A bill of lading is one of the most important documents in shipping and trade, an industry that accounts for 6% of the entire global economy. In general, a bill of lading performs three functions in shipping:
- The bill documents that the carrier agreed to carry the goods in question and notes any problems with the merchandise.
- The document also acts as a receipt that the goods were delivered as promised.
- The bill servces as evidence of current ownership.
In short, a bill of lading ensures that Party A received their promised goods, delivered by Party C, and that Party B received their agreed payment. This document is absolutely critical to successful accounting, and ideally it protects all parties involved involved in trade, shipping, and carrying.
In the 21st century, shipping and transportation companies are increasingly relying on electronic bill of lading creators. This allows shippers to save time by taking advantage of auto-fill features, while also cutting the costs associated with paper and printing. And by putting an electronic bill of lading online, shippers can receive real time data about their operations.
Is There Such a Thing as a Free Bill of Lading Creator?
While we offer an electronic bill of lading creator as a part of comprehensive transportation management software, there are websites that offer free bill of lading creator services. Unfortunately, shippers should be skeptical of anyone promising “free” services, as some of these services can be quite sketchy.
Before uploading a single address to a free bill of lading creator, remember to check the Terms of Service. While the best Third Party Logistics companies and transportation software comes with strict privacy agreements for your protection, free services often have no such guarantees.
If you scroll through the fine print of these ToS, you’ll find hidden gems like this:
“Depending on the documents you create with our service we may collect Personal Information including, but not limited to, your vehicle registration, names of people you have personal or business relationships with, family members, social security number, passport number, license numbers, items you own or wish to transfer ownership of, financial matters, and personal accounts or account numbers with banks, financial institutions, merchants and vendors.”
“As such, by submitting materials to our Site, including Documents, you grant to [redacted] and its designees a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free, fully-paid up, perpetual, irrevocable right and license, without compensation or further notice to you: (a) to use, reproduce, distribute, adapt (including without limitation edit, modify, translate, and reformat), create derivative works of, publicly display and publicly perform such Submission, and the contents of such Submission, in any media now known or hereafter developed…”
An electronic BoL creator is a simple method for controlling transportation costs, but don’t be so eager to lower parcel costs that you put you or your business partners at risk. Ultimately, most serious shippers benefit from a professionally integrated transportation management system, which includes the latest bill of lading creator software available.
In last year’s 18th Annual Third Party Logistics study, shippers saw an average logistics cost reduction of 11%; inventory cost reductions of 6%; and a reduction of fixed logistics costs of 23%. Ultimately, the best transportation software pays for itself, while “free” services can lead to unexpected (and expensive) complications.