the ceos of tomorrow will have supply chain backgrounds - kuebix

The CEOs of Tomorrow Will Have Supply Chain Backgrounds

In the past, most big decisionmakers came from chief revenue officer or chief financial officer roles. In those positions they made big decisions about budgets and likely moved millions of dollars around in P&L. While those roles are important, a new contender for future title of CEO is emerging; chief supply chain officer (CSCO).

With trends like rising customer expectations, the capacity crunch, demands for real-time visibility, and the increasing need for optimization, corporate value is increasingly being driven by how well the supply chain can perform its function. Supply chain professionals are learning all the skills needed to effectively manage a large global network, work with new and emerging technologies, communicate effectively both internally and externally, and look for opportunities to eradicate waste. Effective supply chain management impacts billions of dollars in cost of goods sold and can make the difference between a profit and a loss.

Since the time of Amazon’s 2-day free shipping announcement, consumer expectations regarding shipping have been steadily rising. It’s ultimately the chief supply chain officer’s role to ensure products are getting to the end customer quickly and cheaply. CSCOs who can do this successfully will give their companies a competitive advantage and rise above the herd. To do this, they will need to have progressive ideas for change and not be afraid to innovate. Those who leverage technology like a transportation management systems (TMS) early will find that their final cost of goods is strikingly smaller than their rivals and more profit can be made.

Besides contributing to the bottom-line, supply chain professionals have a unique opportunity to cater to their consumers’ moral compasses. Ethical trends like sustainability and green shipping can make a difference between a sale and a lost opportunity. Consumers, particularly millennials, are making their shopping decisions based on more than just price and quality. They want to know that the companies they purchase from have sustainability initiatives and are working to reduce their carbon footprint. As about 80% of a company’s environmental impact can be attributed to the supply chain, the opportunity to implement truly impactful sustainability initiatives is high.

Supply chain executives face operational challenges each day that are unlike any other department within a company. Global supply chain management requires that CSCOs are highly organized and know how to work outside of their silo. Communication between procurement, finance, operations, and other departments needs to flow smoothly for deliveries to be made on time. Issues like product shortages, delays, weather, and uncommunicative external partners have to be addressed daily, making supply chain professionals highly adaptable and nimble in their work.

In the not so distant future, it’s likely that CSCOs will become top contenders for the position of CEO in their companies. A combination of corporate value impact and their expensive network forged from their supply chain work will help them rise to the top.

Technology is Mitigating Risk from Driver Fatigue

Technology is Mitigating Risk from Driver Fatigue and Distraction

Driver fatigue and distraction have long been known to be dangerous, especially for truck drivers who often work long hours. Long before the modern age of handheld technology, drivers were becoming distracted by eating behind the wheel, rummaging around in bags, or even checking their faces in the rear-view mirror for too long. Driver fatigue is especially dangerous as the driver’s full attention is no longer on the road. Distraction and fatigue are issues that some are hoping can be eliminated with the help of technology so that accidents and even deaths can be avoided.

There are two schools of thought on how issues of driver distraction and fatigue can be mitigated. Some technologies measure and act when the truck performs an action that isn’t considered safe and others monitor the driver’s own actions. Both schools of thought have their own merits and drawbacks.

Tech that Monitors the Truck

Similar to how electronic logging devices (ELDs) monitor how long the truck has been in gear and moving, there are new technologies that are measuring other aspects of the trip. Technology like that from Lytx monitors actions like weaving and hard braking. When these types of driving events occur, the system gives the driver an audible alert to let them know that not all is well. After the third such event in quick succession, the system activates a camera and saves footage 8 seconds before and 4 seconds after the event stops. That footage can then be sent off for review and any corrective action needed can be taken.

Tech that Monitors the Driver

Another type of technology that can be used instead of truck monitoring software is driver monitoring software. These new technologies are much more space age and even slightly spooky. Netradyne, a company based in San Diego, is producing a camera system which monitors the driver’s eye positioning, their horizontal and vertical head plane and yawns, and can identify drowsy or distracted driving. If any of the predefined actions indicating distracted/sleepy driving are triggered, an alert (such as a chime or a seat rumble) will occur. These alerts will become more intense with the severity of the event and are designed to be highly annoying to get the driver’s immediate attention.

Besides cameras with sensors monitoring the behavior of drivers, there are also all sort of wearables doing the same thing. Smart watches and even smart headbands are monitoring things like brainwaves, heart rate, etc. This level of tech definitely feels like it’s out of a sci-fi film!

The Future of Driver Fatigue/Distraction

Monitoring the behavior of drivers to help avoid dangerous behavior like falling asleep at the wheel or texting will help to keep our roads safe. There is still a question of which technologies will prove most useful and least invasive to individual driver’s privacy. Depending on the results, it’s likely that all trucks will soon come equipped with advanced monitoring technology like those described above. With the relative success of the ELD Mandate, it’s only a matter of time before similar action is taken to ensure driver fatigue and distraction is reduced on the roads.

holiday e-commerce kuebix

How E-Commerce Companies Cope with the Holiday Shopping Frenzy

Online shoppers, especially American ones, are particularly active during the holiday season. This year’s holiday shopping season has already eclipsed the shopping spree seen in 2017. Buying from e-commerce stores is becoming more and more popular with consumers as they become used to making purchases online on their desktops or mobile devices. Many people find online shopping to be more convenient, faster, and often cheaper when compared with traditional shopping in a store or mall. So far, e-commerce companies are generally meeting or exceeding their customer expectations, but not without a lot of forethought into their supply chains. Here are some stats on the extent of e-commerce sales in the U.S. over the holiday season:

Holiday E-Commerce Sales Facts

  •      •     Total U.S. holiday sales online hit $123.73 billion in 2018, up 16.6% YoY
  •      •     Amazon accounts for 49% of all online shopping in the United States
  •      •     Shoppers spent:
    •           $3.7 billion on Thanksgiving Day, up 27.9% YoY
    •           $6.2 billion on Black Friday up 23.6% YoY
    •           $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday up 19.3% YoY
  •      •     Shopify
  •      •     Mobile device sales overtook desktop sales in 2016 and continue to grow
  •      •     Retailers sent over 7.6 billion emails over Black Friday and Cyber Monday
  •      •     The top category for holiday shopping online was apparel with 1.42M sales

The “Amazon Effect”

Some are blaming the growth of e-commerce for the demise of large retailers like Sears and Toys ‘R Us. Many brick and mortar stores failed to adapt to changing customer expectations and embrace supply chains powered by technology. Others, like Walmart and Target, have jumped on the e-commerce bandwagon and are mirroring successful trends set by e-commerce giant Amazon such as free shipping and fast delivery. The trend of fast delivery for free is often referred to as the “Amazon Effect” and has completely revolutionized customer expectations. However, offering expedited shipping as a standard feature for free is no mean feat for any company. To do so, e-commerce companies can optimize their supply chains with the help of technology to reduce wasted costs and speed up delivery times. This is essential for companies trying to cope with the holiday shopping frenzy.

Optimized Warehouses

Even without a physical storefront, most e-commerce stores still sell a physical product that requires warehousing space. Most companies choose to pool their inbound orders at a single warehouse location before sorting and shipping individual orders out to customers. Traditional warehousing with 100% manual picking and little-to-no automation, however, can be slow and add to order processing times. A two-day order processing time isn’t viable if the entire shipping process is expected to last only two short days. To speed up selection and get orders out the dock door, especially during the seasonal spike in sales, many companies are turning to technology.

Check out this video to see how one modern grocery warehouse uses robots to pick individual orders for customers:

automated warehouse video kuebix

Receiving inbound orders on time and making sure there is a truck to take customer orders to their end destination can be something of a challenge without technology too. Dock Schedulers are helping companies optimize their dock operations and ensure there is always enough labor available to properly handle orders. With Dock Scheduler technology, external partners can easily request and view appointment times at the warehouse in real-time, so holiday orders aren’t delayed because there wasn’t a truck to pick them up.

Faster Shipping

In order for e-commerce companies to provide expedited shipping at little-to-no cost to their customers, they need to find the most efficient, least expensive rate for every shipment. Instead of rating and booking with only one carrier over phone or email, companies can easily leverage a wide network of carriers when they use a cloud-based transportation management system (TMS). With a TMS, companies can compare all their carriers’ rates side-by-side and select the one with the service level and price to fit the need. This ensures they are saving as much money as possible while still meeting customer expectations.

TMSs also provide invaluable visibility to orders down to the SKU level. This not only means that freight spend can be calculated more effectively, it also means that e-commerce companies can give their customers visibility to the status of their orders in real-time. Impatient holiday shoppers who are now accustomed to being able to track and trace their orders are more likely to be repeat customers and to self-serve from the company’s site, rather than tying up customer service phone lines asking where their orders are. With this level of visibility, companies can report on their carrier’s KPIs and leverage these analytics to improve carrier behavior and make strategic changes.

Surviving the Holidays with Technology

The 2018 holiday shopping frenzy is certainly putting the pressure on e-commerce companies trying to keep up with customer expectations. To cope with the increased pressure, companies can use technology to streamline operations in their warehouses and on the road. Staying informed of new technologies and strategically implementing them as needed will speed up companies’ supply chains and reduce waste, resulting in more profitable bottom lines and happier customers!

2019 Supply Chain Predictions Kuebix

10 Transportation & Supply Chain Predictions for 2019

As we head into 2019, the global transportation industry will continue to face complex supply chain challenges. But the new year also provides many opportunities for shippers to turn to technologies and digital transformation to improve their operations, efficiencies and bottom line profits. Here’s what we foresee:

  1. Big changes—and a more holistic, organization-wide approach—to global supply chain strategies. Tariff wars and related uncertainty/repercussions mean top-level executives are relying much more on supply chain professionals and trade compliance personnel to rethink supply chain strategy and operations. Their major strategic focus? Managing global operations risk, understanding and mitigating the role of tariffs on company financials, and dealing with ongoing business uncertainty and higher global supply chain costs.
  2. More intense focus on data analytics in supply chains. Data analytics is key for supply chain professionals looking to examine, analyze and interpret data related to supplier risk, tariff risk, logistics costs or manufacturing costs. Supply chain professionals with well-honed analytical skills and the use of advanced analytics software for mining and reporting data will continue to help organizations make informed and better decisions.
  3. China’s expanding global reach and economic power. China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) investments in the Middle East and Africa and infrastructure investments in modes including rail lines, roads, ports, bridges and even schools will help the country continue to outpace other countries’ economic expansion as they build long-term economic ties and trading partners. Its development of global trade routes means China’s economic influence is expanding even as U.S. influence begins to contract.
  4. “King Consumer” and ever-faster delivery of e-commerce orders. High consumer expectations about delivery and shipping of packages will continue to challenge retailers, carriers and logistics service providers, forcing fundamental changes to warehouse design and location and driving up wages and competition for all types of supply chain labor.
  5. Intensified technological disruption and innovation. Technological innovations like the “sharing economy,” the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, on-demand logistics and autonomous and automated equipment solutions will have great impact on supply chains around the world. Going into 2019, companies in the logistics and supply chain space will continue to take advantage of innovation in artificial intelligence, robots, freight supply and demand matching and blockchain applications to bring new efficiencies and lower supply chain costs.
  6. Battered U.S. transportation infrastructure. Buffeted and damaged by hurricanes, floods, snowstorms and the like—especially “weather events” that impact ports and major highways—the U.S. transportation infrastructure is a risk for both companies and the U.S. economy.
  7. Continued trucking/transportation regulation impacts. While most larger truck fleets have electronic logging devices (ELDs) that electronically track compliance with driver hours-of-service regulations, smaller fleets without ELDs are reporting reductions in miles traveled per day of up to 15 percent. This significant reduction can impact shippers’ planning and supply chains for 2019 and the longer term.
  8. The ongoing capacity crunch with drivers/trucks. The “capacity crunch” affecting the U.S. trucking industry will continue, due in part to fewer drivers in the “driver pool” thanks to attrition and the tight economy combined with low truck supply and high freight demand.
  9. Soaring truck rates. Rates have continued to rise steeply throughout 2018, are soaring at the end of 2018, and likely will continue to rise into 2019.
  10. Trucking industry technology trends. New technologies and apps will continue to ease the jobs of logistics professionals. On-demand load-matching freight apps are likely to be increasingly embraced by carriers and shippers. In addition, semi-autonomous trucks are finding a place in fleets and the supply chain, providing a 500-mile shipping range.

For 2019, we believe the U.S. transportation industry and supply chain professionals will place more emphasis on digitization within the supply chain to help them address these complex challenges. Kuebix TMS will continue to transform transportation operations, helping companies along their path of growth and sustainability by improving their operations, efficiencies and bottom line profits.

sustainability initiatives supply chain - kuebix

Supply Chains are Saving Money with Sustainability Initiatives

Companies are always looking to improve their bottom lines, but sustainability initiatives have up until this point remained in the “nice to have” category for many companies. The pre-conception that sustainability programs cost too much money is a notion that is being challenged, however. A new study by HSBC of more than 8,500 companies in 34 market sectors shows a trend that businesses who implement sustainability changes in their supply chains are improving their bottom lines.

Supply chains are where the majority of a company’s environmental impact occurs. Transportation of goods eats up a lot of fuel and shipping materials like shrink wrap and pallets often get thrown away. In fact, about 80% of a company’s environmental impact can be attributed to the supply chain. This makes it an obvious place to begin trimming waste.

Fuel Usage

Reducing waste and improving the bottom line go hand in hand, however. A company that wants to cut their fuel usage can consolidate multiple LTL orders into a full truckload or find the optimal route between stops with the help of technology. If truck idling time is a concern, businesses can focus on ways to improve the flow of traffic in their yards and docks. These changes are not only green, but save the company money by improving efficiency and reducing freight spend.

A Digital Paper Trail Instead of a Physical One

Gaining shipping transparency with the help of technology is another method companies can use to reduce their environmental impact. Instead of wasting time, paper, and money chasing down the status of loads and calling and booking appointments, companies can leverage transportation management technology to go paperless and speed up processes or rating, booking and tracking. Digitization trends like automation and machine learning are helping to speed this process up even further. With technology, companies can retain an organized paper trail of their order statuses instead of a disorganized literal one in their offices.

Finding Waste

Tracking and tracing technology can pinpoint areas of waste in a supply chain. A company can analyze where there are delays in their supply chain, measure their carriers’ KPIs, and make strategic optimization changes. Being able to see an order down to the SKU level from the time it leaves the dock to when it’s delivered to the customer gives companies a heightened level of understanding of their freight spend. It also means that nodes which are performing poorly can be addressed. Once issues are found and eliminated, environmental savings follow almost organically.

The Bottom Line

Consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious. It’s important for companies to understand what their consumers value and integrate those same principles into their day-to-day operations. Not only will sustainability initiatives help the environment, they will also streamline supply chains and contribute positively to the bottom line. More profits mean more opportunities to streamline processes, and so on. Instead of being wary of investing in sustainability initiatives, companies should consider the positive ROI they will gain and jump on the green supply chain bandwagon!

Transportation management technology like Kuebix TMS can help companies with their green initiatives. In fact, Kuebix recently won Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s Green Award for the second consecutive year. The award recognizes providers of supply chain solutions and services that assist customers in achieving measurable sustainability goals. If you’re interested in improving the efficiency of your transportation operations from both a sustainability and monetary viewpoint, check out Kuebix to find out how intelligent supply chain technology can begin you on your journey!

Uncertain Freight Rates

The Unpredictability of Spot Rates in the Changing Market

Nearly every industry relies on some manner of transportation to keep their sales flowing. Over the past decade, transportation rates have experienced a steady period of growth. A combination of recovery from the Great Recession of 2008 and consumers’ increased dependence on online shopping have kept the supply of trucking capacity at a premium. If we were sitting in an Economics 101 class, there has been plenty of demand for supply. National spot rates, which have remained high in accordance with this supply/demand formula, are becoming more volatile as market uncertainty pervades the industry.

Average daily spot market rates from August to November of 2018 have been nearly twice as erratic as spot rates during the same time-period in 2017. The DAT National Van Freight Rate Index places average daily movement in 2017 as $0.034 per mile. This number has climbed to $0.064 per mile in 2018!

The climb in average daily movement of the national rate per mile is indicative of uncertainty. Key players in the supply chain like shippers and carriers don’t have a solid grasp on market conditions and are quoting and booking rates with less foreknowledge than in the past. Things like fuel prices, driver wages, and the availability of capacity are no longer known facts. Many shippers accept rates without being able to tell what the market price should be.

Spot rates are likely to remain volatile for some time as a result of the capacity crunch and driver shortage. More and more baby-boomers are reaching retirement age, and younger workers are less likely to become truckers than past generations. This is leaving a hole in the industry and too many available positions for truck drivers, which causes wages to go up. Again, supply and demand.

Following a 10 year rise in the transportation market, we’re now in a period of cooling. According to FreightWaves, “The DAT Van Freight Index hit $2.11 per mile on June 27th, the highest rate all year. Since then the market has cooled significantly with the rates falling as low as 1.53 in the middle of October but bounced back up to 1.63 a few days later.” Volatility like this causes uncertainty for people trying to provide rates based on market pricing and for people who are uncertain what a fair price per mile is.

With customer expectations rising, there is a greater need to deliver faster with more visibility. Some companies trying to accommodate these new customer expectations are willing to take a hit to stay in their customers’ “good books.” This means they may take a loss just to meet their on-time delivery standards. This level of unpredictability is adding to uncertainty.

The transportation industry is morphing around emerging technologies and consumer expectations. One thing is for sure though, whether there is an increased or decreased demand for trucking capacity and spot rates, trucking will remain a key feature of the economy’s supply and demand curve. In this unpredictable environment, the goal is to find a comfortable middle where customers are happy and freight costs are kept down as much as possible.

Perfect Storm of Innovation

What Does the “Perfect Storm of Innovation” Mean for Your Supply Chain?

We’re living in a historic era of technology, innovation, and economic growth. Consumers expectations are rising and new technologies are upending the status quo. These two “storm fronts” are clashing together to form a “perfect storm of innovation” which is shaking up the supply chain industry. Between customers’ empowerment to get exactly what they want and a diverse and expanding realm of digitally connected smart technology, companies can be left feeling lost in the storm. However, with a little foresight, companies can navigate these new straights and position themselves for success in this brave new world.

Customer Expectations

In the modern age, if a customer is dissatisfied with a purchase, they don’t just complain to the store manager or forget about it. Instead, they might take to social media to lament their experience. This can be a huge hurdle for any company to overcome. Social media is a double-edged sword. If used correctly, however, social media can be a huge asset to a company.

Taking a personal approach to customer service can help with dissatisfied customers. Whether you are replying to a negative tweet or responding to a direct call to your support team, the customer no longer needs to put up with poor service. It’s a buyer’s market, and consumers can easily move their loyalty to a competitor. Consider leveraging tools like automatic chat on your website and providing them self-help visibility to the status of their orders.

Visibility is a huge buzzword in the supply chain industry right now. Giving your customers visibility means being able to show them where their orders are when their orders are going to be delivered, and being able to explain any delays in transit. To be able to give your customers this level of insight, however, you first need to have visibility to your entire supply chain. Technology like a transportation management system (TMS) with advanced tracking capabilities can give you this.

With a TMS you can view the status of any order at any stage of the supply chain and even have automatic alerts sent to you when something goes wrong, that way you can proactively warn your customers. Customer loyalty can be developed through proactive and personal communication and you can even turn what would likely have been a negative experience for your customer into a positive one.

Technology

Technology and managing customer expectations go hand in hand. If consumer preferences stayed the same, there would be no reason to modernize your supply chain to meet changing expectations. Customers are demanding more and more customization of their purchases. Companies can leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect the moving pieces of their supply chain and compile Big Data about their operations to analyze and make strategic improvements.

Some companies are going as far as to employ 3D printing or additive manufacturing techniques to accommodate this new demand for customization and to help with the cost of R&D. Mass-customization is taking the place of mass-production, and supply chains and manufacturers need to be nimble and react to feedback from customers quickly.

Speed of delivery is another hot-button issue for consumers which can be solved with the help of technology. To keep up with mega-giants like Amazon which dominate the e-commerce market, companies need to offer faster shipping at greatly reduced or free rates. To do this, companies can leverage technology to find and book freight with the most cost-effective carriers at the best service levels. With a transportation management system, you should be able to compare several modes, such as air, LTL, or TL to find the carrier that can meet the customer’s expectations. TMS technology can also help companies improve the flow of their inbound and outbound operations to reduce delays in the yard and speed final mile delivery.

It’s anticipated that drone technology will eventually take over as a main method of delivering orders to individual customers. That isn’t quite a reality at this time, but companies can already leverage drone and robotic technology in their warehousing processes. GPS technology, sensors, and RFID tags can improve operations in the warehouse and streamline the movement of individual orders.

The Eye of the Storm

Many companies are struggling to keep pace with changing consumer expectations and new technological advancements. These companies should take a step back and review how they can leverage technology to meet the needs of their customers. Consider social media as an asset as well as the power of giving customers end-to-end visibility to their orders. Think about ways to speed up the supply chain by finding and capitalizing on different carrier rates and service levels. Can additional technology in the warehouse improve selection times? Companies who get ahead of customer expectations by leveraging technology will find the eye of the innovation storm and be able to benefit from the changes taking place in the industry!

ELD Mandate - Kuebix

10 Months Later – The Impact of the ELD Mandate

The transportation industry, which originally balked at the idea of the ELD mandate, has now had 10 months to come to terms with the new technology requirements. The mandate, which went into effect on April 1st of this year, requires trucks to be equipped with an electronic logging device (ELD) to automatically record a truck’s driving time. This ensures that drivers are strictly obeying hours of service requirements put in place to protect them and other drivers.

10 months in and transportation professionals still seem to have mixed feelings about the ELD mandate. To capture how the industry is reacting, Zipline Logistics’ carrier team surveyed over 150 trucking companies to get their opinions on the ELD mandate and how it’s impacted the industry. FreightWaves compiled these results into this detailed infographic:

ELD Mandate - Kuebix - FreightWaves

According to the research, trucking companies are split on whether ELDs improve safety. About 60% of respondents felt that ELDs increased safety since the mandate went into effect, while the remaining 40% thought the devices decreased safety.

77% of carriers surveyed reported that they are more selective in the shippers/receivers that they are willing to work with after the mandate. 80% of these say there are now some facilities they will absolutely not load out of. Slightly more than half of carrier respondents say they have changed how long they will wait at a shipper/receiver. With hours of service being monitored more closely, there is no longer much wiggle-room for delays or partners who cannot maintain high KPIs.

Whether or not freight costs increased was another main question of Zipline Logistics’ survey. 48% of carriers say that linehaul rates have increased due to the requirement for ELDs, though 33% felt that ELDs weren’t at fault for rate increases. It seems to be a consensus, at 71%, that per mile rates have increased due to ELDs.

What can be done to keep ELDs from disrupting supply chains?

Equipping all trucks with electronic logging devices has been a hurdle for many in the transportation industry. Now that the mandate is in effect, devices are installed, and drivers are successfully using them, it’s time to think about how to leverage them to your best advantage.

Transportation management technology like Kuebix TMS can help companies achieve higher levels of visibility across their entire supply networks. This level of visibility will help them plan ahead to avoid facilities that are too slow to load/unload and choose carriers that have excellent service levels and on-time delivery metrics. The ELD mandate doesn’t have to be a detractor for companies shipping freight, with the right strategies in place, ELDs can actually serve to improve operations and keep drivers safe on the road.

General Motors GM

GM Closes Assembly Plants, Shifts Focus from Cars to Technology

General Motors (GM) announced today that the company will be completely restructuring their global business strategy by closing 8 assembly plants worldwide and shifting focus to futuristic technologies. Five of the plants which will be closing are in North America. Fifteen percent of GM’s salaried workforce is being cut including 25% of top executive positions. These changes are expected to save the company $6 billion by the end of 2020.

In the short term, this announcement is seen as a major blow to workers who will be out of a job by the end of 2019. It will also be a blow to an American-born industry which GM has been a cornerstone of for generations. In the long term, however, GM seems to be positioning itself to react to changing market conditions such as consumer preferences and the need for improved technology.

According to Mary Barra, CEO of GM, General Motors “recognizes the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.” The popularity of sedans is waning with consumers, though anticipation is high for self-driving vehicles and cars with other state-of-the-art technologies.

GM threw its hat in the self-driving car ring with its acquisition of Cruise in March 2016. Cruise is a driverless car company which is headquartered in San Francisco, CA. It’s competing to be the first company in Silicon Valley to successfully make and market a self-driving vehicle to American consumers. Top contenders for the company to make self-driving cars a reality for the public include companies like Google, Apple, and Tesla. GM has announced that it will spend $1 billion on Cruise in the upcoming year to build the car of the future.

Some speculate that rising costs associated with tariffs on imported steel and aluminum have contributed to GM’s decision to close many of its American plants. Commodity costs for GM have risen by $300 million in Q3 of 2018 and are anticipated to raise costs by $1 billion next year. Closing plants and reducing their headcount will work to counter-balance changing consumer tastes and higher commodity prices.

General Motors has a new motto to go along with its change in corporate strategy, “Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, Zero Congestion.” This new slogan incorporates three of the top concerns drivers have when they weigh the decision to purchase a car. Automation technology and green technology will help to cut down on these negative side effects.

The question remains whether GM’s closure of 8 assembly plants worldwide to put a renewed focus on developing technology will make or break a company steeped in history. If their bid to be one of the first companies to go-to-market with their own self-driving car or a car with zero emissions, the dramatic switch in focus could skyrocket GM’s sales. However, the company walks a fine line between preparing for the future and turning away an American public which has long since regarded GM as a traditional car company.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday - Kuebix

Are You Ready for Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2018?

Black Friday is just around the corner—November 23rd—followed by Cyber Monday on the 26th. These are huge shopping days for U.S. consumers: Last year sales reached $7.9 billion, an 18% increase over the previous year, while Cyber Monday earned retailers $6.6 billion.

But where did these holidays get their start?

•     A pre-Thanksgiving shopping day has been around since the 1940s and 1950s. But the Black Friday moniker first appeared 1966, when the Philadelphia Police Department used the name to describe traffic jams and crowding in downtown stores the day following Thanksgiving.

•     The term Cyber Monday was coined in 2005 by Shop.org, a division of the National Retail Federation, as a “catchy hook” to match the brick-and-mortar shopping frenzy fueled by mention of Black Friday savings. Preferred by consumers due to convenience, Cyber Monday sales have been aided by the rise of reliable and expedited delivery and high levels of product availability.

Today—whether shopping in-store or online—consumers still want to save. The National Retail Federation and other sources note that a preference for discounts keeps the days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday top shopping days for customers as retailers continue to roll out exclusive deals:

     •     $2 billion will be spent the day before Black Friday. Last year, $93 billion dollars were spent online. With conservative estimates pin Thanksgiving online revenue at about $2 billion, it will still be one of the more popular days of the year.

     •     $2 billion on Thanksgiving shows that peak day revenue is being distributed across the surrounding days. Similar revenue will likely be generated across the Saturday and Sunday leading up to Cyber Monday, where nearly $4 billion is expected to be spent and 36% of customers will only purchase items on sale.

Getting ready for the big demand

This massive glut of orders can tax retailers’ logistics systems, but there are several steps you can take to ensure better preparedness and meet demand over this concentrated period:

     •     Ensure your inventory is in place. A platform that brings all product information together–from ordering and inventory, to temperature monitoring and transit, and expense allocation—helps you to manage your requirements in one place, ensuring inventory is in the right place at the right time.

     •     Use a transportation management system (TMS) to schedule your shipments. A well-designed TMS lets you share your predicted shipment schedule with carriers—helping them to schedule their resources—as well as letting you quickly locate capacity with your contracted carriers to stay ahead of demand and effortlessly compare your contracted rates to the spot market to find the best rate.

     •     Ramp up your insights for better Black Friday/Cyber Monday logistics results in the future. With the right tools, you can look at historical shipment data to find areas for improvement for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping crunches you’ll face in 2019 and far beyond.

A little planning goes a long way when it comes to avoiding expedited freight charges and optimizing your logistics operations during these two critical holiday shopping periods. This is a great time to ensure you have the capacity you need at your fingertips when you need it so that you can easily meet customers’ demanding shipping expectations and nail down your brand’s integrity

Sensata Case Study Video

Sensata Technologies – Case Study Using Kuebix TMS

By leveraging Kuebix TMS to schedule their shipments, Sensata now has much more control and accountability over their freight management. Everything is done through a centralized location, which creates much more efficient processes throughout their network. Sensata has been able to see real-time costs and real-time delivery information, leading to significant cost savings. Analytics help them make strategic operational choices and negotiate better rates with their carriers. In addition, service to Sensata’s clients has improved since Kuebix was implemented. Now they can see what their options are to get the material to the customer on time.

Watch this quick case study video featuring Janelle Ballerstedt, Sensata Technologies’ Global Logistics TMS Manager.

Managing Time Critical Shipments

6 Ways to Manage Time Critical Shipments

Amazon has instilled a new mindset into the wants of consumers today – they want their orders immediately, in a day or two, instead of next week. And often they want them shipped for free.

Plus, businesses may need to utilize time-critical services to guarantee the velocity they need to meet a customer’s deadline or when handling specialty items like medical supplies that have a certain expiration date.

Pharmaceutical companies have the need for speed when it comes to transporting drugs for medical emergencies. Companies shipping high-value items or potentially dangerous goods look to time-critical shipments to gain tighter control. Manufacturers may use time-critical services to get parts to an assembly line to avoid shutting down the line.

With this in mind, shippers are turning to technology to help them manage their time-critical shipments. Here are 6 ways you can manage shipments that require a definite arrival time:

•     Communicate with carriers about your time-critical shipment requirements by giving them forecasts of these shipments as early as possible. This helps carriers better manage their capacity, ensuring your shipment has a place on their truck when it is needed.

•     Ensure your freight is packaged correctly to avoid damage. Use the right packaging for your items and if palletized, make sure that you stack heaviest to lightest items vertically and then shrink wrap them. This will keep the packages intact and make for easier handling.

•     Label packages properly so that the information on each part of the shipment matches the Bill of Lading. If there are discrepancies on the documentation, this can delay the shipment.

•     Leverage a transportation management system (TMS) to schedule your shipments. to gaining visibility to shipments in process so if any issues arise, you will know what they are and can best create contingency plans. Being able to see where your shipment is at any time gives you peace of mind that your customers are being taken care of.

•     Use a TMS that allows you to automatically connect your carriers for any mode so that you can view and compare rates side-by-side to choose the best rate and service level. The ability to choose any mode helps you discern which mode can best meet your timeline for shipments.

•     Access the spot market if you can’t find the delivery services you need from your contracted carriers. A strong network of thousands of shippers and carriers extends the reach to find capacity, allowing shippers to leverage their existing rates and relationships or find new opportunities via the spot market.

Managing time-critical shipments is not just about getting a shipment to its destination on time. Many carriers also offer special handling, extra security and track/trace capabilities that go along with time-critical services. While time-critical services may cost more, the extra benefits can mitigate the risk of a lost or delayed shipment, while making sure you are able to give your customers what they need.

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Kuebix - Future of Retail

Future of Retail – A Story

Once upon a time, there was a place where children could find all kinds of toys to delight their little hearts. It was called Toys ‘R Us, but it went out of business this year.

Then there was a place where adults could find all kinds of toys, such as power saws and paint, to wet their desire for home improvements. It was called Sears, but it filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and is closing many of its stores while undergoing a redirection.

Other retailers have filed for bankruptcy or closed hundreds of stores in an effort to improve profits. Some will succeed; others won’t. The list includes popular brands like Gap, Banana Republic, Claire’s, J. Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch, J.C. Penney, Foot Locker, Brookstone and many others.

In 2017, more than 5000 stores were closed and another 5000 store closures have been announced so far this year. (https://clark.com/shopping-retail/major-retailers-closing-2018). Is the future of retail a dim outlook?

We don’t think so. Once Toys ‘R Us closed its doors, retailers like Target and Walmart saw an opportunity to try to grab some of the $3 billion left on the table in the US toy market instead of acknowledging that Amazon had won. According to Manufacturing.Net, “Party City opened 50 Toy City pop-up shops,” and “Walmart says 30 percent of its holiday toy assortment will be new. It will also offer 40 percent more toys on Walmart.com from a year ago. In November and December, the company’s toy area will be rebranded as ‘America’s Best Toy Shop.’”

In essence, retail is not dead; it is just changing. Retailers who want to compete against Amazon will need to up their game and create engaging customer experiences, both online and in brick and mortar stores. Forbes magazine says, “Physical retail is not dead. Boring retail is.” As an example, FAO Schwartz will reopen its Manhattan store (which closed 3 years ago), using theatrical performers as staff and areas for kids to build radio-controlled cars with the help of a mechanic.

Beyond the customer experience, retailers need to better manage their inventory so that all channels have a centralized view of it to avoid out-of-stocks. Retailers will have to have faster inventory turns to keep products fresh for consumers. They will also need to improve their transportation operations to better compete with Amazon, who just announced free shipping during the holiday season with no minimum purchase on hundreds of millions of items.

The story can have a happy ending. A robust transportation management system can help retailers better compete with improved efficiencies and optimized processes. Kuebix TMS is available to any size company. Contact us to find out more.

Kuebix Collaboration Portals Blog

Time to Hang Up the Phone – Business Collaboration is Moving to the Cloud!

Technology is changing the way we do business every day. Traditionally, companies with freight to ship have collaborated with their external partners over the phone, booking appointments, asking for shipment statuses and updating order information. With the rise of email, these companies have begun to manage their logistics operations over the internet with greater frequency. In America, “an average office worker receives 121 emails a day and sends around 40 business emails daily.” (Templafy) That number is likely far higher for those folks scheduling and booking freight.

Email is still a complicated method to manage freight operations, however, given that it’s up to each individual to organize their own inboxes and ensure all emails are acted upon. If a company’s orders never change, promise dates are always 100% accurate, the warehouse or distribution center runs like a finely oiled machine and email and phone communication seems to be enough, there would be no need to improve collaboration with the suppliers and carriers. In reality, most companies are struggling to achieve visibility and control over their supply chains to effectively manage their cost of goods and consistently meet the expectations of customers. For this reason, collaboration portals are becoming more widely used to facilitate communication and collaboration between internal departments, suppliers and carriers.

A collaboration portal is a cloud-based platform where internal and external users can communicate a variety of information in an easy-to-use and convenient manner. These portals enable procurement and logistics departments to work together with their suppliers (vendors) and carriers to dynamically plan and execute their logistics operations collaboratively, maximizing communication between all parties. Instead of trying to maintain a cluttered inbox or disjointed spreadsheet, all information is stored within the portal.

How do collaboration portals help companies communicate with suppliers?

Collaboration portals allow users to communicate with their suppliers on a common platform. This reduces the risk of manual errors and oversights, as well as increases time savings. Procurement and logistics departments can release orders out to their suppliers, and receive back promise dates, statuses on order changes or short shipments and confirmations on POs approved for shipment. Collaboration portals also provide a way for suppliers to easily access shipping documents produced by the customer including parcel labels and BOLs. All of these interactions are documented in the portal and can be referenced to troubleshoot incorrect deliveries and other issues as they arise.

How do collaboration portals help companies communicate with carriers?

Collaboration portals enable carriers to view and update the information which the main user and suppliers are accessing. In the portal, carriers can confirm delivery dates on inbound shipments as well as make changes to shipment schedules. This allows buyers and logistics professionals to always have visibility to the delivery status of their orders. And by implementing a dock scheduling portal in tandem with a collaboration portal, companies can give carriers the ability to schedule appointments directly at their docks. This level of collaboration ensures that the highest level of visibility is always being achieved.

By collaborating in the cloud with external partners, companies can experience an increase in inbound shipping efficiency, gain complete visibility to shipments and shipment schedules, and help their partners plan more effectively.

Learn more about Kuebix’s modular Collaboration Portals here!