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Kuebix TMS Cyber Monday Black Friday Statistics

Did Black Friday/Cyber Monday Tax Your Logistics Operation?

 

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

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

The Aftermath

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

  • • Can your logistics operation keep up with the velocity of orders speeding through your e-commerce engine?
  • • Will you have to pay expedited freight charges to make sure customers get their orders on-time?
  • • Can you quickly find capacity with your contracted carriers to stay ahead of demand?
  • • Can you easily contract with carriers for any mode to book a load?
  • • Can you effortlessly compare your contracted rates to the spot market to find a better rate?
  • • Once the holiday rush is all over, can you look historically at shipment data to find areas for improvement?

With Kuebix’s transportation management system (TMS), shippers can do all of the above – and more!

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

The Top 3 Commodities Shipped By Truck in all 50 States

The Top 3 Commodities Shipped By Truck in all 50 States

Have you ever been driving on the highway and wondered what kind of freight was on the truck beside you? Unless it’s a clearly defined Coca-Cola or retail branded truck, you probably have no clue. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the top ground freight commodity types shipped by truck in each of the 50 states! Check out the top three commodity types in your state to guess what you might be passing on the highway.

Curious about other types of freight? Check out this dashboard from explore.dot.gov

Top Three Ground Freight Commodities Transported via Truck Between Oct 2018 – September 2019 (by value & weight)

Alabama

By Value

  1. Mineral Fuels
  2. Vehicles Other than Railway
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Mineral Fuels
  2. Iron and Steel
  3. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement

Alaska

By Value

  1. Iron and Steel
  2. Vehicles
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement
  2. Iron and Steel
  3. Vehicles

Arizona

By Value

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Vegetables and Roots
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Vegetables and Roots
  2. Fruit and Nuts
  3. Inorganic Chemicals

Arkansas

By Value

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Vehicles
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Iron and Steel
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

California

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Mineral Fuels
  2. Vegetables and Roots
  3. Fruit and Nuts

Colorado

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Vehicles

By Weight

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Vegetables and Roots

Connecticut

By Value

  1. Pearls; Stones; Metals and Imitation Jewelry
  2. Zinc
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Zinc and Articles
  2. Copper and Articles
  3. Sugars and Confectionery

Delaware

By Value

  1. Works of Art and Antiques
  2. Measuring and Testing Instruments
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement
  2. Mineral Fuels
  3. Electrical Machinery

Florida

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement
  2. Fruit and Nuts
  3. Vehicles

Georgia

By Value

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Vehicles
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Beverages
  2. Sugar and Confectionery
  3. Computer Parts

Hawaii

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Measuring and Testing Instruments
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Beverages
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Electrical Machinery

Idaho

By Value

  1. Vegetables and Roots
  2. Vehicles
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Fruit and Nuts
  2. Preparations of Vegetables; Fruits and Nuts
  3. Vegetables and Roots

Illinois

By Value

  1. Beverages
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Beverages
  2. Mineral Fuels
  3. Electrical Machinery

Indiana

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Vehicles

By Weight

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Vehicles

Iowa

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Furniture

Kansas

  1. Aircraft
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Special Classification Provisions

By Weight

  1. Iron and Steel
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Rubber and Articles

Kentucky

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Vehicles
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement
  3. Vehicles

Louisiana

By Value

  1. Mineral Fuels
  2. Vehicles
  3. Iron and Steel

By Weight

  1. Mineral Fuels
  2. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement
  3. Iron and Steel

Maine

By Value

  1. Aluminum and Articles
  2. Vehicles
  3. Not Knitted or Crocheted Apparel

By Weight

  1. Aluminum and Articles
  2. Vehicles
  3. Vegetables and Roots

Maryland

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Sugars and Sugar Confectionery
  2. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement
  3. Vehicles

Massachusetts

By Value

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Measuring and Testing Instruments
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Paper and Paperboard
  2. Measuring and Testing Instruments
  3. Electrical Machinery

Michigan

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement

Minnesota

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Measuring and Testing Instruments
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Fruit and Nuts
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Iron and Steel

Mississippi

By Value

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Vehicles
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Iron and Steel
  2. Organic Chemicals
  3. Electrical Machinery

Missouri

By Value

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Vehicles
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Glass

Montana

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Tobacco
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Tobacco
  3. Computer Parts

Nebraska

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Iron and Steel
  2. Vehicles
  3. Inorganic Chemicals

Nevada

By Value

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Beverages
  3. Toys; Games and Sport Equipment

By Weight

  1. Beverages
  2. Miscellaneous Articles of Base Metals
  3. Electrical Machinery

New Hampshire

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Measuring and Testing Instruments

By Weight

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Measuring and Testing Instruments

New Jersey

By Value

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Measuring and Testing Instruments
  3. Cereals and Flour

By Weight

  1. Cereals and Flour
  2. Fruit and Nuts
  3. Electrical Machinery

New Mexico

By Value

  1. Measuring and Testing Instruments
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Vegetables and Roots
  2. Live Animals
  3. Plastics and Articles

New York

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Beverages

By Weight

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement

North Carolina

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Electrical machinery
  3. Plastics and Articles

By Weight

  1. Plastics and Articles
  2. Organic Chemicals
  3. Vehicles

North Dakota

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Iron and Steel
  3. Computer Parts

Ohio

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Vehicles
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Vehicles
  3. Electrical Machinery

Oklahoma

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Article of Iron and Steel
  3. Iron and Steel

Oregon

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement
  2. Iron and Steel
  3. Vehicles

Pennsylvania

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

Rhode Island

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Measuring and Testing Instruments
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Articles of Iron and Steel

South Carolina

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Computer Parts

South Dakota

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Paper and Paperboard

By Weight

  1. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement
  2. Paper and Paperboard
  3. Computer Parts

Tennessee

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Electrical Machinery

Texas

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Electrical Machinery
  3. Vehicles

By Weight

  1. Mineral Fuels
  2. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement
  3. Vehicles

Utah

By Value

  1. Pearls; Stones; Metals and Imitation Jewelry
  2. Vehicles
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Cocoa and Cocoa Preparations
  3. Plastics and Articles

Vermont

By Value

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Meat and Edible Offal

By Weight

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Meat and Edible Offal
  3. Vehicles

Virginia

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Vehicles
  2. Vegetables and Roots
  3. Computer Parts

Washington

By Value

  1. Vehicles
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Electrical Machinery

By Weight

  1. Salt; Sulfur; Plaster and Cement
  2. Vehicles
  3. Wood and Articles

West Virginia

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Vehicles
  3. Special Classification Provisions

By Weight

  1. Articles of Iron and Steel
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Vehicles

Wisconsin

By Value

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Measuring and Testing Instruments
  3. Computer Parts

By Weight

  1. Electrical Machinery
  2. Computer Parts
  3. Vegetables and Roots

Wyoming

By Value

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Vehicles
  3. Iron and Steel

By Weight

  1. Computer Parts
  2. Articles of Iron and Steel
  3. Iron and Steel

 

Full Truckload - Less Than Truckload - FTL LTL Shipping

LTL and FTL Shipping: What’s the Difference?

The terms less-than-truckload (LTL) and full-truckload (FTL) get thrown around often within the shipping and logistics community. However, newcomers may find themselves at a loss for what these terms actually mean. To clear this up, we are breaking down each term individually before directly comparing them so that you can choose the best shipping modes for your freight. Understanding the difference will help you make better freight choices.

Freight Shipping

First and foremost, it’s important to know what freight shipping actually is. The term freight shipping refers to the paid process of shipping goods by ground, sea, or air. Freight is typically composed of goods that are being transported to another location in bulk. Two subcategories that fall under the umbrella of freight shipping are less than truckload (LTL) shipments and full truckload (FTL) shipments.

Less Than Truckload (LTL)

Less than truckload freight shipments, commonly abbreviated as LTL, are shipments that exceed the size limit required to be able to ship as a single package through the mail (a parcel shipment). Despite being too large for a parcel carrier, less than truckload shipments are too small to fill an entire semi-truck trailer, leaving lots of wasted space and contributing to “empty miles.” In order for shipping to be mutually beneficial between the shippers and trucking companies, carriers often ship multiple LTL shipments together to make the trip economically sensible. This way trailers aren’t traversing our highways carrying only air.

Benefits

• Lessen environmental impact

This method of ‘carpooling’ with LTL shipments from other companies reduces the impact transportation has on the environment. Less fuel is used when fewer trucks are needed to transport the same number of total shipments.

• Decrease warehouse expenses

By adopting LTL shipping, companies relieve themselves of the stress that comes with having too much product built up in their warehouse or staged at their docks. Through shipping consistently, companies are able to keep less in their warehouse and also keep a more accurate inventory as a result.

• Minimizes costs on smaller shipments

Traditionally, the lowest rates are reserved for shippers that can fill the entire semi-truck trailer and qualify for full truckload rates. LTL shipping gives companies that aren’t able to fill an entire truck the opportunity to minimize costs by consolidating their freight with other company’s freight. With LTL shipping, companies only pay for the weight of their freight and the space it uses on the trailer.

Full Truckload (FTL or TL)

Conversely, full truckload shipments (abbreviated FTL or TL) are large enough to fill up an entire semi-truck trailer. Unlike LTL shipments which might ride alongside other shipments, FTL freight is contracted to one carrier and rides alone, meaning there don’t need to be extra stops along the way. This reduces the number of “touches” and reduces the likelihood of damages. When there is enough freight to qualify for a full truckload rate, this is usually the most economical choice.

Benefits

• Save money on larger shipments

If you have enough freight to fill an entire trailer, a FTL shipment will be the most efficient mode. It’s less expensive to ship a single FTL shipment when compared to splitting up the freight into multiple LTL shipments.

• Lower risk of damage

Shipping a full truckload means that from start to finish, your freight will remain in the same semi-truck trailer. This simplifies the transportation process and eliminates the potential risks associated with LTL shipments being handed off to other trucks along their route. Decreasing the number of “touches” freight undergoes during transport reduces risk.

• Ship products faster

When shipping FTL, the only factors considered in the truck’s route are the origin of the freight and its final destination. With LTL, there may be multiple origins and final destinations involved that can lengthen the travel time and impact delivery times as a result. FTL shipments ensure that freight is arriving as quickly as possible by traveling from point A to point B.

Which Should I Choose?

LTL and FTL shipping are both beneficial types of freight shipping. For smaller shipments that are too big to be shipped parcel, LTL shipping is often the best choice. For larger shipments that are able to completely fill or almost fill an entire truck, FTL is less expensive. Both are acceptable options when thinking about how to ship your freight, but each has specific scenarios in which they are most beneficial to the shipper.

It is always a good idea to compare the freight rates of multiple LTL or FTL carriers to choose the carrier with the best rate and service level for your shipment.

Why Should You Compare Your Freight Rates?

Comparing rates is the best method to avoid overpaying. Whether shipping LTL or FTL, different carriers will offer different freight rates and service levels and it’s important to shop around. Looking into what’s available often makes way for the discovery of less expensive rates or particular lanes that have the ability to speed up delivery. Prices constantly fluctuate and what initially seems like the better option may not be best in the end.

How Can a Transportation Management System Help?

Leveraging technology is the easiest way to ensure that you are shipping your freight most efficiently. By utilizing a transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, shippers can compare all of their negotiated and spot rates within a single platform. With the ability to compare rates instantly, shippers have the power to book confidently and quickly.

Many companies also use optimization technology in their TMS to combine LTL shipments into FTL shipments for greater efficiencies and cost savings. Kuebix TMS offers a variety of advanced functionalities including Order and Route Optimizer, which optimizes shipments for maximum rate and route efficiency.

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

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

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

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

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

Know Important Dates During the Holiday Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leverage a TMS for Greater Parcel Shipping Flexibility

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

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

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

Consider Offering Free Shipping

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

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

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

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

Insure Yourself Against Poor Service Levels

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

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

Have a Solid Returns Strategy

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

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

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

The 2019 Holiday Shopping Season is Here

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

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!

Kuebix Returns Shipping

How E-Commerce is Changing Returns

The growing popularity of e-commerce has led to exponential growth in number of returns. While they have always been an integral part of shopping, online orders are significantly increasing their presence in the retail and e-commerce industries.

E-commerce platform Yotpo reported that 88% of fashion shoppers surveyed have returned fashion items purchased online in the past year. Of those shoppers, 51% have returned between $50 and $500 worth of merchandise. Consumers often order the same product in multiple sizes or a few options with the intention of only keeping one.

Consumers are making more subjective and less-predictable purchases online. Fit and quality are the top two reasons for returns. When looking at an article of clothing online, it’s often hard to tell how it will look and what size is best. The number of returns is expected to increase steadily with the volume of online orders. Businesses are starting to think of ways to make returns an opportunity for profit rather than a traditional expense.

Many retailers are starting to accept the returns of their competitors. Nordstrom recently announced it will now be taking returns from other stores including its competitors Macy’s and Kohl’s. Popular retail stores are starting to realize that returns don’t have to be viewed as a negative. The origin of the return doesn’t diminish Nordstrom’s opportunity to sell to incoming customers.

Kohl’s recently launched a similar program in which it accepts returns for Amazon orders. Amazon’s popularity is often seen as a threat and this unique approach allowed Kohl’s to use it to their advantage. Their pilot stores in Chicago and Los Angeles saw a 9% increase in new customers and an 8% increase in revenue at participating locations. In response, Kohl’s launched the program worldwide. Returns are providing retail stores losing business to e-commerce a second chance at drawing in customers and selling their products.

Happy Returns, a relatively new startup, is offering to ease the operational burden of returns. The company processes, evaluates and batches returns together at several return bars. Consumers are able to make their return in-person and receive an instant refund. Through implementing Happy Returns businesses can stabilize the cost of their returns and easily receive and process them.

Businesses driving profit through returns can also benefit from implementing technology into the operational side of their supply chains. A transportation management system (TMS) gives shippers complete visibility through their supply chain with real-time information on the locations of their shipments. ERP integrations, such as those with NetSuite or Microsoft Dynamics, can save logistics professionals the increased time as orders are shipped or returned, simultaneously eliminating the risk of human error. All-in-all, modernizing norms surrounding returns are creating opportunities for companies to generate additional revenue.

UK Drug Bust Port Shipping Containers

Is Globalization Causing an Increase in Illegal Shipping Container Activity?

The United Kingdom carried out its largest-ever heroin bust at the Port of Felixstowe last week on August 30. Officers from the Border Force as well as the National Crime Agency (NCA) discovered a shipping container loaded with 1.3 tons of the drug stowed aboard the Maersk Gibraltar. This record-setting bust had a street value of £120 million ($148 million).

News of this discovery was kept silent until authorities could follow the shipping container’s planned path to Antwerp in an attempt to discover more details about those behind the shipment.

“The smugglers had hidden the drugs within a cover load of towels, stitching the 1 kg blocks of heroin inside some of the towels,” said Jenny Sharp, Border Force assistant director at Felixstowe. “In total, it took my officers nearly six hours — working in the early hours of Saturday morning — to remove the drugs.”

Authorities returned the shipping container to the Maersk vessel after removing all of the hidden heroin and proceeded to track the ship’s progress until it docked in the Belgian port city on September 1st. Working collaboratively, the British and Dutch authorities were able to track the container after it made landfall. The shipping container made its way by truck to a warehouse located in Rotterdam where police arrested four people unloading the now empty container.

By foiling the shipment, organized crime syndicates have been denied tens of millions of pounds of profits, marking an impressive win for Europe in the war against drugs.

Is Globalization to Blame?

The world has gotten smaller with the advent of the internet and increased international trade. This phenomenon, often referred to as globalization, has had a marked impact on nearly every economy. As more and more businesses start to operate on an international scale, efficiencies law-abiding shippers receive from moving larger shipments across oceans provide the same cost-saving opportunities to drug smugglers.

In 2012, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) produced a policy paper that predicted that the global shipping industry “would be used for the transport of narcotics, arms and other illicit cargo.” Container shipping was called out in the paper to be a specific risk. The nature of maritime trade makes it difficult for authorities to monitor and the scale of container shipping means that there are many opportunities for smugglers to capitalize on.

According to the report, “Containerization provides trafficking with the same cost- and time-saving transport mechanisms that have allowed the world’s multinational companies to deliver their products quickly and cheaply, penetrate new markets and expand their global customer base.”

Blockchain and Tracking Technologies Can Help Curb Illegal Activity

New technologies like blockchain and advanced tracking systems may make drug smuggling via containers harder for organized crime groups. As technology like RFID, GPS tracking, gate check, and connections through transportation management systems make tracking easier for companies (and by extension the police), it will be harder for smugglers to hide their activity.

Container tracking is still a new frontier for many companies who have been accustomed to limited or zero visibility to their inbound shipments across the ocean. As more and more companies adopt tracking technologies, it becomes easier for everyone to understand exactly where individual containers originated from, stopped, and may have potentially had their contents altered.

The level of international trade we see in 2019 is still a relatively new occurrence. For example, international trade with China was practically non-existent in the 1980’s. Now, China represents trillions of dollars’ worth of global trade. Many manufacturers have moved production offshore to countries with cheaper labor costs as well. Increasing international trade will undoubtedly result in an increase of international smuggling. As technology continues to advance, however, there is hope that new tools will become accessible to every company to help fight drug smuggling.

New Trends in Sustainable Packaging May Shake Up E-Commerce Shipping - Kuebix TMS

New Trends in Sustainable Packaging May Shake Up E-Commerce Shipping

Almost every online order fulfilled means another cardboard box shipped to a consumer. It should come as no surprise that cardboard boxes are contributing an unprecedented amount to overall cardboard waste. As environmental concerns grow, companies are beginning to look for sustainable alternatives to ship their products.

Why Cardboard Has Been a Popular Choice for Retailers

The classic cardboard box has dominated the shipping industry since 1890. Retail stores are filled with products encased in dyed paper and plastic packages, but it’s cardboard boxes that got them there. Cardboard boxes started out plain and practical to play their part in the supply chain. However, the rise of e-commerce changed the perspective of companies. Cardboard boxes quickly became an opportunity for establishing a brand.

Popular businesses that support online shopping including Amazon and Target started incorporating their brand name and even playful images or slogans onto their cardboard boxes. These new designs were created with the intention of making an impression on consumers and representing the brand’s purpose to those who didn’t come face-to-face with their store.

New Options for More Sustainable Packaging

Companies are presently being challenged to come up with an environmentally friendly alternative to shipping product in cardboard boxes that still represents their brand. 3M, a manufacturing company operating out of Minnesota, has redesigned bubble wrap to contribute to this change. Their effort is geared towards reducing the amount of packaging needed to ship smaller items. Plastic envelopes lined with bubble wrap are perceived as a better alternative to boxes because they take up less space. Even though the packages are smaller, these envelopes are limited to specific sizes that are sometimes too big for what’s being shipped.

To eliminate these barriers associated with making smarter shipping choices, 3M released its Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls. The material is a padded envelope that is sold on a roll instead of assembled packages. The new design gives consumers the ability to personalize the size of their envelopes to an appropriate size for what they’re shipping. Eliminating the use of oversized envelopes and unnecessary cardboard boxes with Flex & Seal Shipping Rolls will drastically reduce the waste oversized packaging creates.

Happy Returns, a consumer retail and e-commerce return service, is taking a different approach by eliminating boxes and single-use packaging altogether. The company is adopting the use of totes made of recycled plastic to reduce the cardboard waste they create by packaging and shipping return items for consumers. The new reusable container will minimize the amount of cardboard required for return shipments by 73% in weight and 92% in area.

Happy Returns and 3M are frontrunners in the effort to reduce packaging waste. E-commerce businesses and retail stores dependent on online sales will follow suit as environmental concerns continue to grow. The next time you order something online, be sure to keep your eye out for a more sustainable form of packaging upon delivery!

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!

FedEx’s Breakup with Amazon Draws Battle Lines in the Fight for Shipping - Kuebix TMS

FedEx’s Breakup with Amazon Draws Battle Lines in the Fight for Shipping

FedEx is breaking up with Amazon as the e-commerce giant continues to make waves in the shipping industry. The carrier announced that it will choose not to renew its ground freight contract with Amazon for any final mile delivery, effective September 2019. This comes only 2 months after FedEx announced that it would end Express air shipments with the e-commerce company. Amazon made up roughly 1.3% of FedEx’s total sales in 2018.

According to spokespeople from both companies, the breakup is amicable, an Amazon operations executive even tweeting “we wish them nothing but the best, conscious uncoupling at its finest.” But this conscious uncoupling goes deeper than a simple business incompatibility.

Here’s what you need to know about why FedEx and Amazon have officially parted ways.


Amazon’s Bid to Transform the Shipping Industry

It’s no secret that Amazon has ushered in an era or super-fast, super-convenient online shopping. The company has become the #1 e-commerce platform, bringing in close to $232 billion U.S. dollars in 2018 net sales. By promising Prime members free, 2-day shipping on thousands of items, Amazon has built consumer loyalty and changed the way shoppers think about shipping. Customer expectations have changed and 2-day, or even faster, delivery is now expected. In fact, Amazon plans to make 1-day delivery standard for Prime members in 2020.

Amazon

In order to meet these pie-in-the-sky delivery promises, Amazon has decided that a ‘go-it-alone’ strategy is needed for their logistics operations. Instead of solely relying on established parcel carriers like FedEx, UPS, or the United States Postal Service (USPS), the company is increasingly developing their own shipping networks. This includes building out their own fleet to fulfill final mile deliveries. Most recently, Amazon announced that they will pay their employees $10,000 and 3 months’ pay to quit and start their own Amazon delivery service.

In addition to expanding their ground fleet operations, Amazon has also added hundreds of fulfilment centers to its logistics network, announced its groundbreaking drone delivery program, and added next-day air capacity with leased jets. It’s not surprising that FedEx feels the need to distance itself from a company that appears to be stepping into their territory. The company is taking short-term pain over the possibility of continuing a potentially damaging relationship long-term.

FedEx Bets On Wal-Mart and Other E-Commerce Businesses

Amazon officially surpassed Wal-Mart as the world’s largest retailer earlier in 2019. That isn’t to say that Wal-Mart doesn’t pose a threat to Amazon’s monopoly in the e-commerce world. Wal-Mart has some 2.2 million workers, a number roughly 4 times the number Amazon employs. It also already owns a vast amount of real estate, strategically dispersed across the USA. Not to mention that Wal-Mart owns one of the largest private fleets in America. By building upon this base, Wal-Mart has ramped up efforts to compete with Amazon in the e-commerce sector. This includes plans to roll out a 1-day delivery program that shoppers can take advantage of without any membership fees.

Parcel and E-commerce

FedEx appears to be betting on Wal-Mart as Amazon’s primary rival in the fast and free online shopping industry. According to the founder of SJ Consulting Group, a company providing data and advice to logistics companies, the decision to sever ties with Amazon is a way for FedEx to “get Walmart to realize that they’re not working with Walmart’s biggest competitor and to have Walmart make FedEx their primary carrier.

To make up for the short-term loss of 1.3% of their business, FedEx also announced in May that they would begin seven-day ground freight services at the beginning of 2020. This move will likely make them an even more desirable carrier for companies like Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and other retailers in the e-commerce space.

The Future of Final Mile

The breakup of Amazon and FedEx is just another example of the battle lines being drawn between Amazon and the rest of the retail industry. As companies seek to differentiate themselves from the e-commerce behemoth, changes as small as choosing a different carrier can be important. FedEx appears to already be taking steps to compete against Amazon’s 2-day and 1-day delivery promise. The future of final mile delivery is still uncertain, but the main competitors are just now entering the ring.

Amazon

Amazon Prime Day 2019 – ‘Christmas in July’ for E-Commerce

Today marks the start of the fifth-annual Amazon Prime Day – a 48-hour marathon of discounts on a wide array of products offered exclusively to Amazon Prime members. Since the first installation of the unofficial holiday in 2015, Amazon has extended the event through products launched exclusively at the start of the sale and $10 to spend on Prime Day for any members who spend $10 at Whole Foods within a certain period beforehand.

2018 Amazon Prime Day sales are estimated to have hit $4.19 billion, increasing nearly 74% in comparison to 2017’s sales of $2.41 billion. With this year’s event scheduled to run for a full 48 hours in comparison to 2018’s lasting for 36 hours, sales are expected to continue to trend upward.

Participating in Amazon Prime Day

For brands utilizing the promotional frenzy, having a successful Amazon Prime Day is far more complicated than discounting a product and crossing their fingers. The first (and arguably most important) key to success is accepting and aligning yourself with the focus on Prime-eligible products. Most shoppers prefer and seek these products out, so shipping inventory to ‘FBA’ (fulfilled by Amazon) locations ahead of time is crucial. Preparing supply chains well ahead of time is necessary for many e-tailers to be successful during this important event. Brands are also encouraged to use Amazon’s discount coupons, a self-serve feature that can be set up by any vendor or seller on Amazon.

However, driving sales isn’t the only way to take advantage of Amazon Prime Day. Many brands use this day as an opportunity to increase awareness about what they have to offer and also test how their audience will receive products they are considering launching. Products that have consumers leaving rave reviews and purchasing backups make them all the more likely to remain popular once the sale is over. Consumers will also be more willing to try new products since a discounted price makes buyers more comfortable because there’s less financial risk attached with the possibility of disliking the product.

Competition

As the popularity and overall awareness about this event grows, more and more retailers are stepping up to the plate and offering their own discounts in an attempt to compete. RetailMeNot estimates that in 2019, 250 retailers will take part in the unofficial holiday by offering discounts of their own. This is a significant increase from 2018’s 194 retailers, which can be attributed to the steady incline of consumer engagement and timeline of the event.

Walmart is offering deals for a longer period of time than Amazon Prime Day in an attempt to compete, while Target is echoing the exact dates and placing a heavy emphasis on the fact that there’s no membership required to participate in their biggest summer sale.

It’s clear that whether you are a vendor, Prime member, or regular customer, opportunity is about to pour in from every direction. Gear up and get ready – ‘Christmas in July’ is officially upon us!

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.

Kuebix Global Network Effect

Kuebix and The Network Effect

Following Kuebix’s announcement last week of reaching 10,000 companies using Kuebix TMS, industry analyst Adrian Gonzalez wrote in his newsletter Talking Logistics: “At the time, Kuebix expected tens of thousands of shippers to take advantage of this free technology, building a massive global community where Kuebix can efficiently help the industry match capacity to demand across supply chains. Reaching that critical mass will be a challenge, I said last October, but it’s a challenge worth pursuing if you believe in the power of networks and communities. Well, it appears that Kuebix has met this challenge. The question now is how will the company leverage this growing community to drive ‘network effect’ solutions and value?”

What exactly is the ‘network effect’ Adrian is talking about?

He first wrote about this concept in 2003 when he discussed that “Supply Chain Operating Networks bring together trading partner connectivity with software-as-a-service applications.” Think Facebook or LinkedIn where people or businesses are connected together. The more connections, the better the network. All participants on the network can be connected to each other through the network for improved collaboration and communications. Basically, the more users, the more value the users get from the network.

When users connect to a network, they are empowered to create new value, and as more value is added to the network, users become more valuable. The ‘network effect’ means that participants on the network are more valuable to everyone on the network. Electronically connecting to suppliers, customers, and other supply chain partners enables each business to collaborate and innovate. Fully leveraging these connections allows suppliers to collaborate on forecasts and demand; customers to collaborate on inventory and forecasts; while others can collaborate on shipments and delivery requirements.

Networks are built with technology, but ultimately the network is about people: why they want to connect, how they will connect, when they will connect, and what they want to get from the connection. The ‘network effect’ grows exponentially in value the denser the network becomes. The more trading partners that are connected, the more valuable the network is – provided the connections participate and collaborate with others on the network. The ‘network effect’ is a supply chain game-changer.

With a global logistics network there is an increase of collaborative opportunities as the number of network participants increases. In this time of driver shortage, hours of service regulations, and capacity shortages, shippers are finding it hard to make deliveries. Using a global logistics network, shippers can forecast with their carriers that are connected to the network, who will then translate this into a volume by lane schedule in order to get capacity for shipping their products. The value of a network increases as more companies with shipping needs and an increased number of trucking operators carrying cargo join the network.

The rapid growth of Kuebix’s global shipping community lends credence to the industry’s need for a network where shippers can collaborate with each other, suppliers and carriers. Leveraging the power of a global network unified by the power of technology, freight can be matched to available capacity. This helps to fill empty backhauls, maintain control over demand peaks and reduce freight spend all around. Based on the accelerated adoption of Kuebix TMS within the industry, the ‘network effect’ is proving to drive value for companies wishing to optimize their freight.

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