Kuebix Returns Shipping

How E-Commerce is Changing Returns

The growing popularity of e-commerce has led to exponential growth in number of returns. While they have always been an integral part of shopping, online orders are significantly increasing their presence in the retail and e-commerce industries.

E-commerce platform Yotpo reported that 88% of fashion shoppers surveyed have returned fashion items purchased online in the past year. Of those shoppers, 51% have returned between $50 and $500 worth of merchandise. Consumers often order the same product in multiple sizes or a few options with the intention of only keeping one.

Consumers are making more subjective and less-predictable purchases online. Fit and quality are the top two reasons for returns. When looking at an article of clothing online, it’s often hard to tell how it will look and what size is best. The number of returns is expected to increase steadily with the volume of online orders. Businesses are starting to think of ways to make returns an opportunity for profit rather than a traditional expense.

Many retailers are starting to accept the returns of their competitors. Nordstrom recently announced it will now be taking returns from other stores including its competitors Macy’s and Kohl’s. Popular retail stores are starting to realize that returns don’t have to be viewed as a negative. The origin of the return doesn’t diminish Nordstrom’s opportunity to sell to incoming customers.

Kohl’s recently launched a similar program in which it accepts returns for Amazon orders. Amazon’s popularity is often seen as a threat and this unique approach allowed Kohl’s to use it to their advantage. Their pilot stores in Chicago and Los Angeles saw a 9% increase in new customers and an 8% increase in revenue at participating locations. In response, Kohl’s launched the program worldwide. Returns are providing retail stores losing business to e-commerce a second chance at drawing in customers and selling their products.

Happy Returns, a relatively new startup, is offering to ease the operational burden of returns. The company processes, evaluates and batches returns together at several return bars. Consumers are able to make their return in-person and receive an instant refund. Through implementing Happy Returns businesses can stabilize the cost of their returns and easily receive and process them.

Returns are creating an opportunity for additional revenue and providing a simpler solution to receiving and processing. Businesses driving profit through returns can also benefit from implementing technology into the operational side of their supply chains. A transportation management system (TMS) gives shippers complete visibility through their supply chain with real-time information on the locations of their shipments.

The Biggest Supply Chain Challenge Facing Food and Beverage Companies

The Biggest Supply Chain Challenge Facing the Food & Beverage Industry

Rising Customer Expectations Present Biggest Challenge for the Food & Beverage Industry

Changing consumer shopping habits and rising customer expectations are putting added pressure on the food and beverage industry. Shoppers are becoming used to having dozens of choices at their fingertips. Whether this is a choice between multiple flavors and varieties where there might have once only been, or the choice to purchase groceries online, at a traditional grocery store, in a convenience store, or any other location, there are more options than ever. This presents a big challenge for food and beverage companies that need to support more SKUs and deliver to more retail locations.

Consumers Are Demanding More Convenience From Their Grocery Shopping

Gone are the days when everyone made a single trip to their local grocery store to purchase the same list of weekly groceries. While some people still maintain this habit, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to shop for food at a variety of locations. Shoppers often want to grab a loaf of bread of a gallon of milk while they go about their busy lives. This means many different retail locations have the opportunity to draw in shoppers by offering an assortment of essentials. Convenience and pharmacy locations like CVS and Walgreens have jumped on this bandwagon, expanding their grocery sections to include more shelf-stable and frozen products. Big box stores like Target and Wal-Mart as also capitalizing on this trend.

Online shopping is growing in popularity across all industry and it’s no different for food and beverage. There are now hundreds of options for shoppers to order ahead to pick-up in store or at a special location as well as have groceries delivered directly to their door. This is not to mention to rise in popularity of meal subscription services which take the planning out of meal prep.

These new ways for consumers to shop for their groceries adds a new level of convenience, but also comes with many challenges for food and beverage supply chains. Instead of just delivering to the dock of routine grocery stores, now manufacturers have multiple lanes to multiple retail locations to fulfill. Juggling the increasingly complicated routing as well as inbound delivery restrictions can be a challenge for food and beverage manufacturers.

Consumers Want More Options than Just Chocolate or Vanilla

In years past, many common grocery items came in only one or two varieties. Soda came in one or two sizes and in standard flavors, yogurt was strawberry, vanilla or plain, and burgers were simple beef patties. Now, these and many other products and categories come in a multitude of flavors and options! When you walk into the dairy aisle of a grocery store these days, you’ll find yourself confronted by a wall of yogurt types. Soda comes in different sized containers and you can find diet options, natural and organic, and even foreign brands. Burgers have transformed from just simple beef patties to an entire food category of their own encompassing meat-free options, health-conscious choices, and even different proteins like chicken and mushroom.

Brand loyalty is also a fading trend. With the advent of the internet and easy ways to compare products as well as learn about new ones, shoppers are more willing to try something new or quite a brand that has disappointed them. As such, manufacturers are now constantly working to maintain their customer base and offer new and more exciting options.

While these new flavors and varieties cater to consumers’ new expectations and shopping habits, adding more SKUs to any product presents challenges for food and beverage manufacturers. Considerations like shelf-life and seasonality need to be factored in as well as where different products are manufactured. Instead of shipping a truckload of a few products from one location, manufacturers may find themselves shipping more LTL from multiple zip codes.

Keeping store shelves full also presents an issue for demand planning teams. Shelf space and backroom space are at a premium, meaning replenishment from the manufacturer needs to happen in smaller batches more frequently in order to keep shelves stocked. Consumers are more willing than ever to buy from a competitor rather than visit another store for the brand they prefer and this can be a risk for manufacturers with a growing SKU list.

How Transportation Management Technology Helps Food & Beverage Companies Face These Challenges

Food and beverage businesses have complex supply chains with many unique characteristics: tight margins, fresh products that may spoil, expiration dates on products, complicated inbound requirements and more. On top of these challenges are industry issues that center around the lack of carrier capacity, shortage of truck drivers and increased regulations and compliance requirements.

Getting the right volume of products at the right time, and at the right location, is no easy task. Visibility into and control of supply chain processes will allow food and beverage businesses to address rising customer expectations all while meeting business goals.

Transportation management systems like Kuebix TMS can help food and beverage companies face the challenges of increasingly complicated supply chains due to rising customer expectations. With features like rating, booking and tracking all from within a single system, any company can save countless hours and realize real, bottom-line benefits by comparing all their rates side-by-side. With added features like ERP integrations and collaboration portals, communication between systems and partners becomes seamless and issues can be avoided before they even begin. Dock scheduling and yard management features help manufacturers keep their supply chains moving so that products don’t spoil and products reach stores with the maximum amount of shelf life.

By incorporating technology into everyday operations, food and beverage companies can address the challenges created by rising customer expectations, save time and improve their bottom lines all at the same time.

Kuebix National Truck Driver Appreciation Week

Highlights From National Truck Driver Appreciation Week

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is here and it’s important to take the time to recognize truck drivers and all they do for the transportation industry. Officially occurring between September 8th and September 14th, the week is being celebrated by motor carriers hosting family gatherings, cookouts, giveaways and presenting drivers with awards.

The industry is estimated to consist of 3.5 million professional truck drivers who are responsible for the delivery of 71.4% of the country’s total freight tonnage. Over 80% of communities in the United States rely exclusively on truck drivers to deliver their goods. Without the timely and professional work of truck drivers, businesses and communities alike would struggle to keep their supply chains moving. 

Below are four of the ways carriers and community members are coming together to show appreciation for their truck drivers:

American Trucking Association

The ATA is celebrating National Truck Driver Appreciation Week by hosting Trucking Day at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. where they will recognize notable achievements in the trucking industry from the past year. The event will be followed by FedEx Freight’s professional truck driver Dion Saiz singing the national anthem prior to the Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals game.

Trucking Moves America Forward

Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) operates with the intention of creating a positive image for the trucking industry to ensure that policymakers and the population understand the industry’s significance to the economy and support it accordingly. TMAF is showing its appreciation for America’s professional truck drivers through their #ThankATrucker campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. CBS Sports, NBC Sports and other play-by-play broadcasts of professional football will also air TMAF commercials educating consumers on the industry and its essential role in delivering products and goods. 

J.B. Hunt

Trucking company J.B. Hunt is hosting events for its drivers including water parks, theme parks, cookouts and carnival games. They are also rewarding drivers with prizes through Facebook including gift cards, coolers, backpacks, jackets and other apparel. 

Knight-Swift

Truckload and logistics service provider Knight Swift is hosting events for truck drivers at each of their terminals. Activities will include food, games, entertainment and more!

Whether you are a professional truck driver yourself or have one in your life, you have a lot to be proud of! Their role is essential to the success of supply chains worldwide and their impact increases with every delivery made. Kuebix thanks every driver for their hard work each and every day and hopes that everyone enjoys National Truck Driver Appreciation Week!

How to Choose the Right TMS for Your Company

How to Choose the Right TMS for Your Company

Choosing the right transportation management system for your company can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Whether you’re a first-time TMS buyer or a long-time user looking for an upgrade, all you need to do is arm yourself with the right questions to ask before starting your TMS search.

Answering These Questions Will Help You Find the Right TMS for Your Company

Step One: Understand Your Business

Kuebix TMS SolutionThe best place to start is to understand how your company operates and could most efficiently leverage a transportation management system. Having a complete understanding of how your company runs its logistics operations will give you a solid foundation to work from. Before doing research on specific TMS systems available, make sure you know how your logistics operations run.

  •      ☑     How many modes of transportation does my company ship with?
  •      ☑     How many shipments does my company make per month?
  •      ☑     Do we operate out of multiple locations?
  •      ☑     Are there multiple people at my company involved in the shipping process?
  •      ☑     Do we use an ERP system to streamline orders?
  •      ☑     Is routing and shipment consolidation a challenge right now?
  •      ☑     How many invoices do we audit each month?

Click here to discover which solution is right for your business: https://www.kuebix.com/productrec/

Step Two: Understand Your Goals

Understanding why you need a transportation management system will ensure that you implement a TMS that is right for your business. Ask yourself these questions to prepare yourself with a list of “must-haves” before you start researching the industry.

  •      ☑     What type of ROI do I need to see from a TMS? What’s most important:
    •      •     Time savings
    •      •     Bottom-line savings
    •      •     Error mitigation savings
  •      ☑     Does the system need to be highly user-friendly for non-technical users?
  •      ☑     Will this technology need to be able to grow and adapt as our business needs change?
  •      ☑     How much do we want to spend on implementation? How much on subscription costs?
  •      ☑     How quickly do we need to be up and running with this new technology?
  •      ☑     Will we need to integrate to any internal systems?
  •      ☑     Do we want to attain full visibility to all of our shipments?
  •      ☑     Are we looking for a way to find additional spot volume when our regularly negotiated rates don’t cover a load?

Step Three: Understand the Market

Now that you have a solid understanding of your operational functionality laid, you’ll quickly be able to eliminate unsuitable types of transportation management systems. For example, some systems brand themselves as complete TMS solutions, but are in reality, only rate aggregators. If you are looking for a place to conduct all of your logistics operations, you’ll know right away that a simple solution like a rate aggregator won’t work for your company. Alternatively, you may be able to eliminate other TMS solutions that require you to purchase all available features, even ones you won’t use. This will help to narrow down the field quickly.

In your day to day life you probably rely on word-of-mouth and review sites to make important purchases. Buying a TMS shouldn’t be any different. Make sure to check out reputable review sites and research from 3rd party consultancies. These will give you unbiased accounts of the top TMS options available on the market.

Check out these resources to discover some of the leading TMS vendors:

Step Four: Understand a Specific Transportation Management System

10 Essential Questions Datasheet Image Kuebix TMS

Once you’ve reviewed some of the leading research and review sites to discover which TMS solutions have the best reputations for success, you’re ready to dive into researching specific TMSs. Below is a list of questions you should answer when evaluating a specific transportation management system. These questions will help you choose the right TMS for your business.

Download this list as a PDF to have with you during your evaluation process.

  •      ☑     How do current customers rank this TMS on review sites? (Gartner Peer Insights, Capterra, G2)
  •      ☑     What will the implementation process look like and what is the expected turn-around time?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS work for teams across my company? (Logistics, sales, customer support, etc.)
  •      ☑     Are there benefits for being a member of this TMS’ community such as a spot market?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS save me time with a user friendly UI and simple processes?
  •      ☑     Does this TMS have a history of creating outstanding ROI for its users?
  •      ☑     Does this TMS give preferential treatment to any carriers or brokers?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS be able to adapt and grow alongside my business?
  •      ☑     Can I manage all modes of transportation with this TMS?
  •      ☑     Is this TMS cloud-based or a monolithic, in-house model

By following these four steps you will be in the best position to choose the TMS that is right for your business. Click here to contact Kuebix and we would be happy to work with you directly to help you understand your company’s specific needs. After all, the decision to implement a transportation management system can have positive ramifications throughout your entire company and we want to make sure you get the most benefits from your final choice.

UK Drug Bust Port Shipping Containers

Is Globalization Causing an Increase in Illegal Shipping Container Activity?

The United Kingdom carried out its largest-ever heroin bust at the Port of Felixstowe last week on August 30. Officers from the Border Force as well as the National Crime Agency (NCA) discovered a shipping container loaded with 1.3 tons of the drug stowed aboard the Maersk Gibraltar. This record-setting bust had a street value of £120 million ($148 million).

News of this discovery was kept silent until authorities could follow the shipping container’s planned path to Antwerp in an attempt to discover more details about those behind the shipment.

“The smugglers had hidden the drugs within a cover load of towels, stitching the 1 kg blocks of heroin inside some of the towels,” said Jenny Sharp, Border Force assistant director at Felixstowe. “In total, it took my officers nearly six hours — working in the early hours of Saturday morning — to remove the drugs.”

Authorities returned the shipping container to the Maersk vessel after removing all of the hidden heroin and proceeded to track the ship’s progress until it docked in the Belgian port city on September 1st. Working collaboratively, the British and Dutch authorities were able to track the container after it made landfall. The shipping container made its way by truck to a warehouse located in Rotterdam where police arrested four people unloading the now empty container.

By foiling the shipment, organized crime syndicates have been denied tens of millions of pounds of profits, marking an impressive win for Europe in the war against drugs.

Is Globalization to Blame?

The world has gotten smaller with the advent of the internet and increased international trade. This phenomenon, often referred to as globalization, has had a marked impact on nearly every economy. As more and more businesses start to operate on an international scale, efficiencies law-abiding shippers receive from moving larger shipments across oceans provide the same cost-saving opportunities to drug smugglers.

In 2012, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) produced a policy paper that predicted that the global shipping industry “would be used for the transport of narcotics, arms and other illicit cargo.” Container shipping was called out in the paper to be a specific risk. The nature of maritime trade makes it difficult for authorities to monitor and the scale of container shipping means that there are many opportunities for smugglers to capitalize on.

According to the report, “Containerization provides trafficking with the same cost- and time-saving transport mechanisms that have allowed the world’s multinational companies to deliver their products quickly and cheaply, penetrate new markets and expand their global customer base.”

Blockchain and Tracking Technologies Can Help Curb Illegal Activity

New technologies like blockchain and advanced tracking systems may make drug smuggling via containers harder for organized crime groups. As technology like RFID, GPS tracking, gate check, and connections through transportation management systems make tracking easier for companies (and by extension the police), it will be harder for smugglers to hide their activity.

Container tracking is still a new frontier for many companies who have been accustomed to limited or zero visibility to their inbound shipments across the ocean. As more and more companies adopt tracking technologies, it becomes easier for everyone to understand exactly where individual containers originated from, stopped, and may have potentially had their contents altered.

The level of international trade we see in 2019 is still a relatively new occurrence. For example, international trade with China was practically non-existent in the 1980’s. Now, China represents trillions of dollars’ worth of global trade. Many manufacturers have moved production offshore to countries with cheaper labor costs as well. Increasing international trade will undoubtedly result in an increase of international smuggling. As technology continues to advance, however, there is hope that new tools will become accessible to every company to help fight drug smuggling.

Bahamas - Hurricane Dorian Supply Chain Kuebix

Hurricane Dorian Threatens Supply Chains Needed for Recovery

When Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane this past Sunday, it left devastation in its wake. The storm brought with it high winds and extreme flood waters that would rip off roofs and ruin houses. Adding to the destructive nature of the storm was its slow movement up the coast. Instead of traveling quickly over several areas, Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas, traveling at a mere 1 mph at times. This left buildings and infrastructure along its path to be relentlessly pummeled for up to 12 hours at a time.

Now, Hurricane Dorian has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane. While this still poses a threat to the states of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, weather forecasters hope that the storm will blow itself out over the Atlantic without additional destruction in the United States. However, many islands and coastal communities have been evacuated and transportation and supply chains have ground to a halt as Americans prepare for a potential disaster to rival that seen in the Bahamas.

In addition to individuals preparing for the storm, many businesses are also feeling the direct effect of Dorian. Manufacturers and suppliers located in the southeast have been preparing for the impact for more than a week. This means rushed production, rushed delivery and around the clock monitoring of the storm’s trajectory. Many businesses are in a state of unknown paralysis as they’re unable to open business back up until the threat of Dorian is over.

Getting the labor force back to work will also be a challenge when Dorian finally passes later this week. Families are displaced across the country, many homes will be uninhabitable, and communities will still be picking up the pieces. Roads are likely to be dangerous or impassible as well, adding to concerns about shipping necessary products. Some aid organizations are choosing to deliver supplies like food and water by helicopter to areas already impacted since extensive debris litters roads and makes ground transportation impossible.

Hurricane Dorian’s Destruction

  •      •     Five confirmed deaths, though this number is anticipated to rise as rescue efforts persist
  •      •     Storm surges between 12 – 18 feet hit Grand Bahama Island, causing extensive flooding
  •      •     An estimated 13,000 homes have been completely destroyed or rendered uninhabitable (approximately 45% of all homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco)
  •      •     Winds reaching upwards of 185 mph
  •      •     60,000 – 62,000 people will need to be provided with food and water according to the Red Cross
  •      •     Airports are closed – Hurricane Dorian has caused more than 1,300 flights to be canceled within, as well as into and out of, the US.
  •      •     Several Florida ports have closed including Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, Jaxport, Port of Tampa Bay and the Port of Palm Beach

The recovery efforts in the Bahamas will undoubtedly be extensive. Many nodes of the supply chain were broken or stalled by Dorian and need to be fixed before recovery efforts can truly move forward. These are a few of the ways that the government and private organizations are working to keep supplies flowing and the supply chain operational:

  •      •     The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expanded its Hours of Service regulations suspension to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
  •      •     Police in Florida are escorting gas trucks in order to keep fuel moving to areas in need
  •      •     Highway authorities are reversing lanes to make room for evacuees
  •      •     More than 5,000 national guardsmen and 2,700 active-duty personnel have been deployed or positioned to respond in 24 hours or less

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of the northern Bahamas,” said Prime Minister Hubert A. Minnis said at a news conference late on September 2, 2019. “Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery. I ask for your prayers for those in affected areas and for our first responders.”

While the world watches to see the final results of Hurricane Dorian’s destruction, supply chain and logistics professionals work tirelessly to get things back to normal. Food, safe water, medical supplies, fuel, and just about every other necessity rely on the supply chain.

Kuebix TMS Sustainability Meat Alternative Labor Day

What’s Your Burger Made of This Labor Day Weekend?

Beef burgers have been a summer barbecuing staple for generations of Americans. From Memorial Day to Labor Day families and friends will gather to share this favorite food in backyards across the country, not to mention year-long at many popular fast-food chains. The traditional beef burger is changing, however. Now, when you head to your neighborhood BBQ this weekend, you may find yourself with a wider selection of burger patty options than you expected.

Meat-free options, health-conscious choices, and other patty alternatives are currently trending with consumers. The $90B global meat market is facing disruption unlike anything it’s seen before, with new fake-meat products entering the market every day and consumers branching out from traditional beef products.

Here are a number of popular beef patty alternatives that you may find at your Labor Day barbeque this year.

Beef patty alternatives:

  • •     Fake-meat patties (Beyond Meat, the Impossible Burger, etc.)
  • •     Veggie burgers (MorningStar, Gardein, Dr. Praegers, etc.)
  • •     Mushroom burgers
  • •     Homemade black bean burgers

Why Are Beef Patty Alternatives So Popular?

According to FAIRR, a global network of investors addressing ESG issues in protein supply chains, “Alternative proteins, which include plant-based substitutes for animal-based foods, are expected to capture 10% of the meat market in 15 years and are now worth around $19.5 billion.” It’s easy to see that beef patty alternatives are popular, but the question still remains, why?

Sustainability

Consumers continue to place a heavy emphasis on sustainability, with 68% of US internet users citing product sustainability as an important factor when making a purchase. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that livestock supply chains account for 14.5% of all global anthropogenic GHG emissions, a number which includes the burning of fossil fuels worldwide. Many consumers are searching for a more sustainable way to continue to enjoy burgers without contributing as highly to global emissions.

Changing Diets

Changing diets are having an impact as well. You’ve probably heard about diet trends like Paleo, Low-Carb, Vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, and Low-FODMAP. These and many other diet types play a role in consumers desire for patty alternatives. Some diets focus on weight-loss, reduced-sodium content, eating more “whole” foods, eliminating allergies, improving digestion, and adhering to religious or personal ethics. Consumers are becoming used to having more options to choose from to fit their lifestyles and the burger industry is only the latest industry to see a great diversifying of products.

What Does This Mean for the Supply Chain?

Many large brands are jumping on the meat-alternative bandwagon, and this doesn’t just include burgers! Most recently, Burger King, KFC and Dunkin’ Donuts announced that they would be adding fake-meat products to their menus. Now, you can get a vegetarian Whopper, vegan fried chicken or a plant-based sausage breakfast sandwich. Conagra’s Gardein meat-alternative unit saw its share of the meat alternative market rise to 11% in 2018 from 6% in 2013. Not wanting to be left out of this lucrative market, Nestle is launching its own plant-based Awesome Burger this fall.

The surge in popularity of meat alternatives is having both positive and negative effects on the supply chain. In the short term, manufacturers are facing issues with production. In May, the Impossible Burger’s creator, Impossible Foods, was forced to hire a third shift for its production line and begin building a second line to double supply. Many brands have signed new contracts with food service companies which they may not be able to fully supply at first.

Some grocery chains are also struggling with where to shelve fake-meat products. Some have shelved Impossible Burgers and other meat-like options in the meat aisle, much to the confusion of some. Others are creating or expanding their vegetarian and vegan sections to accommodate new products. These short term problems are expected to slacken as production lines boost output, procurement teams become accustomed to a new category, and retailers adjust their offerings.

In the long term, meat-alternatives promise to be easier for supply chains. This starts with a reduction in the need for livestock which require their own complex supply chains to function. In general, plant-based products have fewer touch-points compared with meat-based products, meaning logistics teams will have fewer points to manage. Patties will also be easier to transport and have higher levels of food safety. Once the initial hurdle of transforming supply chains to accommodate new SKUs and product types is complete, this promises to be a new, lucrative industry for food manufacturers to compete within.

So, if you get to the grill this weekend and see more options than just the standard American beef patty, pick the one that works best for you and remember to have a great Labor Day weekend!

New Trends in Sustainable Packaging May Shake Up E-Commerce Shipping - Kuebix TMS

New Trends in Sustainable Packaging May Shake Up E-Commerce Shipping

Almost every online order fulfilled means another cardboard box shipped to a consumer. It should come as no surprise that cardboard boxes are contributing an unprecedented amount to overall cardboard waste. As environmental concerns grow, companies are beginning to look for sustainable alternatives to ship their products.

Why Cardboard Has Been a Popular Choice for Retailers

The classic cardboard box has dominated the shipping industry since 1890. Retail stores are filled with products encased in dyed paper and plastic packages, but it’s cardboard boxes that got them there. Cardboard boxes started out plain and practical to play their part in the supply chain. However, the rise of e-commerce changed the perspective of companies. Cardboard boxes quickly became an opportunity for establishing a brand.

Popular businesses that support online shopping including Amazon and Target started incorporating their brand name and even playful images or slogans onto their cardboard boxes. These new designs were created with the intention of making an impression on consumers and representing the brand’s purpose to those who didn’t come face-to-face with their store.

New Options for More Sustainable Packaging

Companies are presently being challenged to come up with an environmentally friendly alternative to shipping product in cardboard boxes that still represents their brand. 3M, a manufacturing company operating out of Minnesota, has redesigned bubble wrap to contribute to this change. Their effort is geared towards reducing the amount of packaging needed to ship smaller items. Plastic envelopes lined with bubble wrap are perceived as a better alternative to boxes because they take up less space. Even though the packages are smaller, these envelopes are limited to specific sizes that are sometimes too big for what’s being shipped.

To eliminate these barriers associated with making smarter shipping choices, 3M released its Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls. The material is a padded envelope that is sold on a roll instead of assembled packages. The new design gives consumers the ability to personalize the size of their envelopes to an appropriate size for what they’re shipping. Eliminating the use of oversized envelopes and unnecessary cardboard boxes with Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls will drastically reduce the waste oversized packaging creates.

Happy Returns, a consumer retail and e-commerce return service, is taking a different approach by eliminating boxes and single-use packaging altogether. The company is adopting the use of totes made of recycled plastic to reduce the cardboard waste they create by packaging and shipping return items for consumers. The new reusable container will minimize the amount of cardboard required for return shipments by 73% in weight and 92% in area.

Happy Returns and 3M are frontrunners in the effort to reduce packaging waste. E-commerce businesses and retail stores dependent on online sales will follow suit as environmental concerns continue to grow. The next time you order something online, be sure to keep your eye out for a more sustainable form of packaging upon delivery!

Kuebix Subscription Box Supply Chain

Subscription Boxes are Changing Supply Chains

Subscription boxes are captivating the attention of consumers all over the globe. They satisfy almost every want and need imaginable (cheese, wine and beer, razors, clothes and makeup, etc.) in an innovative and entertaining way. Box subscribers typically pay a monthly fee for a box that is either ‘curated’ for them, meaning they have no control over what’s inside, or one that is based on their responses to a series of questions. 

While the process of signing up and receiving a package monthly is simple for consumers, the supply chain side of subscription boxes is a different story. Traditional e-commerce calls for shipping unique orders from individual customers off as they are received. With subscription boxes, companies have to send up to hundreds of thousands of nearly (if not completely) identical orders within a tight timeframe.

Entrepreneurs adopting this business model often fulfill orders in their homes until their subscriber count outgrows their available space. Options for completing orders of a larger size are dependent on the type of subscription. The popular choice is outsourcing fulfillment and inventory to a third-party logistics company (3PL). Businesses selling monthly subscriptions of alcoholic beverages have to deal with extensive industry subscriptions that can make outsourcing complicated. Conversely, businesses selling feminine hygiene products have no choice but to outsource in order to ensure that they are filling orders in an FDA-compliant factory

Subscription boxes “don’t change what consumers want, subscriptions get consumers to look at existing products in a new way,” explains Forbes. The element of surprise makes subscription boxes exciting, but they can easily lose subscribers if their products disappoint. Technology has been essential in helping the subscription box industry understand what their customers want from them through questionnaires and discussion forums. Boxes that are ‘curated’ are the safer approach because consumers know exactly what they are signing up for. Those that are at least partially customized face greater risk because they have to convince consumers that they want what’s inside.

Many subscription services offer free returns or even encourage subscribers to only “keep what they want.” Popular subscription boxes like Stich Fix, a fashion box, let buyers try the items on in the comfort of their own home before deciding what to buy and what to return. This means return labels need to be pre-printed and included with every box. Keeping track of which returns belong with which orders puts additional pressure on retailers.

Grocery and meal subscription boxes have also risen in popularity, with varieties to fit every schedule, diet and need. Companies offering subscription services on refrigerated products face the challenge of timing, as they need to keep products fresh in special cooler-like packaging. Knowing ahead of time the total number of orders is helpful for logistics professionals, but juggling thousands of individualized orders presents a new challenge for an industry that traditionally only shipped to grocery stores.

Beyond helping gage customer interest, technology plays a huge part in keeping the unique supply chain of subscription boxes organized. Adopting a transportation management systems (TMS) can help parcel shippers gain visibility over their supply chains. Detailed tracking information makes it easier for companies to ensure that their subscription boxes are being delivered on time. Not to mention keep subscribers informed as they eagerly await the arrival of their next subscription box!

Fleet Backhaul Management - Kuebix

What You Need to Do to Make Fleet Backhaul Management Easy

Fleet backhaul management is a notoriously difficult task that fleet owners and operators are all too familiar with. When a truck returns from making a delivery it is usually empty. This is known as “driving empty” or “empty miles.” Even though there is no freight on the trailer, drivers still need to be paid, fuel is used up and trucks depreciate in value. The expense of empty miles are usually calculated into the freight rate ahead of time, but this capacity still presents an opportunity for fleet owners to generate additional revenue for direct bottom-line impact.

Instead of having fleet assets return empty, finding freight to haul on the return trip can create a win-win situation for both the shipper and the fleet owner. Shippers find a new, valuable source of capacity and fleets generate bottom-line revenue. So why has it been so hard up until now to manage fleet backhauls?

Why Traditional Fleet Backhaul Management is So Difficult

Managing a fleet is difficult enough without finding freight to carry on the return trip. When companies do try to generate some additional revenue by filling empty backhaul miles, they can find themselves wasting more time sourcing opportunities than actually moving freight.

Loads Must Meet Certain Parameters

The process of finding available freight is more complicated than simply finding freight that needs to move in the opposite direction the original delivery is headed. There are many other parameters that need to be considered too. Things like Haz-Mat, food-grade and temp control all need to be taken into account. Other parameters like noise regulation or truck size in neighborhoods can also make a difference between a good opportunity and an impossible one.

For example, a truckload order of refrigerated groceries leaves York, PA heading to New York City. After it leaves from New York, the truck typically drives back to York, PA with an empty trailer. The fleet owner looks for a food-grade backhaul opportunity along this route. If they’re lucky, the fleet owner might find a load that needs to travel from Allentown to Harrisburg or even directly back to York. This would reduce the total number of empty miles driven.

Finding Opportunities and Getting Paid Can Be Challenging

This scenario adds bottom-line revenue for the company. But finding that opportunity is easier said than done. It can take an entire team of logistics professionals to source and secure that backhaul opportunity. After the opportunity has been successfully matched with the truck type and other delivery parameters, the fleet still needs a way to invoice for its work and get paid. Doing one-off deliveries for a variety of shippers can be a headache for everyone involved.

Since the process of finding, booking and getting paid for backhaul freight is so difficult and time-consuming, it’s no wonder that many fleet owners decide not to look for backhaul opportunities and stick to their everyday fleet management.

How to Make Fleet Backhaul Management Easy

The answer is to tap into a community.

Fleet backhaul management becomes easy when fleets find and connect with an existing community of shippers and brokers looking for capacity. Instead of individually sourcing loads on a one-by-one basis, fleets instead have a single source to work through. Programs like Kuebix FleetMAX are giving fleets an easy way to expose their available capacity to thousands of shippers while at the same time streamlining the AR/AP process.

Why Kuebix FleetMAX is a Game Changer

With FleetMAX, Kuebix’s technology digitally matches fleet capacity with freight to obtain consistent and repetitive external backhauls to offset empty miles, add revenue to fleet operations, and provide shippers/brokers a new source of trusted capacity.

Kuebix also overcomes the administrative obstacle of charging the shipper and collecting the funds. With FleetMAX, all of the financials and settlements are managed through one of the most trusted names in the industry, Estes Truckload Management, relieving private fleets of these administrative challenges.

After a fleet joins the network through FleetMAX, their open capacity becomes available to Kuebix’s connected shipping community which includes thousands of shippers and brokers looking for capacity. For fleets, this means they can focus on picking up and delivering orders, not chasing opportunities or managing individual contracts with shippers.

Click here to learn more about getting started managing your fleet backhauls with FleetMAX!

Kuebix Back to School

7 Back-to-School Safety Tips for Truck Drivers

Schools will be back in session in a few short weeks, and for some, classes have already started! As kids cram an array of notebooks into their backpacks and parents rush to assemble lunches so their kids are ready to hop on the bus, it’s important to remember that this change in season has a significant impact on the transportation industry. Below are a few of the ways that truck drivers can keep the roads safe as kids head back to school.

Limit Distractions

In order for truck drivers, busy parents and bus drivers to peacefully coexist on the road, it’s important to eliminate any potential distractions. Resisting the temptation to check your cell phone or get distracted by talking is crucial to your own safety as well as that of other drivers and passengers nearby. Other potential distractions include eating, adjusting the navigation system, or even finding the right station to listen to. Encouraging everyone to commit to a more focused approach to driving will improve the overall safety of the roads each and every day.

Be Aware of School Zones

No matter where you’re heading, school zone rules and speed limits must be followed. Drivers should always slow down to obey the speed limit, especially in unfamiliar areas. Keep an eye out for school zone signs, and if these signs have flashing lights, that means reduced speed limits are in effect. Also pay attention to crosswalks and highly pedestrianized areas as there is likely to be more foot traffic than usual. Many trucks now come equipped with an electronic logging device (ELD) which may monitor speed as well as total hours driven. This can help companies keep track of trends and make changes when needed. 

Anticipate Areas with Heavier Traffic

If a school bus in front of you is parked with its stop sign extended, you are legally obligated to stop and wait until the bus drives away. When a school bus is stopped like this, it usually means that it is either picking up or dropping off children. It is very dangerous to pass a stopped bus as there may be children crossing the street. 

This change can be frustrating, especially for truck drivers who have strict delivery windows and hours of service (HoS) rules to adhere to. To mitigate delays caused by stalled traffic behind school buses, it’s important to plan ahead for the inevitable change in traffic associated with back-to-school season. 

Be Aware of Student Drivers

Beyond traditional academic courses within their schools, many students will also be participating in driving courses to prepare for their license tests. These courses are a combination of lessons in the classroom and on the roads. As the volume of student drivers on the road picks up, it’s important to drive with patience and understanding for those in front of you – especially new drivers! 

Use Highways and Interstates Instead of Back Roads

Some drivers will choose to use backroads and main streets to navigate their routes. This strategy might shave a few miles off of the total route and make the drive faster during the summer, but it could be a completely different story in the school year. When school is back in session, roads closest to homes and schools will experience the most significant increase in traffic compared with highways and interstates. Choosing to use major highways will likely save you time during the school year and help keep the roads safe.

 Proceed with Caution When Backing Up to a Dock

The process of loading and unloading freight at the dock must be approached carefully – you never know who is nearby! It’s advisable to get out and look at how much space is available or use a spotter when backing a truck into position. Communication between truck drivers and dock workers should be clear and consistent to keep the potential for risk to a minimum. This is especially important in areas where there might be children. Starting the process blindly and continuing without communicating intentions leaves room for error and injury. 

Keep Up with HoS Rules and Regulations

HoS rules and regulations are frequently being adjusted by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) in an attempt to find a healthy balance between efficiency and safety. Regularly checking for changes will ensure that drivers are aware of when they are allowed to be on the road, when they aren’t and how many hours they can drive each week. Utilizing this information will allow for better-planned routes to maximize efficiency.

FedEx’s Breakup with Amazon Draws Battle Lines in the Fight for Shipping - Kuebix TMS

FedEx’s Breakup with Amazon Draws Battle Lines in the Fight for Shipping

FedEx is breaking up with Amazon as the e-commerce giant continues to make waves in the shipping industry. The carrier announced that it will choose not to renew its ground freight contract with Amazon for any final mile delivery, effective September 2019. This comes only 2 months after FedEx announced that it would end Express air shipments with the e-commerce company. Amazon made up roughly 1.3% of FedEx’s total sales in 2018.

According to spokespeople from both companies, the breakup is amicable, an Amazon operations executive even tweeting “we wish them nothing but the best, conscious uncoupling at its finest.” But this conscious uncoupling goes deeper than a simple business incompatibility.

Here’s what you need to know about why FedEx and Amazon have officially parted ways.


Amazon’s Bid to Transform the Shipping Industry

It’s no secret that Amazon has ushered in an era or super-fast, super-convenient online shopping. The company has become the #1 e-commerce platform, bringing in close to $232 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 net sales. By promising Prime members free, 2-day shipping on thousands of items, Amazon has built consumer loyalty and changed the way shoppers think about shipping. Customer expectations have changed and 2-day, or even faster, delivery is now expected. In fact, Amazon plans to make 1-day delivery standard for Prime members in 2020.

Amazon

In order to meet these pie-in-the-sky delivery promises, Amazon has decided that a ‘go-it-alone’ strategy is needed for their logistics operations. Instead of solely relying on established parcel carriers like FedEx, UPS, or the United States Postal Service (USPS), the company is increasingly developing their own shipping networks. This includes building out their own fleet to fulfill final mile deliveries. Most recently, Amazon announced that they will pay their employees $10,000 and 3 months’ pay to quit and start their own Amazon delivery service.

In addition to expanding their ground fleet operations, Amazon has also added hundreds of fulfilment centers to its logistics network, announced its groundbreaking drone delivery program, and added next-day air capacity with leased jets. It’s not surprising that FedEx feels the need to distance itself from a company that appears to be stepping into their territory. The company is taking short-term pain over the possibility of continuing a potentially damaging relationship long-term.

FedEx Bets On Wal-Mart and Other E-Commerce Businesses

Amazon officially surpassed Wal-Mart as the world’s largest retailer earlier in 2019. That isn’t to say that Wal-Mart doesn’t pose a threat to Amazon’s monopoly in the e-commerce world. Wal-Mart has some 2.2 million workers, a number roughly 4 times the number Amazon employs. It also already owns a vast amount of real estate, strategically dispersed across the USA. Not to mention that Wal-Mart owns one of the largest private fleets in America. By building upon this base, Wal-Mart has ramped up efforts to compete with Amazon in the e-commerce sector. This includes plans to roll out a 1-day delivery program that shoppers can take advantage of without any membership fees.

Parcel and E-commerce

FedEx appears to be betting on Wal-Mart as Amazon’s primary rival in the fast and free online shopping industry. According to the founder of SJ Consulting Group, a company providing data and advice to logistics companies, the decision to sever ties with Amazon is a way for FedEx to “get Walmart to realize that they’re not working with Walmart’s biggest competitor and to have Walmart make FedEx their primary carrier.

To make up for the short-term loss of 1.3% of their business, FedEx also announced in May that they would begin seven-day ground freight services at the beginning of 2020. This move will likely make them an even more desirable carrier for companies like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and other retailers in the e-commerce space.

The Future of Final Mile

The breakup of Amazon and FedEx is just another example of the battle lines being drawn between Amazon and the rest of the retail industry. As companies seek to differentiate themselves from the e-commerce behemoth, changes as small as choosing a different carrier can be important. FedEx appears to already be taking steps to compete against Amazon’s 2-day and 1-day delivery promise. The future of final mile delivery is still uncertain, but the main competitors are just now entering the ring.

Kuebix TMS Transportation Tariff Changes

Tariffs and Trucking: Where Do We Stand?

Both the United States and China are implementing new tariffs involving steep tax increases that are complicating the traditionally codependent economic relationship. All cargo ships coming in from China currently pay a 25% tariff upon entering the U.S., resulting in price increases that make consumers hesitant to buy. Similarly, cargo ships from the U.S. entering China pay anywhere from 5% to 20%. As a result, the number of shipments being transported via the ocean is decreasing, diminishing the amount of freight the U.S. is receiving and the demand for trucks to continue to move product along the supply chain.

A new wave of tariffs is going into effect on September 1, 2019, putting a 10% tariff on nearly every Chinese import not already subject to import duties. The list of imports includes some $300 billion worth of Chinese goods and is being implemented with the goal of balancing trade between the United States and China.

Effects on the Trucking Industry

Shipments from China are typically received on the West Coast and primarily fuel the need for trucks in cities including Los Angeles, Oakland, Long Beach and Seattle. However, shipments from China are being sold at a much slower pace as a result of recent price rises. In response, the U.S. is acquiring less cargo from China to accommodate the shift in demand. The trucking companies relying on their business around these port cities are feeling this change the hardest, as fewer imports mean fewer truckers needed.

Potential for Growth 

While the West Coast is facing a decrease in business opportunities for truckers, the East Coast is experiencing the opposite. Ports in New York, New Jersey and the Carolinas are experiencing an increase in imports from Europe and Asia. This increase in business along the East Coast presents a potential opportunity for trucking companies to do more business, just in a different area than what they initially planned for. Even though trade between the U.S. and China has slowed down, it is unlikely to ever come to a complete halt and is likely to still be a source of income for many in the trucking industry for years to come. 

Adjusting to Change

As the number of imports and exports rapidly change in response to the implementation of new tariffs, it is extremely important for companies to manage their transportation processes. Integrating technology like Kuebix TMS in place of traditionally manual processes can help establish visibility through the entire supply chain and offer better control over such rapidly evolving operations.

Kuebix Green Environment TMS

Making Your Supply Chain Green Doesn’t Have to Cost You Green

The transportation industry has a notoriously significant impact on the environment. Conventional vehicles and trucks release large quantities of greenhouse gas emissions, hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide, all of which are harmful to the environment and those inhabiting it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, freight trucks contribute the second highest amount of pollutants into the atmosphere. Fortunately, there are changes that can be made throughout the supply chain to reduce the environmental footprint of the transportation industry as a whole.

One of the easiest changes to make in order to lessen a company’s impact is to implement a transportation management system (TMS). Beyond simplifying the process of supply chain management, a TMS gives companies an opportunity to transition into greener, more eco-friendly habits.

Optimize Your Truck Routes

Through the use of transportation management systems, logistics professionals are able to see all of their options for each load and make the most efficient decision possible. Shippers are able to transport as many loads as possible by optimally combining LTL shipments, all while driving the fewest number of miles. This significantly reduces the amount of fuel needed for everyday operations.

In terms of reducing a company’s environmental footprint, the mode of transportation selected is equally as important as the length of the route. Traditional methods make it difficult to simultaneously compare LTL, FTL, ground freight pricing and parcel rates for each individual order. Transportation management systems make this tedious task simple, allowing shippers to view rates for every possible mode of transportation on a single screen. This ensures that shippers are picking the least expensive and best suited mode possible, often saving space on trucks for other orders and reducing the number of trips necessary for delivery.

Reduce Supply Chain Waste

Traditional methods often leave logistics professionals battling a copious amount of forms and files. With technology, companies are able to replace paper with a single, cloud-based platform to hold all of their information. Transitioning to a TMS significantly reduces paper waste and saves money, simplifying processes so they can be done faster and leave less room for error.

Additionally, the transportation industry often falls victim to truckers having to idle at gates or while waiting for an open dock in a yard. All of these momentary breaks while trucks are still running unnecessarily burns fuel and emits harmful gasses into the environment. Robust transportation management systems support or have incorporated supply chain technology such as yard management systems (YMS), which give shippers better control over what happens once their truck reaches a yard. These systems combine features like gate check and dock scheduling to streamline yard operations. Through speeding up the process of loading and unloading, less fuel is burned idling, helping both the company and the environment.

The Perfect Match

When it comes to taking steps towards reducing the environmental footprint of your supply chain, integrating a TMS into your current business model is an obvious choice. Here at Kuebix TMS we offer a free version of our system, meaning that any size company can take advantage of transportation management technology. With a TMS, companies can speed up traditionally time-consuming manual processes, gain better visibility to their supply chain, optimize routes and loads more efficiently, and reduce inefficiencies in yards. All of these combine to lessen transportation’s harmful negative impact on the environment.