Final Mile Kuebix

The High Costs of Final-Mile Delivery

The final mile of delivery is said to be the most expensive portion of the equation. BI Intelligence equates the share of the total cost of shipping for the last mile at 53 percent of delivery costs overall.

It is costly because it has a larger human element than the other segments of transportation with drivers going door-to-door to drop off packages. In an urban environment, the distance between deliveries can be a couple of flights of stairs, but in a rural scenario, drivers may have to drive miles and miles before they get to their next drop-off point.

If the last-mile delivery experience is poor, such as a package arrives damaged or is left out in the rain, then this can have a negative impact on a company’s brand. Sometimes deliveries have to be made several times because the recipient was not at home and the delivery requires a signature; this hikes up the delivery costs even more.

In some instances, the final mile delivery is the first personal contact between the consumer and the product. If the delivery is poor, then the brand is affected. Was the driver late? Is the packaging damaged? Was the delivery person rude? With customer expectations so high, a lot is at stake if a delivery goes awry.

The last-mile is expensive, inefficient and risky (for a firm’s reputation) – yet people want that “Amazon Experience” where they can track their package via a mobile phone app, with alerts if the package will be delayed and notices when a package has arrived. This type of transparency requires visibility and real-time tracking of orders.

Says Business Insider, “The costs and inefficiencies of the last mile problem have only been further compounded by the continuous rise of e-commerce in US retail sales, which has dramatically increased the number of parcels delivered each day, as well as raised customer expectations to include not just fast, but also free, delivery.” In other words, the issues surrounding the last mile are not going away.

So, what can you do?

Companies can ensure that their organization has complete visibility to any delivery delays, exceptions or missed appointments with the use of technology. Whether a company is delivering to a residence or business; utilizing owner operators or asset-based fleets; or is delivering a unique one-time shipment with a rate from the spot market, a transportation management system can help.

women in supply chain kuebix

Celebrating International Women’s Day with a Look at Women in Supply Chain

In recent years, women have become increasingly integral in all things supply chain, an industry that has traditionally been male-dominated. A survey published by Gartner in 2018, however, shows “sustained strong representation of women in the senior-most ranks of supply chain organizations relative to other functions.” This study was conducted in partnership with an executive women’s networking group that focuses on advancing women’s supply chain leadership in the U.S. called AWESOME.

The War for Talent

In another study by Gartner, the Emerging Risks Survey, they identified the talent shortage to be one of the preeminent risks for companies worldwide heading into 2019. Right now, more than 50% of the professional workforce in highly developed markets are comprised of women, and this number is rising. Therefore, industries that do not put an emphasis on attracting, retaining, and advancing women could find themselves at even greater risk from the talent shortage. Research studies have additionally found that more diverse teams perform better and are more innovative.

The Driver Shortage

Initiatives to attract and retain women in supply chain management roles have begun to grow in popularity. Right now, 37% of today’s supply chain workforce are women and that number is expected to trend upward. However, the percentage of women drops significantly for truck drivers. According to the
Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 6.2 percent of truck drivers in America are women. With the driver shortage causing issues for just about every company that ships freight, it’s crucial that the industry attract more female drivers to keep up with the demand as Baby Boomers age out of the workforce.

As wages continue to rise on average for truck drivers, there is perhaps only one prominent reason women haven’t flocked to become truck drivers, and that’s the unearned social stigma of driving a truck. Unlike some industries where women may find themselves paid unfairly in comparison with male counterparts, women and men are paid the same as truckers. Many carriers set their drivers’ wages based on mileage or hours driven. This should be a draw for women in the workforce.

Companies with fleets and carriers alike can expand their recruitment efforts to attract more women to overcome this gap. According to the American Trucking Associations, some companies are now paying truckload drivers roughly $53,000 each year and some private fleet drivers make up to $86,000 annually. Many companies are also offering increasingly competitive benefit options including flexible schedules and 401k options.

Women in the Supply Chain

While there is still a ways to go before women are equally represented in the supply chain industry, there are many encouraging signs. Trade show floors are more diverse than ever and women are increasingly enrolling in supply chain educational programs. According to SCM World’s poll of global universities, “women accounted for 37% of students enrolled in university supply chain courses.” Over time, it’s expected that women will have a proportional amount of positions in the supply chain industry.

How Breaking Away from a 3PL Helped One Company Save 30% on their Freight Spend

Hyperline Cabling Systems, a company continuously striving to remain ahead of the curve, was dissatisfied with their third-party logistics provider (3PL) and recognized the need to regain control of their logistics operations by implementing a transportation management system (TMS).

In May of 2017, Hyperline made the switch to Kuebix TMS, making the Kuebix technology their logistics system of choice for their national distribution center in Buford, GA. Since implementation, Hyperline has been able to take control of their own supply chain and benefit from tremendous savings, increased flexibility and visibility, saving about 30% on their freight spend.

Hear what Otis Johnson, Warehouse Manager at Hyperline, has to say in the video below:

Supply Chain Change

The Supply Chain Industry’s Changing, Are You Keeping Up?

It’s no secret that the world is changing at an unprecedented pace, and supply chain professionals are scrambling to keep up. The trends affecting the global marketplace are having an impact on an industry that has relied for years on a very tangible regimen of pickups and drop-offs. As technology continues to shape the world, supply chain executives must keep pace with the trends and incorporate them into daily processes to keep their companies competitive in the new, dynamic environment.

Concepts supply chain executives can leverage:

Machine Learning (ML) & Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Technology isn’t only becoming more widespread, the technology itself is getting better. Have you ever thought about the ads you see on your social media? If not, consider whether the ads appear catered directly to you, odds are a machine has learned your likes and dislikes. Technology now has the ability to ‘learn’ from accumulated data to predict future actions, like your shopping habits. This is particularly important for supply chains which can leverage predictive learning and AI to estimate unloading times, carrier performance, traffic delays, and more.

The Internet of Things (IoT) – The web of everyday objects connected to the internet is becoming more and more commonplace. Wearables (think FitBit) are everywhere, Dash Buttons let us order more detergent when we run low and even our homes are “smart,” letting us control the thermostat from anywhere with the touch of a button. This concept is rapidly being adopted by supply chains. Prominent among them is the ELD Mandate, a federal mandate requiring all trucks to monitor driving time to be compliant with hours of service (HoS) laws. RFID tags are being used more frequently too, letting supply chain professionals digitally track individual containers, pallets or even products.

Blockchain – Bitcoin is the largest example of a company using blockchain, but this concept isn’t only reserved for transferring money over the internet. Broken down into its simplest form, blockchain is a digital ledger that can be used to exchange, track transactions, make payments and sign contracts. It’s highly transparent, extremely efficient and scalable in nature. This new method of exchange is reshaping globalized trade, making it easier to interact with companies and customers abroad. Supply chains can use blockchain to keep better track of their products, deal in foreign currencies without the need of an intermediary and store better data for record keeping.

What do all of these concepts have in common?

Each one of these concepts is rooted in connecting people and processes together more efficiently via technology. All three make it easier for companies to access their customers, forge useful relationships and scale their businesses. One result of employing these connectivity strategies is a Network Effect where “more usage of the product by any user increases the product’s value for other users” (Evergreen). Each layer of connectivity serves to support the other users, building customer loyalty and adding value to the organization.  For supply chain professionals, this can mean providing better customer service, having better on time delivery rates and streamlining tracking and tracing processes.

Supply chain offices deserve their own network to build upon, one where they can find the latest technology to improve their operations and keep up with market trends. The Kuebix Global Logistics Community is serving just that purpose. As a collaborative group of shippers and carriers from around the world, members work together to discover opportunities, foster cost reductions and build trusted-partner relationships.

Kuebix SupplierMAX

The Recipe for an Unbeatable Inbound Freight Management Strategy

Managing inbound freight operations is an ongoing challenge for businesses with large numbers of suppliers. Companies are impacted by the inefficiencies, low levels of visibility and lack of standardization associated with the management of their inbound freight. These problems are exacerbated when companies lack comprehensive strategies for obtaining the lowest possible shipping and unloading costs or a plan to improve the behavior of their suppliers. A complete strategy for inbound freight management needs to encompass the following three aspects; visibility, collaboration and accountability.

Visibility  Although companies control their own destinies on the outbound side of the equation, that level of control dwindles when it comes to inbound freight. In the end, the receiving company does not have full planning and visibility for shipment arrivals and dock reservations. To optimize their inbound, stakeholders can benefit from better visibility of information (e.g., knowing what carrier is being used, exact timing of deliveries, how much manpower is in the DC to load/unload shipments, etc.), real-time data sharing and the knowledge that everyone is working toward a common goal.

Collaboration  By using a comprehensive inbound freight plan based on a collaborative ecosystem of shippers, suppliers and carriers, companies can effectively establish a dynamic rating and unloading allowance program. As companies work in partnership with their suppliers to determine the most cost-effective method to handle each shipment – customer pick-up (CPU) or vendor controlled (VDS), the goal should be to reduce overall shipping costs. By giving suppliers choices, they’ll be able to pick the most effective service and billing procedure. Convert inbound shipments from VDS to CPU shipments only when it’s feasible, and then establish preferred rates with a select group of carriers to handle those inbound shipments at the lowest possible cost and best service type. Use a standard routing guide to establish a set of mandatory carriers that will be used for all VDS and CPU shipments. This will enable LTL pricing improvements, superior service levels and maximize opportunities for LTL consolidation.

Accountability  While companies can’t always control what their suppliers do or the efficiency of suppliers’ systems, they can implement Vendor Inbound Compliance Standards (VICS) to help improve supplier behavior. A comprehensive set of compliance procedures will establish rules and processes that must be followed by suppliers when making deliveries. These accountability levels should also extend to the company’s own supply chain/logistics department and procurement group, both of which play a role in ensuring that products get quickly from their origin to the distribution center (DC). The goal? Improve supplier behavior so that their inefficiencies are not wasting time and money at the DC. It’s also important that a company’s inbound strategy includes leveraging detailed analytics to measure the results of the program and take action where necessary to improve service with suppliers and carriers.

By following this general recipe, companies can work with specialists in inbound freight to develop an unbeatable inbound freight management strategy. But knowing what to do and being able to do it effectively are two entirely different hurdles companies need to jump. It’s for that reason Kuebix has developed SupplierMAX, a program where companies can leverage Kuebix’s technology and logistics experts to manage all or a portion of their inbound freight program. SupplierMAX improves supplier behavior and increases the efficiency of warehouses and distribution centers by incorporating a series of comprehensive strategies to improve inbound operations. To learn more about this program, click HERE to read the SupplierMAX press release in full.

Imported Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

“My business is booming,” said one of our clients in the steel and metal industry. Another commented that “my business is through the roof!” We weren’t sure why until we asked, “What’s the big deal?”

It appears that steel and aluminum manufacturers, producers and distributors are enjoying a boost in revenues thanks to the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that Trump is imposing. As a result, many of the companies that rely on metals affected by these tariffs aren’t sure what will happen, so they are stocking up on raw materials, parts and components.

The new tariffs will impose a 25 percent price increase on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum to protect national economic security, effective March 23. The plan has been widely criticized by government officials and corporate America who feel the tariffs will cost U.S. jobs, raise consumer prices and hit American manufacturers.

Other countries are threatening trade wars. The EU has warned it will impose a 25 percent tariff on the $3.5 billion of American goods that it imports. Trump’s next move is to impose tariffs on up to $60 million of Chinese imports of technology, telecommunications and apparel.

Many businesses feel that a cost increase is on the way and will likely be pushed down through the supply chain to other businesses like beverages and automobiles. Some US companies that use steel and aluminum in their products may reduce production in the US in favor of foreign production where they can avoid cost increases. Other policymakers think that US manufacturers will no longer have to compete with foreign materials and can instead charge higher prices.

Since many aren’t sure what will really happen as a result of the tariffs, they are building up inventory levels, buying raw materials and stocking up on parts to keep ahead of price increases or lack of materials.

Instead of worrying about stocking up on inventory, Kuebix believes that a greater focus on reducing supply chain costs is needed. As transportation is one of the biggest expenses for a company, often up to 40%, ways to lower logistics costs while boosting efficiencies are a must in this uncertain economic environment.

By leveraging Kuebix TMS, retailers and manufacturers can quickly and easily receive better rates for any transportation mode. Our free TMS, Kuebix Shipper, can even be up-and-running the same day, so companies can immediately begin offsetting costs by receiving lower rates. And by upgrading to add modular features to optimize routes and consolidate loads from LTL to FTL where possible, companies can cut down on the total cost of goods and put money back into other needs, such as raw material purchasing.

Logistics professionals uncertain about the future of steel and aluminum imports can improve their companies’ outlook by utilizing technology to cut costs.

2018 Predictions

2018 Supply Chain Predictions

In the book, The Living Supply Chain, the authors argue that, “Speeding up the supply chain is at the root of everything that is good: improved revenue, reduced working capital, higher profitability, and less obsolete inventory. Conversely, slowing down the supply chain is at the root of everything that is bad: working capital write-offs, reduced profitability, and slowing revenues.”

To “speed” up the supply chain is to invest in change and change will come with the digital transformation of the supply chain, which is the major focus for executives in 2018. Much change in the supply chain industry will be due to innovative technologies for digital transformations, along with the recent tax reforms, and the still-current driver shortage/capacity crunch. Digital transformation of the supply chain will change everything – for the better.

These are the innovative technologies that I predict companies must use to undergo this transformation within their supply chains:

Cloud-based technology deployments lower cost of ownership due to not having a large capital expenditure on hardware and upgrades. Cloud-based solutions are ideal for any size business because they can be scaled up as your business grows and are easier to set-up and manage.

Advanced Analytics will support real-time decision making based on data captured across the supply chain. With analytics, businesses can more effectively predict and fill demand. You can also manage relationships with carriers, suppliers and customers while improving processes. Using advanced analytics in a transportation management network to look at historical traffic patterns, you can plan a truck’s route that takes into account time delays for more accurate arrival times.

Tracking and Tracing of raw materials through manufacturing to the end customer must take on Amazon-like capabilities, meaning customers will know where their orders are at any one time, just like when you order from Amazon. With track & trace, you will get deep visibility to SKU-level information from first-mile to last-mile, including the tracking of costs to better monitor transport spend. Communications with customers will be proactive instead of reactive, alerting customers if their order will be late or when it will arrive.

Supply Chain Visibility will make data collected from end-to-end across the supply chain available to all stakeholders, giving them greater control and visibility into what is happening across the enterprise. You can uncover roadblocks within your supply chain that could lead to delays in shipping.

Blockchain will provide interconnectivity between ledgers of supply chain trading partners, enhancing traceability of transaction history. Automating the flow of information among trading partners provides transparency and boosts efficiencies. Blockchain works with cryptocurrency to determine payment amounts, allowing drivers to be paid as they complete parts of their journey. This completely removes the transport broker from the equation, giving drivers access to quicker settlement. However, blockchain is still a technology that needs further development before it can be proved useful to some businesses.

Artificial Intelligence initiatives require specialists who are hard to find, potentially stalling any projects. AI utilizes algorithms to detect patterns in vast volumes of data and interpret their meaning such as predicting whether a carrier will be on-time based on weather conditions and past performance.

Predictive Analytics, often combined with Artificial Intelligence, helps shippers understand, automate and optimize their supply chain processes to gain better efficiencies. Predictive analytics provides shippers with actionable intelligence to guide the decision-making process, helping you to reduce costs and optimize operations. Scorecards on carrier performance can alert shippers on which carriers can better meet their service obligations.

The Internet of Things (IoT) – More devices, from pallets to trucks will have sensors embedded to transmit status and performance data. This real-time information will be used for monitoring everything from equipment health to asset locations to order tracking and more. Advanced analytical systems use the data to uncover trends that lead to performance improvements and cost reductions.

Kuebix TMS is a game-changer for your business in 2018, regardless of the company size because Kuebix offers advanced applications to meet the needs of even the most complex supply chain operations. Kuebix TMS finds the best freight rates for all modes, books and tracks shipments, audits and manages transport finances and utilizes advanced analytics to measure and monitor trends and performance activities. 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.

The Future of Freight: Why We Launched a Free Transportation Management System (TMS)

The Future of Freight: Why We Launched a Free Transportation Management System (TMS)

In October of 2017, Kuebix launched its free transportation management system (TMS), Kuebix Free Shipper. This platform offers unlimited rating, booking and tracking of TL, LTL, and parcel freight. It was the first step in the evolution of transportation management systems.

Why it’s Important

In the past, it was common practice to manage freight with spreadsheets and other manual processes or outsource to third-party logistics providers, both of which soaked up vast amounts of valuable time and money. With Kuebix Free Shipper, businesses of any size have the opportunity to streamline operations with a single cloud-based platform, removing room for potential miscommunication and monotonous tasks.

Bart De Muynck, Vice President of transportation technology research at Gartner, says that “Transportation management systems (TMS) have become the ‘must have’ for companies that – working under the pressure of e-commerce and omni-channel – need to move beyond clipboards, spreadsheets, and phone calls.”[1]

Though transportation management systems have been around for some time, the implementation and ownership costs typically associated with TMSs have been too high for small and midsize companies. Kuebix Free Shipper removes the cost barrier for those companies that only need a base TMS. Companies looking for advanced functionality can take advantage of Kuebix’s modular and premier features with an upgrade to Kuebix Business Pro or Kuebix Enterprise. The TMS adjusts seamlessly to fit the needs of any size business so that logistics operations can be performed at peak efficiency.

Free TMS Features

Regardless of budget or company size, Kuebix Free Shipper allows users to:

  • • View and negotiate LTL, TL, and Parcel rates and transit times
  • • Get spot quotes for volume freight
  • • create, book and manage shipments
  • • Access and print BOLs and shipping labels
  • • Receive real-time tracking updates on shipments, providing more accurate information to pass onto customers

Improving supply chain visibility and efficiency is made easy through the adoption of Kuebix Free Shipper. Companies who experience growth and find that they need more advanced features can upgrade at any time rather than jumping ship and searching for another TMS platform to manage their logistics operations. Kuebix TMS has the unique flexibility to fit the mold of any company at any stage of their growth.

What Customers Say About Kuebix’s Free TMS

 

Marc Orlando, Logistics Manager at hardware and software manufacturer, Bizerba, says that “Kuebix has allowed us to create a marketplace for our business with our carriers and help us better manage the day-to-day logistics operations with real-time information in ways we were not able to do previously.”

Through the implementation of the TMS, Bizerba was able to improve visibility across its supply chain and improve their operations through the insight they obtained as a result of this change. Additionally, having shippers and carriers utilizing the same platform has improved communication between everyone involved in the shipping process.

Gunner Kennels, a dog kennel manufacturing company, used a 3PL to manage their freight prior to partnering with Kuebix. Brandon Beasley, Vice President of Operations at Gunner Kennels, says that they “realized we were wasting a lot of money by using a 3PL to manage our transportation operations. We knew that if we had contracted rates directly with carriers, we could save a lot of money.”

Transparency throughout the supply chain is vital in terms of ensuring that your company is getting the best rates. Gunner Kennels realized that sacrificing visibility and trusting an outside party to handle their operations was no longer worth the cost. They wanted to have more direct involvement in their transportation operations to ensure that they were saving as much money as they could. By implementing Kuebix, Gunner Kennels was able to part ways with their restrictive 3PL and make this vision possible.

Our Goal

Kuebix has set out to eliminate the price barrier that traditionally excluded small to midsize businesses and establish a community of shippers by making transportation management systems more widely accessible throughout the supply chain. With Kuebix Free Shipper, the amount of time and effort it takes to compare rates and set up shipments is drastically reduced. Users have access to all their negotiated and spot rates to compare and choose the rate that best fits their shipping needs.

Kuebix is challenging the way shippers traditionally think about transportation management systems and ensuring that these digital advantages are not reserved only for larger companies. Establishing and maintaining this all-inclusive platform not only allows companies to save time and money, but also collaborate through visibility across their supply chains.

Benefits of Scale

By offering a free TMS that shippers can easily add modular or premier applications to with the choice to upgrade, Kuebix is creating a community like no other in the industry. Kuebix’s Shipping Community has brought together 16,000+ shippers of all sizes and with all different business needs.

Every shipper that uses Kuebix TMS expands the Kuebix Shipping Community and the community is connected to a vast network or carriers, brokers, freight forwarders and carrier marketplaces creating an ecosystem that generates efficiency for all stakeholders. This ecosystem of supply chain professionals is formed by all shippers, brokers, suppliers, and carriers actively using the cloud-based platform, therefore creating more opportunities with scale. Key among these opportunities is the chance to match available freight with available capacity. The larger the community, the bigger the potential benefits through greater collaboration. The community continues to grow as we add new, valuable features like Kuebix Community Load Match for our users.

[1] https://www.logisticsmgmt.com/article/2019_transportation_management_systems_tms_market_update_keeping_pace_with

Dawn of a new shipping era

The Freight Industry Just Changed!

I’m beyond excited to tell you that today, Kuebix has announced Kuebix Shipper, the first free, multimodal transportation management system (TMS), allowing shippers unlimited rating, booking and tracking of LTL, TL and parcel freight.

Kuebix Shipper

This is big news for the industry because the evolution of freight is upon us – and it all begins with an intelligent TMS. We at Kuebix believe all shippers should have the ability to rate, book and track freight directly with their carriers for free, the same way you can rate, book and track flights in minutes on Internet travel sites.

Kuebix Shipper ushers in a new world of freight shipping for all

Kuebix Shipper is a free, cloud-based TMS that provides businesses invaluable freight intelligence to quickly reduce their shipping costs and regain time being wasted chasing carriers every day for rating and tracking information.

To jump-start this evolution, Kuebix is empowering the shipper by democratizing basic transportation management through the free Kuebix Shipper TMS.

Follow us – and the news – on social media at #freetheshipper.

Freight Efficiencies, Savings Await

We estimate that companies spend 4-5% of their budget on freight, and they’re wasting 10-20% of that amount. Cutting the waste provides a great ROI for a free TMS.

Kuebix Shipper, a powerful free TMS, brings control and visibility to all

The free Kuebix Shipper TMS enabes all to go beyond paper processes and outsourcers to realize efficiencies and savings

Now, shippers of all sizes can get the power of a TMS that was only available to larger enterprises in the past. The free TMS enables logistics managers to get up and running in minutes with direct access to their negotiated carrier rates and the ability to take advantage of the vibrant community of carriers offering spot/volume quotes for specific shipping needs.

Gain Freight Control, Visibility

Kuebix Shipper returns the power to the shipper, providing every business a long-awaited alternative to outsourcing business-critical functions to third-party logistics service providers or using resource-intensive manual processes.

Kuebix Shipper the Free TMS for All

Kuebix Shipper makes it easier and free to rate, book and track freight.

Think Smartphone Evolution

Think of the evolution of the TMS as akin to the rise of the smartphone. Just like how widespread adoption of affordable smartphones changed the way we communicate and interact, a TMS that is available to all businesses and all budgets will have the same impact on the shipping community.

As your smartphone has been the tool moving us into this collaborative digital era, the TMS will be that tool for the shipping world.

Opportunities for freight efficiencies resulting in savings can be realized by all

Come aboard Kuebix Shipper now and let the efficiencies and savings begin!

 

 

TMS Options Proliferate, But Not for All

This is the second in a three-part series that tracks the evolution of the TMS from the late 1990s to today. In last week’s piece I discussed the emergence of the TMS. Next week I’ll discuss the future.

When we last left transportation management systems (TMS), the high price and staff requirements of the early systems had created two groups of freight shippers, the haves, which could afford the high expense of on-prem big-box systems, and a far larger group of have-nots.

The needs of shippers struggling to replace manual processes with automation, drove widespread developments of new products, services and third parties. Most of these used different approaches for addressing the huge need for efficiency in supply chains. Meanwhile, the maturity of cloud computing was driving changes across industries and was just beginning to gain traction in logistics.

The lineup of options for shippers looking to improve their logistics operations included on-site system vendors, services from 3rd party logistics providers, and a shallow pool of companies looking to leverage the software-as-as-service model and approach to locating system intelligence.

Word from Above

But what lead to cold sweats for shippers was all the best practice and success stories that the tech trades and even the business media were running. They featured pioneering companies that had implemented a solution to cure their shipping ills and were said to be on the leading edge of technology use for business gain.

That started the deluge of direct questions from C-level executives.

Are we checking out TMSs? Is this something for us? Can we save money? Why haven’t we done this? C-level execs started believing that their companies could quickly turn their freight shipping into a profit center from a cost center.

It didn’t matter that the price for a TMS was too high or that many of the options covered one aspect of shipping but not many others.

TMS Affordability?

You’d think for sure that a growing group of TMS options would benefit all shippers desperately seeking freight intelligence. The reality was that TMSs were still not accessible to most businesses in the U.S. The have-nots could find affordable freight handling options, but that meant paying a third party to handle their freight shipping function.

For most, price as in the TCO, was the single largest impediment to implementing a system that would enable logistics professionals to truly manage their freight transportation. Isn’t it ironic that the sticker price of TMS options and alternative is what was keeping the have-nots from cutting costs and generating new revenue?

Clear Forecast

With the maturity of the cloud, it became clear that locating a TMS software product on a platform in the network  and sold as-a-(monthly)-service would break down the many barriers to implementation that so many businesses of all sizes were up against.

This opportunity sure got the attention of shippers who had all but given up on an on-site TMS and wanted something that was both flexible in architecture and easier to cost justify to their bosses.

An Easier Sell

Many enterprise freight shippers moved from controlled freight chaos to the cloud and found that advances in platform technology and automation from TMS software made for easier installation and a faster return on investment.

But while a growing mass of businesses were putting cloud-based TMSs to the test – and turning a cost center to a profit center, SMBs, which I believe make up over 90% of all U.S. businesses, still couldn’t justify a TMS spend. Some outsourced their operations to 3PLs. Others were stuck with their inefficient status quo.

Believe me, whether you’re a kid or a shipping professional nothing’s worse than watching someone else get, enjoy (and profit from), something great that you can’t have.

In the final installment of this three-part series, I’ll explain how important changes in the evolution of the TMS will define the future of freight shipping. Thanks for staying tuned!

 

 

 

 

TMS for All? – Life in the Slow Lane

This is the first in a three-part series and is set in the late 1990s.

When it came to understanding what an early TMS could do for shippers, it was a classic example of the saying “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Buried in paper, faxing, emails and phone calls only to have skilled staff manually enter order data into Excel spreadsheets, shipping managers at small and midsize businesses had no idea what cost cutting and revenue generation opportunities they were missing.

These logistics professionals, however, became painfully aware of problems with this approach when mistakes were made, deliveries were delayed, costs were added and actual shipping limped along at a snail’s pace. Even worse, freight costs were climbing.

And nobody was happy. Shippers had no means to apply their logistics and supply chain skills. AR and AP were calling in with problems. Customers experienced a lack of consistency with some deliveries. And those seeking the status of their shipments faced long waits or went without. Updates were available in unreal time.

All this sounds like a scary movie, with shippers lacking visibility into and control of their supply chains, but it was real life before small and midsize business (SMB) had any technology-driven systems to help shoulder the freight shipping load. It’s tough to solve a pressing problem without a solution.

Is Bigger Better?

While SMBs struggled mightily with daily shipping operations, logistics managers at some of the world’s large corporations were beginning to implement something called a TMS. Back then, what passed for a transportation management system was essentially an on-site hardware platform with software.

The TMS was pricey to say the least, took forever to implement and needed staff on hand to handle its care and feeding, which included installing seemingly endless software upgrades and scrambling to react in the event of an emergency at the location at which it resided. (Single point of failure).

Early big-box TMSes were quite expensive.

And having spent megabucks on the TMS and committed to a multi-year contract for the onsite system, came almost unimaginable pressure from C-level execs to start showing a ROI, after the big-box-and-software system finally went live.

Back to the Past

I don’t have any issues with early TMSes whatsoever, especially as I was in the freight shipping business during this era. The options were seriously limited and were limited to the large corporations willing to spend and commit big to one of these on-prem box systems.

Remember, it was the onsite approach or no approach at all. Everything was on site without viable hosted options way back then. Phone systems, mainframes, data centers, storage, servers and all software were at the company site. And all these key IT infrastructure and processing elements require administration, management, monitoring and oversight.

Ask around to see who remembers long-distance calls, wired phone systems or life before real working from home. And you thought VCRs flashing 12:00 are funny.

The early days of TMSes were primitive

The Road Ahead

All the while, a new era of computing was dawning that would give rise to the broader application of advanced technology that would set the stage for the early days of freight intelligence and TMS options that more companies and their overworked logistics departments could begin to consider for their shipping needs.

Tune in next week, as I continue the freight shipping story forward toward more modern-day technology approaches that gave rise to TMS solutions and alternatives for a broader base of businesses.

Everyone wants to get their hands on advanced new tech products and service, but only a subset can afford it. Change that with a free 30-day trial of Kuebix TMS today.

Logistics to Avoid the Toys R Us Trauma

For those not in the shipping business, news that Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy protection had the same effect as a surprise Gatorade bath. For the rest of with experience in the logistics business, this was just the latest stark reminder of the long-running battle between retailers and online sellers.

It’s next to impossible to drive in urban and suburban areas without noticing the telltale signs of the ongoing struggle. Empty storefronts and going-out-of-business sale banners have been popping up in some of the strip plazas and malls I drive by on a regular basis.

Still, the Toys R Us news comes just a few months before yearend holiday shopping begins in earnest. Many of the company’s woes are connected to it carrying billions in debt and spending hundreds of millions annually to service it. But another part of its predicament seems to be supply chain related.

In an extensive piece chronicling the company’s challenges in the Wall Street Journal , Toys R Us CEO Chief David Brandon was quoted as saying in court papers that the firm had fallen behind some competitors and cited “our inability to provide expedited shipping options, and our lack of a subscription-based delivery service.”

Logistics intelligence can play a vital role in helping retailers survive in these tough times, and thrive. A flexible supply chain, powered by a solid transportation management system (TMS) can definitely be part of the solution for retailers looking to better compete with e-commerce companies for customers.

I’ve seen plenty in working extensively in the retail and ecommerce industries. I’ve been asked the following question countless times over the many years since ecommerce began.

How can a TMS help retailers?

-Implement technology to help support business functions. The right TMS can help streamline the retailer’s supply chain. Logistics managers need visibility into their operations as well as the control to manage them in a way that knocks out inefficiencies, cuts costs and provides revenue opportunities.

-Less product in pipeline. Once they have control and management of their transportation systems, retailers can adjust them so that they keep less product in the supply chain, which incurs reduces freight cost. The opposite – keeping more coming, is also a benefit as predictable peak demand periods approach.

-Improve the customer experience. How many times have we heard a sales associate tell us “we don’t have any more in the back room and I don’t know when the next truck shipment is coming in?” The right TMS can allow the retailer to take control of their inbound freight by providing visibility to all deliveries, ensuring on-time deliveries and reduced freight costs.

Quicker delivery. E-commerce companies have earned props for quickly delivering product, and rightly so. But two can play that game. By using a TMS to shorten their delivery intervals, retailers can make sure they have enough stock on hand.

Optimize your supply chain. For this, you need a TMS with a global logistics community, which is essentially a real-time, online members-only network that connects all these parties online so they can collaborate across supply chains to find the best (sometimes fastest) and least expensive means to get cargo from origination to destination and from destination to consumers.

The Road Ahead

Investing in technology to enhance and evolve the way you do business is the way to drive your company forward from a logistics standpoint. There are TMS options that don’t require a big spend on hardware and staff, or a long, drawn out implementation. You need a quick ROI as well as a system that gives you control, visibility and cost savings ASAP.

It’s well worth your time to check out a TMS built with the freight intelligence necessary to advance in the toughest of times. Think about that the next time you’re driving past a shopping plaza and see the sad signs.

 

Irma, Harvey, a TMS and You

With Hurricane Irma ready to deliver the back half of a devastating one-two punch to the south in the days ahead, you’re freight intelligence will once again put your TMS to the test. For those whose operations weren’t effected by Hurricane Harvey, let’s review what we learned or re-learned.

State of Emergency. Whether it’s MASH episodes, war movies or your favorite emergency rescue show, priority one is to stop the bleeding. That means deleting zip codes that either the feds or the state’s emergency management agency have closed to deliveries (and pickups).

Supply Chain Revamp. After you learn what supplies are needed in the area affected by the act-of-God event, you need to do a bit of reengineering with your supply chain to locate the sorely needed freight and plan with your carriers how to get it on its way to help power the recovery effort.

Reworking your freight shipping to accommodate the impact of natural disasters is no walk in the park, but it’s a shorter one when you consider a robust TMS and its one-source for talking to all your carriers and viewing changes in real-time and acting accordingly.

No Manual? That’s opposed to the plight of shippers who still rely on manual processes that include visiting numerous websites for critical information over and over, sending emails, power dialing and faxing that waste time when you’re trying the hardest to be quick and flexible.

Real-time communications. As the recovery evolves, freight shippers can really use truck and freight tracking functionality to flexible manage their assets – that’s a fancy way of saying know where your trucks are and be aware of their every move.

Go Mobile. This is where mobile technology shines. In dark times, you can reach drivers and they can reach you using nothing more than a smartphone and a simply app download. Yeah, there’s an app for that and it can be part of your TMS.

Multi-modal. Cover all delivery options. We saw – and still see – with Hurricane, Harvey in Houston that in worst case scenarios even delivery beyond trucks wasn’t initially an option. You probably saw the ad-hoc navy of folks with boats hitting the water to deliver emergency aid to the hardest hit areas.

With this in mind, it’s best to have shipping options which means the ability to cover all modes of freight delivery – ground, air and ship – in a single system.  Many complex problems can be solved simply by using multi-modal freight shipping.

Post Event Assessment. Once things return to fairly normal, the freight shipper still faces a big challenge: figuring out the price tag for surviving the latest act of God. A well-equipped TMS can help you figure out the costs associated with reacting to a disaster.

Justify spends. While a strong TMS can help you better deal with acts of God and man-made disasters, you’ll find that adding muscle often means going beyond a base system to include integrations, special apps and even managed services. Though this requires new spending for those who aren’t bulked up to tackle tragedies, look at the costs you incurred in dealing with the very latest act of God.

Cost avoidance itself can help you justify additions and improvements to your TMS.

The Road Ahead for TMS

We’ve all heard the saying “proper preparation prevents poor performance.”  That’s all well and good but freight shippers and carriers with years in the business know planning for the unplanned is far easier said than done.

But a robust TMS will be able to lighten the load.

 

Try our LTL Freight Rate Calculator. Interested in learning more about Kuebix TMS today?

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Freight Intelligence: Learning from the Mayweather-McGregor Mess

I wonder what those with freight intelligence were thinking if they were among those who were able to watch the live stream of the Mayweather-McGregor fight.

Fans usually aren’t still arguing about who got hit the hardest several days after a title fight. That’s unless of course the fighters weren’t the ones that took the hardest shots the night of the pay-per-view match between UFC Star Connor McGregor and undefeated boxer Floyd Money Mayweather.

Fans in record numbers showed Showtime the money for the heavily anticipated fight but because of technical difficulties with the Internet streaming version of the PPV TV contest, many didn’t get their money’s worth. One company had claimed it had all aspects of the production handled in advance.

What actually happened? Paying fans missed some rounds of the fight, only to be directed to customer service numbers (on a Saturday night no less) or to streaming sites to watch the event illegally. On Monday, Showtime claimed it would issues refunds. Later that day, the company was sued for poor quality streams. Can it get any worse?

A Teachable Moment for Shipping

Only if you don’t use this mess as a teachable moment, which it most certainly is for all parts of the shipping world.
So, what did we in the freight intelligence business learn – or re-learn – from the Mayweather-McGregor mess?

  • With shipping, you have to pick a partner that can scale to meet your needs, up to pre-identified peaks in demand, whether it’s the days before yearend holidays or hours before a boxing match begins streaming live. This wasn’t an act of God.
  • No surprises. Eliminate the element of surprise. Planning for your big event or extended peak period with your carriers. Everyone needs to know what’s coming to avoid unpleasant surprises. There were many weeks of advanced hype before the Mayweather-McGregor fight – and most sports fans knew of it far earlier.
  • Redundancy. Consider splitting freight across multiple carriers and multiple routes. You do this to have a much better chance of surviving a big problem if one of your options fails and you still have a customer awaiting a big delivery for a big event, promo, etc. Carrier and route diversity give you a better chance.
  • Plan for spikes whether you expect them or not. I bet 60% of fans waited til the hours leading up to the fight to order it. That shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone given the high profile of the long-hyped fight.
  • Customer service. You need partners in the roughest situations, carriers that will be there with you in tough times and do everything in their power to help you in your time of need. You don’t want anyone that doesn’t answer their customer service line or that pushes you off to someone else. The very last thing you need when the going gets tough is for your partners to get invisible.
  • Live and learn with TMS data and analytics. How did things run, or not run, the last time you experienced a similar peak? Can you adapt accordingly? Listen to what the data tells you. Re-read the reports we provide.
  • Use TMS features and flexibility. When the shipping begins, use real-time shipment tracking to help you spot the beginning of a problem or problems. If you spot the beginning of what could be a peak, you can use the flexibility of your TMS and carriers to route around problems.

Get Freight Intelligence

Failure to plan for peaks results in messes like the Mayweather-McGregor situation that were largely avoidable. Trust me here because I boxed when I was younger. Nothing hits harder than a company that’s knocked out by a peak demand fail. Not Mayweather, not McGregor, not even Ali.

Don’t get hit with peak shipping problems. Get freight intelligence instead.

Try our free Freight Rate Calculator!