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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 store-front, retailers can only influence their customers’ experience through user-interface enhancements and supply chain improvements. This makes supply chain operations more important than ever.

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. Choosing the mode helps customers customize their experience.

Speed – Getting product quickly and when desired is becoming more important as 2-day delivery becomes standard. Designating when the product will arrive helps customers plan ahead and allows them to be more self-sufficient.

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.

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 to weather delays and other interruptions so that they can react proactively to late deliveries.

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.”

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.

Circular Supply Chain

Circular Supply Chain – The Missing Link

The phrase ‘input equals output’ has been flipped on its head. Now, modern supply chains are seeing the benefits of ‘output equals input’ in their operations.

In the past, supply chains were architected in a linear fashion. They started with raw material suppliers shipping materials to a manufacturing facility or assembly plant, which in turn shipped finished goods or parts further down the supply chain to a distribution center to be delivered to end customers. The workflow was point-to-point, linear in fashion, and end-products, after a while, typically ended in the trash.

Today’s supply chains are becoming circular by adding a link to connect the beginning and end of the chain. This link encompasses returns and recycling, improving sustainability and the environment. The circular supply chain is “lean” in nature, eliminating waste and reducing the carbon footprint. It also lowers costs while passing on sustainability benefits to trading partners.

Ever heard the quote, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?”

That is what the circular supply chain is about – taking apparent waste materials and returned goods and turning them into products which can be resold. 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.

Many government regulations are pushing businesses to adopt the circular supply chain by creating laws and regulations around recycling and waste disposal. These include:

• 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.

Supply chain sustainability is becoming more and more important as new regulations and social initiatives impact shippers. There are many ways to reduce the carbon footprint of shipping freight, to learn more about how Kuebix helps shippers reduce their footprints, click here.

Kuebix TMS

How to Buy a TMS

The combination of the capacity crunch and new government regulations are causing transportation costs to soar – and are expected to continue this trend into the future. 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. Implementing a TMS solution can bring a business the freight savings and intelligence they need to keep transport costs as low as possible.

A broad range of TMSs exist, ranging from cloud-based to on-premise, automating freight bill audit and pay, streamlining execution and optimization, integrating with disparate systems, analyzing data for performance monitoring, and on and on. With all these features and options, how does a company go about buying a TMS system?

First of all, the goals for deploying a TMS need to be determined – is the goal to cut shipping costs, improve customer service, become a preferred shipper, consolidate loads, etc.? Do these goals align with the corporate strategy? They should!

Next, make sure that the TMS is easily scalable to meet current business needs and those of the future. Additional features and functions should be able to be easily added without having to start from scratch. A spot market should be accessible for volume quotes and the system should also easily integrate with other software to extend the value of the technology.

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 systems 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

Some TMS providers like Kuebix offer a free version of their technology to help shippers better understand how to use the system and see real results from their operations risk free. Unlike a demo, Kuebix Free Shippergets shippers managing their freight and gaining true ROI even before adding modular features and capabilities.

When looking for a new TMS, check out The Complete Buyer’s Guide to Transportation Management Systems to get answers to questions like what to look for and how much a TMS should cost before committing to a system.

Kuebix TMS - Cargo Theft Claims Management

Cargo Thieves’ New Strategy Hitting Shippers Hard

Cargo theft continues to be a pain-point for shippers in every industry as metrics from Q1 of 2018 roll in. Though technically the overall total of cargo related thefts has decreased 23% year-over-year in North America (CargoNet), it is presumed that many more cargo thefts are going unreported by shippers. All cargo theft numbers are voluntarily reported, meaning operations and finance teams who are already scrambling to ascertain their losses may be neglecting to report the theft to the proper authorities. Potentially more worryingly, shippers may not be realizing the extent of their missing products because of inadequate claims management.

Thieves targeting trucks in transit are using a new strategy to carry out their crimes. As opposed to stealing entire loads or many pallets of product, thieves are being more selective in what they are taking and only lifting a small amount of product at a time. Besides the obvious benefit of increased speed to avoid detection, thieves may also be leaving shippers unaware that there was a theft at all. Pallets go missing all the time for perfectly legitimate reasons that can be tracked down, but shippers without a system to track their historical claims may not be aware to what extent they have been targeted by thieves.

Food and Beverage remains the commodity with the highest losses, closely followed by Household Items and Electronics. In the first quarter of 2017, the average value of a reported cargo theft was $164,185. In the first quarter of 2018, the average value of reported goods stolen rested at $90,883. On first glance, this seems like a success story for law enforcement, but it could also paint the picture that pre-meditated theft sizes are actually dropping. Without ascertaining the accurate number of cargo thefts, it will be impossible to determine whether the number of individual events is rising correspondingly.

According to SensiGuard, 92% of large-scale incidents occur in unsecured parking areas. Other locations reported include warehouses and secured parking lots. Often, determining the exact location of the incident, if it is even noticed by the driver, is difficult. Drivers often travel hundreds of miles before unloading, and if they do not do a thorough walk-around of their vehicle at each stop, determining the exact location of the theft becomes more and more unlikely. The best way to catch a theft early is for drivers to remain vigilant about checking their trailer’s seal or lock.

3 Steps to Prevent Cargo Theft

  1. Check it – Drivers should thoroughly check their trailers’ seals and locks after leaving their truck even for a short period
  2. Report it – Notify the proper authorities if cargo has been stolen to encourage appropriate action be taken on thieves
  3. Track it – Make sure to track all historical claims to determine the scope and pattern of incidents, whether benign or malicious

Many shippers lack a process to track and manage their claims with carriers when items don’t arrive at their destinations as planned. This causes a lot of confusion and lost revenue if managed incorrectly, especially if those items have actually been stolen and their value can’t be recouped. By leveraging a Claims Management system like Kuebix TMS’s, shippers can tie claim information directly to the shipment to make tracking and research easy. By maintaining historical claim details no claim goes overlooked and patterns and totals can be discovered, making a real impact to a company’s bottom line.

Kuebix ERP Integration Highway

The ERP Integration Highway

Many companies are discovering the benefits of using a TMS to streamline their transportation operations. A well-rounded TMS offers many modular features to support the changing needs of any type of supply chain. One of the most universally beneficial features is the ability to integrate purchase orders automatically from an ERP system directly into the TMS.

Why is integrating POs directly from an ERP so beneficial?

Integrating POs directly from an ERP system facilitates the rapid creation of shipments by avoiding the need to re-key a long list of order line items, ensuring 100% order accuracy.

Since the integration is two-way, shipment data is populated back into the ERP system for record keeping and to provide stakeholders with complete visibility. This enables information down to the SKU level to be leveraged in claims management, meaning the shipper always has the information they need to protect their company’s interests. Shippers can also better understand the true landed cost of goods to make smarter decisions regarding their company’s bottom line when they integrate purchase orders directly from an ERP system.

Use the ERP Integration Highway to get started:

  1. The TMS should leverage a common middleware connector that maps ERP order and item information and automatically creates orders within the technology.
  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 highway 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.

Kuebix TMS leverages this methodology to provide shippers a pain-free way to integrate their ERP system directly into the TMS. The ERP Integration Highway is a common integration approach to all ERP systems, meaning the process is smooth and efficient for shippers with any ERP system. To learn more about Kuebix integrations, click here.

Carrier KPI Reporting Scorecards

Tracking KPIs on Carrier Scorecards to Improve Shipper-Carrier Relationships

Key performance indicators (KPIs) are an effective way to measure the performance of your transportation operations, including the performance of your carriers. With transport costs having a direct impact on the bottom line of the business, KPIs are of the utmost importance for managing cost. Plus, shippers can leverage KPIs to strengthen the relationship with their carriers while harnessing greater control over transportation operations and freight spend.

To start, you will need to identify the metrics that are most important for your logistics operation; specifically, the ones that will help you meet your business goals. If your goals are to reduce costs, then you will need to choose KPIs that measure cost-related activities.

Measurements must be easy to understand and well defined. Measurements used in KPIs are not meant to finger point; instead they are designed to encourage appropriate behavior, so should reward productive activities. A consistent open conversation between carriers and shippers can eliminate any surprises.

There are an unlimited number of KPIs to measure your logistics operation and each company should have unique measurements to reach their corporate objectives. Some of these include:

  • ·       On-time arrivals of pickups and deliveries
  • ·       Average loading and unloading times
  • ·       Percentage of shipments that equal the bill of materials
  • ·       Percentage of shipments that arrive in good condition
  • ·       Average transportation cost per miles/volume/weight
  • ·       Average number of deliveries made per driver/truck/route
  • ·       Percentage of shipments using LTL /TL/Parcel
  • ·       Load acceptance rate
  • ·       Carrier rate benchmarking by lane
  • ·       Claims percentage for freight costs
  • ·       Truck turnaround time
  • ·       Planned time in transit vs. actual
  • ·       Length of time between inbound load acceptance and scheduling a pickup appointment

Most importantly, carriers and shippers need to review the numbers, identify opportunities and take corrective actions for any issues that arise. KPIs identify a problem that must be traced back to its root cause to understand how to solve it. The problem could be with the carrier; it could be with the shipper, so the information must be reviewed carefully and analyzed extensively.

Working together, shippers and carriers can collaborate to improve their relationship by using the wide variety of measurements. By leveraging Kuebix TMS’s actionable reports, dashboards and carrier scorecards, shippers gain easy access to their KPIs and can begin this conversation with their partners.

Cloud-Based TMS Kuebix

Why a Cloud-Based TMS is Better

A decade ago, if you wanted a TMS, you had to buy the software and install it within your organization. Today that has changed as more TMSs are moving to the cloud. Transportation management systems (TMS) based in the cloud are being adopted at faster rates than ever before. Industry analyst firm Gartner sees a 15% growth in TMS usage within small- to mid-sized businesses with some vendors reporting more than 20% growth.

So why are cloud-based TMSs growing in popularity?

We can think of 10 good reasons:

  1. Lower Barriers to Entry – Upfront expenditures related to hardware and software are eliminated with a cloud-based TMS allowing businesses of any-size to gain access to the technology. No longer do companies have to fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars on installed software. Instead, with a cloud-based TMS, you pay subscription or usage fees.
  2. Enhancements Made Easy – The cloud-based TMS software provider is responsible for upgrades and enhancements to its solution, which includes maintaining the application and ensuring its availability and reliability. Most application upgrades can be easily deployed automatically, eliminating the need for internal IT staff involvement.
  3. Connectivity – Cloud-based computing enables the TMS to connect to a global group of supply chain trading partners. As more and more carriers, shippers and suppliers connect to this network of trading partners, the ability to collaborate and conduct business with more and more companies brings value to the participants. Under a cloud model, the TMS can become a central marketplace where you connect to a variety of supply chain stakeholders.
  4. Flexibility as You Grow – Cloud-based TMS systems offer lots of flexibility, starting with basic features that can be easily upgraded with additional functionality as your business needs change. Start with the ability to rate, book and track shipments, then add other features as needed – from predictive analytics to freight bill audit/payment and more.
  5. Level the Playing Field – Deploying a cloud-based TMS levels the playing field as businesses of any size have access to a larger variety of rates and carriers, allowing your business a greater chance to get better rates.
  6. Software Always Up & Running – Cloud-based TMS vendors deploy their systems across multiple data centers to ensure 24/7/365 operations. So, no matter if there is a widespread power outage or weather-related event, you will have access to the TMS and your data to ensure you can always get your products out the door.
  7. Fastest Route to Implementation – Cloud-based TMS systems are easy to deploy and easy to use with typical start-up within minutes or a few hours. Some systems offer online how-to videos to help new users begin.
  8. Faster ROI – Cloud-based TMS users get a faster return on investment (ROI) because of the low upfront investment and quicker start-up. You’ll be up and running quicker, making smarter decisions on rates and carriers.
  9. Smarter Shipping Decisions – Smarter decisions can be made by your transportation operations team by leveraging actionable reports and dashboards within a TMS housed on the cloud. Every transaction is captured and can be analyzed for improvements in service levels, freight spend, KPIs and more.
  10. Lower Freight Spend – Using a cloud-based TMS will lower your freight spend, reports say between 10 – 20% on average, because you have more choices of modes and access to more carriers and lanes.

A cloud-based transportation management system like Kuebix TMS offers a wide variety of benefits for shippers. Before you take the plunge with a new cloud-based TMS, use this Complete Buyer’s Guide to figure out exactly what your needs are!

Kuebix Earth Day Sustainability

Meet Sustainability Goals with the Help of a TMS

U.S. Senator Gaylord Wilson, from Wisconsin, witnessed the effects of a massive oil spill along the California coast in 1969, motivating him to bring attention to the environment. He established the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. It was wildly popular, sparking national interest, so popular that Congress established the US Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act that same year.

Since Earth Day began, it has expanded globally to over 192 countries – all working together to raise awareness for sustainability and protection of the Earth. The 50th Anniversary of Earth Day will take place two years from now on April 22, 2020. Click this link to be a part of the Earth Day Network’s mission to broaden, diversify, and mobilize the international environmental movement.

Logistics is at the heart of the U.S. economy, without shipping our country would come to a standstill. The majority of American businesses rely heavily on an enormous amount of diesel fuel each year. According to the ATA (American Trucking Associations)

Fuel Consumption –

·     3 billion gallons of fuel consumed by those trucks used for business purposes in 2016

          ·     8 billion gallons of diesel fuel

          ·     5 billion gallons of gasoline

·     The trucking industry spent $105.2 billion buying diesel fuel in 2015

·     Diesel fuel is often the second highest expense for motor carriers after labor and can be as much as 20% of total operating costs.

Not only is fuel an expensive commodity for companies to purchase, it also has huge implications for the environment. Shippers can have a real impact on CO2 emissions by reducing the amount of fuel they consume. One of the easiest ways for companies to achieve this is to ensure that their trucks are always as full as possible, and their delivery routes are optimized.

Kuebix is helping shippers meet their sustainability goals by facilitating the consolidation of LTL shipments into FTLs when possible. SupplierMAX, Kuebix’s program for streamlining inbound operations, helps shippers standardize a set of carriers to enable loads to be consolidated as a regular practice. An excessive number of inbound deliveries leads to higher emissions, greater idling times and increased unloading costs. Fewer trucks on the road means a decrease in fuel consumption and overall lower costs. It’s a win for suppliers, shippers and the environment!

Shippers can do their part to improve air quality by reducing the number of trucks they have on the road. A robust transportation management system like Kuebix TMS helps to facilitate the creation of an optimized transportation strategy. To honor Earth Day 2018, any shipper can begin to meet their sustainability goals by improving their supply chain efficiency with the help of Kuebix TMS.

What is a TMS?

What is a TMS?

Many shippers have identified opportunities in their supply chains that could be improved by leveraging technology. Without a thorough understanding of what a TMS (Transportation Management System) is however, they are at a disadvantage in their continuous improvement journey. It’s important to get an overview of what a TMS’s basic functionalities are before diving into a TMS’s specific money and time savings features. So, what is a TMS?

Simply put, a TMS is a tool that helps supply chain professionals manage their freight and carriers. Core functionality of a TMS includes helping the user find the best mode and rate for any type of shipment to ensure they are getting the best deal. Rating, booking and tracking are considered core features for any modern TMS. The software should also allow the user to retain full control of their logistics by helping them automate order entry, create shipments, optimize shipments and routes, manage carriers, schedule pickups and deliveries, manage the yard, and communicate effectively with all supply chain stakeholders. Many transportation management systems also provide insights into a business’s efficiency through detailed analytics.

What are the benefits of a TMS?

·      Bottom Line Results – A TMS should ensure that each shipment is being booked with the optimal combination of rate and service type. These savings can be significant but should never be eaten up by long implementation times. The best way to avoid this is by implementing a cloud-based TMS which can be up and running within minutes.

·      Time Savings – Instead of sending disjointed emails or endlessly sitting on hold, shippers can instantly access the information they need via a single digital platform. Technology gives shippers the power to compare rates side by side and know that they are always making strategic choices regarding their freight.

·      Improved Customer Service – Technology helps keep the supply chain running smoothly, increasing on time deliveries and making tracking and tracing information accessible. By leveraging a TMS’s predictive analytics, shippers can inform their customers of shipment changes such as late or missed deliveries.

·      Business Growth – As a company continues to leverage a TMS, their improved efficiencies often result in business growth. A good TMS should be able to seamlessly scale to meet the needs of small businesses and enterprise-level companies alike. This keeps the company competitive without uprooting their logistics operations to add new capabilities.

Kuebix TMS is designed to offer these competitive advantages to any size company looking to streamline their supply chain through technology. Shippers can sign up risk-free for Kuebix Free Shipper, the TMS for transportation and logistics professionals looking to rate, book and track an unlimited number of LTL, TL and Parcel shipments from a single platform. Since Kuebix TMS scales to meet the needs of any size organization with the addition of modular features and managed services, growing companies and enterprise level organizations can take advantage of technology to improve their supply chains.

By leveraging the power of a TMS, any shipper can easily take action on the supply chain opportunities they have identified and manage their freight and carriers more effectively.

What Should You Pay For Your Freight?

Calculating freight rates is a critical step for any business with product to ship. Freight rates may be for a variety of destinations, multiple classes and different weights, but how much it costs to ship product will always be a key driver of your total cost of goods. Getting all the information is necessary to positively impact your bottom line by lowering your cost of goods and getting your product shipped on your terms.

Enter the Kuebix Freight Rate Calculator – a new free tool for all transportation and logistics professionals to research and get instant estimates on their LTL freight.

Here are 3 Reasons to Use the Kuebix Freight Rate Calculator:

  1. Do you have freight to ship but no negotiated carrier rates?
  2. Are you working with a 3pl and have no idea what your freight should actually cost?
  3. Are you just curious if the rate you are currently using is a good rate?

Using the Freight Rate Calculator is simple and only requires the basic information on your freight. Simply visit the calculator by following this link and type in your shipment information. You will need the postal code (zip code) for the origin of the freight as well as the destination postal code. The origin city and state will automatically populate below. Then simply enter your freight’s quantity, weight and dimensions and instantly receive an LTL freight rate.

After receiving your LTL freight rate estimates, you can explore even better rates on LTL, TL and Parcel shipments plus book and manage all your freight by signing up for Kuebix Free Shipper, the free multimodal TMS for unlimited rating, booking and tracking. Kuebix Free Shipper allows you to view all of your carrier rates side by side, empowering you to book the best rate for every shipment.

Begin Calculating Your Rates Now

Imported Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaining Supply Chain Visibility Doesn’t Have to be a Daunting Task

Supply chain visibility (SCV) is at the forefront of supply chain leaders’ minds in 2018. Today’s businesses need to know where their product is, when it is going to be delivered, and every detail regarding the contents of their freight. It’s also essential to provide this level of visibility to all the stakeholders in the supply chain. Silos between procurement, warehouse ops, finance and the customer cause breakdowns in the system, resulting in wasted time and lost revenue. Imagine connecting all the logistics professionals who are working to ship your freight from point A to point B on one seamless interface. Giving stakeholders access to the same actionable information in real-time sets them up for better communication and the ability to remove roadblocks.

For many companies working diligently to compete in the new landscape, the prospect of enhancing visibility to their supply chains is daunting. The expected time commitment and resources required to integrate legacy systems with a transportation management system (TMS) is often seen as too costly and inefficient; outweighing the benefits of such a system. These barriers to service are hindering many companies’ ability to gather data on their supply chains and compete at the high-level Amazon has made the industry standard.

Kuebix is revolutionizing logistics management with its intelligent TMS. By seamlessly connecting legacy ERP systems with Kuebix and bolstering the direct customer-carrier relationship, Kuebix enables shippers to see every node of their supply chains. Stakeholders can use one solution to view and manage their freight, saving time and breaking down silos. And depending on the scope of the integration needed, Kuebix TMS can be ready to use in a few weeks to a few months. This modular, scalable solution gives companies previously unable to cope with the commitment of old-fashioned TMS systems the ability to make data collected across the supply chain available to all users and gives them greater control and visibility into what is happening across their enterprises.

Supply chain visibility will be a weighty topic in 2018, as the industry acclimatizes itself to new levels of supply chain control. The question is no longer whether visibility is essential for shipping companies, but how long customers are willing to patronize suppliers without it. The competition will become fiercer and the bar continue to be pushed higher. Here are Kuebix we are excited to see how the demand for increased visibility will continue to evolve the supply chain.

How Food & Beverage Companies Can Optimize Their Inbound

Food and beverage businesses have complex supply chains with many unique characteristics: ever-changing customer tastes, tight margins on store shelves, fresh products that may spoil, expiration dates on products, and more. Getting the right volume of products at the right time, and at the right location, is no easy task. Visibility into and control of supply chain processes will allow food and beverage businesses to address these challenges while meeting business goals.

Frequently overlooked and often pushed to the bottom of a shipper’s supply chain agenda, good inbound freight management can help companies improve shipment visibility, save money, and enhance customer service—all of which add to the bottom line and boost profitability. Done right, inbound freight management does more than just help companies gain an understanding of where their shipments are in real time. It also enables better relationships with carriers and suppliers for consolidation efforts, establishes routing guides that lead to much better dock efficiency, and empowers strategies for continuous improvement initiatives.

Food and beverage companies get dozens of deliveries a day from different suppliers. These inbound shipments aren’t coordinated or consolidated, fostering inefficiencies from the excess number of deliveries. Little visibility into arrival times and frequent changes to inbound deliveries wreaks havoc at the dock and warehouse, which can make accessorial charges skyrocket and your inbound transport costs go off the charts.

Small to large food and beverage companies have found a TMS to be the perfect tool for addressing the many challenges that come with managing inbound freight. For example, one food retailer that operates over 200 stores across seven states had a couple hundred LTL deliveries per week, but by using Kuebix TMS, they were able to lower the number of deliveries to 20 or 30 per week by combining LTL deliveries into full truckload deliveries from the consolidation points. The typical cost for unloading a truck is $200, leading to approximately $34,000 in savings per week just on unloading costs!

Here are three steps you can take to start managing your inbound freight more effectively today:

1. Partner with your suppliers to lay out a plan of action. Determine the most cost-effective and efficient way to ship and unload your freight, and build a plan with your suppliers that benefits both parties. There is no “magic number” for a percentage of shipments that should be vendor-controlled vs. customer controlled. Give your suppliers a choice so that they can select the most effective service and billing procedure. Then, implement a standard routing guide for supplier compliance. This will establish a set of mandatory guidelines that will be used for all vendor-controlled (VDS) and customer pick-up (CPU) shipments. Supplier compliance programs reduce your cost of goods by making your carriers and warehouse more efficient. In the event your suppliers fail to comply, they will share in your cost through violations outlined in the routing guide.

2. Create strong alliances with your carriers. Consolidate inbound shipments to full truckload wherever possible to reduce freight and unloading costs. Reducing the number of individual LTL shipments will decrease the cost of freight, dramatically increasing the efficiency of your distribution center and significantly reducing unloading costs. Think how much more efficient your operations will be with fewer trucks and fewer deliveries. For example, unloading 10 to 14 different LTL shipments can be five times the cost of unloading a single truckload. The customer and the supplier can share all of these savings through the efficiency of consolidated shipments and drop trailer programs. By consolidating your LTL pool, you can simplify yard management and maximize consolidation opportunities. Select carriers that provide attractive rates and superior service and try to limit that set to two to four different carriers, whether the shipments are CPU or VDS. This will give each carrier enough business to ensure LTL consolidation does not affect service levels. Having a strong partnership with your carriers also opens up other opportunities for additional savings such as backhaul agreements with LTL carriers to consolidate freight to single truckload for pick up by your own fleet for the final mile.

3. Leverage technology to your advantage. Utilize a transportation management system (TMS) to maximize inbound freight management. For example, leverage your TMS to implement an allowance program for freight costs and unloading expenses with your suppliers. In most cases, allowances are negotiated once or twice a year, and rarely take into account fluctuating costs and carrier rates. Oftentimes, market rates rise above negotiated rates. Kuebix TMS enables the creation of dynamic rate allowances to ensure savings on both TL and LTL shipments by calculating the best possible real-time vendor allowances based on actual carrier rates as demand dictates. Additionally, a TMS will also automate tracking, scheduling and door assigned, which will directly reduce your labor spend. Finally, if you cannot measure something it is hard to improve it. An effective TMS will capture every relevant piece of data and return reports, dashboards and scorecards that allow you to analyze your inbound freight program and identify opportunities for increased efficiency.

Ultimately, good inbound freight management facilitated by technology helps shippers achieve cost and productivity goals that very often get overlooked in the logistics space. By taking a step back and gaining a better understanding of your current inbound environment—then working with suppliers and carriers to come up with a plan of action to improve it—you’ll be able to leverage all of the market’s capacity, get the best rates, and gain better visibility over your end-to-end supply chain.
To learn more about optimizing your inbound read “The Art of the Inbound”.

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How to use Data to Build a Stronger Carrier Relationship

Strong partnerships between carriers and shippers are important for the most efficient and effective freight operation. When shippers and carriers work together as a team, respecting one another’s time and business objectives – a win-win partnership is created that leads to continuous improvement in logistics efficiency and customer service.

How can shippers and carriers improve their relationship? Shippers should provide accurate weight and size measurements of their freight, file claims quickly, not keep drivers waiting at their warehouse and fulfill promises of consistent loads. Carriers must negotiate fairly with shippers, adhere to routing guide compliance, pickup shipments on time, invoice shippers accurately and provide a consistent level of exceptional service.

How can this be done?

The answer is technology that can help manage the carrier and shipper relationship by capturing all transactional information and using this data to foster accountability. The Kuebix Transportation Management Systems (TMS) capture data across every shipping event to provide visibility into true levels of service and efficiency. The accurate and timely data from the TMS can be used to monitor and validate communications and interactions between shippers and carriers, but Kuebix takes this one step farther.

Kuebix Carrier Relationship Manager uses this information to deliver Freight Intelligence to easily analyze the performance of carriers in the form of carrier scorecards. Typical analysis can be performed on:

  • • Carrier rate benchmarking by lane
  • • Carrier responsiveness
  • • Load acceptance rate
  • • Claims percentage by shipment – how many damages occur and by which carrier
  • • Rate exception percent
  • • On-time performance
  • • Invoice and freight bill accuracy and solving inaccuracies
  • • Driver performance
  • • Reliability of equipment and processes
  • • Documentation – accuracy, availability, etc.

Leverage this feature to work with your carriers with a set of metrics and facts rather than anecdotes. Carriers will appreciate the fact-based approach to performance monitoring, resulting in stronger relationships and improved service levels.

Keep the logistics team more organized with all contact information, schedules and tasks kept in one location. The new functionality will relieve admin of countless hours of chasing paperwork and tracking communications, while keeping carriers accountable. Carriers will benefit from clearly defined goals, while shippers will benefit from improved performance and service levels.

Kuebix Carrier Relationship Manager is a new, standard feature of Kuebix Business Pro TMS, a full-service transportation management system that features unlimited shipment management, advanced analytics, carrier scorecards, financial management with freight rate invoice and claims control, and much more. Kuebix Business Pro is available for a free 14-day trial.

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