New financial technology has helped the Lowell-based carrier JB Hunt Transportation Services improve billing and onboard new customers faster, sometimes within a week, one business leader said.
In a recent FreightWaves webinar, Amy Horn, Director of Intermodal Pricing for JB Hunt, discussed new technology and other challenges, such as rising inflation, interest rates and fuel prices.
Horn said the warehouses are full of goods that are not in high demand by consumers, and some of the company’s containers and trailers have been used for storage.
“This, in turn, produces additional administrative work on our side,” she said. “We need to monitor, charge, and make efforts to collect some of the ancillary fees that come with these storage fees. Eventually, we want our equipment to be released. We want our customers to be able to use it to move their freight.
Meanwhile, fuel prices have risen above existing contract levels, leading to additional administrative work to extend them to both the company and shippers, she said. Other challenges the company faced were hiring issues with office workers and drivers, but she said that was starting to improve.
Horn also explained how the COVID-19 pandemic has led some customers to switch to more modern invoicing, including email and digital (EDI) invoices. She said it saves time and cuts costs. She added that the company had also started using electronic proof of deliveries amid the pandemic.
“We recently partnered with US Bank to further improve the EDI billing process,” said Horn. “We were able to partner with US Bank with a product called You Send We Map, where we as a carrier are able to send any data a customer might need from a billing perspective, and US Bank from there was able to take that data and send it to the client as they needed it. This allowed us to reduce the lead time to six to eight weeks, and in some cases we were able to onboard customers from a billing perspective via EDI within a week, which is a huge win for us.
Jeff Pape, General Manager of Transportation, Corporate Payments and Treasury Solutions for American banksaid the company is focusing on the following to drive technology adoption: increasing visibility and transparency, improving working capital and billing process, and streamlining communication.
Horn said EDI invoices can usually be delivered in two days, and US Bank can help resolve any issues with the invoices, including discrepancies between the invoice and the order. She noted that one of the challenges with EDI invoicing was the failure of a batch, which could affect hundreds of invoices, resulting in a delay of up to a day in finding the originating invoice. problem.
She said the carrier is working with US Bank to offer API billing, and this type of billing only affects the bill that caused the failure, as opposed to the batch of bills.
Within the US Bank platform, JB Hunt can receive payment for an invoice within three days of uploading and approving it.
“The platform not only allows us to receive that money faster, but we also have greater visibility into when the funds are going to be received at JB Hunt,” Horn said. “This is an opportunity available to any carrier or shipper that participates in the platform.”
Over the next few years, Pape said US Bank should continue to develop billing, scanning and API tinkering capabilities. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of reporting and analytics and said the company has invested in its analytics tools.