July 4th Infographic Featured Image

*Infographic* Americans Plan to Spend Big on Independence Day

American Independence Day is a holiday most commonly celebrated with hotdogs, hamburgers, refreshing beverages and festive fireworks. Enthusiasm for the 4th of July isn’t hard to find in the U.S. – celebrations of all sizes take place at homes throughout the country! Though this year may look a little different due to the pandemic, Americans are planning to celebrate safely from their homes. This means that the supply chain is still hugely important for making the 4th of July celebrations happen. Here are some statistics on consumer spending in preparation for Independence Day!

Kuebix July 4th Infographic

It’s up to supply chains to keep store shelves stocked and able to keep up with consumer demand. E-commerce shopping is even more important this year as consumers social distance and grow increasingly accustomed to online shopping. Seasonal products like red-white and blue decorations depend on efficient logistics operations to move them from warehouses to retailers as quickly as possible. Maximizing on sales during a time of year with heightened demand is critical for the success of businesses. No matter how different the 4th of July may look this year, Americans are still planning on spending big to celebrate!

Kuebix TMS Manufacturing Infographic

*Infographic* Kuebix TMS Has the Manufacturing Industry Covered

The manufacturing industry is facing unique challenges during Covid-19. While the rest of the world is put on hold, manufacturing companies continue to operate and produce essential products. They are keeping stores stocked and making sure that we can all have exactly what we need during this time of uncertainty. Manufacturing companies provide a crucial service to the entire country every day, and their continued dedication during the pandemic is admirable.

With Kuebix TMS, manufacturing companies can make significant improvements to their logistics operations and transportation management regardless of size. Adapting to the new rules and regulations prompted by Covid-19 calls for visibility throughout supply chains. Kuebix Transportation Management System (TMS) provides real-time tracking information for better communication amongst all logistics stakeholders. The cloud-based platform seamlessly integrates with ERP and WMS systems and provides actionable analytics. Kuebix TMS empowers shippers to make smarter decisions and hold carriers and suppliers accountable.

At Kuebix, we understand that it’s never been more important to keep America’s supply chains moving. In support of businesses operating during the Covid-19 pandemic, Kuebix is offering 60 Free Days of Kuebix Business Pro TMS to help users expand capacity and manage supply chains remotely. To learn more about Kuebix’s Stimulus Free Offer, click here.

Kuebix TMS streamlines the entire shipping process including creating and printing BOLs, tracking and tracing invoice shipments, automating invoice audits and much more. Simplify managing your supply chain remotely with complete visibility and collaboration for all logistics stakeholders. Sign up to unlock increased operational efficiencies and learn why over 2,714 manufacturing companies trust Kuebix TMS.

Manufacturing Infographic Image

We Understand the Unique Challenges in Your Industry, That’s Why Kuebix:

  1. Is in production fast – complete implementations measured in weeks and months rather than quarters and years
  2. Seamlessly TMS integrations with ERP and WMS systems
  3. Provides actionable analytics that help shippers, makes smarter shipping decisions and hold carriers and suppliers accountable
  4. Scales to meet the changing needs of any size supply chain

From automobile and aviation to agriculture, we’ve got your industry covered!

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!

 

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!

3 Times Social Media Upended the Food & Beverage Supply Chain

3 Times Social Media Upended the Food & Beverage Supply Chain

Social media has changed every industry and the supply chain hasn’t escaped unscathed. In fact, social media has been behind some of the biggest, and most well-publicized, disruptions in the supply chain over recent years. It’s a question of supply and demand. In the past, forecasters were able to rely on historical data to approximate how much of a certain product would be needed. Now, viral videos, tweets, and even memes can throw off those calculations severely by influencing customer expectations.

This phenomenon is particularly apparent for food and beverage supply chains that deal with hundreds of thousands of sales each week of products with short shelf lives. Huge upticks in sales on a particular product can disrupt production and test the agility of procurement and logistics teams to keep up. Below are three examples of times social media upended the food & beverage supply chain.

Starbucks Gets An Unexpected Endorsement

Early in 2019, Starbucks’ Cloud Macchiato got an endorsement on Twitter by Ariana Grande, a wildly popular singer, songwriter and actress. Grande tweeted about how much she loved the new iced drink and her fans, self-proclaimed Arianators, rushed to their local Starbucks locations to purchase their own.

Senior Vice President and Chief Procurement Officer at Starbucks, Kelly Bengston, recalled how the company hadn’t counted on the huge popularity of the drink brought about by Grande’s social media followers and fans. Speaking in regards to the increase in demand, Benston said, “It creates an amazing opportunity to test how agile your teams are… How do you get to business? How can you move it from store to store?”

The challenge for Starbucks lay in judging how much product was needed to satisfy fans while the Tweet was trending on social media while not overbuying to the point where there was wasted product. It’s a delicate balancing act that forecasting cannot fully take into account.

Rick & Morty Joke Presents McDonald’s With an Opportunity

Disney’s Mulan was released more than 20 years ago. To promote the release of the movie, which takes place in Han dynasty China, McDonald’s added Szechuan Sauce as a condiment option for their Chicken McNuggets. The sauce was a limited release and had been largely forgotten until 2017 when social media would resurrect it and disrupt McDonald’s supply chain.

After an episode of Adult Swim’s popular show Rick and Morty referenced the long-forgotten dipping sauce, the joke was turned into a meme that went viral across the internet. To capitalize on the social media presence, McDonald’s decided to bring the sauce back for a one-day promotion in limited quantities at certain locations. Fans purportedly drove across state lines and even from Canada to get their own Szechuan sauce experience.

Unfortunately, the popularity of the promotion vastly outweighed the amount of Szechuan sauce packets distributed to McDonald’s locations and thousands of fans missed out on the opportunity to participate in the “pop-culture phenomenon.” Furious fans took once again to social media to expound upon their disappointment and urge McDonald’s to bring back the sauce in a larger release.

Rising to the challenge, McDonald’s announced that it would ship some 20 million Szechuan sauce packets to stores in late February 2018. This curbed the social media debacle and ended with McDonald’s being able to satisfy their customers and earn back loyalty. Even though the Szechuan sauce joke in Rick and Morty was just a throw-away joke, it had real-world supply chain implications when it hit social media.

Twitter Feud Sparks a Run on Chicken Sandwiches

More recently, a Twitter feud between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A sparked a social media controversy about which retailer sold the better chicken sandwich. The controversy began in August 2019 when Popeyes introduced a new chicken sandwich item onto its menu. The sandwich was an instant success, even being ranked by Business Insider as the No. 1 fried-chicken sandwich. This prompted Chick-fil-A to tweet “Bun + Chicken + Pickles = all the <3 for the original.” Popeyes quote-tweeted it directly, adding “…y’all good?” and igniting a flurry of tweets by chicken sandwich fans nationwide.

Due to the huge social media attention it was receiving, Popeyes sold out of its new menu item in just two weeks after it was introduced. Supplying enough buns for all the chicken sandwiches the company was selling was a main issue. In a creative supply chain move, Popeyes launched a campaign called “Bring Your Own Bun” so that more sandwiches could be sold. The program encouraged guests to order the three-piece chicken tenders off the menu then construct the sandwich themselves.

Popeyes has announced that the sandwich would be returning to its 150 Popeyes locations in early November this year. In order to keep up with the production of the hugely popularized sandwich, Popeyes is adding an additional 400 employees. Up to two people per store will be solely designated to making the sought-after menu item going forward.

Can Supply Chains Stay Ahead of Social Media Trends?

Social media’s influence across the supply chain is a new frontier for most companies. It can be a challenge to react to unexpected endorsements (or negative comments) in a productive way. These stories about Starbucks, McDonalds and Popeyes can act as examples of how to handle demand shifts for other food and beverage supply chain companies. By seizing the opportunity to promote their brands, these companies were able to restructure their supply chains by increasing production, altering logistics, communicating with customers, and even adding staff. The key is to stay informed on social media trends and not be afraid to be flexible in the face of social media’s influence on customers.

Kuebix TMS Fall Seasonal Products

Seasonal Flavors Like Pumpkin Spice Add Complexity to Supply Chains Before the Holidays

October is almost here and with it comes seasonal favorites such as apple cider, candy corn and pumpkin spice. With every brand that tries to stay on this theme comes additional supply chain complexities. The chaos of keeping up with consumer demand is already heating up despite holiday season still being a month away!

Data from Grubhub shows the three most popular months for pumpkin and pumpkin-spice-flavored dishes are October, November and September, respectively. Other flavors such as apple cinnamon, pear and maple grow in popularity around this time as well. The five states with the highest number of pumpkin-related orders are California, Oregon, Washington, Ohio and Utah.

While the most common forms of pumpkin treats are baked goods like cakes and cookies, nonconventional businesses are getting in the spirit as well. Spam launched its own Pumpkin Spice Spam this year and sold out within seven hours. Last year Buffalo Wild Wings offered customers a limited-edition pumpkin ale sauce to accompany their infamous chicken wings.

The most challenging part of pre-holiday season is making sure that inventory is in the right place at the right time. Companies who struggle with this face out-of-stocks and missed chances for sales. It can be difficult to predict which seasonal products will resonate with consumers and drive business. It’s important to be able to move product efficiently and minimize operational delays.

Visibility throughout the supply chain also allows shippers to provide accurate and real-time information to retailers and customers alike. Retailers will have accurate information about when they will be restocking and consumers will know when they can expect to receive their product. This additional information allows retailers to provide better customer service and leaves pre-holiday shoppers more satisfied.

Implementing technology into supply chains creates a smoother shipping process for all involved and provides complete visibility throughout the 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 retailers and distributors gear up for the busy holiday season and start introducing seasonal favorites like pumpkin spice flavors to store shelves!

Bahamas - Hurricane Dorian Supply Chain Kuebix

Hurricane Dorian Threatens Supply Chains Needed for Recovery

When Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas as a Category 5 hurricane this past Sunday, it left devastation in its wake. The storm brought with it high winds and extreme flood waters that would rip off roofs and ruin houses. Adding to the destructive nature of the storm was its slow movement up the coast. Instead of traveling quickly over several areas, Hurricane Dorian stalled over the Bahamas, traveling at a mere 1 mph at times. This left buildings and infrastructure along its path to be relentlessly pummeled for up to 12 hours at a time.

Now, Hurricane Dorian has been downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane. While this still poses a threat to the states of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, weather forecasters hope that the storm will blow itself out over the Atlantic without additional destruction in the United States. However, many islands and coastal communities have been evacuated and transportation and supply chains have ground to a halt as Americans prepare for a potential disaster to rival that seen in the Bahamas.

In addition to individuals preparing for the storm, many businesses are also feeling the direct effect of Dorian. Manufacturers and suppliers located in the southeast have been preparing for the impact for more than a week. This means rushed production, rushed delivery and around the clock monitoring of the storm’s trajectory. Many businesses are in a state of unknown paralysis as they’re unable to open business back up until the threat of Dorian is over.

Getting the labor force back to work will also be a challenge when Dorian finally passes later this week. Families are displaced across the country, many homes will be uninhabitable, and communities will still be picking up the pieces. Roads are likely to be dangerous or impassible as well, adding to concerns about shipping necessary products. Some aid organizations are choosing to deliver supplies like food and water by helicopter to areas already impacted since extensive debris litters roads and makes ground transportation impossible.

Hurricane Dorian’s Destruction

  •      •     Five confirmed deaths, though this number is anticipated to rise as rescue efforts persist
  •      •     Storm surges between 12 – 18 feet hit Grand Bahama Island, causing extensive flooding
  •      •     An estimated 13,000 homes have been completely destroyed or rendered uninhabitable (approximately 45% of all homes on Grand Bahama and Abaco)
  •      •     Winds reaching upwards of 185 mph
  •      •     60,000 – 62,000 people will need to be provided with food and water according to the Red Cross
  •      •     Airports are closed – Hurricane Dorian has caused more than 1,300 flights to be canceled within, as well as into and out of, the US.
  •      •     Several Florida ports have closed including Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, Jaxport, Port of Tampa Bay and the Port of Palm Beach

The recovery efforts in the Bahamas will undoubtedly be extensive. Many nodes of the supply chain were broken or stalled by Dorian and need to be fixed before recovery efforts can truly move forward. These are a few of the ways that the government and private organizations are working to keep supplies flowing and the supply chain operational:

  •      •     The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expanded its Hours of Service regulations suspension to Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
  •      •     Police in Florida are escorting gas trucks in order to keep fuel moving to areas in need
  •      •     Highway authorities are reversing lanes to make room for evacuees
  •      •     More than 5,000 national guardsmen and 2,700 active-duty personnel have been deployed or positioned to respond in 24 hours or less

“We are in the midst of a historic tragedy in parts of the northern Bahamas,” said Prime Minister Hubert A. Minnis said at a news conference late on September 2, 2019. “Our mission and focus now is search, rescue and recovery. I ask for your prayers for those in affected areas and for our first responders.”

While the world watches to see the final results of Hurricane Dorian’s destruction, supply chain and logistics professionals work tirelessly to get things back to normal. Food, safe water, medical supplies, fuel, and just about every other necessity rely on the supply chain.

Kuebix TMS Sustainability Meat Alternative Labor Day

What’s Your Burger Made of This Labor Day Weekend?

Beef burgers have been a summer barbecuing staple for generations of Americans. From Memorial Day to Labor Day families and friends will gather to share this favorite food in backyards across the country, not to mention year-long at many popular fast-food chains. The traditional beef burger is changing, however. Now, when you head to your neighborhood BBQ this weekend, you may find yourself with a wider selection of burger patty options than you expected.

Meat-free options, health-conscious choices, and other patty alternatives are currently trending with consumers. The $90B global meat market is facing disruption unlike anything it’s seen before, with new fake-meat products entering the market every day and consumers branching out from traditional beef products.

Here are a number of popular beef patty alternatives that you may find at your Labor Day barbeque this year.

Beef patty alternatives:

  • •     Fake-meat patties (Beyond Meat, the Impossible Burger, etc.)
  • •     Veggie burgers (MorningStar, Gardein, Dr. Praegers, etc.)
  • •     Mushroom burgers
  • •     Homemade black bean burgers

Why Are Beef Patty Alternatives So Popular?

According to FAIRR, a global network of investors addressing ESG issues in protein supply chains, “Alternative proteins, which include plant-based substitutes for animal-based foods, are expected to capture 10% of the meat market in 15 years and are now worth around $19.5 billion.” It’s easy to see that beef patty alternatives are popular, but the question still remains, why?

Sustainability

Consumers continue to place a heavy emphasis on sustainability, with 68% of US internet users citing product sustainability as an important factor when making a purchase. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that livestock supply chains account for 14.5% of all global anthropogenic GHG emissions, a number which includes the burning of fossil fuels worldwide. Many consumers are searching for a more sustainable way to continue to enjoy burgers without contributing as highly to global emissions.

Changing Diets

Changing diets are having an impact as well. You’ve probably heard about diet trends like Paleo, Low-Carb, Vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, and Low-FODMAP. These and many other diet types play a role in consumers desire for patty alternatives. Some diets focus on weight-loss, reduced-sodium content, eating more “whole” foods, eliminating allergies, improving digestion, and adhering to religious or personal ethics. Consumers are becoming used to having more options to choose from to fit their lifestyles and the burger industry is only the latest industry to see a great diversifying of products.

What Does This Mean for the Supply Chain?

Many large brands are jumping on the meat-alternative bandwagon, and this doesn’t just include burgers! Most recently, Burger King, KFC and Dunkin’ Donuts announced that they would be adding fake-meat products to their menus. Now, you can get a vegetarian Whopper, vegan fried chicken or a plant-based sausage breakfast sandwich. Conagra’s Gardein meat-alternative unit saw its share of the meat alternative market rise to 11% in 2018 from 6% in 2013. Not wanting to be left out of this lucrative market, Nestle is launching its own plant-based Awesome Burger this fall.

The surge in popularity of meat alternatives is having both positive and negative effects on the supply chain. In the short term, manufacturers are facing issues with production. In May, the Impossible Burger’s creator, Impossible Foods, was forced to hire a third shift for its production line and begin building a second line to double supply. Many brands have signed new contracts with food service companies which they may not be able to fully supply at first.

Some grocery chains are also struggling with where to shelve fake-meat products. Some have shelved Impossible Burgers and other meat-like options in the meat aisle, much to the confusion of some. Others are creating or expanding their vegetarian and vegan sections to accommodate new products. These short term problems are expected to slacken as production lines boost output, procurement teams become accustomed to a new category, and retailers adjust their offerings.

In the long term, meat-alternatives promise to be easier for supply chains. This starts with a reduction in the need for livestock which require their own complex supply chains to function. In general, plant-based products have fewer touch-points compared with meat-based products, meaning logistics teams will have fewer points to manage. Patties will also be easier to transport and have higher levels of food safety. Once the initial hurdle of transforming supply chains to accommodate new SKUs and product types is complete, this promises to be a new, lucrative industry for food manufacturers to compete within.

So, if you get to the grill this weekend and see more options than just the standard American beef patty, pick the one that works best for you and remember to have a great Labor Day weekend!

Kuebix Subscription Box Supply Chain

Subscription Boxes are Changing Supply Chains

Subscription boxes are captivating the attention of consumers all over the globe. They satisfy almost every want and need imaginable (cheese, wine and beer, razors, clothes and makeup, etc.) in an innovative and entertaining way. Box subscribers typically pay a monthly fee for a box that is either ‘curated’ for them, meaning they have no control over what’s inside, or one that is based on their responses to a series of questions. 

While the process of signing up and receiving a package monthly is simple for consumers, the supply chain side of subscription boxes is a different story. Traditional e-commerce calls for shipping unique orders from individual customers off as they are received. With subscription boxes, companies have to send up to hundreds of thousands of nearly (if not completely) identical orders within a tight timeframe.

Entrepreneurs adopting this business model often fulfill orders in their homes until their subscriber count outgrows their available space. Options for completing orders of a larger size are dependent on the type of subscription. The popular choice is outsourcing fulfillment and inventory to a third-party logistics company (3PL). Businesses selling monthly subscriptions of alcoholic beverages have to deal with extensive industry subscriptions that can make outsourcing complicated. Conversely, businesses selling feminine hygiene products have no choice but to outsource in order to ensure that they are filling orders in an FDA-compliant factory

Subscription boxes “don’t change what consumers want, subscriptions get consumers to look at existing products in a new way,” explains Forbes. The element of surprise makes subscription boxes exciting, but they can easily lose subscribers if their products disappoint. Technology has been essential in helping the subscription box industry understand what their customers want from them through questionnaires and discussion forums. Boxes that are ‘curated’ are the safer approach because consumers know exactly what they are signing up for. Those that are at least partially customized face greater risk because they have to convince consumers that they want what’s inside.

Many subscription services offer free returns or even encourage subscribers to only “keep what they want.” Popular subscription boxes like Stich Fix, a fashion box, let buyers try the items on in the comfort of their own home before deciding what to buy and what to return. This means return labels need to be pre-printed and included with every box. Keeping track of which returns belong with which orders puts additional pressure on retailers.

Grocery and meal subscription boxes have also risen in popularity, with varieties to fit every schedule, diet and need. Companies offering subscription services on refrigerated products face the challenge of timing, as they need to keep products fresh in special cooler-like packaging. Knowing ahead of time the total number of orders is helpful for logistics professionals, but juggling thousands of individualized orders presents a new challenge for an industry that traditionally only shipped to grocery stores.

Beyond helping gage customer interest, technology plays a huge part in keeping the unique supply chain of subscription boxes organized. Adopting a transportation management systems (TMS) can help parcel shippers gain visibility over their supply chains. Detailed tracking information makes it easier for companies to ensure that their subscription boxes are being delivered on time. Not to mention keep subscribers informed as they eagerly await the arrival of their next subscription box!

Kuebix Green Environment TMS

Making Your Supply Chain Green Doesn’t Have to Cost You Green

The transportation industry has a notoriously significant impact on the environment. Conventional vehicles and trucks release large quantities of greenhouse gas emissions, hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide, all of which are harmful to the environment and those inhabiting it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, freight trucks contribute the second highest amount of pollutants into the atmosphere. Fortunately, there are changes that can be made throughout the supply chain to reduce the environmental footprint of the transportation industry as a whole.

One of the easiest changes to make in order to lessen a company’s impact is to implement a transportation management system (TMS). Beyond simplifying the process of supply chain management, a TMS gives companies an opportunity to transition into greener, more eco-friendly habits.

Optimize Your Truck Routes

Through the use of transportation management systems, logistics professionals are able to see all of their options for each load and make the most efficient decision possible. Shippers are able to transport as many loads as possible by optimally combining LTL shipments, all while driving the fewest number of miles. This significantly reduces the amount of fuel needed for everyday operations.

In terms of reducing a company’s environmental footprint, the mode of transportation selected is equally as important as the length of the route. Traditional methods make it difficult to simultaneously compare LTL, FTL, ground freight pricing and parcel rates for each individual order. Transportation management systems make this tedious task simple, allowing shippers to view rates for every possible mode of transportation on a single screen. This ensures that shippers are picking the least expensive and best suited mode possible, often saving space on trucks for other orders and reducing the number of trips necessary for delivery.

Reduce Supply Chain Waste

Traditional methods often leave logistics professionals battling a copious amount of forms and files. With technology, companies are able to replace paper with a single, cloud-based platform to hold all of their information. Transitioning to a TMS significantly reduces paper waste and saves money, simplifying processes so they can be done faster and leave less room for error.

Additionally, the transportation industry often falls victim to truckers having to idle at gates or while waiting for an open dock in a yard. All of these momentary breaks while trucks are still running unnecessarily burns fuel and emits harmful gasses into the environment. Robust transportation management systems support or have incorporated supply chain technology such as yard management systems (YMS), which give shippers better control over what happens once their truck reaches a yard. These systems combine features like gate check and dock scheduling to streamline yard operations. Through speeding up the process of loading and unloading, less fuel is burned idling, helping both the company and the environment.

The Perfect Match

When it comes to taking steps towards reducing the environmental footprint of your supply chain, integrating a TMS into your current business model is an obvious choice. Here at Kuebix TMS we offer a free version of our system, meaning that any size company can take advantage of transportation management technology. With a TMS, companies can speed up traditionally time-consuming manual processes, gain better visibility to their supply chain, optimize routes and loads more efficiently, and reduce inefficiencies in yards. All of these combine to lessen transportation’s harmful negative impact on the environment.

 

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: