MercuryGate Tip: Customize Your Bill of Lading

By Jeff Williams

The bill of lading (BOL) is a document that’s barely big enough to pack in all of the data and legalese needed to make it work.  It’s a pain to get it right, and once we have it we don’t want to give it much thought.  The problem is that these documents usually look generic because there’s no room for extras like trade dress – those expensive logos and slogan marks that set your company apart. Because the BOL passes through so many supply chain points it’s seen by a lot of people, and it’s an opportunity to show that trade dress to buyers, traders, haulers, accountants, etc.  That little attention to detail reminds them all that you care about those fine details that escape your competitors.  And it consistently reiterates your brand, a subtle yet effective marketing opportunity.

But there’s just no way to squeeze in that trade dress… or is there?

If you use MercuryGate then you know that it provides a powerful document customization based on iReports/JasperReports.  If your BOL is already an iReport then there is a clever and simple way to include your trade dress on your existing BOL: a background half-tone logo or image.

Trade Dress on BOL

If you know iReports it’s a simple process to add this.

  1. Start with a large, high-resolution copy of your company logo and import it into a pixel graphics program like Photoshop.
  2. Select the half-tone tool and experiment with settings until you get something that looks good in black and white, but is light enough to read any text over it.
  3. Once you have an image you like then save it as a PNG.
  4. Now that you have the half-tone image you can open your BOL in iReports and import the PNG file in the attached resources.
  5. Drag the image onto the document and adjust its size and position until it looks good.
  6. Push it all the way to the bottom layer.  This will place it under all other document elements.
  7. There is a chance that some upper elements will have a white background that blocks the logo.  Use element properties to change those elements’ background color to transparent.
  8. Once you have the document the way you like, save the contents all together as a zip file and replace your existing document set in MercuryGate through the admin->documents option.
  9. If your document set is not already a zip file you will need to contact your MercuryGate rep to have them change that for you.  It is good practice to always make your MercurcyGate iReports a zip because you can add/remove images and subreports at any time.

It’s a simple process, but iReports can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know it. If you want this kind of treatment for your BOL, but aren’t quite ready to do it yourself, we have several staff members who can do it for you.  It may even be that you have a collection of BOL changes that have built over the years, and we can also make those changes during the facelift.  Now your BOL stands out from the crowd just as your company does.

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