Thanksgiving 2020 Blog Post Image

The Turkey Day Supply Chain in 2020

The holiday season during Covid-19 means smaller gatherings and changes to long-standing traditions for many families. Healthcare professionals are recommending everyone stays home and stays safe for Thanksgiving this year. Regardless of any changes in plans, there’s one thing that will be at the center of most families’ tables – turkey.

A grand total of 46 million turkeys are eaten for Thanksgiving every year. Research has shown that the average cost of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner is the lowest it’s been since 2015. Turkey prices are 7% lower than they were last year at $19.39 for a 16-pound bird, equating to $1.21 per pound. A Thanksgiving meal for 10 people including classic dishes like turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie costs about $46.90, which is 4% less than last year.

Lower prices can be attributed to the fact that a significant number of people are staying home and cooking their own meals because of the pandemic. More people buying ingredients involved in signature Thanksgiving dishes is good news for many companies, but those who handle turkeys are in a unique predicament.

The “ideal” Thanksgiving turkey typically weighs between 28 to 30 pounds. Distributors were used to operating under the assumption that the best turkeys were the biggest ones. For many families, this rang true. However, as this year’s gatherings downsize, so does the weight of the ideal turkey. The majority of Thanksgiving shoppers are in search of smaller turkeys, making them seemingly impossible to find. 

The entire supply chain is affected as consumers, butchers, meat suppliers, grocers and chefs are left scrambling to secure smaller birds. Some consumers don’t mind cooking a larger turkey because it means plenty of leftovers for sandwiches the next day. To accommodate smaller gatherings that aren’t interested in leftovers, butchers are breaking down large birds and selling parts individually or in smaller bundles. 

Households who don’t want to cook their own turkey regardless of its size are turning to restaurants. To capitalize on the change of pace for this year’s celebrations, restaurants are offering traditional meals that can be ordered in advance for individuals or small households. Those who either don’t want to cook or are unable to cook can still enjoy the classic Thanksgiving meal they know and love in the comfort of their own home.

The circumstances around this year’s Thanksgiving are unusual, but there are still plenty of options in terms of securing the perfect turkey. The key to making sure your table is filled with all the classics is planning ahead. Shop for popular ingredients early and don’t leave anything for the last minute! Place an order for a turkey as soon as you confirm how many people will be at your dinner table and remember it’s never a bad idea to have leftovers!

Veterans Day 2020 Blog Post Image

Veterans Make Significant Contributions to the Transportation Industry – Happy Veterans Day!

Veterans Day, celebrated annually on November 11th, recognizes veterans for their sacrifices, the honor they’ve shown, and celebrates the freedom they have brought our nation with their service. It’s an opportunity for everyone to thank those that have served and to commemorate their bravery.

Veterans in the Transportation and Supply Chain Industry

Transitioning out of the military and finding a fulfilling job after serving can be challenging. Many veterans prefer jobs that allow them to continue using their leadership and problem-solving skills. Their experience in unpredictable situations helps them under pressure and makes them ideal team-members. Given this, it’s unsurprising that the transportation industry is full of veterans, as the supply chain can be a complex and demanding place to work.

Kuebix, like many companies in the transportation and logistics space, is proud to employ veterans. One such is Kuebix’s own Doug Taylor, a Business Development Specialist who found his way into the logistics world this year to continue his career in sales. Doug served for four years as an Aviation Specialist (SAR Swimmer, Air Crew) with the U.S. Navy. During his time in the Navy, Doug held many positions, though one of his most memorable assignments was as a member of a search and rescue team that required him to jump out of helicopters.

Doug has taken many lessons from his time in the U.S. Navy and applied them to his career as a civilian. Now, he brings those attributes to Kuebix. When talking about the lessons drilled into him during his time serving, Doug said, “Organization and efficiency were critical. We learned Doug Taylorto always be prepared and be ready to pack our things and go at a moment’s notice.”

The transportation industry is constantly evolving and logistics professionals must be able to pivot quickly in response to a changing environment. The industry is rapidly embracing new technologies, incorporating new regulations into everyday practices, and at the forefront of the pandemic relief efforts. In many ways, veterans embody all the best practices and attributes that are needed to maneuver within this sphere. 

“From bootcamp on, the Navy stresses the importance of paying attention to detail,” commented Doug. “As a swimmer you could lose a fin or a mask but you still have to keep going. We practiced these scenarios to make sure that we could adapt in unexpected situations.”

In an industry that’s constantly changing, the ability to adapt is an especially important skill. This year has prompted supply chains throughout the country to adapt to changes in consumer demand, international shipment delays and raw material shortages. The transportation companies who emerged successful were able to rise above these challenges and meet the expectations of their consumers.

As a newer member of the supply chain industry, Doug notes that the sense of community within has been remarkable and exceeded his expectations. “Being a part of the Kuebix team has been a great experience. I’ve been able to really connect with other people in the transportation and logistics industry,” Doug added. “Our community of shippers is growing every day and our software keeps getting better!”

The supply chain wouldn’t be the same without veterans. To all those who have served our country and to all who continue to serve, Happy Veterans Day!

Halloween 2020 Blog Post Image

The Supply and Demand of Halloween Candy in 2020

Halloween is an exciting time of year for manufacturers, suppliers and retailers alike. The holiday is marked by spiders, cobwebs and most importantly candy! In fact, candy may be one of the few aspects of Halloween that will remain largely unchanged during this tumultuous time. With October 31st approaching quickly, chocolate and candy manufacturers have worked hard to make the most of the season despite the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Shoppers spend a total of $4.6 billion on Halloween candy every year in the United States. Most retailers placed their orders in preparation for the holiday back in March when the pandemic was still in its early stages. As October has drawn closer, retailers have had to place additional orders or adjust current ones based on consumer demand in their area. 

Fewer public events this year have brought the overall Halloween spend down to an estimated $8.05 billion in comparison to last year’s $8.78 billion. However, those who are participating are spending an average of $6 more than last year on more outdoor decorations and greeting cards. Despite the pandemic, Americans are finding ways to celebrate while still practicing social distancing and mask wearing. 

What This Means for Candy Consumption

While Halloween celebrations will look different this year, the practice of buying and consuming candy will stay the same. A study conducted by marketing research firm Suzy found that 80% of consumers plan to purchase at least the same amount of Halloween candy this year as in the past. Manufacturers are taking a couple of different approaches to ensure that consumers stock up on sweets regardless of their holiday plans.

Leading chocolate brand Hershey produced more of its popular assortment and snack size bags featuring Reese’s, Hersey’s, Kit Kat and variety brands this year. All of these treats have had an increase in sales during the pandemic. To account for changes in consumer shopping habits related to the pandemic, Hershey focused on producing smaller-sized variety bags instead of the 200-plus count bags used for trick-or-treating. The brand limited the amount of product they released with Halloween-inspired wrapper designs to minimize waste that would be offloaded at a discount after the holiday.

Hershey is forecasting flat sales this year during Halloween, the season that makes up 10% of it’s annual sales. “We’re tracking it very closely and we’re ahead at this point,” said Phil Stanley, the company’s chief sales officer“The category has proven to be resilient.”

Other Candy manufacturers like Mars Wrigley have spent the summer and fall getting ahead of what they knew would be a challenging Halloween season. In an effort to bolster sales early, Mars’ subsidiary companies strategically targeted states and cities with marketing efforts in line with safety guidelines put in place by governors. They also elongated the Halloween candy season by putting up displays in stores early to tempt consumers stuck at home.

Candy makers have also worked to elongate the season, moving displays into stores earlier to bolster at-home consumption. Total Halloween chocolate and candy sales were up 13% for the four weeks ending Sept. 6, with Halloween chocolate specifically up more than 25%, according to IRI data. Most of these sales appear to be for personal consumption however, as detailed by the IRI survey.

Halloween Statistics 2020According to Sebastian Garcia-Dastugue, Ph.D., marketing & logistics professor at Florida International University, “It’s a very important moment to gain customer’s trust, to show that you are top of your operation and that you are on top of what’s going on in the world.” Though the pandemic continues to persist across the globe, shoppers are turning to ordinary things, like Halloween candy, to feel a sense of normalcy. By supplying the products consumers have come to expect, companies can earn brand loyalty from customers for years to come.

How to Prepare Your Supply Chain

Chocolate and candy companies and their supply chains have to be flexible to get through this Halloween. Consumer shopping habits are constantly changing and orders must be adjusted in response. With a transportation management system (TMS), manufacturers, suppliers and retailers can all collaborate on a single platform. Complete supply chain visibility makes it possible for supply chain stakeholders to have real-time tracking information and make necessary adjustments. 

Data from past holiday seasons has been instrumental in helping chocolate and candy companies prepare for this year. A TMS collects user data and uses it to generate detailed reports and dashboards that empower logistics professionals to better plan for the future. 

Whether you purchase candy for yourself, family or to mail to friends, a lot of thought went into getting your sweet treat on store shelves this year!

What an Early Holiday Shopping Season Means for Supply Chains

Whether or not consumers, suppliers and retailers are ready, holiday shopping season is right around the corner! Experts predict that due to evolving shopping habits, Covid-19, a delayed Amazon Prime Day and general supply chain disruptions, consumers will start shopping for the holidays earlier than usual this year. This newly extended holiday shopping season creates many opportunities for retailers as long as they’re prepared.

One of the driving forces behind the early start to holiday shopping season is Amazon Prime Day. Supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic led Amazon to delay the event (traditionally held in July) until October of this year. Amazon Prime day acts as a catalyst for Amazon’s competitors like Target, Walmart and Best Buy to create their own limited-time offerings. Instead of pausing promotions when Amazon Prime Day ended on October 14th and restarting closer to Thanksgiving, many retailers are taking a more continuous approach. Target has promised its customers “Black Friday pricing all November” while popular hardware store Home Depot has vowed to make their offerings available until the end of December.

Companies that don’t run promotions around the time of Amazon Prime Day run the risk of a decline in business. Starting promotions after the unofficial holiday makes it harder for retailers to ensure they have enough inventory to keep their shelves stocked when they’re running low. Retailers that started early or plan to start earlier in November than Black Friday will be able to identify and keep up with new consumer shopping trends. 

Popular Holiday Purchases

With so many different companies offering discounts well into the holiday season, all that’s left for consumers to do is shop. However, the pandemic is expected to have a direct impact on this year’s popular purchases. Instead of luxury items being the focal point of the holidays, consumers are gravitating towards practical purchases. Products like winter coats, snow shoes and fire pits are at the top of many lists because they enable friends and family to gather outside during colder months as social distancing efforts are still in place.

Electronics have always been a popular item on wish lists and this year they hold even more importance. With so many people still working on furnishing their home office or remote learning space, laptops, keyboards, monitors and desk decór are all in high demand this holiday season. Internationally sourced electronics will have an especially difficult time keeping up because of widespread shipping delays brought on by the pandemic.

Making the Most of the Early Holiday Season

Taking full advantage of the early start to the holiday season requires more than launching a new discount. Companies that want to stay ahead need complete visibility throughout their supply chains. Supply chain visibility makes it possible for logistics professionals to view each aspect of their supply chain in detail as moves are being planned, alerts are sent and real-time adjustments are made along the route.

Achieving true supply chain visibility starts with implementing a transportation management system (TMS). Companies that leverage a TMS are able to seamlessly rate, book and track their freight. Visibility makes it possible for users to quickly view the status of shipments and pass-along tracking information to customers and partners. With the power of a cloud-based TMS and supply chain visibility, logistics professionals can improve operational efficiencies, provide better customer service and leverage detailed analytics to make better informed decisions.

Women's History Month Supply Chain Transportation Truck 2

Women’s History Month: Spotlight on Women in Supply Chain and Transportation

Each year, Women’s History Month is celebrated in March to honor women who have made waves in their various spaces. It’s a time to reflect on women’s contributions to culture, history, and society as a whole. Influential and impactful women are prevalent, though sometimes overlooked. In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th and Women’s History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on three women whose contribution to supply chain and transportation should be remembered.

1928

Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan

The First Licensed Female Truck Driver & Trucking Firm Owner

Lillie Elizabeth McGee Drennan was born in Galveston, Texas in 1897. As a young woman, she lost most of her hearing as a result of scarlet fever and would be forced to wear hearing aids for much of her adult life. Despite this adversity, Drennan started the Drennan Truck Line with her husband in 1928.

To grow the business, Drennan began driving her own truck. Her hard work was rewarded with success and the Drennan Truck Lines continued to grow into a thriving business with multiple drivers and trucks. However, in 1929, Drennan and her husband divorced, leaving her as the sole owner of the trucking company.

The industry that she had worked so hard to be a part of suddenly became a much less accommodating place without her husband. She struggled to obtain a driver’s license from the Railroad Commission in charge of regulating motor-freight at the time, allegedly because of her hearing loss, though Drennan believed it to be related to her gender. After challenging the commission to find a man with a cleaner safety record than hers, the Railroad Commission relented and Drennan was awarded a license. For the following 24 years, Drennan was an accident-free driver and owner of an expanding trucking company.

Despite discrimination because of her gender and disability, Lillie Drennan is remembered as a pioneer for women who want to work in industries traditionally dominated by men.

More About Lillie Drennan

During World War II, the army praised Drennan for her help in recruiting women drivers to the war effort. She was known to wear khaki pants, work boots, and a ten-gallon hat. Her constant companion was her loaded revolver and she was well known for cursing. When criticized for her language, she was known to reply, “Me and God have an understanding.”

Lillie Drennan Truck Driver Women's History Month

Lillie Drennan - Women's History Month Truck Driver

1973

Edwina Justus

The First Black Woman Train Engineer Working for the Union Pacific Railroad

Edwina Justus was a trailblazer for women, especially women of color, who want to enter traditionally male-dominated fields. In the 1970s, Justus didn’t let the fact that she was a black woman stop her from pursuing her dreams. After meeting up with a friend who worked for the railway, Justus decided there was no reason she couldn’t work there too and asked, Why don’t you see if you can get me on?”

In 1973, Justus became a traction motor clerk with the job of monitoring when traction motors were pulled out of trains. She didn’t know exactly what this was and decided to see for herself. Despite being dressed fashionably in a skirt and heels, Justus continued to learn about how the yard worked and her unerring curiosity and desire for knowledge led her to apply for a position there.

Justus gained the position of yard hostler. For three years she moved cars in the yard to be repaired, cleaned and picked back up when ready to go. Quickly gaining experience, she was appointed as a full railroad engineer by Union Pacific working out of North Platte, Nebraska. North Platte, at the time, was Union Pacific’s largest railroad operation in the U.S.A.

Though rapidly gaining experience in her new profession, Justus faced the discrimination many black women did when working in predominantly white, male-dominated industries in the 1970s. When asked whether her co-workers had positive attitudes about her appointment, she recalls, “Oh, hell no! Guys didn’t want to work with me… One old guy tried to kiss me. Don’t forget my age; I was 33.”

Now, 22 years since her retirement in 1998, Justus is a symbol of perseverance for many who desire to break into professions they wouldn’t commonly “fit the mold” for. Her story is part of the exhibit, Move Over, Sir!: Women Working on the Railroad, which is on exhibition at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Edwina Justus - Women's History Month Transportation RailroadEdwina Justus

Current

Melonee Wise

CEO and Co-Founder of Fetch Robotics

Melonee Wise is one of few women to found and manage their own robotics company. Growing up, Wise demonstrated her interest in robotics by building her very own plotter out of Lego blocks. Plotters are printers that use automated pens to make line drawings by making continuous lines. Her passion for robotics brought her to the University of Illinois where she studied mechanical engineering and developed a well-earned reputation for research in different fields.

After college, Wise held a number of internship positions before becoming a Manager for Robot Development at Willow Garage, a research lab specializing in both hardware and software creation for robots. Following her tenure at Willow Garage, Wise co-founded the company Unbounded Robotics and then went on to co-found Fetch Robotics, the company she currently oversees. Now with over 19 years’ experience designing, building, and programming robotic hardware, Wise is the CEO of her company.

As the CEO of Fetch Robotics, Wise is now taking the autonomous warehousing industry by storm. On Monday, March 9th at the Modex 2020 trade show, she is expected to debut her new Freight 500 robot, a replacement for a manual forklift which can transport up to 1,000 pounds of product. It’s anticipated that her team’s fully autonomous version of the Freight 1,500, which is in development, will launch later in 2020.

Automated warehouses are anticipated to completely revolutionize the supply chain in the next decade. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that Wise has already been the recipient of a number of prestigious recognitions. These include the 2015 MIT Technology Review’s TR35 award for technology innovators under the age of 35, Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Women of Influence and 40 Under 40 lists, and Business Insider named Wise as one of eight CEOs changing the way we work.

 Melonee Wise - Fetch Robotics FreightMelonee Wise - Fetch Robotics Freight


For the first time Gartner, in partnership with AWESOME, reports that “there have been increases in women represented across the pipeline for the first time, with an 8% jump at the VP level.” This gain in representation in leadership positions is due in part to the legacy of other female supply chain and transportation influencers like Lillie Drennan, Edwina Justus and Melonee Wise.

 

 

Kuebix TMS Valentine's Day Flowers

The Supply Chain of Your Valentine’s Day Flowers

The History of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day existed in a variety of forms before settling into its fixed date of February 14th. It can be traced all the way back to a mid-February holiday on the ancient Roman calendar, existing as a day to celebrate the possibility of new life even before Saint Valentine was around. 

Saint Valentine’s reputation became permanently linked to love because of his work as a Roman priest. Soldiers were forbidden to marry because a Roman Emperor believed married soldiers did not make good warriors. Saint Valentine married these soldiers anyways and wore a ring with a Cupid on it – a now infamous symbol of love – to help soldiers identify him. This legend is largely responsible for Saint Valentine becoming known as the patron saint of love.

Medieval author Geoffrey Chaucer solidified Valentine’s Day as a holiday for romantic love in 1381 with a poem he wrote, and the “modern” commemoration of a romantic partnership with one other person on February 14th began. 

Valentine’s Day Flowers By the Numbers

Celebratory staples for Valentine’s Day include chocolate, stuffed animals and bouquets of flowers. The Society of American Florists estimated that 35% of Americans will purchase flowers this year, equating to about $2 billion in sales. Most shoppers don’t stop to think where the abundance of beautiful flowers come from, but it takes a lot more than love in the air to get stores stocked in time

The U.S. produces fewer than 30 million roses, barely making a dent in the 200 million roses that are expected to be purchased for Valentine’s Day. Most of these flowers are imported from Columbia before being sold and sent to recipients in the United States. In total, UPS expects to ship 89 million flowers this year, weighing in at roughly 9 million pounds! 

The Complicated Logistics of Shipping Flowers

Having a perfect Valentine’s Day is difficult for anyone – supply chains included. Flowers are highly perishable and depend on a multinational cold supply chain to ensure quality and delivery within as little as two days. Trucks responsible for the transportation of flowers have to be temperature controlled and stick to a tight schedule to ensure customer satisfaction. 

UPS is no stranger to the pressure of Valentine’s Day. They recently announced the addition of 50 flights to handle over 517,000 flower-filled boxes traveling through Miami International Airport. Temperature-controlled aircrafts and trucks are responsible for importing flowers from fields all over the globe to the United States. UPS rushes to meet the shipments at their Miami facilities and get them into a refrigerated warehouse cooler. From there, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents inspect and sort boxes for clearance before they’re ultimately received by their distributors to be delivered. 

Whether you’re giving or receiving a fresh bouquet of flowers this Valentine’s Day, be sure to thank the complex supply chain that made its safe delivery possible! 

 

Super Bowl Food and Beverage Suppliers Retailers

Super Bowl LIV Will Be a Big Day for Food & Beverage Suppliers

The Super Bowl is an unofficial American holiday – and like any good holiday celebrated in America, there will be lots of food and drink consumed in households nation-wide! In fact, Super Bowl Sunday is the second-highest food consumption day in the USA, right after Thanksgiving. Americans will spend an average of $81 dollars per person to celebrate. This means food and beverage retailers will have their work cut out for them to manage their supply chains and keep customers happy on game day!

This year’s Super Bowl LIV, the 54th Super Bowl, will decide the champion of the NFL’s 2019 and 100th season. The San Francisco 49ers will face off against the Kansas City Chiefs. Many football fans not located in New England are pleased that the New England Patriots will not be going to this year’s Super Bowl, the team having broken their own record for most Super Bowl appearances by any organization of all time in 2018!

Food & Beverages Consumed on Super Bowl Sunday

No matter who you’re rooting for, however, there are several food and beverage staples that will be served at Super Bowl parties everywhere. Common items include buffalo wings, chili, baby back ribs, dipping sauces, pizza, and potato chips. Beer will also be flowing, with popular brands including Bud Light, Budweiser, Corona, Samuel Adams, and Coors Light.

According to an article published by Men’s Fitness, Americans plan to drink 325 million gallons of beer on Super Bowl Sunday this year! In addition to all that beer, an estimated 28 million pounds of chips, 1.4 billion chicken wings, and 8 million pounds of guacamole will be devoured this weekend!

Chicken wings are the unofficial food of this unofficial American holiday. The National Chicken Council announced that chicken wing consumption will be up by 27 million units over last year’s Super Bowl! If you break this number down, that’s roughly 337.5 million chickens slaughtered for this one event (2 wings, a drumette & a flat in each chicken)! If all of these chicken wings were laid out end-to-end, there would be enough to circle the Earth 3 times!

 

Sustainability and the Supply Chain

Many Americans are opting for plant-based meat alternatives this Super Bowl. Trends like Dunkin Donuts’ Beyond Meat Sausage Breakfast Sandwiches and Burger King’s Impossible Whopper have forced meat-alternatives into the public eye. The supply chains of meat-based products are known to require more resources, including more water and fuel which can be expensive and harmful to the environment.

The impossible burger alone is purported to require “87% less water use, 96% less land use, 89% fewer GHG emissions, and 92% less dead-zone creating nutrient pollution than ground beef from cows.” For Super Bowl Sunday, many health and environmentally conscious football fans will be making buffalo cauliflower “wings” instead of traditional chicken wings. With plant-based meat alternatives and other substitutions becoming more popular, food and beverage retailers have the opportunity to save resources and win consumer loyalty by offering meat-alternatives.

How Food and Beverage Supply Chains Can Keep Up

Making sure that your customers have their game-day rations is a must for any food and beverage company that sees a spike during the Super Bowl. But staying ahead of increased shipping volume, not to mention any unforeseen winter weather events can be a challenge. By implementing technology like a transportation management system, any company that needs to prepare for the Super Bowl can smooth out their shipping process and get complete visibility throughout their supply chain.

Transportation management systems (TMS) eliminate operational inefficiencies while providing benefits to all parties. Customers, suppliers and carriers can collaborate on a singular platform with real-time tracking information and side-by-side rate comparisons to save time and money. This is especially important as for food and beverage companies, like those that sell chicken products, ahead of America’s unofficial football holiday!

 

Kuebix TMS Cyber Monday Black Friday Statistics

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, over 25.5 million consumers made a purchase from a Shopify merchant on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or in between. Shoppers spent an average of $83.05 per order and focused heavily on makeup, mobile phone accessories and jackets. Cell phones dominated the holiday shopping season with 69% of sales made on phones or tablets.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales reached over $2.9 billion, a huge success in comparison to last year’s $1.8 billion. It’s estimated that at the peak of the shopping frenzy, shoppers were spending over $1.5 million per minute!

The Aftermath

Now that orders have been placed, they must be delivered. As a shipper, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • • Can your logistics operation keep up with the velocity of orders speeding through your e-commerce engine?
  • • 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?
  • • Once the holiday rush is all over, can you look historically at shipment data to find areas for improvement?

With Kuebix’s transportation management system (TMS), 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 operation’s 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 the dock to your customer’s doorstep.

 

 

 

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

 

Kuebix TMS Winter Weather Challenges

Keeping Your Supply Chain Ahead of Winter Weather This Holiday Season

It’s the holiday season and the skies aren’t hesitating to remind us that things are about to get very, very cold! Supply chains everywhere are getting ready for the impact.

A winter outlook published by The Weather Company has mixed reviews. It revealed that regions from southwest Oregon into California, the Great Basin, Desert Southwest and southwestern Texas are forecasted to have warmer than average temperatures during the holiday season stretching from December to February. Unfortunately, northeastern North Dakota into northern Minnesota, far northwestern Wisconsin, and the far western Upper Peninsula of Michigan aren’t as lucky. Temperatures in these regions are projected to be near or below average from December to February.

In the midst of the first set of snowstorms, it’s important to consider how these long-term weather conditions are going to impact supply chains nationwide. Low temperatures are frequently paired with snowstorms, black ice and harsh winds – none of which are good for transportation. Regardless of delivery date guarantees, weather can be unpredictable and roads quickly become hazardous. At one point or another, every shipping company experiences delays.

Adverse Winter Weather in 2018

Container terminals at the ports of Philadelphia, New York and New Jersey faced the consequences of severe storms in March of 2018. Weather forecasts of the storm estimated three inches of snow in New Jersey and up to two feet in certain parts of New Jersey. The four main terminals of the ports were closed for nearly four hours.

The southern region of the U.S. dealt with over 500 car crashes as a result of a harsh winter storm in December of 2018. Snow was falling at a pace too rapid for cleaning crews to keep up with and impairing the vision of drivers. Black ice dominated the roads and citizens were urged to stay home for safety. Drivers who neglected the warning were continuously skidding out of control in whiteout conditions. The storm left 385,000 people residing in southern states without power.

Needless to say, all of these barriers stemming from harsh weather conditions pose a challenge to supply chains. Below are a few ways to stay ahead of unexpected winter weather:

Identify if You are in an Area At-Risk of Dangerous Weather Impacts

This may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to recognize that snow affects each   region differently. Be conscious of where the base of your operations is and how severe winter weather tends to be in your area. Simply knowing that you are in an area that receives a substantial amount of snow is the first step in preparing for a safer winter.

Gain Visibility Throughout Your Supply Chain

Visibility across each aspect of your supply chain instantly provides an opportunity to be better-prepared. Being able to track your orders and access real-time information about the location of your shipment is crucial for successful communication with customers. Ease frustrations in the midst of weather delays with accurate information about when shipments can be expected and ensure operations are running smoothly.

Learn from the Past to Prepare for the Future

Collecting and organizing data and analytics are an essential part of growing as a business. It’s important to take stock of how well your business operated in such severe weather conditions in previous years. Taking note of how long it took your shipments to reach their destination and the overall cost and efficiency of transportation makes it easier to identify things that could be done better upon the arrival of the next storm.

 

Black Friday Cyber Monday 2020

Let the Bargains Begin: Black Friday & Cyber Monday 2019

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become infamous discount-filled holidays. Many families enjoy the tradition of camping outside retail locations and being some of the first to shop at midnight. Those who feel overwhelmed by this often chaotic process can enjoy many of the same sales on Cyber Monday, which starts the Monday after Black Friday.

The term “Cyber Monday” was coined in 2005 by the National Retail Foundation (NRF). They had noticed a recurring spike in online traffic and sales on the Monday following Thanksgiving. The NRF believed the substantial increase in revenue was a result of consumers making purchases at work because of stronger internet connection and privacy from kids wanting a sneak peek at their gifts.

As online shopping continues to gain traction, many big-name retailers are now offering their Cyber Monday discounts early to try to get an upper hand against the competition. Early offers are attractive to consumers because they are able to get good deals on in-demand products. Not to mention they can avoid the chaos of shopping in stores on Black Friday!

Below are a few retailers starting Cyber Monday early:

  •    •    Target – Hauls on Target’s e-commerce website are even more appealing to consumers with their recently added free two-day shipping offer running until December 21. Their “HoliDeals” program will feature thousands of deals on electronics, décor, toys and more throughout the holiday season. To kick off the holidays, Target is having a Black Friday preview sale on November 8 and 9 that will include 4x the number of discounts last year had. The company is hoping to make it easier for consumers to save by having their markdowns available for an extended period of time.
  •    •    Walmart – Walmart start November off strong by unveiling a series of amazing deals on electronic devices including Apple MacBook Airs, HP 14 Laptops, Apple AirPods, Smart TVs and more. These deals are congregated on their “Deal Drop” page that is steadily expanding as the holidays approach. Walmart is offering free next-day delivery on eligible orders that are worth $35 and over. By offering more promotions than ever and hosting in-store visits from Santa, Walmart hopes to serve as a one-stop-shop for all holiday gift needs and fun.
  •    •    Amazon – Amazon has dubbed its page of various discounts for the holidays as “Happy HoliDeals.” This section of their website is currently live and offering up to 70% off on products including Dyson vacuums, Alexa gadgets, Bose headphones, bedding essentials and more. Amazon is offering deals that last through the shopping season along with Lightning Deals and Deals of the Day. These subcategories of discounts only last for a certain amount of time in hopes of leading consumers to make a purchase and avoid missing out.

What to Expect from Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Black Friday is still the busiest shopping day for retail stores, but it should be noted that foot traffic is declining. In 2018, the number of people visiting stores decreased by 9% in comparison to the previous year. Each holiday shopper spent around $1,007.24 in 2019 on seasonal products including gifts, food, decorations and greeting cards. They also shop for non-holiday products to take advantage of seasonal deals and promotions. Consumers spent a grand total of $717.50 billion in 2018 (up 4.3% from 2017).

It’s estimated that Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday and the days in between capture 20% of all holiday online shopping! Cyber Monday drew in $7.9 billion worth of online sales (up 19.7% from 2017). The NRF cited a mixture of self-spending and gifting along with high confidence among shoppers for this upward trend.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Have Ample Inventory on Hand

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday closing in, it’s important to take a step back and identify what your supply chain needs to have a successful holiday shopping season. Retailers need ample stock of their inventory that can move throughout their supply chain and between other locations based on sales volume easily. Preparing for the season can only take companies so far – a portion of their profit is dependent on the ability to adapt to consumers’ responses as promotions begin to roll out.

Know the Customer

The average holiday shopper’s knowledge of substitute products and standards has increased since the dawn of the internet. Retailers are responsible for knowing what shoppers want instead of simply telling them what they need – meaning power is given back to the consumer. Shoppers expect the same discounts offered in-store to be available online so they can shop within the comfort of their own home. Stores who don’t make this a reality or offer exclusive in-store promotions run the risk of losing their share of online holiday shoppers to competitors.

Offer a Shipping Incentive

Big-name retailers who have successfully navigated Black Friday and Cyber Monday have one thing in common: Shipping incentives. Consumer demand has been steadily increasing for some time now. Shoppers are more concrete in what they want and are looking to have the product in their hands as soon as possible. Retailers have adjusted to this by offering a shipping incentive like 24/7 free shipping, free shipping after spending a certain amount of money or free two-day shipping. Consumers are already more inclined to shop online and free shipping that transports their products is another convincing factor.

The 2019 Holiday Shopping Season

A successful Black Friday and Cyber Monday both rely on balance. Retailers must have sufficient inventory for online and in-store sales to provide holiday shoppers with the best experience possible. They need to be aware of what consumers like to see in person before buying and what they prefer to order online. Inventory has to be adjusted to meet these preferences. Shipping incentives getting products to the consumer quickly and for free are often the tipping point in the purchase decision.

Ready or not, holiday shopping is right around the corner! How are you preparing your supply chain?

Veterans Day 2019 - Supply Chain

The Supply Chain Wouldn’t be the Same Without Veterans

Veterans Day is an opportunity for everyone in the United States to take a moment to stand together in respect for all those who have served our country. Each year, Veterans Day (formerly called Armistice Day) falls on November 11th, the day that World War I ended. It’s a chance for all of us to reflect on the courage and sacrifices our veterans have made, and a time to honor the contributions veterans make every day in the private sector even after they leave the military.

Top Industries Veterans Join After the Military

Some of the top industries that veterans join after their service include the information technology sector, manufacturing, and the transportation & warehousing industry according to Military.com’s list of the top ten career paths for veterans. In particular, veterans play a crucial role in keeping the supply chain running smoothly.

According to TruckerNews, “There are almost 22 million veterans of the U.S. armed services in this country, according to the Census Bureau. About 9 million of them are part of this country’s workforce and about 11 percent of them work in the trucking and affiliated industries.” This means that nearly 1 million supply chain professionals in the U.S.A. are veterans!

Why Veterans Make Ideal Supply Chain Professionals

One of the reasons that so many veterans join the supply chain industry after leaving the armed forces is their proven experience. Being a logistics professional takes a level of dedication and hard work that can be difficult to be gained places other than the military. Additionally, veterans often have hands-on experience transporting, tracking and delivering goods; experience which can translate seamlessly into virtually any logistics position.

Many carriers, 3PLs, suppliers and warehouses make a point of hiring veterans because of these characteristics and because veterans are known to learn quickly, work effectively under pressure and think innovatively when solving problems. There are many programs that actively recruit military veterans to join their corps and many others which can help get veterans the training they need when transitioning from the military to the private sector.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that you are likely to run into veterans in all types of supply chain career paths. Whether they become the truckers that keep our economies moving and our communities functioning, they’re handling logistics and tracking in a team setting in an office, or working in warehousing and demand planning, veterans are in an invaluable part of the supply chain industry.

Thank You for Your Service

Veterans Day is a day to remember the sacrifice and bravery of our country’s veterans and a time to acknowledge the important roles veterans play even after they leave the military. To all those who have served our country, and all who continue to serve, Happy Veterans Day!

Parcel Shipping Best Practices for Companies Preparing for the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season - Kuebix TMS

Parcel Shipping Best Practices for Companies Preparing for the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season

Many companies are currently gearing up for the holiday shopping season. Whether they are brick-and-mortar businesses or e-commerce companies, the peak season for many sellers begins in mid-November and ends in early January. This year, the National Retail Federation (NRF)’s annual shopper survey revealed that more than half of consumers said they would shop online.

To keep up with rising customer expectations about home delivery, even traditional brick-and-mortar companies are branching out with e-commerce platforms so as not to lose business. In order to keep up with the pace of holiday shopping, retailers need to be aware of several parcel shipping best practices.

Best Practices for Any Company Shipping Parcel During the 2019 Holiday Season

Know Important Dates During the Holiday Season

The first thing shippers need to be aware of when planning their shipping strategy for the holidays is important shopping dates. These are days when consumers will be expecting to see discounts and when many shoppers will make significant purchases ahead of the holidays. The unofficial holiday shopping season begins on November 11 and ends January 1 (though returns strategies must continue well past then).

Here is a breakdown of important shopping dates to be aware of this year:

  •  • November 11 – Veterans Day
  •  • November 29 – Black Friday
  •  • November 30 – Small Business Saturday
  •  • December 2 – Cyber Monday
  •  • December 14 – Free Shipping Day

These dates are days that many retailers expect heavy shopping volume and consumers expect discounts and promotions. Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be the most well known of all of these days, but Small Business Saturday and Free Shipping Day can be important to businesses holiday revenue as well.

Free Shipping Day, in particular, is gathering steam and may present an opportunity for retailers to win back market share from competitors who offer free shipping year-round. This unofficial holiday is a one-day event that retailers who are shipping parcel can participate in with a pledge to their customers to have products delivered for free ahead of Christmas day.

By offering specific promotions around any of these important shopping days, retailers can capture new business and continue to delight their customers. However, just advertising around important shopping days isn’t enough if the company fails to deliver products in time for specific days. Be aware of these important shipping deadlines when evaluating your logistics process prior to the holiday season.

  •  • November 28 – Thanksgiving
  •  • December 22-30 – Hanukkah
  •  • December 25 – Christmas
  •  • January 1 – New Year’s Eve

These are the most common days consumers expect to receive their parcel deliveries by. If a retailer cannot deliver in time for a specific holiday, the shopper is likely to abandon their cart and look elsewhere to make their purchase.

Leverage a TMS for Greater Parcel Shipping Flexibility

In order to keep up with deliveries ahead of specific holidays, retailers need to have a strategy to keep up with demand and deliver orders on time. This means doing the work ahead of time to have a concrete parcel shipping strategy in place. For many companies, this means connecting with several parcel shipping services.

Being able to quickly access different carriers’ parcel shipping rates through a single platform is essential for companies looking to optimize operations during the holidays. By leveraging a transportation management system (TMS) retailers can quickly and easily compare different parcel rates to ensure that orders are being delivered to customers before holiday deadlines at the lowest rate. This practice also helps companies organize increased order volume and provide their customers with different self-serve delivery options.

Companies with large e-commerce presences may find it beneficial to set up a direct integration between a TMS and e-commerce platform. By doing so, they give their customers the ability to select the shipping rate and delivery length that best suits their needs. This cuts down on the workload for teams and ensures that customers are always satisfied with their parcel delivery experience.

Consider Offering Free Shipping

According to an NRF quarterly Consumer View report, “75 percent of consumers surveyed expect delivery to be free even on orders under $50, up from 68 percent a year ago (2018).” That’s a big deal for retailers looking to see positive growth in online sales this holiday season. The decision to buy or not to buy can easily hinge on whether or not the retailer offers free parcel shipping.

While many may assume that younger consumers are the ones shifting the expectation of free shipping as an e-commerce norm, that assumption is incorrect. The report goes on to state:

“Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) demand free shipping the most, with 88 percent expecting it. That compares with 77 percent for Generation X (1965-1980), 61 percent for millennials (1981-1994) and 76 percent for Generation Z (1995 and later).”

This proves that no matter which segment of the marketplace your company targets, it’s likely a good idea to offer some form of free shipping. Whether it’s free shipping on orders that pass a certain threshold or free shipping on orders with longer lead time.

Insure Yourself Against Poor Service Levels

One pitfall that companies who ship final mile to their customers’ homes face is the missed delivery. Whether the delivery is simply late, it gets damaged in transit, or worst of all, lost, companies run the risk of disappointing their customers and eating the cost of shipping. This can be a lose-lose situation if a plan isn’t put into place ahead of time.

Shipping partners like Pitney Bowes offer 3-day guaranteed delivery that retailers can take advantage of when shipping products via USPS over the holidays. This Guaranteed Delivery program provides shippers with a full refund if their parcel isn’t delivered within the three-day window. This level of security helps companies confidently expand their e-commerce presence without worrying about the possible negative effects that can arise from unpreventable missed deliveries.

Have a Solid Returns Strategy

Even when the major shopping days and holidays are through, logistics and customer service teams across the country will still be hard at work managing the returns process. Pitney Bowes’ 2019 Holiday Readiness Guide details how companies can best manage post-holiday returns with three tips:

  1. Make Returns Fast and Easy
  2. Challenge Your Real Motivations
  3. Make the Label Easy to Find

Essentially, the returns process for parcel orders shouldn’t be something for companies to shy away from. Consumers will appreciate a fast and efficient returns process and are more likely to turn into repeat customers if their returns experience is treated as a priority by the company. Instead of making the process difficult by hiding returns information in the fine print or charging exorbitant shipping fees, companies can win customer loyalty and positively impact their businesses long term by making the process simple.

The 2019 Holiday Shopping Season is Here

As we approach Veteran’s Day on November 11th this year, retailers should keep in mind these parcel shipping best practices so that they can delight their customers and grow their businesses. Any company that ships parcel during the holidays can benefit from being more informed, having plans and strategies ahead of time, connections with different parcel carriers, and a strategy for post-holiday returns. By following these best practices, companies can position themselves for the best chance of success during the 2019 holiday shopping season.

Halloween Infographic Spooky Scorecard

Consumers Aren’t Scared to Spend Money on Halloween

October is nearly over and that means Halloween is approaching, heralding the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Many supply chains have been preparing for months, some starting as early as January to prepare for the busiest shipping time of the year. Even if your company doesn’t supply or manufacture Halloween-related merchandise, it’s likely that you and your family will fuel the demand for products in some way. In fact, almost 70% of Americans plan to participate in Halloween celebrations this year. Whether you’re purchasing candy, porch decorations or a costume for your dog, few Americans escape the commercial aspect of this spooky day.

Halloween Shopping by the Numbers

The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimated that Halloween sales will top $8.8 billion ($86.27 per household). This year’s total is expected to be the third-highest out of the fifteen years the survey has been conducted. While the total amount spent hasn’t changed too drastically in the past few years, there’s a noticeable change in the motivation of consumers. Many purchases they make are influenced by friends, neighbors or celebrities on social media. Here are a few consumer statistics to consider as the season reaches its peak.

Kuebix Halloween Infographic

Balancing Supply and Demand

Most consumers know the type of candy, costume or decoration they want before going to the store. They expect retailers to be fully stocked to make the selection process as easy as possible and establish brand loyalty. This is especially important for Halloween staples like bite-sized candy to hand out and pumpkins for carving into jack-o’-lanterns. Consumers who walk into a grocery store or department store and don’t find what they’ve come for are unlikely to stick around to buy additional merchandise, resulting in lost sales and poor customer satisfaction. This lack of supply is bad for business.

The inverse is also just as detrimental for retailers trying to make a profit from Halloween sales. If retailers have forecasted incorrectly and have too much Halloween merchandise in stock, they will be left “holding the bag” and need to deeply discount merchandise in an attempt to sell it quickly after Halloween. This is particularly important for items with expiration dates that need to be off shelves quickly.

Demand planners should also keep in mind regional preferences. Running out of Skittles in California or Florida may be worse for customer satisfaction than in Massachusetts. Check out this interactive map from the CandyStore.com to see your region’s favorite Halloween candies.

Source:  CandyStore.com.

While some people look forward to the 75% off candy sales on November 1st each year, these sales are a result of inaccurate demand planning leading up to the holiday. Balancing supply and demand is crucial leading up to any retail holiday.

Where Are Consumers Doing Their Halloween Shopping?

Though this year isn’t anticipated to be a record-setting year in terms of overall sales (that record was set in 2017), the total amount being spent by Americans is still impressive. That means that consumers are opening their wallets with the plan to spend. However, having products for sale in the right locations is becoming more of a challenge for retailers and manufacturers. In order to capture customers, many companies are diversifying where they sell. Consumers now have many more options than traditional brick-and-mortar stores. They can shop online, at local grocery stores, at specialty stores, department stores and even at convenience and pharmacy locations. Retailers like Target and Walmart have expanded their online presence in order to capture customers that prefer to shop online.

In 2018, the National Retail Federation reported that 24% of Halloween shoppers who bought costumes or Halloween supplies did so online. While this number continues to rise, many shoppers still prefer to see what’s for sale in-store.

Don’t Be Frightened by the Halloween Shopping Season

Whether you’re a manufacturer, retailer or consumer, Halloween is a busy time of year for the supply chain. Stores become full of seasonal merchandise and consumers see advertisements and Halloween decorating inspiration on all sides. Hopefully, most companies have their logistics operations well in hand and are on track to meet customers’ needs without excessive leftover stock. If you’re planning to participate in any Halloween activities this year, we hope you have a spooky day!

Kuebix TMS Holiday Hiring Trend

Retailers and Carriers are Increasing Labor Ahead of the Holiday Shopping Season

Fall is here and retailers are already preparing to get in the holiday spirit! Many businesses announced their seasonal hiring plans before summer ended. A recent Indeed holiday hiring survey indicates that holiday job searches per million job seekers rose by 11% in comparison to last year. The unemployment rate is holding steady at an unusually low 3.7%, so it should come as no surprise that retailers such as Kohl’s, Famous Footwear and Bath & Body Works are scrambling to fill open positions pre-holiday season.

Deloitte’s annual holiday retail projections anticipates that e-commerce sales revenue will fall between $144 billion and $149, an increase from last year’s $126.4 billion spent online. Total retail sales are expected to land somewhere between 4.5% and 5.0% for the period (up from 2018’s 3.1%). The combination of open full-time positions and an increase in money spent makes it critical that seasonal employees are hired before the first holiday hits.

Retailers aren’t the only ones gearing up for holiday season. Both FedEx and UPS have made announcements regarding seasonal hires. FedEx plans on adding 55,000 workers to its already expansive staff of 450,000. Majority of workers added will contribute to the FedEx Ground network.  UPS is set to hire 100,000 seasonal workers to combat the holiday shipping rush. They’re expecting daily package deliveries to nearly double compared to their average 20 million per day. Long-term positions with UPS aren’t out of the question – 35% of people hired for seasonal jobs over the last 3 years have been made permanent employees.

Companies everywhere are struggling to identify the best method to successfully navigate the incoming holiday season. An easy solution to reduce operational inefficiencies is implementing a cloud-based transportation management system (TMS). Through utilizing a cloud-based TMS, companies can lower usage costs, have greater flexibility and experience a rapid return-on-investment (ROI). A cloud-based TMS gives all businesses complete supply chain visibility, saving them time and helping them provide better customer service.

A cloud-based TMS connects users with other shippers, carriers, brokers, freight marketplaces and 3PLs in the network. Users can streamline manual processes and manage all of their shipping functions within a single system. This simplified process creates opportunity for users to earn more while saving time.

No matter how you approach it, pre-holiday season is here and shoppers are ready!