How Saint Patrick’s Day Became a Major Holiday for the Supply Chain

Saint Patrick’s Day has been a major holiday for Americans going back to well before America split off from Great Britain. In fact, it might surprise you to know that the first St. Patrick’s Day parade was actually held in Boston in 1737, not in Dublin. On St. Patrick’s Day, much of America celebrates Irish culture by wearing green, cooking an Irish meal, or hitting the town for a pub crawl and some Guinness. This means that supply chains have their work cut out for them to deliver St. Patrick’s Day specific products across the country.

The National Retail Federation has conducted their annual report on how consumers will spend and celebrate during this popular cultural holiday. In 2018, spending for St. Patrick’s Day reached an all-time high at $5.9 billion. The data proves why shippers of all kinds should take special care with their supply chains during this time. A large percentage of the American people will purchase something related to celebrating St. Patty’s Day this year.

Check out the NRF’s interactive infographic below:

 

What was once a religious holiday has become a widely popularized commercial holiday known for beer, crazy hats, and turning everyday items green (like the Chicago River in Illinois.) Industries ranging from the food and beverage industry to manufacturing, retail and logistics will be impacted by this holiday.

Retail and food and beverage companies need to pay extra attention to St. Patrick’s Day. After the mega-holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, it can be easy to ignore a holiday that wouldn’t seem to have as much impact. However, many retailers will need to stock shelves with season-specific items. This means ordering products early, getting them onto shelves quickly, and moving all product before March 17th.

Food and beverage companies that produce special seasonal items (think green waffles or green beer) should pay attention as well. Not to mention any food and beverage company selling “Irish staples” like cabbage, corned beef, or soda bread. During the weeks leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, shippers dealing with these types of products need to ensure prompt delivery and full visibility to orders to keep their customers satisfied.

Here are some more food and beverage related stats for Saint Patrick’s Day!

•     13 million pints of Guinness will be consumed on March 17

•     Cabbage shipments will increase by 70% during the week of March 17

•     Corned beef is eaten in America on St. Patrick’s Day, but the Irish traditionally eat lamb or bacon

•     Over 60 million of McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes have been sold since 1970, despite the fact that they are only offered a few weeks of the year prior to St. Patty’s day

benefit flow kuebix tms medium

The Benefit Flow of Using a Transportation Management System [TMS] *Infographic*

Transportation management systems (TMS) are becoming more and more common throughout the supply chain. TMSs used to be reserved only for the largest shippers and cost exorbitant amounts of money, making them inaccessible for shippers with smaller freight spends. With the dawn of Software as a Service (SaaS) technology and cloud-based systems, any size company that ships freight can implement a TMS to improve their logistics operations without breaking the bank.

Take a look at our infographic to learn more about how a TMS can bring improvements from initial customer order to post-delivery.

Kuebix - Benefits of Using a TMS

Centralize Information

A TMS will centralize all information so that every stakeholder in the supply chain can easily view and access the same data as their peers. Working off of the same set of information reduces the risk of error and makes processes flow more smoothly.

Minimize Manual Entry

With the addition of an ERP integration, orders flow automatically into the TMS for easy rating and booking. Instead of rekeying orders, logistics professionals have all the order information at their fingertips!

Save Money – Add to Your Bottom Line

One of the basic, and most potentially lucrative, functions of a TMS is the ability to compare multiple rates from different carriers side by side. Instead of navigating to dozens of different carrier websites (or worse of all, not comparing rates), logistics professionals can quickly select the rate and service type for each shipment that saves the most money and delivers the best customer satisfaction.

Optimize Loads and Routes

Optimization tools built into a TMS help logistics professionals build the optimal load and route with the help of algorithms. Parameters can be inputted ahead of time to specify how the load needs to be built, and the technology suggests the optimal consolidated shipment and lane. This helps to cube out every truck, save money on fuel expense, and reduce the number of touches an order undergoes.

Track & Trace Orders – Gain Visibility

Being able to track and trace orders down to the SKU level improves Customer Service teams’ ability to inform customers of changes to their orders and troubleshoot issues as they arise. It also means that teams can proactively make changes and maintain a complete understanding of their supply chain. With all of this data housed in one place, reports and dashboards can also be access directly from the TMS.

Improve Customer Satisfaction

All of the aforementioned benefits contribute to improving customer satisfaction. Orders can be processed more quickly, booked for cheaper rates, and remain visible throughout every node of the supply chain. This helps shippers meet rising expectations around shipping costs and times. Knowing when an order will be late and proactively communicating that with the customer will go a long way to building strong customer relations.

Leverage Actionable Analytics

Even after an order has been delivered to the end customer, a TMS doesn’t stop providing benefits. All shipment data is stored within the TMS and can be viewed in customizable reports and dashboards. Shippers can analyze overall carrier performance, make changes to their standard processes, and proactively leverage the analytics to improve customer satisfaction and lower costs.

breaking down tms transportation management system jargon kuebix

Breaking Down Transportation Management System (TMS) Jargon

There is a lot of jargon associated with transportation management systems (TMS) that many people find hard to navigate at first. You may never have come across some terms if you don’t have a history of working with TMSs or other forms of tech. The saying “it’s all Greek to me!” might spring to mind.

If you find yourself lost in TMS jargon, take a look at this list of some of the most common phrases and terms used when talking about transportation management systems.

Transportation Management System (TMS)

This one might seem obvious, but actually understanding what a TMS does is crucial before you can understand how the other terms relate. A TMS is a collection of tools housed under a single umbrella technology that help supply chain professionals manage transportation operations. These systems usually sit in between ordering systems (ERPs) and warehouse management systems (WMS) and help streamline rating, booking, and visibility to orders, among other things.

Integration

The term Integration in regards to a TMS means to digitally connect the TMS with another, external system. Intuitively, an integration is a pairing or merging of two entities, ie two pieces of software. Common integrations to a TMS include ERP integrations, API integrations and e-Commerce integrations. Information flows between the TMS and the external system that is integrated.

Software as a Service

Software as a Service, more commonly known as SaaS, is a method of delivering software to users. The software is accessed via a subscription model as opposed to being paid for and owned by the end-customer. This makes implementation, managing issues and getting updates much easier.

Cloud-based

This term is used to refer to a piece of software that was built to be accessed from the internet or “cloud.” Cloud-based applications or services are available on demand via a provider’s cloud computing servers. Cloud-based TMSs are becoming more common as supply chain professionals increasingly need to access their systems remotely.

On-premise

On-premise is the opposite of cloud-based software. Instead of the software being housed online, the software is installed and runs on local computers. This was the first method of selling software and has become an outdated model as the benefits of cloud-based software become even more apparent. On-premise TMSs are becoming obsolete as cloud-based ones are implemented quicker, return faster ROI, and are generally easier to manage.

Managed Services

Transportation-related managed services are programs provided to companies wishing to partially or fully outsource management of their logistics operations. Some companies choose to outsource certain processes to experts to gain efficiencies and dedicate more time to other areas of their business. These programs are often run in tandem with transportation management systems.

Logistics Community

A logistics community is a collaborative group of shippers and carriers around the world. Members of the community benefit from opportunities to collaborate and community-specific functions like truckload spot markets. Communities can be built around a TMS and foster an environment where freight savings and efficiencies can be gained.

Optimization

When someone talks about optimization and TMS together, they are usually talking about load and route optimization capabilities. Advanced TMSs offer optimization tools to their users to build perfect loads based on a variety of parameters. Instead of manually pouring over spreadsheets, TMS users with Optimization functionality can automatically build consolidated loads and route them efficiently.

continuous improvement kuebix

Creating Continuous Improvement Within Transportation

Continuous improvement programs are important for reducing waste within your transportation processes – and overall business environment. With rising freight rates, lack of capacity, and the driver shortage, transportation operations must create strategies to eliminate waste, while lowering costs and boosting efficiencies.

Continuous improvement is defined as “a method for identifying opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste.” Often businesses and manufacturing companies create continuous improvement initiatives to eliminate waste throughout their organization, including too much inventory, movement, time, and more. Establishing a formalized continuous improvement program helps companies identify cost-saving opportunities and work better and smarter.

What constitutes waste within a transportation operation?

One of the biggest wastes in transportation is empty trucks. This could refer to empty backhauls, insufficiently cubed out trucks, and trailers that lay empty in yards because a process to track them isn’t easily available. In a world where there is a capacity crisis and roughly 10 loads for every available truck, it’s unthinkable that there should be empty capacity. Supply chain professionals can work on continuously improving their trailers with the help of technology.

There are many ways technology can aid in continuously improving the efficiency of trucks. Technology like Kuebix’s FleetMAX program helps pair available backhaul capacity with matching freight to fill empty miles. Rating and booking with a TMS allows shippers to compare different modes side-by-side to optimize their shipments and optimization technology can be used to build the best load and route for every order. Adding in a modular yard management system (YMS) can help to streamline operations in the yard and at the dock, making truck turn-around time faster and wasting less capacity.

Another common waste in the supply chain is the underperformance of carriers. When a carrier shows up late, doesn’t have the right size truck, doesn’t have the right number of people to help load and unload, or, even worse, doesn’t even show up, your transportation operations suffer, along with customer satisfaction. Establishing and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) and sharing these results with your carriers can help to improve their performance and keep your operations running smoothly. Predictive analytics can be used to generate scorecards on carrier performance to show savings to upper management. Leveraging analytics to continuously improve your supply chain can reduce freight spend by 10-20%.

Many TMS systems include business intelligence and reporting capabilities, which can be used to help management make better decisions. These decisions can lead to continuous improvement of transportation operations. By continually improving these operations, your business can lower costs, better meet customer expectations and sustain profitability.

If you are doing business the same old way you have been doing for years, then you are not continually improving. With a continuous improvement program, your business will strive for excellence – and will deliver significant value to customers and shareholders.

Kuebix FleetMAX

A Win-Win for Fleet Owners and Shippers

Right now in the industry there are approximately 10 orders to ship for every available truck. Conversely, there’s a large portion of private fleets that are running their assets with a significant amount of empty backhaul miles. At Kuebix, we don’t think it makes sense for there to be a capacity crisis at the same time as so many trucks are running empty. That’s why we decided to do something about it.

FleetMAX is designed to help fleet owners eliminate empty miles and generate additional profit by making backhaul fleet capacity available to Kuebix’s vast community of shippers and brokers without the legwork fleet managers typically need to do to source backhaul freight for their assets. The program also eliminates the risk generally associated with contracting out with unknown shippers and streamlines the financial management. Instead of managing countless agreements with shippers and brokers, fleets manage a single agreement with Estes Truckload Management LLC.

This unique relationship with Estes Truckload Management LLC eliminates a major obstacle in the success of filling fleet backhauls by making the administration of charging the shipper and collecting the funds easy. With FleetMAX, all of the financials and settlements are managed through Estes Truckload Management, relieving private fleets of these administrative challenges. For brokers and shippers, FleetMAX offers untapped fleet capacity delivered through technology at attractive prices via a single provider, Estes Truckload Management, one of the most trusted names in the industry.

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

Learn More about FleetMAX

 

 

compare freight rates kuebix

Why You Should Be Comparing Your Full Truckload (FTL) & Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Freight Rates

Logistics professionals have their work cut out for them just to get their freight to the customer on time without the added pressure to shop around to find the best deal. At least, that’s the case for folks who are still managing their freight operations in the old-fashioned way, with phone calls to carriers and spreadsheets to track loads. Companies that have already turned to transportation technology to help them optimize their supply chains can easily compare freight rates without wasting extra time.

Technology lets companies automatically pull in all their negotiated carrier rates side by side for easy viewing and comparing. Instead of needing to switch between vendor portals, logistics professionals have all their tariff information contained in one, user-friendly location. This means that they can choose the most attractive rate at the service level they need for every shipment.

Why Should You Compare Your Freight Rates?

Many shippers have carriers that they partner with over and over again, and those relationships can be crucial for the success of the delivery. But if you never get a feel for the market price on a particular lane, you could be vastly overpaying. By comparing rates, you can go back to your carriers to negotiate better terms. You may also discover cheaper capacity is available, helping you save money on total freight spend if you alter your processes for certain lanes.

By shopping around for different freight rates, you could also discover opportunities to deliver faster to your customers. Trends like the “Amazon Effect” are increasing customer expectations, namely the speed at which they can expect their deliveries. Even if you don’t discover freight savings when you shop around, you may discover ways to improve your customer satisfaction.

Another reason to constantly be comparing your freight rates is that prices are continuously changing. Diesel prices fluctuate, the driver shortage and capacity crunch alter carriers’ ability to service their customer base, and competition for capacity grows worse. What may have been the best price one day could suddenly be outperformed by another rate the next. Instead of doing a monthly or quarterly audit of tariffs, companies should be comparing their freight rates each and every time.

Comparing freight rates also allows logistics professionals to determine what mode they want to ship their product. This is particularly important for orders that could be either a parcel shipment of an LTL load. Many people wouldn’t consider shipping what they assumed to be an LTL load as a parcel shipment, or vice versa, though there could be significant savings. By using technology to display multiple mode options all on one screen, companies can be sure to pick the best price, no matter what mode is selected.

Using Technology to Rate Shop

Technology is the answer to this problem for most shippers. By leveraging a transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, companies can quickly view all their options and select the best one. This is like booking a flight online were each and every price and timeline is viewable. At Kuebix, we believe that logistics should be just as easy as booking a flight online. And by comparing multiple modes side by side, users get even more opportunities to save money and provide superior service to their customers.

kuebix 10 reasons to get a tms

10 Reasons Every Shipper Should Get a Transportation Management System (TMS)

Transportation management systems (TMS) are becoming more widely adopted throughout the industry as these systems become cheaper (or free like Kuebix Free Shipper) and easier to use and implement. But some companies are still on the fence about whether to manage their logistics operations the old-fashioned way with phone calls and spreadsheets or to leverage technology to help streamline the process.

According to Bart De Muynck, Gartner’s research vice president, transportation technology, “Last year was a great year for TMS. In fact, in 2018 we saw investments go up across the entire supply chain technology spectrum.”¹

Companies are implementing TMSs at record numbers to achieve many different benefits. Here are 10 ways getting a TMS can help your business:

Everything in one place

By using a TMS, companies can manage their entire transportation operations all from a single place. This means they can rate, book, track and interact with their orders no matter whether they’re full truckload, LTL, parcel, air, intermodal or ocean. It also means that they don’t need to bounce between different carrier websites to rate shop.

Lower freight costs

Transportation management systems almost always help to lower overall freight costs for companies. By being able to rate shop within a single screen, logistics professionals can choose the least expensive option at the service type they need every time. It also means that companies have easier access to more carriers, creating beneficial competition and providing more options.

Reduce manual entry

With a TMS, especially one that is integrated with an ERP or ordering system, manual entry is greatly reduced. Information like PRO numbers, pallet weights, and destinations can be automatically populated to reduce human error. And instead of making notes on stickies or disjointed spreadsheets, all the order and route information is in one place, meaning reliable information can be transferred between stakeholders.

Optimize routing and load consolidation

With many TMS systems, you can build more efficient loads and routes with the help of an optimizer. Optimization tools allow the user to specify different parameters for the load and then suggest or even build the optimal load and route for easy tendering. Users can even view the route on a map to have a visual of where the order is planned so that they can make changes as necessary.

Get meaningful analytics

Since all of a company’s logistics information will pass through the TMS, that data can be transformed into actionable reports and dashboards. With a TMS companies can see freight cost per item right down to the SKU level to make strategic changes that impact their bottom line. They can also see things like carrier KPIs, real-time tracking data and vendor scorecards. These reports and dashboards help logistics professionals stay on top of key metrics affecting their company’s profits.

Gain visibility

With real-time tracking and analytics, you can provide your customers with the visibility to their orders that they expect. You can even add features like Dock Scheduler, RFID and ELD integrations, and Gate Check to make it easy to tell exactly where each truck is on the route.

Make paperwork easier

Transportation management systems make the little paperwork that is still necessary way easier. BOLs, PODs and other paperwork can be printed directly out of the system to make processing easy, efficient, and most importantly correct every time. This not only puts time back into the day, but it also speeds up pickup/drop-off times when drivers have accurate information with them.

Scalability

With a TMS, a company is free to grow or change their business without having to worry about how they will handle their transportation operations. When new facilities or more products are added to the business, the TMS will scale right along-side it. TMSs with modular features offer companies extra customizability. For example, if the company begins to sell products online, they can add an e-commerce integration to improve shipping options for their customers.

Meet rising customer expectations

Speaking of e-commerce, the growth in popularity of online shopping is changing customer expectations and making shipping more difficult for supply chains. Companies need to get orders to their destinations faster, cheaper, and with complete visibility. With a TMS, all three of these things are made possible and companies can provide exceptional customer service while meeting rising customer expectations.

Integrate external processes

Another benefit many companies take advantage of once they implement a TMS is to integrate it with their other systems. As mentioned above, some choose to integrate with their e-commerce platforms or their ERP and ordering systems. These and other integrations help to smooth processes across different teams and departments to help keep the flow of information clean and consistent, not to mention speed up the entire operation and improve overall visibility.

All-in-all, there are plenty of reasons a company should consider implementing a TMS to manage its transportation operations. These span from cost to time savings and improve data accuracy and visibility. As put by Logistics Management in their 2019 Transportation Management Systems (TMS) Market Update, “As the true workhorses of the supply chain management software cluster, transportation management systems (TMS) have become the “must have” for companies that—working under the pressures of e-commerce and omni-channel—need to move beyond clipboards, spreadsheets, and phone calls to manage their increasingly sophisticated transportation networks.”

¹Logistics Management Magazine

valentines day chocolate supply chain

Chocolate and the Supply Chain

Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand in hand for much of the western world. Americans alone consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year! This means that the supply chain needs to work hard to keep up with the demand. The chocolate supply chain isn’t as palatable as the tasty treat, however. It’s riddled with issues that span from fair trade concerns to sustainable harvesting practices. Once it reaches the continent it will be sold on, supply chains battle with temperature control and getting the final products onto store shelves before major holidays like Valentine’s Day.

chocolate infographic

A Brief History

Chocolate has been consumed by humans dating back as far as 1900 BC, and the practice isn’t likely to end any time soon. The Olmecs (modern Mexico) were the first to start using ground cocoa seeds for consumption. In fact, most of the Mesoamerican people used cocoa to make chocolate beverages. The English word for chocolate is derived from the Classical Nahuatl word “chocolātl”.

Fair Trade Initiatives

Thousands of years later, consumers like their chocolate in a myriad of forms. Whether it’s hot, cold, mixed into a dessert, or in bar form, chocolate is almost universally loved. It’s tragic, therefore that some supply chain practices aren’t as ethical as others. There are growing concerns about the treatment of laborers in countries like Côte d’Ivoire, where roughly 43% of the world’s cocoa is harvested.

New fair trade and sustainability initiatives began to gain support in the 2000s as many chocolate producers seek to address concerns about the marginalization of cocoa laborers in developing nations. International producers like Hershey have put out commitments to source 100% Certified and Sustainable Cocoa by 2020. Other companies like Aldi, a German discount supermarket chain, are using more fair trade cocoa in their assortment of products.

Manufacturing Process

Once the cocoa beans have been harvested, they’re transported by ship to the continent they will be produced and sold on. The cocoa beans are sifted for foreign materials, roasted in large rotating ovens, and cracked open. Once the shells are blown away, all that’s left are crushed and broken pieces of cocoa beans which are called “nibs.” These bits can be found in specialty chocolate shops and are ready for consumption, though quite bitter.

The cocoa nibs are then ground into a thick paste known as chocolate liquor, though they don’t contain any alcohol. Cocoa butter is either removed at this point to produce cocoa powder or other ingredients like milk and sugar are added to improve the flavor of the end product. The chocolate is rolled through a series of mixers at this point to achieve the smooth, silky texture associated with chocolate, otherwise you’d be left with a grainy texture in your mouth. From here, the chocolate is tempered with heat and put into molds before being packed and prepared for shipment!

Final Mile

Transporting the final product to the end consumer is a challenge for supply chain professionals. In order for chocolates to retain their shape, they need to be in temperature controlled areas at all times. This means reefer units and quick load and unload times at every dock. Leaving chocolates idling in the yard can ruin the entire shipment.

Since the supply chain is so long and usually involves international harvesting, the time between initial order to final sale can span months. Valentine’s Day chocolates may have been originally purchased by a retailer’s procurement department about the time Halloween candy hit store shelves. The nature of specialized product makes the time constraints even more difficult. If chocolates are even a few days late, they could miss their designated holiday and need to be sold at a reduced price.

No matter where you get your chocolate from, it undoubtedly has a long history of where it came from and how it finally arrived in your hands. It’s important to understand how the supply chain plays a role in getting everyday objects many take for granted to their end destination.

Trucking in America *Infographic*

The job of a truck driver in America is crucial. Trucking is the backbone of our economy and just about every industry would collapse without it. In fact, 71% of all freight tonnage moves on trucks in the USA. That means everything from food to medicine to building materials at one point probably rode on a truck.

There are 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the US right now and there are another 5.2 million people who hold positions in the industry that support drivers. These positions include logistics managers, routers, schedulers and various other office or warehouse positions. Together, all of these people work to get products onto trucks and delivered to the end customer.

There’s a major problem, however. There aren’t enough truck drivers and this driver shortage is only expected to worsen. The average age of a truck driver in the states is 55 years old. That means there are many who are swiftly approaching retirement age and leaving the workforce. This wouldn’t be a problem if younger generations were taking up the mantle and backfilling vacant positions left by Baby Boomers as they retire. Millennials and Gen Xers aren’t filling these newly vacant positions, however.

In just 7 short years, the American Trucking Associations estimates that we will be short more than 175,000 drivers. This will put renewed pressure on an industry that is already strapped for drivers. It will be up to carriers to entice new labor out of the workforce by offering training programs and opportunities for advancement. Other technological advancements like truck platooning and autonomous vehicles could help to alleviate some of the pressure.

The trucking industry faces many challenges over the next decade. Without enough trucks to deliver all the goods produced in our economy, other industries would stagnate and everyday life would come to a halt. That makes it almost a certainty that the industry will rise to the challenge of the driver shortage and find new and inventive ways to mitigate the negative impacts. It will be interesting to see how the driver shortage progresses!

Trucker Infographic Kuebix

erp integration kuebix tms

How Integrating Your ERP With Your TMS Will Make Life Easier

Hardly anyone will deny that technology is the future. For companies with supply chains, this means utilizing some combination of a transportation management system (TMS), enterprise resource planning system (ERP), yard management system (YMS) and warehouse management system (WMS) just to keep up with the competition!

That’s a lot of different technology to manage, especially since these disparate technologies don’t usually “talk” to each other. Transferring important order information back and forth from an ERP ordering system to a TMS can be particularly tedious and inefficient. That’s why smart integrations between a TMS and an ERP system like NetSuite, Quickbooks, or Microsoft Dynamics make so much sense.

Shippers who integrate their ERP with their TMS can:

Facilitate the rapid creation of shipments

With an order integration between a TMS and an ERP, orders automatically flow from the ERP to the TMS for easy rating, booking, and tendering. Instead of going back and forth between systems and spreadsheets, the order information is automatically populated, eliminating the need to rekey anything.

Ensure 100% order accuracy

Since information is automatically populated within the TMS, the information is right, every time. It’s amazing the difference it can make when there is no longer any risk of human error because of rekeying. PRO numbers, product SKUs, weights and every other metric of an order appear automatically, resulting in 100% order accuracy.

Gain complete order visibility

Once an order has been booked for shipment, shippers don’t lose visibility to that order. All shipment details are mapped back to the target ERP system for accurate record keeping and visibility for all stakeholders.

Understand the true landed cost of goods

Since all order information is tracked and shared between systems, shippers can leverage reports and analytics to view the true landed cost of goods down to the SKU level. This means they can make smarter decisions regarding their company’s bottom line when they integrate purchase orders directly from an ERP system.

Shippers that choose to integrate their ERP systems with a TMS like Kuebix TMS will rapidly begin to see the time and money savings. Orders are created, booked, and visible at every stage of the supply and can be accurately measured for better strategic decision-making. To learn more about how an ERP integration process with Kuebix is managed, check out the ERP Integration Highway datasheet.

king consumer kuebix

Want to be like Amazon? Treat Your Customers Like Kings.

While many companies consider Amazon to be the ultimate competitor, Amazon didn’t become the trillion-dollar retail and distribution behemoth it is today by focusing on what its competition was doing. Instead, it focused on exciting and delighting its customers.

Remember, Amazon started out selling books. Bookstores were its main competition. Amazon did not aspire to beat bookstores at their own game. Instead, Amazon created an entirely new game.

In a talk at the Economic Club of Washington back in September, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told his audience, “The number 1 thing that has made us successful by far is obsessive-compulsive focus on the customer as opposed to obsession over the competitor.”

In fact, customer obsession is the very first of Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles: “Leaders start with the customer and work backward. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.”

It’s this unrelenting drive to address customer needs that’s made Amazon “the everything store.”  From day one, Amazon observed its customers, asked for their input, anticipated their wants and needs, and treated them with complete trust and respect. Amazon has been able to build –and scale – its legendary customer service by paying attention to customer behavior and delivering on promises so well that it changed the meaning and importance of “customer expectations.”

Amazon makes their customers “king.” They’ve proven the validity of this strategy by lapping up 50 percent of US e-commerce sales in 2018, per TechCrunch.

Nowadays, customers demand Amazon-like services, a trend known as “the Amazon effect.” Customers want to know where their orders are when they will arrive, and if there is a delay. Amazon does all that – and your business can too with the help of technology. To be able to meet customer needs, Amazon uses technologies to track and optimize shipments, giving visibility to customers so they know what is happening to their orders all along the supply chain.

To make customers king, businesses need to offer a technology-driven experience that gives visibility into transportation processes from order entry to proof of delivery. Shippers use TMS like Kuebix to find scarce capacity, analyze freight rates and secure transportation. Businesses can compare carrier rates side-by-side and choose the best rate that the shipment demands, ensuring quick and efficient deliveries to their customers. They can also provide their customers with real-time tracking and a level of visibility that can only be gained with technology.

product recalls kuebix

The 10 Biggest Product Recalls of All Time

Product recalls are a common occurrence in many industries. This is especially true for food and beverage, automotive manufacturing and pharmaceuticals where the products could directly endanger their purchasers if something is defective.

Recently, there was a nationwide recall on romaine lettuce that had social media in a frenzy and kept salad off of dinner plates all across the country. Adam Bros. Farming, Inc. in Santa Barbara County recalled several types of lettuce harvested November 27-30, 2018 due to being potentially contaminated with E. coli, a dangerous bacterial infection. Even the CDC issued alerts warning consumers now to buy romaine lettuce for several weeks.

Though this recall was dramatic and large in scale, it paled in comparison to some of the other product recalls over the last few decades. Here’s a look at the biggest product recalls of all time, starting with the 1982 Tylenol recall which resulted in 7 deaths.

The 10 biggest product recalls

Rank Recall Cost (as of March 2018)
10 Tylenol $100M
9 Peanut Corp. of America $1B
8 Toyota Floor Mats $3.2B
7 Pfizer’s Bextra $3.3B
6 General Motors Ignition Switches $4.1B
5 Samsung Galaxy Note 7 $5.3B
4 Firestone Tires and Ford $5.6B
3 Merck’s Vioxx $8.9B
2 Volkswagen Diesel Engines $18.3B
1 Takata Air Bags $24B (and counting)

Source: Kiplinger

Product recalls are generally a nightmare to manage and supply chain departments take most of the brunt. In order to ensure the public’s safety, mitigate the cost of the recall and get operations flowing normally again, supply chain professionals need to react quickly. To guarantee the best chance for a “successful” recall, logistics professionals need to be able to track and trace their orders down to the SKU level.

Being able to see where the affected product started, its journey through the supply chain, and where it eventually ended up is crucial. Companies with this level of visibility can identify the customers who received the recalled product and alert them without having to send a blanket message to the entire industry. This can save time and reduce the waste of recalling product that isn’t contaminated or defected.

Any time orders are consolidated or the product is touched is a risk to lose visibility. Transportation management systems (TMS) can be leveraged to retain visibility to orders down to the SKU level in real time. This means that companies with an ongoing recall can pinpoint the areas needing immediate attention and act quickly to minimize the negative impact. Establishing a method to track and trace orders is the best preventative method supply chains can take to prepare for potential recalls.

load builder optimizer kuebix

Building and Optimizing Truckload Shipments with Technology

There’s increased pressure on logistics teams to build perfect truckloads and optimize every route. Freight costs are rising due to the capacity crunch and rising consumer expectations, so cutting freight costs is top of mind for many companies this year. But building the perfect truckload is a challenge for companies that are still manually building and routing their truckload with only the help of a spreadsheet and tribal knowledge.

There are countless factors to take into consideration such as delivery date, location, class, weight and size. Weighing all of these factors without the help of technology usually results in missed opportunities and wasted resources. Instead of pouring through spreadsheets and manually grouping orders onto a single truck, companies can leverage technology to build and optimize the perfect load every time.

Smart algorithms suggest combinations which make sense, save time and help companies achieve the lowest possible costs for their shipments, all while still adhering to pre-determined parameters. Users set the parameters for the truck they want to build, adding in LTL constraints, specifying single stop, pickup and delivery date, maximum capacity, or unit of measure, etc. This ensures that logistics teams still have the flexibility to make changes based on customer requests and other unknown factors.

When load building and optimization technology is built directly into a transportation management system (TMS), the router or scheduler can view all unscheduled orders in an intuitive portal before seamlessly routing the shipment. They can filter by route, warehouse, order type, commodity group, date for delivery, account, order source or even pooling location to build a load with the parameters of their choosing.

Technology like Kuebix’s Load Builder and Optimizer is helping companies move away from manual processes and ensure they are always building the most optimized truckloads. Users can view routes on an interactive map, consolidate shipments with easy drag and drop features, and get alerts if any pre-determined parameters aren’t met. Users save time by comparing the most cost-effective and optimized loads and routes and can easily manage first mile, final mile and pool distribution shipments.

With load building and route optimizing technology, companies gain complete control overload consolidation and optimization. They never miss an opportunity to save money and can plan loads and routes with transparency in an organized way. With pricing analytics at their fingertips, logistics teams can even compare pre-consolidation and post-consolidation costs to see exactly how much money is being saved.

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5 Reasons Being a Trucker Should Earn More Respect

Being a truck driver is an underappreciated profession. There are nasty stereotypes and the general public often show a lack of respect to truckers when they’re on the road. Driving a truck is often considered to be a “last resort” profession, even for a culture built proudly on the backs of blue collar workers. This mindset about being a truck driver is not only plain wrong, it’s also causing problems as younger drivers don’t take up the reigns for older drivers as they enter retirement age.

We want to correct the narrative. Truckers provide essential services to our country, undergo extensive training, work hard, and provide a good lifestyle for their families. Here are just a few of the reasons that being a truck driver should earn more respect.

1. Our economy would collapse

This is perhaps the biggest reason that truck drivers deserve more respect. Just about everything that is used or consumed was at one point transported on a truck. This is especially true for essentials like food and household items. Imagine if truckers stopped coming to work. Supermarket store shelves would empty and people everywhere would go hungry. Is your garden bountiful enough to feed your family? We didn’t think so.

Food isn’t the only thing that wouldn’t make it to store shelves. Without truckers, raw materials couldn’t be supplied to manufacturers, new products couldn’t be produced, nothing could be delivered to end consumers, and even the postal service couldn’t operate. Not only that, gas stations would run out of fuel and even “white-collar” professions would have to halt transportation of all kinds failed. Without truckers, our economy would collapse.

Next time you buy a sandwich from your local deli, fill up on the way to work, or check your mailbox, remember that truckers are at least partially responsible for providing you what you need.

2. Lives literally depend on truckers

Imagine what would happen if hospitals and pharmacies couldn’t get replenished with medicine and supplies. It would only take 24 hours for the absence of drivers to put lives at risk. Hospitals would begin to run low on basic medical supplies and people in need wouldn’t be able to get the help they require. Within a single week, hospitals would be running low on oxygen, leaving thousands of people in dire risk of suffocation. This isn’t even to mention life-saving medicine like insulin and antibiotics getting to the people who need them.

Besides medicine and medical supplies quickly running out, other life-saving products like heating fuels couldn’t be delivered either. People living where the winter is harsh would be at serious risk of freezing. Small children and the elderly are at particular risk if the heat goes out. Within one month of truckers being absent from our economy, bottled water supplies would be gone as well, causing issues for homes without reliable drinking water. Truckers are needed to make sure that these essentials arrive at the homes of the people who need them.

3. Truckers are highly trained

There’s a misconception that being a trucker requires little skill and no training. This isn’t true at all. Our culture places undue emphasis on a 4-year college degree and often ignores the vocational and training programs used to prepare some of the most valuable workers in our economy.

Truckers go through extensive training to get to where they are. They have to become licensed in the specific type of rig they drive, which is often a CDL license, or they might get certification to handle chemicals or other hazardous materials they’re transporting. Truckers have to pass many tests including physical, written and driving before they can head out onto the road. They need to learn about the industry’s transportation regulations and keep up with the ever-changing laws. New tools like Electronic Logging Devices require them to adapt and learn about new technologies.

Check out this video of a driver completing a seemingly impossible maneuver with his truck. Now tell me that being a trucker doesn’t require skill, training and experience:

4. Truckers are tough, hard workers

Being a truck driver isn’t for the faint of heart. During a 24 hour period, a trucker is allowed to be on the job for 14 consecutive hours, 11 of which can be behind the wheel. That’s a long day no matter the profession, but truckers need to work these long hours to complete long-haul journeys up to 1500 miles away from home. Truckers are true road warriors, sometimes spending weeks away from home to provide for their families.

It isn’t only the amount of time truckers spend behind the wheel that should earn them respect, it’s also for the difficulty of operating a truck safety and efficiently on the highway. As mentioned above, driving a truck requires training and certification courses, and there’s a reason for that. It’s because driving a truck isn’t as easy as the general public like to think. Though it would be great if every highway was a straight-shot without any traffic on a cool fall day, that isn’t the reality. Truckers need to battle severe weather, rude drivers of passenger cars and navigating unfamiliar and often small roads to drop off their deliveries.

Driving a truck isn’t about sitting behind a wheel and turning it occasionally, it’s about making sure that the products the public needs are delivered safely to their end destinations. This means being hyper-vigilant about drivers hiding in blind spots or zooming around the truck dangerously, staying aware of speed and weight limits, and keeping track of local weather patterns. This level of attention is tough and requires every trucker’s full attention.

5. Community

Truckers have a strong sense of community despite spending many hours alone each day. Some have developed ways to communicate with one another using their headlights and the majority have strong relationships with law enforcement. Unlike common drivers who often feel anxiety when passing a speed trap set by a cop, truckers typically obey speed limits and have good relationships with the police.

There’s also a stereotype that truckers are unapproachable and unfriendly, something that’s been exaggerated in the media. Though there are undoubtedly curmudgeons in every industry, truckers have banded together to create some truly inspiring organizations. One such organization is Truckers Against Trafficking, a program where truckers can get certified to recognize and report incidents of human trafficking. The program exists to “educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and busing industries to combat human trafficking.” Currently, there are 680,153 registered TAT trained drivers and more than 1100 victims have been identified due to the organization’s members. That’s a real difference!

Another organization run by truckers is Operation Roger, an initiative to “help needy pets travel to their new homes and have a better chance at a fun-filled life by giving them a hitchhike in the cabs of their trucks and a lot of TLC enroute.” This organization has united or reunited 970 pets, generally one at a time, with their families.

It’s clear to see that truckers deserve respect for the job they do every day. It’s an underappreciated profession that is truly the backbone of our economy. By transporting essentials, truckers are keeping people alive, fed, warm, and happy each and every day. If you know a trucker, make sure to thank him or her for doing what they do!

From the Kuebix team to every trucker, THANK YOU!