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What is an API?

There is a continued emphasis in the LTL transportation industry to develop and consume APIs for various supply chain functions. So, what is an API?

API stands for Application Programming Interface. Put simply, it is a technology used to connect applications with external systems in order to communicate and complete a task. Although there are various types of APIs, they share a common purpose: to enhance an application with functionality that isn’t inherent in the system.

For example, a retailer of large goods could use a freight API to provide online customers real-time shipping costs. Not providing instant shipping rates often results in lost opportunities and abandoned online shopping carts. However, by utilizing a freight API, you can give online customers what they want: instant and complete cost transparency.

Most APIs in the LTL transportation industry assist with similar transactional tasks such as rate quoting, shipment tracking, and pick-up requests. But who provides these APIs?

Transportation software vendors often offer individual, comprehensive supply chain APIs as part of their product offerings. The main benefit of working with a software vendor is the ability to access one API that services multiple carriers.

Carriers sometimes offer these API logistics services as well. Typically, carriers provide APIs as a value-added service. A setback for some, however, may be that you are limited to dealing with that particular carrier.

Transportation partners may have a suite of supply chain APIs as a part of their service offerings. This is to provide value and cost savings for their customers. Another benefit is that a transportation partner can manage all of your APIs, which will save you on time and resources.

Kuehne+Nagel’s suite of tailored logistics solutions implements and supports several APIs designed specifically to help streamline and optimize your transportation services.

Want to digitize, automate, and optimize your heavy-freight operations to help your business grow? Learn more here, or request a risk-free analysis today.