Posts

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.

Customer Experience in the Age of E-Commerce

Customer Experience in the Age of E-Commerce

Retailers used to be able to lean on the stability of brick-and-mortar stores to provide a satisfactory customer experience. When a customer walked into a physical store, they knew exactly what to expect and were rewarded with instant gratification and the ability to take their purchases home the same day. Since the rise of the digital age, technology is shaping how customers purchase from retailers, and the customer experience is fundamentally different online.

According to Gartner, customer experience is defined as “the customer’s perceptions and related feelings caused by the one-off and cumulative effect of interactions with a supplier’s employees, channels, systems and products.” At a physical store, a retailer maintains control of the overall shopping experience by training staff, creating a pleasing shopping environment and streamlining the check-out process. With a digital storefront, retailers can only influence their customers’ experience through user-interface enhancements and supply chain improvements. This makes supply chain operations more important than ever.

Improving the Customer Experience

Digital shoppers are expecting more and more from their online shopping experience. These final mile capabilities will help supply chains improve the end customers’ experiences:

• Flexibility – Customers want the ability to choose the service type they need. By allowing customers to self-serve at checkout by picking the shipping time and rate, companies can give their customers additional flexibility. Choosing the mode helps shoppers customize their experience.

• Speed – Getting products quickly and when desired is becoming more important as 2-day delivery becomes the industry norm. Designating when the product will arrive helps customers plan ahead and allows them to be more self-sufficient. It’s important to shorten the lead time by processing orders quickly and working with trusted carriers to deliver products on time.

• Free Shipping – Adding the option for free shipping is a great way to improve customer experience and earn customer loyalty and their repeat business. Free shipping can come with longer lead times or minimum order amounts to reduce costs for the seller. For companies that don’t want to offer free shipping year-round, offering it as a promotion during the holiday shopping season can be a great advertising tool.

• Tracking – Customers everywhere are demanding tracking capabilities. In order for customers to have confidence that their product has shipped and will arrive on time, a standard tracking feature needs to be implemented. These features allow customers to request or view updates in real-time.

• Alerts – In addition to tracking capabilities, up-to-date alerts keep customers’ expectations realistic when unforeseen events take place in the supply chain. Customers appreciate alerts on weather delays and other interruptions so that they can react proactively to late deliveries. Emailing and texting updates when there has been a disruption in the delivery plan shows customers that you respect their time and are doing everything in your power to rectify the situation.

Customer Experience is Important for All Businesses

These attributes are especially important for e-commerce companies processing online orders but can be equally important for brick-and-mortar retailers. When a customer walks in the doors, they expect that their experience of purchasing products in-store will be quick and efficient. If a product isn’t in stock, they will expect it to be available for quick order and pickup. Customer expectations are rising as some e-commerce retailers like Amazon perfect the online shopping experience.

As e-commerce now makes up a total of 17% of all retail sales in the USA, retailers need to put their focus on improving their supply chains in order to win and retain business. According to EFT, “Today’s connected consumers demand both choice and flexibility when it comes to receiving their online orders – and will not hesitate to move loyalty if they encounter unsatisfactory delivery options.” This means that if a company doesn’t put a significant emphasis on improving the delivery experience for the customer, that customer will find it easy to move their business over to a competitor that does.


In order to keep customers coming back, technology needs to be implemented to offer customers choice and tracking capabilities. With the help of a robust transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, retailers can offer their customers this level of flexibility and control directly from their own websites. To read more about how Kuebix integrates with e-commerce and quoting platforms, click here.

Kuebix TMS

How to Buy a Transportation Management System (TMS)

In today’s market, shipping is one of the biggest expenses for any shipper, growing at a rate of over 5% per year, depending on the lane. There are many variables that go into freight costs, including mode, service level and carrier. Manually trying to lower freight spend can be challenging, not to mention extremely time-consuming. Leveraging technology gives logistics teams the boost they need to become more efficient. By implementing a transportation management system (TMS), companies can keep freight costs as low as possible while still meeting and exceeding their customers’ expectations.

How to Choose the Right TMS

A broad range of TMSs exist in the marketplace. These range from the old-fashioned on-premise systems favored over the last two decades to more recent platforms that live on the cloud and connect users for heightened levels of collaboration.

Some TMSs incorporate features like automatic invoice audit while others can streamline route optimization and yard management. Many incorporate advanced analytics that can help teams make better strategic decisions about their freight. Others provide seamless integrations to external systems like e-commerce platforms and ERP systems.

With all these features and options, how does a company go about buying a TMS system?

It’s important to determine what your company’s needs are before starting the process to find the right TMS.

Understand your company’s goals for deploying a TMS – is the goal to cut shipping costs, improve customer service, become a preferred shipper, consolidate loads, etc.?

Without a thorough understanding of your company’s goals, you could find yourself locked into a piece of technology that won’t scale as your company grows, or locked into paying for features you won’t use. No company is exactly the same, so make sure to choose a TMS that can be configured and scaled to your company’s needs over time.

Catalog Image 10 Essential Questions Kuebix TMS

Think about how your company could benefit from increased collaboration with other players in the industry. When comparing different transportation management system options, find out if the TMS can connect you with an ecosystem of potential collaboration partners. Programs like built-in truckload spot networks can provide you more capacity at better rates.

A TMS should offer the following:

  • ·       Automatic rating, booking and tracking of shipments, managing carriers and communicating with shippers and customers in real-time
  • ·       A network of carriers incorporating all modes with the ability to consolidate and optimize shipments
  • ·       A wide variety of reports and dashboards to monitor cost, shipping status and service levels
  • ·       Management of the carrier bid process from initial set up to tendering of shipments
  • ·       Extensive analytics to manage performance in real-time
  • ·       A quick implementation time and return-on-investment (ROI)
  • ·       Integration with enterprise resource planning platforms (ERPs) and 3rd party applications
  • ·       The ability to track and trace any shipment in real-time, anywhere in the supply chain
  • ·       The ability to easily add functionality as needed such as order and route optimization, dock scheduling, yard management and container tracking
  • ·      Access to a connected community of shippers, carriers, freight marketplaces, brokers, and suppliers

Some TMS providers like Kuebix offer a free version of their technology to help shippers get started and see real results from their operations risk-free. Unlike a demo, Kuebix Free Shipper gets shippers managing their freight and gaining true ROI even before adding modular features and capabilities.

If you’re looking to improve your company’s logistics operations by adding a true, cloud-based TMS, check out The Complete Buyer’s Guide to Transportation Management Systems to get answers to questions like “What should I look for?” and “How much should a TMS cost?” before committing.

ERP Integration - Kuebix TMS

Extend the Benefits of Your Transportation Management System (TMS) with an ERP Integration

At their core, transportation management systems (TMS) help shippers perform logistics management functions like rating, booking and tracking. These functions help save companies money, improve efficiency and keep data stored in one place for strategic decision making. However, transportation management systems aren’t only limited to rating and booking. If they were, we’d call them “rate aggregators.” What makes a TMS a TMS is the ability to perform numerous supply chain functions to extend the benefit of the technology. That’s where ERP integrations come in.

ERP integrations (integrations with enterprise resource planning systems) are one of the most popular additions shippers make to their TMS. This type of integration extends the benefits of the TMS by sharing data between internal systems. By adding additional functionality like an ERP integration, any shipper can configure a TMS that is right for their business.

What is an ERP integration?

An ERP integration is a process that allows information to flow between an ERP system and a TMS. Essentially, any information inputted into an ERP system can be seamlessly displayed within the TMS and vice versa. This is especially useful for sharing product, order, and shipment information between systems.

How is an ERP integration with a TMS used?

Many teams can benefit from an ERP integration. When the order processing team receives an order from a customer, they can input it into the ERP as usual. With the integration, that order information is automatically displayed within the TMS and is ready for the logistics team to rate and book the shipment. Once the shipment has been processed, the rate along with any miscellaneous charges or accessorials are mapped back to the ERP for financial teams automatically. Instead of managing a huge paper trail of order information, teams all operate from a “single source of truth.”

Why is it beneficial to integrate my ERP with my TMS?

Here are 4 ways shippers benefit from integrating:

  •  • ERP integrations facilitate the rapid creation of shipments – With an order integration between a TMS and an ERP, orders automatically flow from the ERP to the TMS for easy rating, booking, and tendering. Instead of going back and forth between systems and spreadsheets, the order information is automatically populated, eliminating the need to rekey anything.
  •  • ERP integrations ensure 100% order accuracy – Since information is automatically populated within the TMS, the information is right, every time. It’s amazing the difference it can make when there is no longer any risk of human error because of rekeying. PRO numbers, product SKUs, weights and every other metric of an order appear automatically, resulting in 100% order accuracy.
  •  • ERP integrations give shippers complete order visibility – Once an order has been booked for shipment, shippers don’t lose visibility to that order. All shipment details are mapped back to the target ERP system for accurate record keeping and visibility for all stakeholders.
  •  • ERP integrations help shippers understand the true landed cost of goods – Since all order information is tracked and shared between systems, shippers can leverage reports and analytics to view the true landed cost of goods down to the SKU level. This means they can make smarter decisions regarding their company’s bottom line when they integrate purchase orders directly from an ERP system.

How Do ERP Integrations Work?

  1. By leveraging a common middleware connector, the team performing the integration can map ERP order and item information to automatically creates orders within the TMS.
  2. These orders are stored within the TMS in preparation for shipping departments to simply scan or enter the order number into a lookup field to get rates and begin shipping.
  3. Once the order is shipped, the TMS notifies the ERP system and updates the ERP order with shipment details. (Tracking number, cost, carrier, time in transit, GL code, etc…)
  4. Each ERP connector includes a configurable trigger function to automatically create orders, status changes or approval processes to tell the TMS to pull the order details. This process allows for a seamless flow of data between the two systems.
  5. Once shipped within the TMS, shipment details are mapped back to the target ERP system for accurate record keeping and visibility for all stakeholders.

Click here to learn more about Kuebix’s ERP Integration Highway.


Examples of Companies that Use ERP Integrations

ERP Integration with Microsoft Dynamics and Kuebix TMS

Microsoft Dynamics Integration

OBJECTIVE – Save time and improve order accuracy by consolidating processes into a single transportation management system.

CHALLENGES – TMS needs to integrate with Microsoft Dynamics and connect to a variety of LTL carriers. Scale to incorporate container tracking. Be usable by multiple departments within the organization.

RESULTS – Significant time savings on each LTL order processed. Improved order information accuracy. Optimized interactions between multinational teams.


ERP Integration with NetSuite and Kuebix TMS

NetSuite Integration

OBJECTIVE – Automate the order creation process to save time manually inputting orders and avoid human error while operating in a centralized transportation management system.

CHALLENGES – Previous process was too manual and relied on team members entering orders one-by-one into different carrier websites.

RESULTS – Implemented an integration between NetSuite and Kuebix to automatically allow order information to flow from their ERP system to Kuebix TMS.


Examples of ERPs Shippers Integrate With:

  •  • NetSuite
  •  • Oracle
  •  • Microsoft Dynamics
  •  • Infor
  •  • Quickbooks
  •  • SAP
  •  • Claritysoft
  •  • Epicor
  •  • Sage

Integrating Your ERP with Kuebix TMS

Unlike many TMS providers who direct users to external or third-party integrators, the Kuebix team has internally developed an array of integrations that our customers use to enhance and expand their ever-evolving supply chains. Gone are the days of trying to view a product’s lifecycle by exporting data from internal, carrier, broker and 3rd party monitoring systems. Instead, with an integration, users get the information they need automatically and human error is drastically reduced with the help of technology.

Kuebix offers out-of-the-box integrations based on EDI formats as well as integrations that use more direct APIs/web services. Kuebix can also customize an integration to meet your company’s specific needs.

How a Transportation Management System (TMS) Can Benefit a Business of Any Size

A Transportation Management System (TMS) helps companies streamline their logistics processes so that they are as efficient and connected as possible. Instead of manually managing logistics operations over the phone and email, companies can use technology to save money, reduce processing time, scale operations and improve accuracy. At their core, TMSs help companies rate, book and track shipments. Additional functionality like reports and dashboards, integrations, yard management, financial management and spot services can be added to increase the value companies realize from their TMS.

Many organizations incorrectly believe that TMSs are only for large, enterprise organizations. This notion may have been true once when the time and monetary expense limited the implementation of technology to only the largest companies. Now, however, technology has advanced and companies like Kuebix have democratized the booking for freight with plans for every size company.

According to Inbound Logistics magazine, “most Tier 1 shippers – those that spend $100 million+ annually on freight – already use TMS solutions.” These companies say that a TMS contributes to critical business drivers, such as complexity, scale, customer experience and freight cost savings.*

Smaller firms still use manual approaches to manage their freight, relying on in-house expertise using spreadsheets, fax, phone and email, often resulting in excess admin time, errors and duplicated efforts.

However, with globalization and the growth of e-commerce opening up new markets and reaching customers around the world, the time has come for smaller firms to take advantage of TMS solutions that can bring better customer service, lower freight spend, improve performance and more.

To get up and running quickly, small to medium-sized businesses can adopt cloud-based TMS solutions – getting rates, booking and tracking shipments and communicating with carriers and shippers in real-time – all on a single platform. Because of the cloud, these systems offer a much lower total cost of ownership, are simpler to implement and require no internal IT support.

 

Using a TMS, compared to manual approaches, can help your business to:

• Optimize and consolidate shipments

• Improve service levels, giving customers a great first impression

Save on freight costs

• Lower admin costs and reduce errors

• Access a large carrier pool

• Address all shipping options and modes, all on one platform

• Monitor shipments in real-time

• Quickly evaluate carrier performance through historical reports

• Increase visibility into what is happening within your transport operations

• Communicate shipment status to customers

• Get much-needed carrier capacity in a tightened market

 

What if you need more functionality? Choose a TMS that is flexible enough to grow as your business grows, allowing you to add features in a modular fashion as needed. Kuebix TMS lets you begin rating, booking and managing your LTL, TL, parcel, rail, ocean and air freight in minutes. For more complex supply chains, Kuebix can be configured with Premier Applications and Integrations to meet the needs of even the largest enterprise.

Check out our free Kuebix Shipper TMS for unlimited rating, calculating freight cost, booking, and tracking!

*Primary Research in Evaluating the Business Case and Approval Process for Supply Chain Execution Systems Acquisition – Jim Hendrickson, Professor, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University.

Network-Based Platform

What is a Network-Based Platform?

Every year there are new buzzwords about technology circulating the industry. You probably see terms like blockchain, internet of things (IoT) and big data regularly take over your inbox. The latest trend revolutionizing the software and technology space are Network-Based Platforms. Network-based platforms have been around for several years in the consumer space, but now, this methodology is being adopted in SaaS and other cloud-based solutions to add value for users.

Network-Based Platform: Definition

A network-based platform is a piece of technology or software that connects users with other members of a community to create mutually beneficial opportunities. Instead of simply being a tool to use within the four walls of an organization, network-based platforms help users find opportunities by connecting them with other users in the network while simultaneously fulfilling a function. The usefulness of the platform snowballs as more and more members join the network. This phenomenon is known as the Network Effect.

What is the Network Effect?

“The Network Effect” exists when the addition of another person or company makes all the existing members of the network better off.

“In a November 2014 video for UPS, MIT Professor Yossi Sheffi described the power and value of the network effect as follows:

“The network effect exists when the addition of another element [to the network] makes all the existing elements in the [network] better off,” explains Sheffi, citing cell phone networks and Facebook as examples. “It’s a positive feedback loop. As the network grows, the more value it provides. The more value [the network] provides, it grows even bigger. It’s the economics of having an extra point on the network, and the fact that you can build a lot more services on the existing network, that’s the power of the network.”[1]

Therefore, to paraphrase Professor Sheffi, the network effect exists in transportation when the addition of another shipper, carrier, freight broker, or other participant to the network makes all the existing members of the network better off — by more quickly and efficiently matching demand with supply; by executing transactions in a more streamlined and automated way; and by providing everyone with network-based business intelligence and analytics about capacity, rates, on-time delivery, and other metrics.”

A network-based platform is a piece of technology that builds value by leveraging the network effect.

Examples of Network-Based Platforms

Social media – Network-based platforms have become incredibly popular, and very common, at a consumer level. Social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram rely on the network effect to retain users and scale their operations. The more people who join the platform, the more valuable the platform is for everyone else.

Ride-sharing – Ride-sharing technology has also taken off thanks to the network-effect. Companies like Uber and Lyft are based on a network of people looking for rides and people who can offer rides for a fee. This service isn’t merely a regular car rental, instead, these ride-sharing platforms connect thousands of individuals who otherwise would never have an opportunity to collaborate.

Fitness tech – The fitness industry has also incorporated the network effect into their technologies. Fitbit, for example, isn’t only a personal health monitoring device, it’s also a service to connect individuals with similar lifestyle goals. Getting people to collaborate isn’t only an added social benefit for users, it can literally make the technology more effective for achieving fitness goals.

What’s the Difference Between Network-Based Platforms and Traditional Software?

Network-based platforms let users connect and collaborate with other stakeholders outside of the four walls of their offices or homes. As more and more people become accustomed to network-based platforms like social media, companies are beginning to expect similar benefits from their business software. Instead of simply managing day-to-day processes with technology, companies are demanding opportunities to collaborate with other stakeholders in their industry directly through the platforms they use every day.

In the transportation and logistics industry, a network-based transportation management system (TMS) allows users to collaborate with a vast shipping community for greater efficiencies such as accessing truckload spot quotes in addition to contracted carrier rates. Unlike traditional platforms for managing logistics operations, a network-based TMS connects shippers with an entire ecosystem of other shippers, carriers, brokers, freight marketplaces and 3PLs.

The Network TMS

Kuebix TMS is the only true Network TMS. At Kuebix, we’re building the largest connected shipping community driven by our modular, cloud-based TMS that scales to meet the needs of small to enterprise companies. Kuebix customers can manage all their modes and contracted carriers in Kuebix as well as take advantage of savings on truckload spot quotes, opportunities to fill fleet backhaul, and other discounts and benefits because they are part of our network. That’s the Network Effect in transportation management at work!

[1] http://talkinglogistics.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/1_The_Network_Effect_Part1.mp4

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.

Returns are creating an opportunity for additional revenue and providing a simpler solution to receiving and processing. 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.

How to Choose the Right TMS for Your Company

How to Choose the Right TMS for Your Company

Choosing the right transportation management system for your company can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Whether you’re a first-time TMS buyer or a long-time user looking for an upgrade, all you need to do is arm yourself with the right questions to ask before starting your TMS search.

Answering These Questions Will Help You Find the Right TMS for Your Company

Step One: Understand Your Business

Kuebix TMS SolutionThe best place to start is to understand how your company operates and could most efficiently leverage a transportation management system. Having a complete understanding of how your company runs its logistics operations will give you a solid foundation to work from. Before doing research on specific TMS systems available, make sure you know how your logistics operations run.

  •      ☑     How many modes of transportation does my company ship with?
  •      ☑     How many shipments does my company make per month?
  •      ☑     Do we operate out of multiple locations?
  •      ☑     Are there multiple people at my company involved in the shipping process?
  •      ☑     Do we use an ERP system to streamline orders?
  •      ☑     Is routing and shipment consolidation a challenge right now?
  •      ☑     How many invoices do we audit each month?

Click here to discover which solution is right for your business: https://www.kuebix.com/productrec/

Step Two: Understand Your Goals

Understanding why you need a transportation management system will ensure that you implement a TMS that is right for your business. Ask yourself these questions to prepare yourself with a list of “must-haves” before you start researching the industry.

  •      ☑     What type of ROI do I need to see from a TMS? What’s most important:
    •      •     Time savings
    •      •     Bottom-line savings
    •      •     Error mitigation savings
  •      ☑     Does the system need to be highly user-friendly for non-technical users?
  •      ☑     Will this technology need to be able to grow and adapt as our business needs change?
  •      ☑     How much do we want to spend on implementation? How much on subscription costs?
  •      ☑     How quickly do we need to be up and running with this new technology?
  •      ☑     Will we need to integrate to any internal systems?
  •      ☑     Do we want to attain full visibility to all of our shipments?
  •      ☑     Are we looking for a way to find additional spot volume when our regularly negotiated rates don’t cover a load?

Step Three: Understand the Market

Now that you have a solid understanding of your operational functionality laid, you’ll quickly be able to eliminate unsuitable types of transportation management systems. For example, some systems brand themselves as complete TMS solutions, but are in reality, only rate aggregators. If you are looking for a place to conduct all of your logistics operations, you’ll know right away that a simple solution like a rate aggregator won’t work for your company. Alternatively, you may be able to eliminate other TMS solutions that require you to purchase all available features, even ones you won’t use. This will help to narrow down the field quickly.

In your day to day life you probably rely on word-of-mouth and review sites to make important purchases. Buying a TMS shouldn’t be any different. Make sure to check out reputable review sites and research from 3rd party consultancies. These will give you unbiased accounts of the top TMS options available on the market.

Check out these resources to discover some of the leading TMS vendors:

Step Four: Understand a Specific Transportation Management System

10 Essential Questions Datasheet Image Kuebix TMS

Once you’ve reviewed some of the leading research and review sites to discover which TMS solutions have the best reputations for success, you’re ready to dive into researching specific TMSs. Below is a list of questions you should answer when evaluating a specific transportation management system. These questions will help you choose the right TMS for your business.

Download this list as a PDF to have with you during your evaluation process.

  •      ☑     How do current customers rank this TMS on review sites? (Gartner Peer Insights, Capterra, G2)
  •      ☑     What will the implementation process look like and what is the expected turn-around time?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS work for teams across my company? (Logistics, sales, customer support, etc.)
  •      ☑     Are there benefits for being a member of this TMS’ community such as a spot market?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS save me time with a user friendly UI and simple processes?
  •      ☑     Does this TMS have a history of creating outstanding ROI for its users?
  •      ☑     Does this TMS give preferential treatment to any carriers or brokers?
  •      ☑     Will this TMS be able to adapt and grow alongside my business?
  •      ☑     Can I manage all modes of transportation with this TMS?
  •      ☑     Is this TMS cloud-based or a monolithic, in-house model

By following these four steps you will be in the best position to choose the TMS that is right for your business. Click here to contact Kuebix and we would be happy to work with you directly to help you understand your company’s specific needs. After all, the decision to implement a transportation management system can have positive ramifications throughout your entire company and we want to make sure you get the most benefits from your final choice.

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 Back to School

7 Back-to-School Safety Tips for Truck Drivers

Schools will be back in session in a few short weeks, and for some, classes have already started! As kids cram an array of notebooks into their backpacks and parents rush to assemble lunches so their kids are ready to hop on the bus, it’s important to remember that this change in season has a significant impact on the transportation industry. Below are a few of the ways that truck drivers can keep the roads safe as kids head back to school.

Limit Distractions

In order for truck drivers, busy parents and bus drivers to peacefully coexist on the road, it’s important to eliminate any potential distractions. Resisting the temptation to check your cell phone or get distracted by talking is crucial to your own safety as well as that of other drivers and passengers nearby. Other potential distractions include eating, adjusting the navigation system, or even finding the right station to listen to. Encouraging everyone to commit to a more focused approach to driving will improve the overall safety of the roads each and every day.

Be Aware of School Zones

No matter where you’re heading, school zone rules and speed limits must be followed. Drivers should always slow down to obey the speed limit, especially in unfamiliar areas. Keep an eye out for school zone signs, and if these signs have flashing lights, that means reduced speed limits are in effect. Also pay attention to crosswalks and highly pedestrianized areas as there is likely to be more foot traffic than usual. Many trucks now come equipped with an electronic logging device (ELD) which may monitor speed as well as total hours driven. This can help companies keep track of trends and make changes when needed. 

Anticipate Areas with Heavier Traffic

If a school bus in front of you is parked with its stop sign extended, you are legally obligated to stop and wait until the bus drives away. When a school bus is stopped like this, it usually means that it is either picking up or dropping off children. It is very dangerous to pass a stopped bus as there may be children crossing the street. 

This change can be frustrating, especially for truck drivers who have strict delivery windows and hours of service (HoS) rules to adhere to. To mitigate delays caused by stalled traffic behind school buses, it’s important to plan ahead for the inevitable change in traffic associated with back-to-school season. 

Be Aware of Student Drivers

Beyond traditional academic courses within their schools, many students will also be participating in driving courses to prepare for their license tests. These courses are a combination of lessons in the classroom and on the roads. As the volume of student drivers on the road picks up, it’s important to drive with patience and understanding for those in front of you – especially new drivers! 

Use Highways and Interstates Instead of Back Roads

Some drivers will choose to use backroads and main streets to navigate their routes. This strategy might shave a few miles off of the total route and make the drive faster during the summer, but it could be a completely different story in the school year. When school is back in session, roads closest to homes and schools will experience the most significant increase in traffic compared with highways and interstates. Choosing to use major highways will likely save you time during the school year and help keep the roads safe.

 Proceed with Caution When Backing Up to a Dock

The process of loading and unloading freight at the dock must be approached carefully – you never know who is nearby! It’s advisable to get out and look at how much space is available or use a spotter when backing a truck into position. Communication between truck drivers and dock workers should be clear and consistent to keep the potential for risk to a minimum. This is especially important in areas where there might be children. Starting the process blindly and continuing without communicating intentions leaves room for error and injury. 

Keep Up with HoS Rules and Regulations

HoS rules and regulations are frequently being adjusted by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) in an attempt to find a healthy balance between efficiency and safety. Regularly checking for changes will ensure that drivers are aware of when they are allowed to be on the road, when they aren’t and how many hours they can drive each week. Utilizing this information will allow for better-planned routes to maximize efficiency.

Green Supply Chain Fuel Types Kuebix TMS

5 Alternative Fuels that Will Reenergize the Transportation Industry

The transportation industry relies heavily on diesel to help it successfully transport products from manufacturers to consumers via trucks worldwide. Technology has been instrumental in reducing the number of empty miles driven, and finding an alternative fuel source is the next step for eco-conscious companies.  As concerns about the longevity of fossil fuels grow, the search for a more sustainable fuel is intensifying.

There are more than 222 million licensed drivers in the U.S. today and the amount of fuel needed to power their vehicles is astronomical. The transportation of people and goods accounts for about 25% of all energy consumption worldwide. Gasoline is a byproduct of fossil fuels, of which the earth has a limited supply. The discovery of an alternative to gasoline is vital to preserving our modern way of life and avoid running out of fuel altogether.

Fortunately, scientists and engineers are already tackling this problem. The switch toward alternative forms of fuel is still in its infancy, but researchers are working tirelessly to create cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. Below are just five potential forms of less harmful and more sustainable fuel that have the potential to replace gasoline and introduce a new wave of cleaner, more efficient vehicles:

Electric

There are currently three types of electric cars: battery electric vehicles (BEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV). According to The Guardian, there are already over 3 million electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the road today. Electric cars are known to be environmentally and economically friendly as they drastically reduce harmful emissions and save users all of the money they would have spent on fuel.

However, electric vehicles are restricted to a specific number of miles they can drive before they need a recharge (the average is about 100 miles). Outside of major cities charging stations are difficult to come by, making electric vehicles less than ideal for lengthier trips. In order for electric trucks to become a viable option for the supply chain, a solution to the limited range needs to be found. Once electric vehicles are able to carry heavy loads for longer stretches of road, the logistics industry will have a new, viable option for shipping.

Ethanol

Ethanol fuel consists of the same alcohol that is in most cocktails. It originates from plant matter including algae, trees and corn. Ethanol fuel is renewable and much better for the environment than gasoline as it produces less carbon dioxide, hydrocarbon and oxides of nitrogen emissions.

The production of ethanol can support farmers and create agricultural job opportunities. Ethanol production can also be domestic, which helps reduce dependence on foreign oil. Gasoline is often blended with a high percentage of ethanol to create a cleaner-burning fuel because of its higher octane levels.

A transition to fuel made only of ethanol would be simpler than other options because newer trucks are consistently manufactured with the ability to burn ethanol-mixed gas and wouldn’t have a problem burning pure ethanol. Since many gas stations are already selling a blend of gas with ethanol in it, potential infrastructure problems are not as likely if the industry ever makes the switch.

The point of concern with transitioning shipping entirely to ethanol fuel is the effect it would have on crop prices. Utilizing crops as fuel rather than as food would drastically increase the price of corn and other produce. In order to have ethanol completely replace gasoline, a significant amount of the world’s forests and free spaces would have to be dedicated to farmland.

Biodiesel

Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from vegetable oils and animal fats and can be used before cooking or recycled even after use in cooking. It is non-toxic, biodegradable and emits less harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Biodiesel can work in any diesel engine, making for an easy integration into the transportation industry.

Although there are many positives to biodiesel fuel, it still presents its fair share of challenges. For one, it is much less powerful than regular diesel and gasoline fuels. Biodiesel is reportedly 10% weaker than traditionally used fuel types. The storage of biodiesel fuel can also cause some major problems over time. When it’s stationary for an extended period of time, biodiesel tends to thicken which can clog filters and create corrosion.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen is a popular and highly innovative alternative to gasoline. Fuel cell vehicles are technically considered electric vehicles, but they rely on a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen to produce electricity rather than a traditional battery. These cars are similar to gasoline and diesel vehicles as they are refueled in the same conventional manner and share the same long-distance driving range, allowing them to drive further and faster than battery-powered electric vehicles.

A vehicle with a fuel cell and electric motor running on hydrogen can be two to three times more efficient than gasoline. These vehicles discharge zero harmful emissions, only water. Hydrogen fuel can be produced domestically from nuclear power, natural gas, biomass and renewable powers like wind and solar energy.

The biggest problem associated with hydrogen fuel is cost. The fuel cells required to power hydrogen-fueled cars are very expensive, and there are very few gas stations that currently offer hydrogen as fuel. Should the transportation industry ever decide to make the switch to hydrogen-powered trucks, the eventual ROI could make it worth it.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is a fossil fuel mostly comprised of methane. This alternative to traditional fuels can be produced domestically and is less expensive than gasoline. Natural gas could cut back on greenhouse gas emissions by 10% as well.

The reason natural gas hasn’t supplanted gasoline as the preferred fuel type is because of the limited number of vehicles on the market with the capability to utilize it. Making trucks natural gas-friendly would be a very costly investment for the trucking industry. There are very few fueling stations that provide natural gas and it provides fewer miles-per-tank than vehicles running on gasoline or diesel.

92% of the U.S. transportation sector uses petroleum products such as gasoline or diesel for fuel. These resources won’t last forever and soon we will have to find a new way to fuel our cars, trucks, boats and airplanes. Our economies are powered by supply chains, and whatever fuel becomes the fuel of choice in the future will have to work for the supply chain industry, not only for personal drivers. While some alternative fuels are already being implemented, research is still being done to develop a fuel that is truly sustainable, efficient, and environmentally friendly.

blockchain kuebix

Blockchain and Cloud-based Platforms Usher In New Era of Complex Data Streams in Freight Shipping

Blockchain and cloud-based platforms are revolutionizing the way logistics operations are being conducted around the world. Big Data has been a hot topic in the industry for years, but the way to truly harness it has remained out of reach for many companies. Blockchain technologies and cloud-based platforms are changing the narrative. Now, complex data streams from logistics operations are being funneled through these technologies to make shipping freight more efficient as supply chains continue to become more complex.

What is Blockchain?

According to Merriam-Webster, blockchain is “a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.”

In layman’s terms, blockchain is a technology that lets companies track and initiate an action based on a digital or physical event. For example, blockchain technology can help trace contaminated food products when there has been a safety recall. Blockchain technologies act as a single source of truth that can be referred back to at any time, much like a ledger for every interaction. Here are 30+ Real Examples of Blockchain Technology In Practice from Forbes.

What are Cloud-based Platforms in the Supply Chain?

Cloud-based platforms in the supply chain are also streamlining Big Data repositories and making them actionable and transparent. Platforms such as cloud-based enterprise management systems (ERP), transportation management systems (TMS), and warehouse management systems (WMS) can track and trace the lifecycle of a product from initial order all the way through customer returns. When these systems integrate and combine with external tracking devices, they can have the same benefits as blockchain as a service (BaaS) technologies, only in a more accessible form.

ELDs, RFIDs, GPS, Sensors and Gate Check Technologies

Tracking technology is becoming more prevalent as costs associated with implementation lessen. Blockchain and cloud-based platforms consolidate all of the data generated by devices like ELDs, RFIDs, GPS, Sensors and Gate Check technologies into actionable reports and dashboards. Actions can even be predetermined to initiate when a physical or digital event type occurs. Now, companies can retain real-time visibility to their pallets, trucks, drivers, and even individual products no matter where they are in the supply chain.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review describes how blockchain and platforms will transform logistics. “Data created by sensors, ERP systems, inventory palettes, and shipping events can automatically add records to the blockchain, which can launch cascading events farther along the value chain.” Being able to see the moment when a container leaves the port and being able to track individual products from that container to customers is a level of visibility that hasn’t been available before.

Why do Supply Chains Need These Types of Technology?

Our world is shrinking, metaphorically. Globalization has made it commonplace for an end product to contain materials from all over the world. When you buy an iPhone, you may actually be buying an accelerometer from Germany, a battery from China, a camera from Japan, a Gyroscope from Switzerland and a glass screen for the United States. Being able to track and initiate actions based on completed events such as when a shipment of batteries has left the port in Shanghai speeds up the supply chain and mitigates risk.

Customer expectations around visibility and speed are also increasing, almost exponentially. 15 years ago, it may have been acceptable to receive an order purchased online in 3 – 4 weeks. Now, consumers are demanding their products in as few as 2 days, with 1-day shipping and even 1-hour shipping already on many retailers’ minds. Amazon’s 1-day delivery promise to their Prime members has added pressure to companies just now becoming used to faster shipping times. With blockchain or a cloud-based, data-centralizing platform, companies can initiate actions to keep their supply chains moving without waiting for a physical paper trail to catch up.

According to FedEx business fellow and blockchain strategist, Dale Chrystie:

“Twenty year ago, you put the word ‘internet’ in front of everything and now you don’t. Today, we’re putting the word ‘blockchain’ in front of everything and I don’t think we’re going to in the future; it’s just going to be the way it works.”

Big Data has proved lucrative to those companies who have been able to harness it to understand their customers and streamline their logistics operations. New blockchain technologies and cloud-based platforms are providing this opportunity to companies worldwide, but the changing market structure may appear too complex for some. Companies that adapt quickly will find that they gain a competitive advantage over those companies that do not leverage technology in their freight shipping.

 

Circular Supply Chain Kuebix

Why Circular Supply Chains Will Replace Linear Supply Chains in the 2020’s

Since humans began making and distributing products to one another, the structure of the supply chain has remained predominantly untouched. Raw materials flow in, are changed into a product and are then distributed and used until finally they are thrown away. This linear chain has been sufficient to keep economies churning, but a new, more profitable supply chain methodology is gaining in popularity: the circular supply chain.

The circular supply chain is a model that encourages manufacturers and sellers of products to take discarded materials and remake them for resale. The traditional model of “take, make, and throw away” is an economic dead-end and is costing businesses as they struggle with raw material costs and volatility. Instead of producing one-time-use products, companies are refurbishing used parts or melting down products to turn back into their raw material form.

Instead of a linear “in and out” methodology, businesses are increasingly opting to loop their supply chains to cut down on costs and create less waste. Contrary to popular belief, this process is actually more economical in the long run for companies. It’s the initial investment process changes that cause many to ignore opportunities to reuse materials. Once processes are in place, companies spend less money on raw materials, help the environment (which can result in government incentives), are at less risk of price volatility, and, perhaps most important of all, please their customers.

Circular Supply Chain Infographic Kuebix

Here are some of the reasons why circular supply chains will replace linear supply chains in the 2020’s:

Save Money and Grow Business Value

The circular supply chain, at first glance, appears to predominantly be a methodology for companies to reduce environmental impact, but it’s much more than that. By reusing parts and materials, companies can get the maximum benefit out of the raw materials they purchase. Instead of throwing products away at the end of their lifecycle, they can be turned back into profit with lower costs than making a new product from scratch. Throwing away products wastes the investment companies have already poured into the product (labor, materials, and energy). It simply costs less to refurbish or recycle materials into new goods. By connecting the end of the linear supply chain with the beginning, companies can save money by reducing the overall cost of producing their products.

Societal Benefits of the Circular Economy

Going green remains a hot topic in just about every industry. The EPA reported that Americans produced 262.43 million tons of trash in 2015. That’s up by about 3.5 million tons compared to 2014 and 54.1 million tons since 1990. As consumers create more and more waste each year, it’s up to both businesses and individual consumers to choose products that have small environmental footprints.

Consumers are increasingly conscious of their shopping decisions. According to a report by Nielsen, 66% of global consumers say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands. A full 73% of millennial shoppers (those born between 1977 – 1995) are willing to pay more for sustainable goods over traditional ones. Companies that want to stay relevant and grow market share need to be catering to a public that is increasingly conscious of their environmental impact.

Recycling and Reusing Protects Against Price Volatility

Raw material prices are constantly a struggle for many companies trying to plan their budgets and keep total costs of goods under control. Many categories of virgin materials are constantly shifting in price, especially metals which have seen more volatility recently than any decade in the 20th century. By anticipating the amount of reused and recycled materials that can be used in the production of new goods, companies can more accurately gauge their expenditures and keep costs under control.

Circular Supply Chains Help Companies Meet Regulation Standards

Many government regulations are pushing businesses to adopt the circular supply chain by creating laws and regulations around recycling and waste disposal. Others are offering incentives to companies that make active efforts to “go green,” no matter whether their end goal is to reduce environmental impact of simply boost their bottom lines.

These are some examples of laws around the world that are now in place:

•    EU Packaging Directive – requires all countries in the EU to recycle 50% of their packaging waste.

•    Japanese Recycling Laws – require businesses to recycle packaging materials into something reusable.

•    California Recycled Content Laws – no plastic bags, 25% of all plastic containers must be recycled, and more.

•    UK Landfill Directive – all UK-based companies must recycle or treat their waste products, regardless of their size and turnover.

Circular Supply Chain Success Stories

Nike’s “Reuse-A-Shoe” program and Adidas’s partnership with Parley for the Oceans are demonstrating the power of the circular supply chain. Nike encourages customers to recycle their old shoes at local Nike sellers. Those old shoes are then turned into Nike “grind material” and transformed back into new shoes for sale. Not only does this keep old shoes out of landfills, it helps boost Nike’s image and saves them on material costs.

Adidas is perhaps even more famous for its circular supply chain project. They have pledged to make 11 million sneakers out of recycled plastics pulled from the ocean. They have already seen tremendous success with their recycled line of shoes and are on track to make $1 billion helping solve the problem of ocean plastic.

One company that began using the circular supply chain model even before the term was coined is Renault, a French vehicle manufacturer located outside of Paris. In 1949, the company was looking for ways to recover from the devastating effects of WWII. They began offering used vehicle parts at discounts between 30 – 50%, but with the same warranties and guarantees as new parts. Their goal was entirely to drive profits and create a business that could flourish in an economy low on raw materials. Today, that same plant outside of Paris generates annual revenue of roughly $270 million! Now, it even designs its major vehicle components to be easy to disassemble for even more profitability.

The Circular Supply Chain is the Future

If you’ve ever heard the quote, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” you can understand the concept of the circular supply chain. Circular supply chains turn waste into opportunities as regulations on recycling and proper disposal of manufacturing byproducts become tighter. Often byproducts can be reclaimed and re-used within the manufacturing process where companies can develop new revenue sources for products that were previously discarded. Companies looking to stay profitable in the 2020’s will be looking for ways to reduce their costs and please their customers. Adopting the circular supply chain methodology, therefore, just makes sense.

There are many ways to reduce the environmental impact of shipping freight, if you’re interested in learning more, click here to see how Kuebix helps shippers reduce theirs.

Is it Time To Upgrade to A Cloud-Based Transportation Management System

Is it Time To Upgrade to A Cloud-Based Transportation Management System (TMS)?

Many companies are still using the transportation management system (TMS) they installed 15 or even 20 years ago! Technology has changed and improved significantly over that time. So if you’re still using an outdated TMS to manage your logistics operation, it’s time to upgrade to a modern, cloud-based system.

Why Should I Replace My Old TMS?

The old mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t work when it comes to technology. Just because a system is functioning doesn’t mean that there aren’t more and better features to improve your shipping operations. A horse and cart are likely faster than walking up the road, but that doesn’t mean a car isn’t the better option to get to your destination efficiently. The same is true when it comes to technology, without exploring all the options, you may be missing out on valuable features.

Legacy TMS systems often don’t provide the transparency and visibility you need to monitor shipments, optimize routes, lower costs and improve efficiencies. What sufficed for customers in the past probably doesn’t cut it with your current customers. Customers have become accustomed to Amazon-like delivery options and visibility to their orders. It’s up to you to meet these heightened customer expectations with technology.

With legacy transportation management systems, there’s no way to tell if a delivery is going to be late so you can warn your customers. You don’t have the ability to collaborate in real time with your carriers and onboarding new carriers is a hassle. Your old TMS is simply not keeping up with consumers’ changing expectations and the increasing demands of the modern supply chain. A modern, cloud-based TMS can help.

How Can I Improve My Transportation Operations with Technology?

Upgrading an older system is rarely an option. To compete in the modern supply chain where visibility and flexibility are key, you need to implement a cloud-based TMS. A cloud-based TMS offers faster start-up, lower usage costs, greater flexibility and rapid return-on-investment (ROI). Lower maintenance and support costs are a big plus, too. With a cloud-based TMS, any size business is given a fair chance at competing with larger companies because of low start-up costs and easier upkeep.

Modern transportation management systems can do a whole lot more than they used to.

Scalability is something that most legacy, on-premise TMS solutions do not offer because of their rigid infrastructure. With scalability available in newer TMSs, you are able to add new features and functionality to your system without starting from scratch. Your TMS should be flexible to grow as your business grows. Start with just rating, booking, scheduling and tracking, then add modular features like freight bill pay and audit, ERP integrations, order consolidation, route optimization, and collaboration portals as needed to help you customize the technology to best fit your needs.

Complete supply chain visibility is another feature which only new, cloud-based TMSs can offer. From the loading dock to the final mile, a TMS should track and trace orders down to the SKU level, giving visibility to what is on each truck, how many items there are and where the truck is. A TMS should help you answer questions like whether the truck is delayed and if there are items missing from the order.

Most legacy TMSs do not integrate well with other systems. Today’s cloud-based transportation management systems have the ability to easily connect and share with customers, suppliers and carriers, on any device, wherever the stakeholder is. New systems integrate purchase orders directly from any ERP system to facilitate the rapid creation of shipments, avoiding the need to re-enter the order, which can lead to errors and increased admin time. Retailers with their own e-commerce engine should be able to connect directly to the TMS by using open APIs, adding shipment tracking and the ability to rate, book and schedule deliveries.

Your TMS Should Connect You To a Vast Network

If your TMS is not cloud-based, will not integrate with other systems and cannot provide end-to-end visibility, along with flexibility and scalability to easily add additional features, then it is time for a change. Not only that, your modern TMS should be connecting you with a vast network of carriers, suppliers, freight marketplaces, brokers, and 3PLs to streamline your operations. Being able to manage all of your shipping functions within a single system is essential. With a cloud-based transportation management system like Kuebix TMS, all of this is possible.

Become a Kuebix Free Shipper to see how a modern TMS can improve your transportation operations today!

Portfolio Items