Parcel and E-commerce Blog

Growth in Parcel Shipments Puts Pressure on E-Commerce Companies

E-commerce is steadily becoming a key player in the world of consumer shopping. This means that parcel shipment volumes are increasing to keep up with online order numbers. Instead of heading to a big-box store or the local mall, consumers are shopping online for everything from toothbrushes to TVs. Physical shopping carts are becoming digital and free shipping and returns are becoming standard.

Offering free shipping and returns is changing the game for many e-commerce shippers. Without additional fees to order online, customer experience is improved. Additionally, e-commerce shoppers often purchase a single item and have it delivered to their doorstep. This means more parcel shipments are transported as consumers turn to e-commerce platforms to do their everyday shopping.

According to Pitney Bowes, a global technology company providing commerce solutions that power billions of transactions, “Parcel volume globally grew 17 percent last year to 74.4 billion parcels, up from 63.6 billion in 2016.” This staggering growth is putting pressure on companies to keep up with an increased number of parcel shipments. By the end of 2018, it’s forecasted that there will be a 20% increase seen in the total number of parcels shipped globally.

What does this mean for companies shipping parcel?

E-Commerce companies have dedicated a lot of resources to provide the best customer experience possible through digital transformation efforts. Often, however, final mile logistics are left out of these digital strategies. To overlook how shipping impacts the customer’s experience is a mistake. If a product is delivered late, to the wrong location, or with an inferior service, the customer’s experience with a brand can be tarnished.

Integrating shipping into the customer experience strategy is essential for shippers to set themselves up for success delivering an increased number of parcels. It can be complex for businesses of any size to implement a parcel shipment strategy. Smaller businesses have limited time to review shipping options and don’t have the flexibility to overspend on parcel costs. Larger businesses are presented with the challenge of managing a complex array of parcel shipments leaving multiple facilities with various shipping costs. They are under pressure to lower costs all while delivering superior customer service.

How can e-commerce companies keep up?

E-commerce companies need to use technology to streamline their shipping processes to be able to handle increased parcel shipments. Here are three ways that leveraging technology can improve parcel shipping processes.

•   Compare rates – By leveraging a transportation management system, shippers can compare rates side-by-side. Service types can be evaluated as well. A customer who doesn’t need a product tomorrow might be a good candidate for a less expensive, though slower, parcel delivery option. By staying on top of carriers’ different service options, shippers with increased parcel volume can keep costs down. With API integrations, a shippers e-commerce website can be directly integrated with the TMS, allowing customers to choose the delivery option which best fits their needs.

•   Get Tracking Information – In the digital age, customers expect that they will have full visibility to their orders. Delivery tracking and delivery confirmation are a must. Technology can provide the level of visibility now expected by customers consumers used to tracking from e-commerce giants like Amazon. Customers can then better manage their inbound freight, and internal stakeholders always have the information they need at their fingertips to address customer concerns.

•   Auto-Populate Order Information – More parcels to ship means more paperwork, right? Wrong. With the help of an order integration between an ERP system and a TMS, order information automatically populates and is ready for booking. This means fewer manual errors, less time spent rekeying order line items and happier customers who receive their products as ordered. Integrating purchase orders directly from an ERP system facilitates the rapid creation of shipments and ensures 100% order accuracy.

Online shopping is quickly becoming a norm for consumers, but it means that retailers need to incorporate smart parcel shipment strategies into their user experience plans. With the help of technology, keeping up with an increased parcel shipment volume is not only attainable but can positively impact the bottom line of e-commerce companies!

Manufacturing Tariffs Kuebix

What Happens Now? Tariffs Impacting Manufacturing

The US government introduced tariffs as a way to help the US compete more equally on a global basis. The idea is to increase the cost of imported goods so that American manufacturers can compete more effectively. The problem is that most US manufacturers rely on imported parts to support their own production. In addition to the US imposing tariffs on foreign goods, countries have reciprocated and imposed tariffs on US exports.

Rising trade tensions between the United States and the rest of the world could cost the global economy $430B the International Monetary Fund has warned. Whether these tariffs escalate into a global trade war or not, they are affecting an increasing number of industries over the rest of the year and into next. Manufacturers need to look into dynamic supply chain strategies to survive in the changing environment.

The steel and aluminum tariffs have been felt across industries that are dependent on these products, including automotive, construction, machinery, appliances and beverages. The automotive industry comprises over 25% of the total US steel consumption and 40% of the aluminum. Some companies are responding by moving operations offshore or to the Southeastern US, where the cost of living and labor is much less compared to the rest of the country.

Now the US government is talking about imposing tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of goods from China. Last week over 400 companies spoke at the United States Trade Representative hearing, saying that the tariffs would hurt their business, primarily because, “The US is no longer equipped to produce many materials that they depend on for their products. The rise of global supply chains has shifted the bulk of manufacturing and production outside the United States, leaving companies no choice but to rely on foreign materials, including those from China.”

If US manufacturers increase prices, foreign competitors gain a leg up. So, US producers have a choice – raise prices and lose market share or keep pricing consistent, but lose profitability. What can these companies do?

The answer is to look at other areas of the supply chain for cost savings, such as transportation processes. Using a transportation management system that allows transportation bids to be reviewed side-by-side helps shippers pick the best carrier for their needs. With this knowledge, shippers can work on establishing great relationships with their carriers. By communicating early via technology, and leveraging tracking capabilities, shippers can give carriers the information they need to better plan routes. These measures can lead to becoming a preferred shipper, which opens up access to scare capacity.

Preferred shippers can negotiate better rates, which will keep process down to offset the price increase of tariffed goods. By leveraging data collected across the supply chain to monitor the performance of partners, shippers can optimize pricing and mitigate risk.

Hours of Service Changes - Kuebix

New Hours of Service Regulations

Truck drivers, trade associations and shippers have petitioned to make changes to the Hours of Service (HoS) rules. Their goal is to create more flexibility for drivers when faced with traffic congestion, bad weather and dock delays without affecting their available drive time. The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has put a spotlight on the HoS rules, especially when a delay caused by weather or traffic eats into the amount of time a driver is recorded driving. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said members believe current HoS rules force them to be on the road when they are tired, during busy travel times, and in adverse weather or road conditions.

On August 23, FMCSA announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that will consider changes to four areas of the current hours of service regulations:

     •     Expanding the current 100 air-mile “short-haul” exemption from 12 hours on duty to 14 hours on duty, in order to be consistent with the rules for long-haul truck drivers

     •     Extending the current 14-hour on-duty limitation by up to two hours when a truck driver encounters adverse driving conditions

     •     Revising the current mandatory 30-minute break for truck drivers after eight hours of continuous driving

     •     Reinstating the option for splitting up the required 10-hour off-duty rest break for drivers operating trucks that are equipped with a sleeper-berth compartment

The petitioners are also requesting that truck drivers subject to HoS regulations be allowed a rest break once per 14-hour duty period for up to three consecutive hours, as long as the driver is off-duty – a rest break that would effectively stop their continuous 14-hour work clock.

FMCSA is petitioning comments to the suggested changes and will submit a final review to the White House within the next 9 months. Changes could be issued to the current rules within the next 21 months.

According to the Journal of Commerce, these changes will affect everyone in the industry involved in the movement of goods saying, “If the number of hours that drivers can spend on the road is shortened, either by cutting back the maximum driving time from 11 to 10 hours, which is one suggestion, or by tightening up the rules so that they have to take a certain amount of break time, that they have to finish their daily duties within 13 hours, which is the new proposal, or lengthening the restart period they have to go through before going to work again. What that means at the end of the day is that they are driving fewer miles.”

The JOC suggests that this will force logistics operators to re-evaluate their carrier networks and look at ways to make routes shorter or put more truckload freight onto intermodal rail. Transportation executives must use robust technology to help them find capacity, especially since long-haul drivers will be harder to find if these new rules go into effect.

Transportation management systems with a global logistics network connecting thousands of carriers and shippers can help find capacity. Kuebix TMS connects parcel, LTL, full truckload, rail, ocean and air carriers, making it easy to compare rates side-by-side and secure the best carrier with the right service for the job. In an age of tight capacity, fewer drivers and more regulations, companies that use a TMS will enhance the customer experience and gain efficiencies and profitability.

Mini Robotic Warehouse Grocery

The Tiny Grocery Movement

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Tiny House Movement, where people of all ages are downsizing the space they live in to simplify their existence and to live with less. So in a recent Fast Company article called, “What if your grocery orders were prepared in a tiny robot warehouse?“, I couldn’t help but visualize tiny robots with tiny shopping carts wheeling up and down tiny aisles in a tiny grocery store.

While that is not what this article is about, it did touch on the theme of “downsizing” of grocery store fulfillment centers. Consumers could place grocery orders at their local supermarket, which would house a miniature robotic warehouse in which the food orders would be picked and packed and ready in as little as thirty minutes. These mini-fulfillment centers are heavily automated to quickly assemble orders for either delivery or customer pickup.

Robots with shuttle bins of merchandise will be sent to human order packers tasked with assembling the items in the bins to fill customer orders. Since the robots are created to handle smaller items, humans can handle bulky items by hand. This concept is more efficient than the typical process, where order pickers fill baskets of items for an order from the same grocery shelves as in-store shoppers. The average order is assembled in less than 15 minutes typically.

Mini-fulfillment centers are easier to build than a traditional full-scale warehouse. Shelves and the robots can be installed in less than 3 months, while big distribution centers can take years to complete. Costs for equipment is much lower, too, while material handling equipment for a larger DC can be in the tens of millions.

Since the mini-fulfillment centers are often located within or next to grocery stores, the final mile is taken care of. Consumers can simply pick up their orders at the store. If customers opt-in for home delivery, delivery areas are typically within a few miles. This new “tiny movement” is very cost effective for grocers, helping them to lower cost to serve, streamline operations and improve the customer experience.

Is this the future of the grocery store?

The grocery store is changing. With thin margins, high fixed costs, changing consumer tastes and growing competition from big box retailers, the grocery industry has to innovate in order to be more profitable. Shopping experiences have changed as more shoppers buy groceries online with various delivery options, ranging from pick-up in store, lock boxes or other designations, or choosing same day delivery to home.

Grocery stores are using innovative transportation management processes to lower costs and streamline logistics for inbound and outbound deliveries. Since many food products have short expiration dates, getting these products to the consumer long before expiration helps to grow profits.

Check out the Kuebix Inbound Management white paper to better understand how to manage costs within inbound shipping.

Kuebix Automotive Industry Trends

5 Ways Technology is Changing the Automotive Industry

Technology is changing the automotive industry faster than anyone could have predicted. The driver shortage, capacity crisis, price of fuel, and many other factors are putting pressure on companies to innovate and begin commercializing futuristic technologies. Some of these technological trends are already disrupting the automotive industry. Here are a five ways technology is already beginning to shape this industry.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The concept of the IoT has been around for several years now, and many of us have become accustomed to the idea. The IoT involves “everything being connected to everything.” Imagine your smartwatch knowing when you’ve risen from bed and immediately telling your coffee pot to start brewing. This concept is shaping our everyday lives. These are three uses of the IoT for the automotive industry:

•      Usage Based Insurance (UBI)

•      Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

•      In-Vehicle Health Monitoring

These three technologies involve connecting cars and trucks to the cloud to gather big data about their state-of-being and actions. Devices within vehicles can collect information on driving times, the health of the vehicle and safety of operations. Usage Based Insurance, also known as automotive telematics insurance, monitor vehicle use to more accurately assess risk. Factors that can be monitored include miles driven, driver behavior, and vehicle type.

Similarly, electronic logging devices are now in widespread use following the 2017 ELD Mandate enforcing the federal Hours-of-Service (HoS) regulation. With onboard computers, truckers’ time driven is monitored to ensure they are complying with the law.

Automotive biometric identification systems are being developed to help companies and individuals monitor the health of drivers. Expected to be commercialized by 2025, technologies to monitor heart rates, fatigue, and distracted driving are being developed. These technologies could go a long way to preventing accidents on the road, as well as improve insurance premiums.

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X)

Technology to connect vehicles with each other, the cloud, and any other obstacle on the road is being developed. Connecting Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) is the passing of information back and forth between the vehicle and an entity on the road. This could be a traffic light, crosswalk, or detour sign. Other forms of this technology include connecting Vehicle-to-Cloud (V2C), Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P) and Vehicle-to-Grid) among others. These technologies are expected to improve safety on the road as well as driving efficiency.

One branch of this technology that is expected to hit the road long before V2X is perfected is a technology called Driver Assisted Truck Platooning (DATP). This technology is designed to relieve the strain of the driver shortage by enabling one driver to “drive” several vehicles in parade formation at once. The driver would simply operate a single truck at the head of the “platoon” and one or more similar trucks would connect with the lead truck to follow along behind autonomously. This has the potential to reduce carbon emissions as well as save costs as driver wages continue to rise.

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous Vehicles, known colloquially as self-driving cars, are expected to be seen on the roads in 2020, with many of the largest names in the automotive industry competing to be the first to commercialize the technology. There’s no doubt that the autonomous vehicle revolution will transform our lives. The benefits seem endless, increased safety, lower fuel emissions and more productive time for people being transported on the vehicle.

Autonomous cars and trucks will be made possible by Artificial Intelligence (AI), an area of computer science working to create machines which can react and interact with humans and other unknown factors. Self-driving cars can’t only react to speed limits and pre-determined conditions on the road, they will need to account for things like pedestrians, fallen trees, and weather conditions. Right now, most tests of self-driving cars are being conducted in areas without harsh weather or pedestrians.

By 2040, it’s estimated that the autonomous vehicle industry will be a $3.6 trillion opportunity. Producers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of cars and trucks will face steep competition amongst themselves to carve out a place in the new industry. For those companies that succeed in getting a foothold in the autonomous vehicle market, this trend is likely to be a gold mine.

Electrification

Though it may come as a surprise, the first successful electric vehicle in the United States hit the road in 1890 in Des Moines, Iowa. Of course, the vehicle didn’t hold as much potential as fossil fuel vehicles and wasn’t widely adopted by the public. Not until the late 1990’s did electric vehicles make a come-back with the mass-production of the Toyota Prius.

Two decades later, electric vehicles are becoming more and more common. Some are hybrid models, capable of using traditional fuel sources and electricity while some are solely reliant on electricity. These plug-in electric vehicles reduce carbon emissions and can save the operator money. With an increasingly environmentally conscious customer base, electric cars are likely to continue to grow in popularity.

Wind and solar farms are making electric vehicles more sustainable, and once purchased, more economical. It will be up to manufacturers to make sure that their products’ initial cost doesn’t diminish expected ROI. Creating lasting vehicles that can deliver cost savings through reduced fuel consumption will make companies and individuals more likely to adopt the new technology.

Optimization

The final trend poised to revolutionize the automotive industry is Optimization. By leveraging big data collected from tracking devices and analyzed by intelligent software, companies are able to view and automatically consolidate their routes like never before. Optimizing routes and consolidating goods being transported will lead to reduced miles driven and more money saved. It will also have a direct impact on the capacity crisis as assets are more fully utilized.

Using technology, a taxi company with a fleet of passenger cars can plan the most direct routes between patrons and anticipate peak hours ahead of time. Fleet owners can combine shipments being delivered to the same location in order to remove an unnecessary truck from the road. And a shipper in Pennsylvania can find capacity on the best route up to Maine.

With the help of tracking devices and big data, companies will be able to analyze and make strategic changes to their vehicles in order to get the most out of their assets. This level of optimization will change the automotive industry as vehicles and shipments become “smarter” with the help of technology.

Learn more about Kuebix‘s Order and Route Optimizer here.

Customer Service Kuebix Transportation

Importance of Customer Service in Transportation Operations

Good customer service is a must in any business that wants to not only survive but thrive within its industry. Good customer service means customer satisfaction. Ever been to a restaurant and the server never came to bring you a menu? Or have you waited in line for a bank teller only to have them close their window when it was your turn? These experiences left a bad taste in my mouth and it was all because the business lacked good customer service. Business should make customer service a company priority.

By providing good customer service in the logistics operation, such as the ability to track shipments and alert customers if their orders will be delayed, you will increase customer satisfaction. Tracking deliveries in real-time and communicating any issues which arise, alerts customers to problems and gives them time to make adjustments, such as finding an alternative source. Superior customer satisfaction and service sets your business apart from the competition and ensures customer loyalty.

Good customer service equates to a greater customer experience while they do business with your company. Poor customer service will drive people away from your brand. If a customer uses social media to inform others of your poor customer service, it can damage your brand’s reputation, which is hard to recover. However, an apology goes a long way. If something goes wrong, such as an order arrives late or a product is broken, quickly acknowledging the error and replacing the defective merchandise along with sending a sincere apology will deter any complaints and shows that your company cares for their customers. Showing you care through good customer service will do your business and your brand a world of good.

Showing respect, sending apologies, acknowledging errors and quickly fixing problems is what makes for good customer service. Improving efficiencies, such as in return processes and inbound shipments, will speed operations and deliveries to help you satisfy time-sensitive customers. Focuses externally on customers, putting their relationship first, helps to ensure customers will feel valued and want to continue working with your company.

In logistics operations, shippers establish KPIs to measure the performance of their carriers, such as the percentage of missed and on-time deliveries, loading and unloading times, truck turnaround times, etc. Using the performance data and actionable reports from a TMS, you can collaborate with carriers to identify how to address any issues that have arisen, especially issues that affect customer service. Focusing on improving your operations using KPI measurements and reporting keeps transport costs down, while increasing efficiencies, leading to greater customer service.

Since consumers today have heightened expectations about customer service, wanting their orders the same day and to know exactly when the order will arrive, businesses have to step up their game when it comes to improving customer service. Technology that gives visibility up and down the supply chain is the answer.

Community Load Match Kuebix

Don’t Let Limited Truckload Capacity Threaten Growth

Truckload capacity is at an all-time premium. This means that companies are struggling to retain the current rates they have, let alone add capacity as their businesses grow in the strong economic environment. The “shoe is on the other foot,” as they say, and truck owners are now in control of setting prices and taking their business elsewhere as they see fit. This leaves shippers in a difficult situation, they must either slow their pace of growth or source additional truckload rates.

According to the WSJ “More companies are pointing to rising freight costs as a drag on earnings and growth, as trucking companies raise rates.” In order to continue growing, companies need to source additional truckload rates to ensure they have capacity and are getting the best prices. The solution is technology. With the help of technology like Kuebix Community Load Match, spot quotes for truckload shipments can be easily found and booked.

Community Load Match is making it easier than ever for shippers to access a vast ecosystem of dedicated truckload carriers. Kuebix customers can now leverage a diverse community of brokers to supplement existing capacity with reliable alternatives. As capacity continues to shrink, it becomes more and more difficult to find and book spot rates for truckload shipments. The labor costs associated with calling brokers and carriers to book freight are high as well. Instead of calling and searching online for capacity, Kuebix is meeting the needs of its users by providing a single source to access a huge network of trucks that can provide attractive rates and a new, valuable source for truckload capacity. This saves time, reduces costs and gets freight shipped in an industry where truckload costs are rising, and assets are scarce.

The barrier to entry for Community Load Match is non-existent. The service is free to use for all Kuebix users, including Kuebix Free Shippers. Any user with truckload freight to ship simply enters the specifics of their shipment in Kuebix and posts it to Community Load Match. Within minutes, users begin receiving truckload rates and then can book and manage their shipments directly within the system. Shippers retain control of their operations by choosing the best provider for every truckload shipment. By increasing the available options, shippers are able to ensure all truckload moves are covered by the optimal carrier available.

Truckload capacity is growing more and more scarce, but finding the trucks which are available just got easier. Now, any size company with truckload freight to ship can find more capacity and get better pricing by posting their shipment to Kuebix Community Load Match.

Kuebix Freight Pay and Audit

Are You Still Manually Auditing Your Freight Bills?

Freight pay and audit can be a very tedious and expensive function. Money is wasted when companies pay outside firms by the invoice while the company may still be left dealing with difficult exceptions directly with the carrier. With the help of technology, the entire process can be streamlined and automated. This makes auditing invoices and handling exceptions highly efficient.

Automation means never accidentally overpaying for freight

Did you know that 15% of carrier invoices are incorrect and, more often than not, those erroneous bills are not in the shipper’s favor? Manually using carriers’ paper or email invoices to validate billed amounts can result in errors or even approvals without proper research. Overcharges can occur when all invoices are generically approved for remittance simply because the effort involved to research discrepancies is too time-consuming.

Automation makes auditing faster

By integrating carrier invoices directly with a TMS, carrier bills can be automatically audited against the approved rate quote for each shipment. If an invoice doesn’t match the agreed upon rate or falls outside an acceptable threshold, a rate exception claim can be created. Rate exception claims should include details of the actual discrepancy to make it easy to dispute. Then, the ERP system can be automatically updated with the new invoice information and payments can be made with confidence. When manual freight pay and audit functions are replaced with automatic ones, shippers only spend time looking at the invoices that are incorrect and always know where the discrepancies lay for easy disputing.

Automation helps to better manage cash flow

Paying invoices too early can reduce cash flow for the company. Kuebix keeps track of the payment terms with carriers and helps ERP systems pay carrier invoices on time, ensuring that invoices are not paid too early. The Kuebix platform automatically alerts the user which invoices to process for payment and on what date, ensuring cash-flow is managed correctly.

Automation provides more accurate financials

With technology, shippers have the ability to add important GL codes to the invoice so that their accounting teams can properly class the financial information for every line item on every shipment.  Enabling the smooth exchange of all associated financial data helps the company keep track of specific expenses by various product lines and business functions. By leveraging automation technology, opportunities to squeeze savings from shipping operations can be identified and implemented as well.

Kuebix TMS offers out-of-the box solutions to automate Freight Pay and Audit functions. This means that detailed rate exceptions can be viewed in one place instead of painstakingly researching discrepancies on each mis-matching invoice. By collaborating with Kuebix’s experienced team of implementation experts, a customized carrier invoice auditing integration can be created to fit any company’s specific needs.

Kuebix Consumer Packaged Goods

How One Consumer Packaged Goods Company Keeps Up with Its Speed of Growth

Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies are growing as convenience, drug and discount retailers gain industry presence due to their improved customer experience when compared with traditional brick-and-mortar. Stocking these smaller format stores, combined with the general nature of the merchandise, means that CPG supply chains are both high velocity and prone to demand spikes. Growing CPG companies looking to expand their order volume and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction are turning to technology to gain a competitive advantage.

180 Innovations, a private-label manufacturer offering a full range of health and beauty products, implemented Kuebix TMS to stay ahead of their increased shipment volume while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.

The company specializes in thermometry and produces oral, skin and hair care products. They supply retailers such as Marshalls, Rite-Aid, and CVS, and distribute across North America. Moving their freight management process from paper to one optimized for the digital age was an obvious choice for the manufacturer.

In 2016, the company began seeing a rapid period of growth, necessitating the move away from small parcel shipments via the postal service and toward LTL shipping. With these increased freight needs, 180 Innovations decided to optimize their processes rather than scaling an old system. To do this, the company adopted Kuebix TMS as their transportation management system.

Davor Vucic, an industry veteran with 20 years’ experience at 180 Innovations under his belt, manages the company’s shipping and receiving operations. Now, with Kuebix, he can rate, book and track shipments with ease as well as automatically create BOLs. In addition to the core functionality, Vucic has been able to leverage the power of the TMS to get ahead of his workload.

The ability to easily edit shipments has also been a benefit for 180 Innovations. If something needs to be added onto or removed from an already finished shipment, they can easily do so. Having the flexibility to modify shipments helps to keep product flowing and customers happy.

Kuebix TMS has made 180 Innovations’ transportation operations faster and more efficient. The manufacturer has been able to handle their increasing business without needing to scale their previously manual process. Davor Vucic reports that he is 5 times faster with Kuebix. Saying that “it’s the only way we are able to keep up with the speed of growth 180 Innovations is experiencing.”

To read more about this CPG company’s experience using Kuebix TMS, click here.

Uberization of Freight

The Uberization of Freight – Communities in the Logistics Space

The “sharing economy” is rapidly changing our behaviors as consumers. Uber, Airbnb and Lyft are just a few of the many platforms that are helping people sell, share, and rent their unused assets. The “Uberization” trend is disrupting traditional business models and touching nearly every corner of our lives, and even the logistics industry hasn’t escaped its touch.

With the Uberization of freight comes a variety of tools powered by cloud technology. Shippers are using smartphones and mobile apps to gain access to otherwise-empty trucks while also dealing more directly with drivers (versus just carriers and freight forwarders). These tools are letting individuals and companies communicate dynamically with each other to share assets and make deals. Since these tools are almost universally cloud-based, they aren’t limited to old-fashioned desktop PCs. Instead they go where their users go, from the warehouse floor to the office to the road.

Communities are springing up around these “sharing economies”, adding new levels of usefulness for their members.  For the transportation industry, the Uberization trend is helping shippers connect with thousands of independent drivers that have empty truck space. Despite popular belief, individuals who own and operate their own trucking businesses comprise a large chunk of the U.S. trucking industry. These 350,000 registered owner-operators either lease to carriers or operate under their own authority, which makes reaching and connecting with them extremely difficult. What better way to find independent drivers than through a community that connects directly with them and allows shippers to secure otherwise-unused capacity on their trailers?

This level of Uberization should be a lifeline for shippers that are feeling the impact of the capacity crunch and truck driver shortage. Exacerbated by regulations like the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate and a strong national economy, these challenges aren’t getting any easier for shippers. Much like its pioneering cousin did with personal transportation, the Uberization of freight trend is focused on matching capacity to specific shipper needs. In the not so distant future, it will become the norm for shippers to leverage communities based on the cloud to gain visibility and book freight with an ecosystem of carriers they would never otherwise have had access to. This will help to lessen the impact of the capacity crunch and driver shortage by reducing the number of empty miles driven.

Participating in a community that provides access to an ecosystem of carriers not only enables a high level of load matching, it also streamlines the entire transaction and enables solid shipper-carrier relationships (a must-have in a world where trucks are expensive and hard to come by). This strategy has been wildly successful for Uber, and is demonstrating enormous potential for the logistics industry.

Inbound Freight Management Kuebix

Building a Successful Inbound Freight Management Program

Managing inbound freight is one of the most crucial parts of managing a successful supply chain, but the fact is… it’s hard!

Kuebix Founder and President Dan Clark discusses in a recent video how a company can better manage their inbound freight by following a detailed process that ensures their product is delivered to the distribution center with the optimal carrier, at the optimal price.

Frequently overlooked and often pushed to the bottom of a shipper’s supply chain agenda, good inbound freight management can help companies improve shipment visibility, save money, and enhance customer service—all of which add to the bottom line and boost profitability.

With outbound freight management, shippers are in control of the operation, managing their own picking orders and delivering to their own customers. With inbound freight, shippers are dependent on suppliers to pick orders, load and deliver to a distribution center. This takes collaboration and accountability among participants, and visibility into operations to know what is happening.

A successful inbound program must follow a detailed process for all freight delivered to the distribution center. The program needs to ensure that freight is delivered by the optimal carrier at the optimal price. It requires an infrastructure that creates a win-win relationship with suppliers and carriers that leverages available capacity to ensure freight will be delivered on time, claims free to the distribution center.

With real-time alerts and a real-time collaborative infrastructure, shippers can track shipment delivery times and better organize their docks so carriers aren’t left idling in the yard. A well-planned inbound freight management program uses LTL consolidations to make fuller trucks to reduce the number of deliveries arriving at the same time and utilizes backhaul opportunities to reduce shipping costs and improve efficiencies.

A well-orchestrated inbound freight management processes establishes a win-win program with suppliers to keep costs in check. It helps with managing supplier allowance programs for LTL and TL, streamlines the unloading process, establishes vendor inbound compliance and fosters dynamic capacity-based selections, where whoever has the capacity is the one selected to deliver the orders.

A superior inbound management program must be built on compliance and accountability. It requires a comprehensive routing guide that details the requirements for each stakeholder and each process. Everyone needs to understand the program and their responsibilities for its success. Enforcing these new compliance policies ensures cost reduction objectives will be met.

This will create an environment that makes it efficient and cost effective for all stakeholders involved in the process.

 

Back to School - Kuebix

Where Did Summer Go? Back-to-School Shopping Is Here!

Why are we thinking about back-to-school when it’s still July? Didn’t summer just start? In some places in the US, schools have not been out for the summer that long, but in others, schools start back around the 1st of August. Each year around this time, parents and kids flood stores to fill their back-to-school list.

Now is the time for back-to-school shopping!

This year, total US back-to-school spending for K-12 schools and college combined is projected to reach $82.8 billion. Families with children in elementary through high school will spend on average $684.79 each, for a total of $27.5 billion, per the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. For people heading off to college or graduate school, the survey quoted the average spend as $942.17 per person for a total of $55.3 billion.

The leader in back-to-school purchases are clothes and accessories, expected to reach $15.1 billion. School supplies come in at $6 billion, computers and hardware hit $3.7 billion and electronic gadgets are predicted to reach $2.8 billion.

Shoppers will be active from late July to early August, spending about a third of the projected seasonal spend. Many consumers will research their purchases online before buying items in-store, while 52% said they will purchase from online retailers that offer free shipping.

Some retailers are getting creative when it comes to getting back-to-school orders into the hands of consumers, faster and for less cost. Some retailers are setting up kiosks or pop-up booths on campuses, other have special buses that drive students to local stores, still others are offering click-and-collect boxes at convenient locations. For college students, retailers are offering direct delivery to college dorm rooms.

It is critical that retailers ensure that the right items are on shelves in time for back-to-school shopping. Getting items from suppliers to the DC or from the DC to store shelves, consumer homes or click-and-collect boxes requires a scalable, flexible transportation management system.

Kuebix TMS integrates with e-commerce platforms, allowing online retailers to gain real-time visibility with estimated delivery times and alerts if a shipment will be delayed. The result is a streamlined logistics operations that controls costs and ensures delivery accuracy for shippers working hard to meet back-to-school demand.

Stop the Double-Entry Madness!

When most people think of the supply chain, they picture pallets arranged on trailers or colorful shipping containers being loaded off of ships. However, there are a lot of moving parts to the supply chain even before product starts moving from point A to point B. Getting those pallets and containers to where they need to be takes time and a lot of pre-planning. To keep the supply chain running smoothly, orders need to be received, product needs to be produced to meet demand and transport needs to be arranged for pickup.

These steps require a high degree of attention in order to work successfully. Orders are tracked by PO number, SKU and many other metrics which might encompass anything from dimension to Haz-Mat classification. Many shipping departments studiously key order information from their ERP systems to their carriers’ websites to arrange transport. In some cases, printouts are even being re-keyed into spreadsheets. For anyone who has keyed product or order information back and forth between systems, you know that it can take considerable time and be riddled with manual errors.

Technology is helping shipping departments stop the double-entry madness. By integrating purchase orders directly from their ERP system, logistics professionals can automate the rapid creation of shipments by avoiding the need to re-key a long list of order line items. Integration is also two-way, meaning financial and customer service teams can gain visibility on all transactions as information flows seamlessly back to the ERP system.

By allowing order and product information to populate automatically, the need to re-key information between systems is completely eliminated. This decreases labor costs by saving time manually typing orders while simultaneously increasing order accuracy. Better order accuracy means never shipping the wrong product or quantity because of a simple typo and never having to explain to a customer why human error was to blame for your poor service.

Leveraging technology to automate a previously manual and tedious process is saving countless companies valuable time. Some companies have been slow to integrate their ERP with their TMS for fear of a long, complicated process. However, by seeking a TMS that offers a common integration approach to all ERP systems, shippers can be assured of rapid implementation and ROI. Kuebix TMS offers out-of-the-box ERP integrations. Click here to check out how we integrate with Microsoft DynamicsNetSuite and QuickBooks!

Kuebix - Amazon Prime Day

Amazon Prime Day’s Impact on the Supply Chain

Amazon Prime Day kicks off today at 3:00 PM EST and is one of the biggest e-commerce days of the year, with sales growing over 60 percent year-over-year since 2016. Prime Day features deep discounts for Amazon Prime members and will generate sales to rival those of the holiday season, even during one of the year’s lowest sales periods. Retailers supplying the 560M+ items available every day on Amazon in the USA are upping their game with the help of technology to meet expectations for quick deliveries and excellent service by optimizing their shipments and improving visibility.

Amazon Prime Day is like Black Friday, only in July, and demonstrates how consumers’ adoption of e-commerce shopping is growing at a pace that far exceeds expectations. E-tailers shipping into Amazon fulfillment distribution centers (FDCs) are focusing on improving efficiencies within their supply chains and streamlining operations to keep pace with the increased volume. By leveraging the power of technology, retailers are lowering transportation costs, finding needed capacity, and gaining visibility into operations to ensure customer service expectations are met.

Prime Day comes at a time of year that has been traditionally slow for the supply chain industry. There aren’t any major holidays, and back-to-school hasn’t quite started. However, the popularity of the event coupled with the capacity crisis and driver shortage are causing roadblocks for some retailers who haven’t already optimized their supply chains. To keep up with the heightened order volume, retailers must streamline internal processes, ship products more efficiently and maintain a heightened level of visibility to order line items.

Retailers are turning to technology to improve their internal processes through order integration, rate-comparison and freight pay and audit features. Global logistics communities are uniting carriers and shippers to find optimal routes to share assets and fill empty miles. Powerful optimization tools are consolidating loads and planning the most efficient routes to cut down on transit time as well as costs. All these processes are being made possible by technology and are helping to combat the capacity crunch by making shipping more efficient and utilizing assets to their fullest.

Amazon has set the bar high in terms of order visibility. Companies are now taking advantage of technology to gain visibility into their supply chains, resulting in superior customer service and more efficient operations. The adoption of technology like tracking devices, on-board computers, and cloud-based portals means that retailers can collaborate with carriers to improve performance. Carriers can provide an updated status of their delivery so that retailers know where goods are at all times and when to expect their arrival. If a delay is going to happen, the customer can be alerted, which improves satisfaction.

The industry is braced for “Christmas in July” as the countdown to Prime Day draws to a close. The deep discounts on more than one million items, both Amazon-branded products as well as items from third-party sellers, are guaranteed to have a large impact on the supply chain this year. In order to keep up with increased order volume and inventory turns, shippers are turning to technology to improve their processes and speed up delivery.