Cloud TMS Providing Wider Market Adoption and Accessibility

Once reserved for large companies with deep pockets, TMS transportation management systems are now accessible to a wide range of logistics and freight shippers across all industries.

Transportation Management Systems

Logistics challenges continue to shape the supply chain, especially where transportation is such a costly and time-consuming component.

And while 2019 saw an easing of the trucking capacity crunch, issues like the persistent driver shortage, global tariff uncertainty, and the ongoing need to digitize operations are all pushing shippers to rethink their transportation management approaches.

Transportation management systems (TMS) are helping about 26% of companies solve those challenges, according to Peerless Research Group’s “2019 Technology Study.”

Read: 2019 Transportation Management Systems Market Update

Software that helps shippers select the best carriers, track freight while it’s on the road, and make routing decisions, TMS helps to streamline and simplify the movement of freight.

“TMS continues to play a larger role in Supply Chain Execution software,” says Bart De Muynck, Gartner’s research vice president, transportation technology.

Distributed order management (DOM), warehouse management systems (WMS), and global trade management (GTM) also fall under the SCE umbrella.

Of those four platforms, WMS has the highest adoption rate at 39%, De Muynck says, followed by TMS at 29% according to Gartner’s research.

That 10% gap (between WMS and TMS) is closing and is expected to be less than 4% by 2022.

“By 2022, we expect WMS to be 35% of the SCE market and TMS to be around 31.5%,” says De Muynck.

“Where WMS has always been kind of the ‘big brother’ in terms of its share of the market, we’re beginning to see TMS become almost as big as WMS within the supply chain execution marketplace.”

TMS Cloud Adoption

This is a significant point and one that’s being driven in part by Cloud adoption.

One of the first supply chain software platforms to go into the Cloud, TMS vendors naturally stood to benefit when this deployment model started gaining traction.

This, in turn, made TMS more accessible for a wider swath of companies. “We’ve definitely seen the democratization of TMS,” says De Muynck, who remembers a time when TMS was mainly used by large companies that had deep pockets and in-house IT resources.

Fast-forward to 2020 and the walls preventing small- to mid-sized companies from realizing the benefits of TMS no longer exist.

“We’ve gotten to a point where it really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, what region you’re in, or whether you spend $100,000 on freight or $100 million on freight. TMS is within your reach,” says De Muynck.

“We have the Cloud to thank for that because it’s made the applications a lot cheaper and more user-friendly.”

Smaller Players Step Up

A software segment that was once dominated by larger vendors like SAP, JDA, and Oracle, TMS has become a hotbed for innovation by smaller, Cloud-based providers that have opened their platforms up to a larger group of shippers.

“In the last 18 months, we’ve seen some smaller players making a significant push toward some of our customers, and those users are quite happy with these [platforms],” says Ramond Coleman, senior manager, digital supply chain practice at technology consulting firm Capgemini.

“Some of the players we don’t even see on the [Gartner] Magic Quadrant, which is surprising to us,” Coleman continues. “However, their TMS capabilities are pretty comprehensive - to the point where some of these smaller players could take over some of the market share that larger TMS providers held in the past.”

Like De Muynck, Coleman says the Cloud is pushing both sides of the equation. It’s making TMS more accessible to more shippers while also creating a “sandbox” of sorts for technology vendors looking to develop Cloud-based supply chain systems. In most cases, those solutions are more affordable than earlier, on-premise options.

This makes TMS more attractive to shippers that have been reluctant to surrender their manual, paper-, and phone call-based transportation management approaches.

Coleman is also seeing more predictive analytics embedded in TMS versus just being “bolted onto” an existing solution. “They’re getting creative and making an all-in-one solution,” he explains.

“A lot of companies don’t like the idea of implementing TMS and then having to add additional services at a later date. The vendors that are embedding analytics and other capabilities are differentiating themselves from some of the other options on the market.”

Holman Parts Distribution: From Old School to Streamlined Processes

Holman Parts Distribution

To manage its national transportation network, Holman Parts Distribution based in Pennsauken, N.J., has always relied on a combination of websites, carriers, phone calls, faxes, and e-mails.

“It was pretty old school,” says John Conte, director of logistics operations. “There was no technology in play.”

The tipping point came in 2014, when this national provider of powertrain solutions exited some unprofitable markets, switched up its customer base, and realigned its product offerings. The company has 10 DCs nationwide that ship to automotive customers like Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz.

John Conte, Director of Logistics Operations, Holman Parts Distribution

“We decided to focus the distribution of OEM product using national fleets and dealerships,” says Conte, whose team began looking more closely at where the company was shipping to - and perhaps more importantly, how it was shipping those goods.

“We quickly realized that we didn’t know how much we were spending on transportation,” says Richard Scott, a logistics analyst at the parts distributor.

More specifically, the company had little visibility into whether the actual invoiced amounts matched what it was expecting to pay on the front end. It also wanted customers to be able to track their orders on a self-serve basis - something it wasn’t offering at the time.

“As part of our new overall corporate strategy,” says Conte, “we knew that we needed to put a better focus around logistics and invest in some technology.”

Tasked with finding that technology, Conte wanted a system that would integrate with the company’s existing enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, that would be able to scale up as the company grew, and could manage electronic freight rate audits on the same platform.

“With those basic requirements and a Google search,” says Conte, “we came up with a list of potential Transportation Management Systems TMS providers.”

Kuebix Freight Intelligence

In 2016, Holman Parts selected the Kuebix Cloud-based TMS, which it’s now using across all of its distribution centers. The software provides invoice auditing, vendor management tools, and is being used to strategically plan large-scale changes (i.e., new distribution centers).

According to Conte, Holman Parts Distribution uses the Kuebix TMS as an “all-in” logistics and supply chain tool.

“Because all shipments go through a single system - be it parcel or freight - customer support no longer has to jump on four or five different websites to get the tracking information,” says Conte. The system also “pushes out” tracking information and allows customers to track their shipments online.

Holman Parts has also used its TMS to significantly reduce its overall transportation spend - to the tune of about $400,000 within 12 months of implementing the new platform. “It was basically a $15,000 investment at the time,” says Chelsea Short, logistics coordinator. “Once we saw that cost reduction, we knew we could be doing even more with the system.” When the company integrated the TMS with its ERP, for example, new operational efficiencies soon followed.

Download Holman Parts Distribution Case Study

Instead of employees having to key information in by hand, for example, they just type in sales order numbers and let the ERP create the sales order flow and bill of lading. The system is currently being rolled out company-wide across eight operating units, which includes roughly 60 different locations.

To shippers that are taking their own manual transportation management systems into the digital age, Conte says change management has been the most difficult part of the transition. “We had warehouse employees who had been here for 40 years to 50 years, doing things the same way every day,” he explains. “For them, implementing new technology and processes can be scary.”

To work through these obstacles, Conte says Holman Parts opened up the lines of communication with those employees, asked them for their feedback, and kept them up to speed with the changes.

“We held monthly ‘update’ meetings where we let everyone know what we were doing, what TMS companies we were considering, and what our goals were. It was just constant reinforcement and keeping everyone involved in the entire evaluation and selection process.”

TMS Market Resurgence

With TMS opening up to a broader audience, and with vendors coming up with innovative new capabilities and integrations, this particular software sector’s growth trajectory should continue in 2020 and beyond.

Also driving that train is a host of transportation challenges that aren’t getting any easier to manage using manual systems.

Going forward, Gartner’s De Muynck says he expects even more evolution in the TMS space, where more end-customers expect end-to-end supply chain visibility and where more companies are partnering to ensure those expectations are met.

“Some of the newer solutions on the market are creating a lot of positive momentum around Transportation Management Systems right now,” says De Muynck.

“This is the kind of resurgence that we don’t usually see with well-established software solutions, but it’s definitely happening in the SCE market and for TMS.”

Related Article: How to Choose the Right Transportation Management System for Your Company

How to Choose the Right Transportation Management System for Your Company

Related Resources

Download The Complete Buyer’s Guide to Transportation Management Systems

The Complete Buyer’s Guide to Transportation Management Systems
There is almost no limit to how a Transportation Management System can benefit your unique supply chain, the key to success is finding the right TMS for your goals, so before selecting a TMS, use the 12 questions in this buyer’s guide to finding the best solution for your company. Download Now!

Download Kuebix Freight Intelligence: 3 TMS Related Case Studies

Kuebix Freight Intelligence: 3 TMS Related Case Studies
In these 3 transportation management system case studies, we detail how AMMEX, Master Magnetics, and Show Me Global Logistics implemented Kuebix TMS to save time, improve order accuracy and visibility, and connect with shippers. Download Now!

More Kuebix Resources

Article Topics

Kuebix News & Resources

Visibility + TMS = A Winning Combination
Trimble Placed in 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Real-Time Transportation Visibility Platforms
Kuebix Positioned Again as a Challenger in 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for TMS
The Buyer’s Guide to Transportation Management Systems
TMS Update: Adoption accelerates
The Logistics of Valentine’s Day during COVID-19 Pandemic
Research: Trends in the Supply Chain and Their Impact on the Transportation Management System Market
More Kuebix

Latest in Transportation

Artificial Intelligence to Drive M&A Activity in Supply Chain
US Container Traffic Boosted by Back-to-School Rush
No Surcharge for Holiday Packages, USPS says
Port Everglades: Expansion and Sustainability Efforts for the Future
Moody’s: Carbon Offsets Open Supply Chains Up to Financial, Reputational Risks
Shippers Focus on Yield Management as Rates Continue to Rise
ASCM Releases Top 10 Supply Chain Trends for 2024
More Transportation

About the Author

Bridget McCrea's avatar
Bridget McCrea
Bridget McCrea is an Editor at Large for Modern Materials Handling and a Contributing Editor for Logistics Management based in Clearwater, Fla. She has covered the transportation and supply chain space since 1996 and has covered all aspects of the industry for Modern Materials Handling, Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review. She can be reached at [email protected] , or on Twitter @BridgetMcCrea
Follow Logistics Management on FaceBook


Kuebix, a Trimble Company, provides a transportation management system (TMS) built on the latest cloud technology that is changing how companies purchase and manage freight. The Kuebix platform is unique in that it will scale to meet the needs of any size company or supply chain, and is ready in a fraction of the time of other solutions.

View Kuebix company profile


Featured Downloads

Becoming a Shipper of Choice
Becoming a Shipper of Choice
C3 solutions' scheduling software streamlines the shipping process.
Thinking Differently About Supply Chain Planning
Thinking Differently About Supply Chain Planning
Political landscapes shift overnight, global trade is constantly changing, consumers demand increasingly personalized service and smaller day-to-day challenges hit without warning. If...

Rapidly Improve the Performance of Your Warehouse Logistics
Rapidly Improve the Performance of Your Warehouse Logistics
The Rapid Performance Evaluation identifies opportunities and potential improvements in every aspect of warehouse logistics operations; performance, productivity, service, quality, and systems.
Resource Management System (RMS): How to Effectively Leverage Your Assets
Resource Management System (RMS): How to Effectively Leverage Your Assets
This guide provides an in-depth analysis of the potential of various resources available in a warehouse and how they can be utilized...
Sustainable Supply Chain Insights From PITT OHIO
Sustainable Supply Chain Insights From PITT OHIO
A whitepaper on supply chain insights gleaned at the LEED-certified gold Cleveland transportation and sustainability summit.