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Sunrise Logistics leveraging technology with new customer portal

Sunrise Logistics has built a successful business on three pillars: people, process and technology. And those three pillars are the basis of a new customer portal the company is now rolling out.

Sunrise, located in Ephrata, PA, and a division of Four Seasons Produce, was established in 2006 and offers comprehensive managed transportation services, full truckloads, LTL, warehousing and quality control. But in order to offer more advanced services in line with the much larger logistics players, the company has made a significant investment toward a more functional, intuitive and user-friendly system.

Robert Kurtz
Robert Kurtz

“The launch of the Sunrise Logistics customer portal marks another milestone in the growth and capability of Sunrise Logistics,” said Rob Kurtz, vice president and general manager of Sunrise Logistics. “Investing in technology and leveraging that technology has been a foundational strategy for Sunrise Logistics to support our growth, but more importantly, to better serve our customers as a relevant and exceptional supply chain partner.”

Kevin Bender, senior manager of support services, said the new customer portal is “another step to leverage technology to address customer supply chain needs. We have invested heavily in tech platforms over the years to better our transportation management system, and all of those were stepping stones to where we are now.”

In describing the new customer portal, Bender said the new focus is on outward-facing strategy to build capabilities to give customers visibility of the supply chain.

The first version of the portal has two main features: shipment track and trace, and visibility of the Sunrise Logistics delivery rate schedule.

Kevin Bender
Kevin Bender

Of the first feature, Bender said, “Now if a customer has a question about their load in transit, they have to call us, and we have to enter the system to learn the status and get back to them,” he said. “With our new system, they can log in and see for themselves the location of the truck. It’s a way to add more transparency and efficiency to what we offer.”

Kurtz said shippers that use a third-party logistics partner like Sunrise Logistics, have an expectation for real-time shipment tracking so they know the status and any risks for not meeting on-time delivery commitments.

“This element is no longer a ‘nice to have’ feature,” said Kurtz. “It’s a requirement in the competitive landscape. So, for Sunrise Logistics, our investment in technology to better serve our customers and meet their expectations is a strategic imperative.”

He added that including shipment tracking as a part of the customer portal allows customers to self-serve and monitor one shipment or all shipments as they need or want to. “We are not flooding their inboxes with multiple updates and customers don’t have to make a phone call, send an email or wait for Sunrise Logistics associate to reach out with an update,” he said. “The update is there when the customer wants it.”

Regarding the second feature — visibility of the rate schedule — Bender said, “This offers the convenience of being able to search the destinations we serve and see if it aligns with where they need to ship and instantly get a rate for delivery. In the past the customer would have had to call our office with the request, and then someone here would look up the destination and respond with a rate. The process is greatly expedited and much more efficient.”

Bender added that the system is intuitive and offers customers the ability to create an easy reference list, similar to a favorites list, so they can view rates of specific lanes that they use frequently.

“This greatly enhances the user experience, because we offer around 500 delivery destinations in our network, so they can save time and focus on the lanes that are important to them,” said Bender.

He said the customer portal went live on May 19, following just 10 weeks of development.

“It was an extremely aggressive timeline,” Bender acknowledged. “It really challenged our team, but we came together for a successful launch. We decided to focus on these two key functions for version one, with additional features to be added in future releases.”

Among the additional planned features, he said, are including more information in the track and trace area, such as showing a map and route, with ETA; GPS to show the number of miles to destination; document management and storage for reporting and invoicing; ability to enter orders directly into the portal; an inventory report on what a customer has in stock at the Sunrise warehouse; and automatic notifications when new lanes are added.

Bender said these features would be added starting in the third quarter through the end of 2021.

But right now, he said the launch of the customer portal brings Sunrise a step closer to being the one-stop logistics shop that offers customers a transparent view of its services.

“The Sunrise Logistics team is always working to improve service to our customers,” said Kurtz. “As a strategic partner, we want to be a capable extension of our customer’s supply chain so the customer can focus on growing their business and not having to invest a lot of time and energy into managing the details and complexities of the supply chain. That’s what Sunrise Logistics is here for. Any tool that makes it easier to do business with us is a plus for the customer, and our customer portal is another step in that direction.”

Gourmet Trading, a produce importer and distributor based in Redondo Beach, CA, is an established client of Sunrise Logistics that sees great benefits with using the new customer portal.

“Sunrise first started doing LTL ride for Gourmet out of New Jersey and now we are doing FTL all over the states,” said Nancy Aguilar, transportation supervisor for Gourmet Trading. “We’ve grown into a great relationship with the staff and are impressed with their level of professionalism.”

Aguilar said the visibility offered by the new customer portal is attractive for the efficiency it adds. “This helps us provide better service,” she said. “Being able to provide the customer with an update on the truck while being on the phone is very efficient. Also, the online system is easy to navigate, and I’m looking forward to all the improvements and for the app.”

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