependable shipping partners with strong mechanisms for validating and verifying data. Work together to keep uniform data practices.

Data Quality Tools: To find and address errors, inconsistencies, and duplication, investigate software programs that offer functions like data profiling, cleansing, enrichment, and validation.

nVision Global addresses these common concerns, providing shippers with confidence as they undertake carrier selection. Our procurement tool for proper RFP ensures shippers get complete, accurate information from potential carriers and our systemic spot quote tool combs that information to suggest the right carrier for the load. Cost, safety, carrier-specific nuances, and more are all factored in, and all automated to make selection as simple as it should be. Carrier management is easier as well, since data is routinely cataloged, sorted, and updated automatically.

Selecting the best carrier comes down to having clear, accurate, organized information. Antiquated, obfuscated, or incomplete data means higher fees and more logistical challenges. Make carrier data maintenance and organization a top concern.

If carrier selection is the first step in outbound logistics, collecting, cleaning, and maintaining a robust database of carriers is an essential prerequisite. Working from incomplete or incorrect data can force huge expenses. Likewise, having current data available to influence carrier selection can lead to tremendous cost savings. Let nVision Global show you the impact of carrier selection on your bottom line. Visit our website at