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Next Stop: Collaborative Freight Management Software Development

By Clint Pollard, Senior Manager, Transportation Solutions, The Home Depot

Clint Pollard, Senior Manager, Transportation Solutions, The Home Depot

At The Home Depot, our Orange Promise is that we deliver the most convenient experience at the best value for our customers. These customers include a vendor scheduling freight pickup, a contractor scheduling a job site delivery or a do-it-yourselfer ordering sheet rock screws for the new nursery remodel.

One way for us to accomplish this is to take back ownership of the customer experience and interaction. Along with that, we see the potential for growing our ability to leverage industry-leading freight management software to process and optimize our customers’ requests. On a practical level, what would it take to execute this?

Our data suggests that what our customers value most in their interaction with software is intuitiveness (what do we want them to do?) and speed (how fast can we give the customer an actionable response?). We live in a world of single-click transactions, and it’s fast becoming a world of no-click transactions with predictive and specific orders tailored to a customer’s lifestyle and preferences.

Consider this: in the near future, a truck driver arrives at a warehouse and uses the app on her phone to scan in at the guard shack. Immediately, all her information is sent to the appropriate processing systems. A map pops up tell her where to drop the trailer in the yard and where to pick up the outbound delivery, all within about three seconds. She compares this experience with how quickly she is able to order and schedule the delivery for family pizza night after a long week on the road.

Or perhaps the new accounts payable clerk back at the same carrier headquarters can quickly notify the customer that the freight has been delivered on time, in full, and is ready for processing with a single submit button. He can log in and check the status of his payment by quickly interacting with an intuitive web portal. He then compares this experience to his ability to arrange for a car service to pick up his parents who are arriving at the airport to come meet their first grandchild.

The customer demands we make things simpler, faster and powerful. To stay competitive, we must meet this demand, and still keep in mind that each customer conducts every transaction with his or her own unique skill set and life experiences.

We believe this can best be done by separating what the customer sees from how we solve their problem. This decoupling allows us to prioritize the work with the appropriate parties. Our freight management software companies are able to focus on the things where they excel such as national truckload bid computations, modal optimization, complex routing algorithms, data exchanges for shipment execution and network management—to name just a few. This allows us to focus on what we own: the concept, development and ultimate creation of our customers’ touch points with The Home Depot. This joint approach results in an agile interaction that feels more personal. We can control and respond to the customers’ immediate needs and feedback. We can also help influence their expectations and drive the behaviors that create mutually beneficial outcomes.

The days of a one-size-fits-all freight management system— where we relegate ourselves to living with systems that do not meet the needs of our customers or require expensive modification–are gone. We are moving into an environment where we collaborate with industry partners to share the burden of software creation and integration. This will be an exciting new space where we move out of just being the traditional transportation department and evolve into collaboration where our entrepreneurial spirit can initiate creative and innovative ways to serve our customers and improve our business.