Team process visibility

Driving Collaboration Through Visibility

According to Supply Chain Insights, supply chain visibility comes in as one of the top “elements of business pain in supply chain.” Why is visibility within the supply chain such a big challenge?

First, there are many players involved, from suppliers to producers, manufacturers, shippers, carriers and end customers. Next, add more complexities to the mix: globalization, customer expectations, volatile demand and mounting regulations. These factors create a messy and complicated environment for supply chain professionals trying to see what is happening up and down their entire network of stakeholders.

What is needed is end-to-end supply chain visibility.

To facilitate visibility, all stakeholders need to use a common platform that allows them to plan their moves, receive alerts to changes as they occur, see every status update made, and make real time adjustments to keep the supply chain moving smoothly and the customer happy. By sharing a single common system, suppliers can plan inventory levels more effectively to offer better customer service. Carriers can move shipments in and out more efficiently, making their operations more cost effective and the customer can improve the management of their inbound operations and warehouse.

What is this common platform?

It is a cloud-based collaborative portal, like that offered by Kuebix TMS, that can be accessed by all stakeholders from any device and from any location. This single platform serves as a dynamic record of truth for all the changes that occur across the supply chain, keeping the delivery of goods moving efficiently.

First, a purchase order is made.  Suppliers look at the portal and plan production and inventory schedules to meet customer demand. Suppliers will notify their customers through the collaboration portal which deliveries they can make on time and which need to be back-ordered due to low stock.

When suppliers commit to a promise date, customers can look at the portal to plan their business based on delivery dates. If the customer has chosen to pick up the order using their own carrier, the supplier can print shipping labels for those orders directly from the portal. Because every stakeholder is referencing the same information via a collaborative portal, they have immediate access to everything they need to make informed decisions and plan their supply chain.

Carriers can provide updates on the status of their deliveries through the collaboration portal as well. If carriers are using electronic logging devices (ELDs), customers and suppliers can visibly track the real-time status of their delivery. Dock scheduling solutions like Kuebix’s allow carriers to see open time slots and locations at the dock, empowering carriers to reserve an appropriate time for delivery so they are not left idling in the yard.

Part of the backbone of visibility and collaboration is a set of rules and procedures that suppliers and carriers need to follow. These procedures on yard, safety, consolidations, etc. promote proper supplier and carrier behavior and ensure the most efficient operation. Any violations which occur are shown in the portal, so all parties know the status of issues and can work together to address them. This provides a heightened level of visibility and accountability for all stakeholders.

Kuebix TMS provides supply chain professionals the visibility they need to maximize efficiencies, minimize costs and improve customer service. Working together via a collaboration portal is a win-win-win for suppliers, carriers and shippers.

Other inbound logistics management best practices to improve visibility can be found in The Art of the Inbound.

Busy distribution center

3 Fundamental Issues of Inbound Shipping and How to Correct Them

There is a profound difference between inbound and outbound logistics – inbound deals with the delivery of raw materials or goods coming into a business, while outbound logistics refers to goods leaving the business. Inbound logistics operations involve a relationship between suppliers and a business, while outbound relates to the business, its products and its end customers.

When businesses start using a TMS, they often focus first on outbound logistics processes because these operations are less complex. However, according to the Aberdeen Group, a business can spend more than 40% of its annual freight budget on inbound operations. A more efficient inbound freight program can streamline processes and achieve greater savings.

There are 3 fundamental issues that occur when a company doesn’t manage its inbound operation:

     · An excessive number of inbound deliveries leads to congestion, greater idling times and higher unloading costs.

     · Little visibility into arrival times and deliveries wreaks havoc at the dock and warehouse.

     · No standard routing guide or compliance procedures opens the door to inefficiencies, driving up the cost of goods and introducing additional problems throughout the supply chain.

How can businesses begin to streamline their inbound operations?

As a starting point, businesses should collect data on their freight volumes, frequency and cost for shipments being shipped inbound. This will help them to understand what to measure and how to recognize improvements.

It’s important that companies partner with suppliers to determine the most cost-effective shipment method – whether customer pick-up (CPU) or supplier controlled (VDS). After determining the shipping method, the next step is to implement a standard routing guide for supplier compliance procedures to change inefficient supplier behavior that are driving costs into the supply chain. Companies can also establish a dynamic rate allowance program by leveraging technology to calculate the best possible vendor allowance for every shipment based on actual carrier rates.

Once a company has established control over how their inbound goods are being shipped, they can focus on what constitutes an optimal inbound order. Part of the routing guide should establish a set of carriers for all shipments whether CPU or VDS to increase opportunities for consolidation. Consolidating shipments to make fuller trucks reduces the number of deliveries and all the associated costs.

A freight industry technology leader, Kuebix has been named to Inbound Logistics Top 100 Logistics IT Provider for 2018. This accolade is given to providers whose solutions are central to solving transportation, logistics and supply chain challenges, and serves to reinforce Kuebix’s commitment to helping businesses streamline their inbound operations.

Additional, more detailed inbound logistics management best practices can be found in The Art of the Inbound.

The Evolution of E-Commerce

The e-Commerce industry is booming, and this has caused many organizations to overhaul their transportation operations due to the high volume of small orders that require Amazon-like delivery times. Logistics managers are having to get creative to find capacity for the exponential amount of trucks needed to make deliveries to/from warehouses, stores and customers’ homes. Retailers, distributors, suppliers and manufacturers need innovative and robust solutions to beat the competition and create a sustainable edge.

In a recent Logistics Management article titled, “Evolution of E-commerce: The possibilities of tomorrow,” the writer, Roberto Michel, interviewed several thought leaders and industry analysts about the trends and solutions that should be of interest to industry leaders.

In the article, Kuebix’s own Dan Clark was quoted discussing how to combat issues caused by the boom in e-commerce, which is tightening truck capacity even more. “To deal with this challenge, companies need to find all possible transport opportunities, such as tapping into otherwise empty backhauls. The name of the game is capacity,” says Clark. “You need systems that allow you to be exposed to as many capacity opportunities as possible.”

“According to Clark, a TMS should be adept at connecting to multiple freight matching marketplaces and online logistics communities so that the shipper organization can match orders with capacity from more brokers, small independent trucking firms and fleet operators. ‘You need to be able to quickly access all of those potential opportunities and match your loads with that capacity,’ he says.”

“Of course, TMS still needs good analytics and planning logic, especially when it comes to what Clark calls ‘deconstructing’ truckloads into less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments to see if breaking orders into LTL moves makes sense for both service level and costs.”

As e-commerce has evolved, new processes, trends and technologies have kept pace to facilitate the journey, including:

  • ·       Platooning, which is a group of trucks driven in a tight formation with a human driver in the lead truck and the other trucks driverless.
  • ·       Supply chain control towers that give visibility to supply chain operations combined with predictive analytics to provide even more information for better decision-making.
  • ·       Digitization of freight forwarding with cloud-based access to freight rates, quotes, etc.
  • ·       Distributed Order Management for centralized control of inventory and order processing.
  • ·       Blockchain to improve tracking and tracing of products through the supply chain.
  • ·       Predictive analytics with machine learning and AI recommended solutions to problems and answer “what-if” questions for advanced analytics.
  • ·       New transport modes such as the hyperloop for high-speed transport.
  • ·       Multi-carrier parcel software integrates with TMS and WMS for added functionality.
  • ·       Dynamic routing for real-time tracking and route optimization of fleets.
  • ·       Automated vehicle technology that powers driverless trucks.

Another trend that Dan discussed in the article was about last-mile deliveries, saying, “The growth of e-commerce is driving greater need for efficiency in last-mile delivery. For last-mile carriers, they’ll want to be able to closely track where their driver and truck assets are and match that knowledge to shipment opportunities coming from brokers and online logistics communities. Through such ‘digital matching’ of assets to deliveries, carriers can find backhauls and make operations more cost efficient. Over the longer term, the last-mile challenge in urban areas will also be addressed by the build-up of new types of warehouses or means of last-mile distribution. This might involve older shopping malls being converted to warehouse space, or new approaches such as AVs that act as mobile warehouses. I think absolutely that we’ll see some new approaches in dense metro areas, because there needs to be enough space close to population centers to hold the inventory needed for same-day deliveries.”

Kuebix Global Logistics Community

Global Online Logistics Community: If You Build It They Will Come, Sometimes

Over the past decade, there has been a focus in the transportation industry on creating new avenues for finding capacity, getting better rates and improving customer service. To this end, a number of online communities have popped up with the promise of freight savings through matching carrier capacity to shipper demand.

However, over the years many of these communities have failed. Here are 5 reasons:

  1. A focus on spot rates only
  2. No support of negotiated carrier rates
  3. No direct connection to carriers
  4. No sticky factor to keep the shippers coming back
  5. High barrier of entry to get shippers on boarded

Many online logistics communities were originally established as a marketplace for volume spot transactions. A major reason these communities failed was because they focused on just a small piece of the way companies ship freight. On average, 90%+ of freight is booked via negotiated carrier rates, leaving just 10% or less for volume spot rates. Most communities built around volume spot rates alone failed because they didn’t offer access to the negotiated carrier rates that companies use to ship their freight the vast majority of the time.

Many communities also underestimated the importance of long-standing carrier relationships. However, direct connection to carriers was not possible until just a few years ago when carriers began exposing their APIs for rating, booking and tracking on their websites. Now technologies like Kuebix can build direct connections to carriers, allowing companies to view all their carrier rates, book shipments and track freight on one platform.

Communities also need a “sticky factor” to entice members to join and keep them “glued.”  An online logistics community must offer a tool that logistics professionals use every day, like a transportation management system.

Finally, a community must have a very low barrier to entry. Free versions of technology are very appealing for this reason. Think about what would have happened if, when Facebook was started, people were charged to connect to the network and use its features. Because Facebook is free, millions of people were able to join the community without any barriers.

The idea of building a community that offers dramatics savings by matching carrier capacity to shipping demand is appealing, but communities that are not built with shippers’ day to day needs in mind are destined to fail.

Learn more about Kuebix’s Free TMS and the Global Logistics Community. Try our new Freight Rate Calculator.

Amazon Effect

Retailers vs. The Amazon Effect

Consumers are enamored with Amazon and its superb treatment of its customers, providing customers with visibility to their orders from dock door to the final destination – all shipped within a timeframe that ranges from a few hours to a few days. Consumers expect every retailer they order from to have the same customer service capability. While this may not be fair, its reality, and retailers need to revamp their operations to comply.

E-Commerce businesses need to provide accurate, on-time delivery of customer orders to keep customer satisfaction and profits up, but successful shipments for the right price require a transportation management system (TMS) that integrates with e-commerce platforms. By integrating with a TMS, e-commerce businesses get complete control over carriers, rates and modes of transportation and can gain access to more quality carriers across all modes, offering the most competitive rates and opportunities for freight consolidation.

E-commerce platforms integrated with Kuebix TMS put world-class shipping power within the reach of any business, regardless of the size. E-commerce businesses have a one-stop transportation shop to choose any transportation mode and services at their fingertips when their e-commerce platform is integrated with a TMS, creating flexibility in deliveries, such as consolidation opportunities.

A TMS provides the ability to batch, rate, schedule, track and analyze orders for improved operations when serving customers, creating greater efficiencies and lowered costs. Using an e-commerce platform integrated with Kuebix TMS streamlines logistics operations to control costs, ensures delivery accuracy and speed, and enhances customer service.

Recently, Kuebix integrated with e-commerce platforms, Big Commerce and Shopify, allowing merchants to better serve customers. Real-time visibility across the entire supply chain from checkout cart to the end user’s door allows you to communicate estimated delivery times and supply alerts if a shipment will be delayed. Because Kuebix TMS supports all modes, including parcel, LTL and TL, e-commerce you can choose whether it is more profitable to ship heavier items via LTL than the traditional parcel method.

With an integrated TMS, e-commerce merchants are empowered to choose the best mode that best accommodates each shipment’s freight amount, weight and dimensions; distance to destination; delivery speed and priority; special handling requirements; and other direct-to-consumer variables. Kuebix TMS offers advanced analytics to monitor and influence issues at a granular level, allowing managers to quickly visualize freight spend savings or carrier performance.

Access to the most competitive rates from all transport modes boosts sales as more customers expect competitive pricing on shipments. Merchants are able to see their logistics operation as a profit center, rather than a cost center by saving on delivery costs. Kuebix TMS offers full tracking and visibility of your freight expense down to the SKU level across every mode and along every step of its journey.

Got an e-commerce shop? Look into how you can better price your transportation transactions so you don’t lose money and so that your customers will get their orders when they want them. Contact Kuebix today.

Did Black Friday/Cyber Monday Tax Your Logistics Operation?

This year’s Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday retail sales broke records. According to Shopify, orders exceeded 10,000 a minute on Black Friday. Shoppers purchased more than 600,000 apparel items, 360,000 accessories and 210,000 houseware products from Shopify merchants in a single day. Over $1B US in sales was processed by Shopify e-commerce stores over the past weekend. During the past 4-days, Shopify merchants shipped orders that travelled globally 12.6 billion miles to reach customers, “more than 10 times the distance from the Earth to Saturn.”*

Adobe Analytics, which tracks the 100 biggest online retail shops, says that US retailers brought in a record $7.9 billion in online sales on Black Friday and Thanksgiving and an additional $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday. It is estimated at the peak of the shopping frenzy, shoppers were spending close to $1M per minute. That is a lot of orders!

Now that orders have been placed, they must be delivered. As a shipper, can your logistics operation keep up with the velocity of orders speeding through your e-commerce engine? Or will you have to pay expedited freight charges to make sure customers get their orders on-time? Can you quickly find capacity with your contracted carriers to stay ahead of demand? Can you easily contract with carriers for any mode to book a load? Can you effortlessly compare your contracted rates to the spot market to find a better rate? And once the holiday rush is all over, can you look historically at shipment data to find areas for improvement?

With a Kuebix transportation management system, shippers can do all of the above – and more.

Kuebix Shipper is a free TMS that allows shippers of any size to rate, book and track shipments via LTL, TL and Parcel – all in about the time it takes to purchase an airline flight online. Join our online global community of shippers to help match demand with capacity during this busy holiday season.

Kuebix Business Pro is a full-service TMS for multiple users with advanced analytics and carrier scorecards, freight bill audit and pay, claims management and integrations with other solutions. Using Kuebix Business Pro during the busy holiday season allows you to uncover rate exceptions and discrepancies for added savings; integrate your order management system for streamlined transport planning; and leverage analytics to reduce freight spend.

Kuebix Enterprise is a configurable TMS that offers advanced applications to meet your logistics operations’ needs. Managed services provide shippers partnerships with Kuebix freight experts to uncover even greater efficiencies and savings, with full-tracking and visibility of your freight from dock to customer door.

 

 

 

By choosing the right TMS, retailers can keep up with the exponential growth of their e-commerce operations during this holiday season and beyond.

 

* https://www.shopify.com/blog/black-friday-cyber-monday-2017-recap

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Why A Free TMS is A Really Good Thing

Some people have questioned why Kuebix is offering a free TMS and whether the free version is worth their while. The answer is a resounding, “Yes, a free TMS is really a good thing!”

When comparing apples to apples, i.e. free TMS to free TMS, it is apparent that Kuebix Shipper wins over others. Even when comparing apples to oranges, i.e. free TMS to “not free” TMS, Kuebix outshines the competition. Here’s why:

  1. Excellent Customer Service – but don’t take our word for it: “With Kuebix, we can quickly view all our carrier rates side by side and choose the best rate for our shipments. Kuebix is extremely easy to use and the customer support is exceptional.” R.L. Bunting at Chesapeake Spice
  2. UNLIMITED Shipments – Yes, you read that correctly. Some of our competition limits their shipments on paid versions and keep charging you more as your volume increases, but we don’t. Why would you pay when Kuebix has unlimited shipments for free?
  3. Supports All Transportation Modes – Some TMS vendors limit their offering to LTL shipments only. Kuebix, on the other hand, supports all modes – LTL, TL and Parcel – (even with our free version) so you can connect to all your carriers, letting you ship the way you want for the optimal cost.
  4. Multiple Users, Stored Data and So Much More – Kuebix Shipper is a single-user system, allowing any shipper to begin using the core functionality of a TMS – rate, book and track – for free. For business that want to add more users, access shipment data, and so much more, simply upgrade to Kuebix Business Pro for just $99/month.
  5. Scalability – Kuebix Shipper can be scaled up to our enterprise edition as your business grows. The Kuebix TMS uses the same software core – and as your business grows, you can easily add new functionality, without having to learn a whole new system. Our modular solution scales all the way up to the enterprise level with Premier Applications, Integrations and Managed Services to meet the needs of any supply chain.

Most importantly, the free TMS supports our vision, of a global community where all members gain value from membership. We have removed the barrier of cost to let all shippers get started with a powerful TMS and take control of their freight operations. This is similar to how the widespread adoption of affordable smart phones changed the way we communicate and interact. A TMS that is available to any size business and budget will have the same impact on the shipping world, moving it into the collaborative digital era.

A global community of shippers and service providers will help to match demand with capacity, allowing trucks to fill more efficiently.With collaboration across the community, fleets and drivers move more continuously, shippers get faster access to available capacity, and load consolidation becomes something that’s easy to accomplish.  All of this improves the bottom line – giving value to everyone in the community.

Now that is worth its weight in gold, even if it doesn’t cost you a thing.

Who’s Accountable for the Interconnected Supply Chain?

As the world’s supply chains become increasingly interconnected, the responsibility for ensuring a smooth, end-to-end process starts to fall on the shoulders of a lot more suppliers, distributors, and business partners. Faced with this reality, companies must not only ensure that their own processes and procedures are running smoothly, but that their suppliers are also doing their jobs.

Achieving this goal across thousands (or even just a few dozen) stakeholders—many of which are Tier 2 or Tier 3 suppliers that play lesser roles in the manufacturing/distribution process—is a monumental task made easier with technology.

Here are three ways that you can use a cloud-based, connected portal to overcome this challenge:

  1. Use technology to get smaller suppliers on the radar screen. Most of the time, 20 percent of your suppliers generate 80 percent of your business. That leaves a full 80 percent of vendors that don’t drive much volume, but that need a way to communicate with you to keep you informed about their own manufacturing schedules, delays, and related issues. Using technology, you can loop in these smaller stakeholders and improve efficiency with increased visibility and collaboration.
  2. Create a process for non-compliance in the cloud. In the event that your suppliers fail to follow through on their commitments, use a non-compliance program to hold them accountable, administer fines, or take other actions. This can all be handled through a very automated process in the cloud, where everyone shares in the pain of non-compliance (not just your own company). The suppliers that hurts you company’s efficiency levels by not delivering the goods on time, for example, should be held accountable and forced to share in the pain that your own firm is feeling (i.e., unhappy customers, high shipping costs due to the need to expedite orders, and so forth).
  3. Hook your suppliers into a cloud portal. Let’s say you need 200,000 widgets over a 24-month period, and without these widgets you can’t make your own goods. If you don’t get your widgets on time, you can’t produce and deliver your product on time, resulting in unhappy customers and lost revenue. Avoid this trap by setting your suppliers up on a cloud portal. This will allow for collaboration between buyers and suppliers and provide visibility over upcoming orders and potential delays. For the sake of the above example, your supplier would commit to delivering 10,000 widgets every month on an agreed-upon date. If the date passes without a delivery, your supplier should be held accountable.

These strategies can also be applied with carriers that don’t meet on-time delivery expectations. Using technology, you can peel back the onion and figure out why those expectations weren’t met (e.g., the truck arrived but the freight wasn’t ready to ship yet), pinpoint the real problems, and get to the root cause analysis (RCA) quickly and efficiently.

 

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