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Omnichannel Fulfillment: The Never-Ending Delivery

Omnichannel retail has been implemented to varying degrees over the last seven or eight years.  The concept really became viable with the advent of robust, easy-to-use mobile phones and tablets, which for in-store associates, were convenient gateways to successful clienteling and inventory management applications.  These devices helped expand the sales floor beyond the physical store, and enabled associates to sell products directly from the fulfillment center.  Suddenly, stores were no longer “islands” of inventory exclusively sold through a POS system, and in-store sales were limited not by the number of products on the shelves, but by the number of products available within a retailer’s entire inventory ecosystem.

Essentially, omnichannel was a win-win for consumers and retailers alike.  Consumers had ready access to products, and retailers’ ability to sell products grew exponentially.

Building an Omnichannel Distribution Model

For today’s leading retailers, inventory is typically treated as both global and virtual in nature – open to almost any sales channel whether online, in-store, a call center, and/or a wholesaler.  And retailers are looking to fulfill orders to these destinations from any number of points of origin: a warehouse, a mini-urban distribution center (DC), a proprietary store, a locker, a 3rd party store, and/or a drop-ship supplier.

But building this omnichannel fulfillment distribution model isn’t easy.  Retailers have typically become “omnichannel capable” only through a drip feed of annual IT projects and revised business practices.  And even when larger business process and IT landscape changes have been sent into motion, such as new mobile POS systems, order management solutions, or mobile and cloud native commerce platforms, customer processes and fulfillment operations tend to be adjusted year-on-year rather than end-to-end.  This means retailers are missing opportunities to see whether processes can be fundamentally redesigned to optimize the customer experience and minimize the cost of increasingly complex supply chain processes (which are often executed with manual labor in several small fulfillment centers).

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For example, retailers tend to overlook planning processes that are the foundation of best practice supply chain management.  Assortment planning for online and in-store may remain disconnected, and in turn, demand planning for online and in-store remains disconnected.  In this environment, retailers will have sub-optimal procurement, where purchase orders from different channels land in suppliers’ inboxes as though they’re from two different companies.  Now, the retailer can’t optimize inbound delivery and inventory allocation, adding costs into the supply chain for both suppliers and retailers – a genuine lose/lose scenario.

Moving on [pun intended!] to last mile fulfillment, delivery from warehouse to consumer, from store to consumer, from store to store, and from warehouse to third party location for collection by consumer, all tend to suffer from a similar tactical impairment.  The approach is almost always, “Gee, we need to bolt on shipping to the e-commerce, order management, or aging warehouse system.  Go find one or have the IT program do a bespoke integration project with FedEx, etc., etc., etc.”  While this may address the short-term problem, it misses so many opportunities that it almost causes our V.P. of Business Development (and the author of this post!) sympathy pains.

So, what sort of opportunities are being missed?  Here are just a few examples:

  1. Optimizing the customer experience.  This is pretty fundamental.  Very few companies allow their customer to select their preferred last mile delivery carrier.  Modern multi-carrier systems can do this and still meet customer SLAs while controlling costs to meet internal profit objectives.
  1. Childlike sourcing logic for ship from store and store collections.  Most retailers use order management systems to make sourcing decisions, based on the customer’s postal code and inventory availability.  But the OMS/e-commerce systems have no history of their stores’ and their carriers’ operation/execution competence.  They certainly don’t take this into account in the sourcing logic for fulfillment, and thereby the retailer increases the likelihood of creating a negative customer experience – allocating to stores that are poor at shipping or using carriers that are habitually late, for example.
  1. Shipment order tracking.  When a retailer simply provides the customer with a tracking URL from the carrier, the retailer can’t proactively alert customers of delivery events in advance.  Instead, the retailer should build the technical infrastructure (cough, TMS for parcel shipping with a Control Tower, cough) that allows the retailer to capture – and act on – carrier status messages.
  1. How can a retailer quickly make product re-available for sale during peak season?

Put the Right Omnichannel Fulfillment Strategy in Place


The list of perils that can befall a retailer when tackling omnichannel distribution with a short-term mindset are leaving plenty of lost opportunities on the table.  But putting the right omnichannel retail strategy in place provides the direction many leading retailers need to successfully transition to a fulfillment approach that improves customer service and profitability.

Download our white paper: Omnichannel’s Missing Link, to learn more.

TMS Software: TMS for Freight versus TMS for Parcel

Gaining the control and visibility necessary to ensure cost-effective transportation and on-time delivery: this is the goal of any enterprise shipping goods from point A to point B. TMS software, either for freight or parcel, do just that – and more. The days of manual logistics planning and execution, which made both capabilities virtually impossible, are behind us. The modern logistics landscape now offers state-of-the-art technology that streamlines shipment planning and execution, tracks delivery movements to meet the strenuous demands of customers and saves companies thousands of dollars.

However, before you replace your existing logistics solution and invest in TMS software, it’s important to understand the distinctions in the new solutions available. Once you sort through the details, you’ll have a more complete picture of the technology you need to manage your end-to-end shipping operations – and even scale your shipping volumes in the years to come without adding additional resources.

So, let’s discuss one of the most popular logistics technologies available in the market today: TMS (Transportation Management System) software. This next-gen technology has forever changed how the world’s largest manufacturers, retailers, and logistics providers interact with carriers to improve customer service and increase profits per shipment. But will it make a difference in your business?

What is TMS Software?

get the ebook: critical capabilities of a tms for parcel shippingIn general, TMS software gives shippers visibility and control over shipment processes, from carrier procurement to carrier invoice reconciliation. The AI-powered software offers tools to improve shipment delivery performance while minimizing costs. But the scale, capabilities, and benefits vary from one TMS provider to another. So, what distinctions should you make before diving into further research?

First, understand that not all shipments are the same, and what you’re shipping will make all of the difference in terms of which TMS works best for your company. Are you shipping freight? Or are you shipping parcels? And if you’re shipping both: what percentage of your total shipping volume does each represent? While not all systems specialize in a single type of shipment, you always want to invest in a TMS (or any type of expensive technology!) that caters to your exact business needs – which means it’s time to talk about a TMS for freight shipping versus a TMS for parcel shipping.

TMS for Freight Shipping versus TMS for Parcel Shipping

Freight shipping versus parcel shipping — you might think the difference is obvious: the size and weight of the shipment. And while you’re right, there are underlying considerations that size and weight bring to the surface when choosing TMS software. The system’s access to specific carrier services, for example, will make a major difference in which TMS works for your shipping needs.

Simply put, a TMS for freight shipping is necessary when the shipments:

  • Consist of whole pallets, truckloads, or large shipping containers — essentially any large quantity of goods.
  • Are moved by one or more cargo transportation modes, including trucks, cargo planes, trains, or ships.
  • Arrive in ports, large warehouses, or assembly facilities.

Freight shipping is typically used by commercial shippers that are operating in the middle of the supply chain and are delivering thousands of shipment components to one distribution facility. Freight shipping also has a more stringent tendering process, where the shippers must consider factors such as point-to-point charges or per-mile cost models early in the carrier selection process.

TMS for parcel shipping, on the other hand, usually takes place within these parameters:

  • Shipments are individual, box-sized parcels up to 150 pounds.
  • Shipments are part of an omnichannel distribution model, where multiple delivery locations and stringent delivery times require different carrier services.
  • Shipment destination and ETA are dictated by the consumer.

Parcel shipping is typically used by retailers or businesses​ that operate toward the end of the supply chain.  These companies often ship to separate geographic locations, and accurate time of delivery is a top priority.​ While the shipment itself might be physically easier to handle, stringent delivery times can make parcel shipping a complex venture.​ A TMS for parcel shipping adds value by providing rigorous control over – and visibility into – each delivery movement from the warehouse to the final destination, ensuring on-time delivery is achieved.

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While advancements such as 3D printing in manufacturing are blurring the lines between freight and parcel shipping​, the transportation modes, delivery service requirements, and pricing are usually different.  Therefore, it’s vital to identify your shipment requirements before selecting a TMS.

Learn more about what differentiates one TMS provider from another and download our checklist: Choose the Right TMS for parcel shipping.

 

A checklist for selecting a multi-carrier shipping solution

The ability to quickly adapt to customer demands, open up new markets, or switch service providers is vital in today’s economy. This also applies to parcel shipping – an area of growing importance across all industries in our e-commerce era.

These needs gave rise to TMS-for-Parcel solutions. These platforms offer enterprises the ability to tap into a wide array of parcel carriers and services, increasing flexibility and greatly reducing costs for shipping and IT-integrations. But how do you select the shipping solution that is right for you?

One platform, touching on many processes

get the checklist: choose the right tms for parcel shippingSelecting a multi-carrier TMS for Parcel solution for your business is a serious undertaking. This platform touches on countless processes in your organization, from customer service and warehouse floor to your financial administration and supply chain planning. So making an informed decision is vital. To help you make the right choice, we created this checklist containing the most important points of attention in your selection process for a multi-carrier TMS-for-Parcel solution.

Carriers, services & procurement

The core of any great TMS-for-Parcel solution is a wide array of carriers and services users can choose from. Note that ‘carrier’ does not always fit the description here. Many local branches of global carriers operate as separate entities, each with their own labeling and IT requirements. So always verify if a vendor supports the specific carrier services in your key geographies.

SaaS-software & Cloud-hosting The ability to ship parcels via an application hosted in the cloud, connected to your existing systems via an API or integration. This SaaS infrastructure offer increased flexibility and improved data safety over typical on-premise installations of shipping software.
 
Front-end integrations with e-commerce software and platforms Availability of an off-the-shelf integration/partnership with your current e-commerce systems and platform partners (e.g. Amazon).
 
Back-end connectivity Availability of an off-the-shelf integration/partnership for your current back-end systems such as your WMS, OMS or ERP.
 
API structure & documentation The ease with which the TMS can be integrated into other systems via an API and the level of support in this process (API documentation, sample code, technical project management)

Operational

Carrier library size and system connectivity are both vitally important for a good TMS-solution. Still, the true value of these systems is created on your warehouse floors. The power to operate at scale whilst upholding systems speed is essential for any enterprise shipper. This is where the true differences between vendors shine through, so be sure to pay close attention to these operational requirements.

Labeling, documentation & EDI The output of shipping documentation by the system; is this is only shipping labels or also e.g. customs forms or end-of-day manifests.
 
Business ruling A business ruling engine that automatically books shipments with ‘best-fit’ carriers based on business rules.
 
Consolidation of cross-border shipments Ability to consolidate cross-border shipments going to the same geographic area. By skipping zones and avoiding accessorial charges this significantly reduces costs for cross-border

processing, brokerage, and insurance.

 
Real time performance analysis and rerouting Ability to compare selected carrier services against actual carrier performance to find routing alternatives with lower cost implications and/or faster delivery times.
 
Automatic address verification Ability to verify addresses upfront to prevent costly missed deliveries.
 
Service speed Response time of the API / service when booking shipments and generating shipping documentation.

Tracking & Dashboarding

From a shipper’s perspective, most of the job seems done when the parcels leave your warehouse. But for your customers, this marks just the beginning. The ability to keep your customers, and your customer care team, updated on all shipments in real-time is therefore essential. A great TMS solution not only standardizes the shipping process across carriers; it will also create a uniform tracking experience. Ideally, the system allows you to include your branding in all communication.

Real-time Track & Trace Notifications Tooling to send uniform, branded shipping Track & Trace updates across all carriers
 
Real-time Track & Trace portal Branded website or portal via which customers can Track and Trace shipments in real-time (instead of visiting individual carriers’ tracking website).
 
Handling of exceptions Pro-active signaling of delivery exceptions (e.g. delays or re-routing) .
 
Customer Service Tools Real-time shipping insight into shipments via all carriers, allowing  customer service teams to proactively take action in the case of ‘exception events’.

Reporting & Finance

To make strong and informed business decisions you want to rely on ‘a single source of truth’, in which data is connected across all systems in real time. A powerful TMS solution breaks down data siloes, allowing instant access to financial or carrier performance reporting.

Delivery & carrier performance analysis Ability to monitor the delivery performance per carrier, warehouse or geography.
 
Invoice matching

 

Automated auditing of invoices to identify and adjust improperly invoiced items based on contracted rates, claims and “not shipped” transactions.

Contact us for a free consultation

Whatever your company size or need, from customized labels to parcel shipping software, we have the solutions to save time, save money and make your business more successful. Contact us today and a Logistyx representative in your global region will be in touch.

3 Reasons to Attend our Webinar: Carrier Compliance: How Multi-Carrier Shipping Solutions Connect You to your Carriers

Our webinars with Logistics Management are a great way to learn and share information. We don’t just participate in them to say “we did it”— our goal is to bring invaluable parcel shipping knowledge and share new trends and information with as many manufacturers, retailers, and 3PLs as possible.  We know that leveraging best practices is the key to your success, and we take pride in our subject matter experts, our customers’ accomplishments, and our partnership with Logistics Management as a whole.  Next week, our President and CSO Ken Fleming will present: Carrier Compliance: How Multi-Carrier Shipping Solutions Connect You to your Carriers.

Here are three reasons why you should join us on Wednesday, 10/30/19:

Your Transportation Spend is Incredibly Important

Though no shipping manager in their right mind would ever purposely seek out the priciest shipping rates in history, they nevertheless can – and should expect to – experience serious sticker shock if they fail to consider all the complex and often conflicting service charges and fees that carriers assess when a shipment is out of compliance.

In fact, while your carrier’s base rate may be significantly lower than those of its competitors, if your shipment is out of compliance, the same carrier’s fees can wipe away the initial savings.  And if last year is any indication, companies should expect to incur an increasing array of carrier charges. During 2018, one carrier announced a $2.00 per-package processing fee for shippers who fail to provide package level detail (PLD) before delivery.  And as they have typically done in the past, all global carriers increased surcharges for the “usual suspects,” such as address correction.

But there’s good news: Companies don’t have to go it alone. In this webinar, Ken will explain how using sophisticated parcel shipping management processes and technologies as their guide, shippers can navigate through the complex and crowded field of carrier compliance and ultimately achieve cost savings.  In fact, with the right tools in hand, companies can create blended carrier strategies that ensure each parcel they ship gets automatically matched to the ideal carrier service and sent into motion according to carrier-defined rules.  When you consider that according to Gartner, by 2020, same-day delivery will drive up logistics costs as a percentage of revenue by 50%, having parcel shipping technology to eliminate compliance errors – and the associated charges that go with them – is no longer a “nice-to-have,” it’s a true necessity in the modern world of commerce.

You Can Build New Markets

While e-commerce may have shrunk geographic boundaries, crossing these boundaries requires shippers to navigate a labyrinth of local couriers, paperwork, tariffs, and customs – and if a shipment includes a high value or hazardous item, the process is even more elaborate.  Add consumer expectations for same-day/next day delivery to the mix, and organizations are suddenly under tremendous pressure to flawlessly navigate cross-border shipping while eliminating any chance of a shipment being held up at customs.

In this webinar, Ken will challenge you to think about the crucial vertebrae in your supply chain backbone, and how technology can strengthen their performance. For example, a Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping connects to all other systems and tools in a boundaryless way, enabling your organization to start small and scale into new markets when ready.  Suddenly, your organization can leverage a single system to manage carrier contracts, comply with label and documentation requirements, and see the long-term impact of various carrier service rates in any location – while also increasing your capacity to identify new carrier services (i.e. locally-based couriers) and on-board them quickly.

Meet Customer Expectations

One of the worst things that can happen when your shipment is out of compliance is that delivery is either delayed or prevented altogether.  And at a time when customer expectations are high and evolving, this is a risk you don’t want to take.  According to a new report from project44, 85% of marketers now say delivery is moderately to very important to their brand and customer experience.  This means that for shippers, working on the customer experience post-sale is essential for repeat purchases.

In this webinar, Ken will discuss how parcel shipping technology, and in particular a TMS for parcel shipping, both accelerates and orchestrates carrier rating, labeling, tracking, and invoicing with greater precision and certainty, making it possible to increase your on-time-in-full delivery rates. It’s multi-carrier shipping at its finest, where all parcel shipments can be accurately prepared for pick-up and delivered where and when the customer wants.

Join Us

Click here to register, and if you’re busy, register anyway!  We’ll send you a link to the recording.

 

 

Logistics Viewpoints: Brexit’s Impact on Cross-Border Shipping

With or without an agreement, by the end of October, Brexit will have a major impact on cross-border shipping. To ensure a smooth transition and provide a seamless customer experience in line with expectations, businesses need to plan ahead by better understanding the precise nature and extent of the impending changes.

In a recent article for Logistics Viewpoints, Logistyx Technologies President and Chief Sales Officer Ken Fleming shares some of the inevitable adjustments, challenges and potential implications that Brexit will have on cross-border shipping. Ken also provides a checklist of factors that shippers need to proactively address in order to successfully navigate these effects.

Read Ken’s full article on Logistics Viewpoints: “Brexit’s Profound Impact on Cross-Border Shipping

3 Signs You’ve Outgrown your Shipping Practices

One of the biggest challenges in an organization’s growth is when it becomes evident your shipping environment is no longer working… and yet you’re unsure of what to do next. After all, the processes you’ve painstakingly cobbled together over the years, piece by piece, has brought you to where you are today.

It’s Worked Fine So Far…

Your veteran team members are at ease with the shipping environment you’ve built together. The special amalgamation of spreadsheets, training documents, and carrier workstations feels comfortable. They remember when each piece was added to the puzzle and why. They’re proud of their ability to successfully navigate your shipping “labyrinth”—it’s like a badge of honor to be someone who “gets it.”  Heck – it just might be job security.

But… things are starting to slip. You may notice some team members are overwhelmed and suddenly voicing worry they’re falling “behind,” despite the fact their personal productivity hasn’t changed.  For the first time you might find yourself wondering whether you need to increase staff and looking for month-to-month shipment projections to support your decision – only to come up empty handed. And whenever you train a new employee on the ins and outs of your shipping environment, you’re reminded of just how complex it is.

How do you know when it’s time to abandon your formerly tried-and true shipping practices and embrace the tools of the future—and how do you tell the differences between them? Read on for three telltale signs you’ve outgrown your shipping environment and the time is right to build something new.

1. You’re Embarrassed When You Teach New Hires Your “System”

When you’re showing a new hire the ropes, do you find yourself over-explaining or justifying why you do things a certain way—and facing a perplexed reaction? Are you repeatedly answering the same questions about where to go for a piece of data or how to locate a particular shipping record? Have you ever said, “Yeah, it’s confusing now, but it will make more sense over time?” These are all signs your existing shipping environment is stuck in the past, and if you’re in a growth phase, it’s only going to get more challenging from here.

But when you implement a shipping system that’s intuitive and centralized – not cobbled together from multiple, disconnected solutions and processes – it’s much easier to not only onboard new employees but also to increase the productivity of your current team.

get the ebook: critical capabilities of a tms for parcel shipping

For example, Service Lighting and their online superstore, LightBulbs.com, realizes 80% of their sales through e-commerce. Sales are busiest during the holiday season, when order volume triples and shipping operations handle more than a 200% increase in packages a day.  Originally, LightBulbs.com had six shipping workstations, all with standalone, carrier-provided shipping software. The shipping process was cumbersome because the staff had to enter orders in multiple carrier systems, type in the dimensions of every package, and then manually compare and choose the best carrier rate and service.  “Shipping was our biggest bottleneck,” President Paul McLellan said, “We needed to find a way to automate our process and increase productivity.”

LightBulbs.com implemented a Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping, gaining the ability to load all carriers onto one platform and automate carrier rate shopping and shipment processing.  As a result, Service Lighting streamlined and improved shipment processing speed and is now handling the same volume of work on two shipping stations instead of six. “We were able to reallocate employees to other areas in the warehouse that needed help,” McLellan said.

2.   You Miss Your Shipping KPIs

Even the best shipping teams will miss a delivery deadline or select the wrong carrier service.  However, if these lapses suddenly occur with greater frequency, it could be a sign your existing shipping environment lacks the bandwidth to accommodate growing order volumes.

For example, Faes Group, the leading manufacturer of custom packing solutions in Europe, employed a small team to manually plan its transportation: physically creating each transport order, calling a large number of carriers to verify pricing and schedule transport, and tracking transport movements through phone calls and email exchanges with carriers’ customer service teams.  When Faes Group began to sell its products through e-commerce sites including Amazon, orders increased, delivery service faltered, and pressure mounted.  Said Johan Faes, the founder and director of Faes Group, “Amazon speeds up the process, and if you do something wrong, you get hit hard. If you don’t get your house in order, you can’t sell to a customer like Amazon.”

Faes Group ultimately chose a TMS for parcel shipping to integrate with their large carrier network and automate their end-to-end shipping processes –  gaining the ability to meet increasing order demands without adding staff by automating and optimizing transportation management. Immediate benefits included lower labor costs and improved customer service, and with automated carrier booking and compliance as well as track and trace functionality in the platform, the team directed their attention away from carrier communications and exception management and focused on other value-added activities in the warehouse.

Video: The Critical Capabilities of a TMS for Parcel Shipping 

3. You Can’t Easily Provide Customers with Delivery Information

Think about the steps it takes to tell a customer when their package will be delivered. Do you tell the customer to call the carrier’s customer service number for an update?  Provide the customer with a tracking number and send them a link to the carrier’s website? Fill out a ticket in the carrier’s system and ask the carrier to contact you with an update?  If the process is at all manual or takes hours (heaven forbid days), even for a fairly standard request, then you have your first clue it may be time to consider updating your shipping environment.

For example, as one of the most highly respected and well-known healthcare brands in the world, Bausch + Lomb needs to ensure their product distribution is seamless to maintain their integrity in the industry and keep their customers happy. However, a complex in house system combined with huge growth within the organization was making this difficult to achieve.  Bausch + Lomb was using 25 different carriers, each with their own different services and each with a specific type of bar code that wasn’t always compatible with Bausch + Lomb’s software.  The Bausch + Lomb team had to track thousands of items every week on different carrier sites, which was time consuming, and ultimately the team couldn’t confidently inform customers of exact delivery times.

Bausch + Lomb chose a TMS for parcel shipping to support all carrier services in one complete system, eliminating the need to work on different carrier sites and in different languages.  As a result, they have full visibility – saving at least half a day in labor costs every week and importantly: improving customer satisfaction by providing customers with up-to-date shipping statuses.

Ready for a Shipping System Fit for an Enterprise?

Your shipping practices have served you well. You can be grateful for them without allowing them to hold you back, and if any of these three signs felt familiar, it’s probably time to consider a TMS for parcel shipping. It will create an end-to-end shipping ecosystem – automating processes and centralizing all data so it can be analyzed, reported, and optimized.  It’s an absolute must for dynamic shipping teams in the e-commerce age, and it’s just a click away.

4 Benefits of Integrating your TMS for Parcel Shipping System with your Enterprise Solutions

Modern organizations often rely on multiple specialized systems, each acting as the single source of truth for that aspect of the business. There may be a financial system of record, such as SAP. There could be an inventory system of record, like Oracle. And for the lucky ones (!) there might be a parcel shipping system of record, like Logistyx TME. However, while each of these solutions introduces myriad benefits into an organization, the truth is that they can also create silos of their own.

Enter: system integrations. When solution providers partner in a thoughtful way to integrate their systems, organizations can create an ecosystem – connecting and uniting technology and teams across the organization and optimizing performance, no matter the department or role.

Sync your Parcel Shipping Technology with your Enterprise Tools and Systems

Integrating a transportation management system for parcel shipping with other business systems of record can yield four key benefits:

1. Change Readiness

Responsiveness is a critical ingredient in the recipe for business success.  As industries change, organizations must be able to rapidly pivot – whether it’s a new product on the market or changes in customer behavior.  And let’s face it: when it comes to parcel shipping, changes in customer behavior are occurring daily.  Suddenly, customers want their products next day.  Or same day.  Or delivered to a local retailer.  Or delivered to a local parcel locker.  When your parcel shipping technology is integrated to other systems of record, such as a Warehouse Management System (WMS) or Order Management System (OMS), you enhance the flow of products both within and without your facilities, turning operations toward omnichannel success and future proofing your organization against additional changes to come.

Integrating systems can also help an organization respond to internal changes. When all business functions take a holistic view of data, decision-makers can identify trends and areas for improvement. These can then be addressed proactively, rather than when problems occur.

2. Data Accuracy

get the checklist: choose the right tms for parcel shippingDuplicating data in several systems or relying on manual data sharing will decrease data accuracy and consistency and increase the amount of time and effort your teams are spending on reconciling datasets.  Ultimately, disconnected data negatively impacts strategic decisions and often causes cross-departmental confusion.  For example, if your parcel shipping system isn’t integrated with your financial system, does your Finance team know whether a carrier invoice is accurate?  And how long does it take them to track down payment approval from the parcel shipping team?  Or do they simply pay the invoice, in which case: how much money are they losing in doing so?

By integrating systems, organizational processes become transparent.  Cross-departmental teams suddenly have the flexibility to use the same data in whatever system, which in turn gives them the opportunity to better understand the information and make more thoughtful decisions.

Integrated systems also make it easy to keep information up to date. One input can propagate across all solutions, keeping your data current. In fact, your data can even be real-time if a cloud solution is part of the integration strategy.

3. Increased Sales

Integrated systems can have a huge impact on overall sales, especially for the retail industry. Data connectivity across multiple departments is a great way to boost results for:

  • Customers – running an online store requires retailers to give customers constant access to most data. It enables them to see whether the product they want is available to purchase and from where, how soon they can receive it, and how much it will cost to ship.
  • Employees – A regular data flow between carrier “subsystems” and a parcel shipping system, for example, enables customer service employees to immediately address all customer inquiries regarding shipment status without manually searching for data in every carrier “subsystem.” Not only does this increase the employees’ job satisfaction, but it also limits the need for new hires.  Organizations can finally work on the quality of the customer service team and not on its size. They can also free their customer service teams to focus on more important and challenging tasks that help the organization grow and evolve.

4. IT Cost Reduction

Companies with siloed systems may incur duplicate costs, including capital costs for software and hardware, IT management and maintenance for multiple applications, and upgrade costs. Translation: IT spends the majority of their budget and their time maintaining existing legacy systems rather than increasing the business’s productivity.  However, when companies leverage a parcel shipping system that is a certified partner with preferred carriers, for example, IT no longer has to implement and maintain multiple system integrations – significantly reducing operational costs and maintenance efforts. Suddenly, IT has the bandwidth and budget to improve business operations and help the company grow.

Continually Make Progress

Integrating systems is a great way for businesses to make progress and remain competitive.

  • Organizations can swiftly react to a dynamic business climate, thereby improving customer satisfaction and gaining a competitive advantage.
  • Organizations can capture accurate data in real time, analyze performance, and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Systems integration can meet customers’ needs and handle business processes better.
  • By reducing IT costs, organizations can devote more of their scarce IT resources to delivering greater business value.

To learn more about why systems integration is a “must have” feature of your Transportation Management System for parcel shipping, download the e-book: Quick Guide: Critical Capabilities of a TMS for Parcel Shipping.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Miss Parcel Forum 2019

Parcel Forum is moseying on over to Dallas – at the Gaylord Texan, to be exact.  And while we believe there are countless reasons why you should saddle up and attend, we’ve picked five of our favorites:

1. Hear from the Experts

This year’s line-up of speakers are proven leaders, strategists, and practitioners in parcel shipping, and whether their expertise is in omnichannel, e-commerce, returns, and/or more, they know what you need to know.  Attend the presentations, network at all of the events, and sign up for the tours.  You’ll get a solid tutorial on tried-and-true best practices and unique insight into new innovations that will change how the world ships parcels.

2. Build Your Network

Parcel Forum’s greatest strength is the attendee list. Whether you’re on the cutting edge of parcel shipping or looking to benefit from the wisdom of others as you formulate your e-commerce strategy for the first time, Parcel Forum will provide you with myriad opportunities to meet others who are currently walking  – or have been long-walking – a similar journey. It’s no secret that supply chain logistics has traditionally been a small (but growing!) field, and spending time and learning from professionals who do similar work gives you the chance to meet, connect in person, forge relationships, and grow and develop your own professional network.

3. Learn from Case Studies

Your parcel shipping colleagues across the country are taking amazing strides forward, and they’re willing to share their learning with you! Multiple sessions will feature real world case studies, where the presenters freely share their methods, resources, and practices that you can take back and adapt in your own shipping environment.  Parcel Forum also offers chances to connect more informally with presenters and other attendees (see #2), so you have ample opportunity to touch base to request more information.

4. Reignite a Passion for Your Work

No, we’re not kidding!  We know we’re all heading into Peak Season.  We know we’re all tired, and for that matter: so are our teams. It becomes easy to forget what we like about our jobs. But have you noticed?  Parcel shipping is in the news  Every. Single. Day.  We may be tired but take a look around: we’re at the heart of supply chain logistics innovation!  What we do, and how we do it, is having a resounding impact in the C-Suite and on Wall Street.  We can actually tell someone at a cocktail party what we do for a living and they get it!  They might even ask us to weigh in on the fastest and cheapest way to send a care package to their college student, or how soon parcel lockers are coming to their local convenience store.  Heck – they might even ask us for a job!  Attending Parcel Forum, sharing our skillsets, and learning how our hard work is contributing to this incredible pivot in B2B and B2C logistics should definitely reignite a passion for our work.  (And if that doesn’t do it, be sure to stop by the Logistyx Cocktail Party in the Silver Bar on October 29 from 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm.  RSVP here).

5. Meet with New Vendors and Suppliers

We know we’re biased, but in our opinion, the exhibitors are industry experts and solution-providers who truly understand what’s taking place in today’s parcel shipping environment – and we have answers to your questions! Take advantage of the exhibit hours and be sure to stop by Logistyx Booth #541.  We’re some of the best people for you to get to know if you want to learn more about how our innovative Transportation Management System for parcel shipping is necessary for you to ship more parcels – smarter, faster, and to any destination in the world.  And if that isn’t compelling enough – we’ll have a little taste of Chicago on hand (no offense, Dallas!) to take home with you.

Plane tickets in hand and ready to set up a meeting with Logistyx at Parcel Forum? Contact us today.

How to Measure with Meaning: Identify Parcel Performance Indicators

As parcel shipping evolves, so too are the metrics and indicators we use to measure its performance.  A job well done is no longer defined as simply moving products from point A to point B.  It’s also about delivering on time and under budget.  And as the industry continues to shift, the future of how we manage parcel shipping will demand more data – which means you’ll need to identify and track more parcel performance indicators.

A need for new and relevant parcel shipping metrics.

From the number of steps we take in a day to the number of users who clicked on an online ad, technology allows us to measure both our personal and professional worlds.  We’re in a measurement craze right now, which can make it hard to know how to intelligently sift through the plethora of available data analytics and Business Intelligence.

So, when it comes to measuring parcel shipping performance, knowing where to start can be a daunting task. It’s best to look at your own parcel shipping ecosystem first, and ask yourself the following questions to start to understand what metrics are available – and important:

  • Which carrier services are we using?
  • How do we know whether our carriers are performing the services under contract?
  • How do we know we’ve selected the most efficient shipping option based on delivery deadlines, package destination, carrier rates, performance and other mission-critical factors?
  • What is my net landed cost of goods per parcel?
  • What percentage of my net landed cost of goods is comprised of accessorial charges?
  • Which accessorial charges occur most often? Is there a trend?
    • Residential surcharge?
    • Fuel surcharge?
    • Bad-address penalty?
    • Extended area surcharge?
    • Third-party account number penalty?
    • Large package surcharge?
    • Other?
    • What is my average parcel size?
    • What are my most frequent shipping lanes?
    • How often are my parcels late, lost, or damaged?

And if you’re shipping internationally, there are additional considerations:

  • Which surcharges and fees occur most often with cross-border shipping? Is there a trend?
    • Cross-border processing fees?
    • Brokerage fees?
    • Additional insurance fees?

A Clearer View of Your Logistics

get the ebook: critical capabilities of a tms for parcel shippingEvery logistics leader wants to know that carrier procurement is aligned with strategy and that they’re receiving the delivery outcomes for which they’ve paid. Questions like these provide insight into your current parcel shipping environment: what your company ships, how your company ships, how much your parcels weigh, where your parcels go, how long it takes, and how much it costs – to name a few!  They’ll also give you a clearer view of what’s happening inside of your organization: what you need to fix and where you’re winning already.  You may find you have to adjust course if you want to position your operations to seamlessly scale during the next peak season, or you may discover that if you just stay on path, you’ll continue to optimize your transportation spend and deliver on your customer promise.

Simplify the Complexity of your Parcel Shipping Data Capture

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of indicators we’ve listed, start small and just pick two to begin.  As stated by our V.P. of Business Intelligence, Mike Eisner, “When businesses begin to connect the data from shipping… complex decisions and tasks get simpler.”

If, however, you’re feeling overwhelmed because you don’t have immediate access to this kind of data, then you need to consider whether it’s time for a Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping – complete with Business Intelligence – to give you the insight you’re seeking.  A TMS for parcel shipping with Business Intelligence will connect your data from carrier selection… to parcel shipping execution… to carrier invoice payment, and then synchronize it for reporting.  Suddenly, you’ll have a 360-degree view of your shipment operation and you can ask sophisticated questions of your data to drill down into those performance indicators to get insights that make sense.  Even better: you’ll create a data-driven culture in your shipping environment, where everyone can answer their own questions and make more informed, data-driven decisions.

Don’t Get Left Behind

According to Salesforce, approximately 89% of all American businesses are investing in data and data analytics processes. With so much data being captured, it stands to reason there will soon be a very definite segregation between those businesses leveraging the benefits of business intelligence, and those that do not.

To learn more about how you can leverage a TMS for parcel shipping in your organization, download our e-book, Quick Guide: Critical Capabilities of a TMS for Parcel Shipping.

 

Disruptor Daily Speaks with David Hogg on the State of AI in Supply Chain Management

Smooth and efficient supply chain solutions are key to increasing profitability and enhancing customer experience; more companies are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to help achieve this. Globalized ecommerce and higher expectations for speedy shipping means greater opportunity for unpredictability in the supply chain. To gain a competitive edge, it’s essential to adopt AI capabilities as part of supply chain strategies to keep pace and quickly respond to unanticipated changes.

Logistyx Vice President of Business Development David Hogg was recently quoted in a Disruptor Daily article exploring the trends driving AI’s role in the supply chain industry. Hogg explains how AI-enabled features in supply chain technology provide visibility to shippers and increase timeliness, a major source of business for companies competing against e-commerce giants like Amazon.

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Read David’s insights on this trend on Disruptor Daily: “What Trends Are Shaping AI In Supply Chain Management Today? 16 Experts Share Their Insights

What is a Transportation Management System for Parcel Shipping and Why is it Important?

In this article:
1. The two primary functions of a TMS for parcel shipping: planning and execution
2. TMS for parcel shipping: capabilities overview
3. Omnichannel distribution challenges: increasing order volumes, changing customer expectations, disconnected business systems

 

Scaling parcel shipping, whether you’re a retailer, a manufacturer, or a 3PL, has traditionally been an intimidating challenge. Companies contract with one or two domestic carriers, and logistics teams manually enter orders into on-premise carrier workstations to produce carrier-compliant labels and documentation. This means as parcel volumes scale and demand for same-day and next-day delivery surges, companies are left with little ability to rate shop and even less ability to execute.

And there’s no end in sight to this dynamic. As Bloomberg News summarizes in a recent article on the Amazon-FedEx delivery feud, “…the common features for all involved are an ever-increasing flood of packages combined with greater pressure on profits.”

There’s no escaping reality: smart parcel shipping management is critical, and it literally pays for a business to invest in a Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping. The proof is in the numbers. According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2017, total spending on logistics rose to a record of nearly $1.5 trillion, up 6.2% from the year before, and about $250 billion more than companies spent on logistics in 2008. And on average, here at Logistyx we’ve found it costs companies at least 10% more to manage shipping without a TMS for parcel shipping than with one. That adds up to tremendous savings – in hard dollars as well as in labor and time saved week after week.

With 2019 on track to demonstrate record-breaking growth in the parcel shipping market,
now is the time for companies to invest to keep their parcel shipping spend under control. When at least 60% of a company’s total shipping volumes are parcel, TMS for parcel shipping is essential technology.

Omnichannel Retail | 1:21

What Is a TMS for parcel shipping?

A TMS for parcel shipping has two primary functions: planning and execution. The planning stage begins with overall carrier rate calculations and ends with carrier selection and package consolidations based on factors such as a shipper’s business rules, a customer’s delivery preferences, and the inventory’s location. The execution stage encompasses everything from printing shipping labels and documents to ensuring the execution of the delivery commitment. Basically, if you need to get a parcel from point A to B, or even C to D, a TMS for parcel shipping will handle that, and more.

They’re able to:

  • Streamline order fulfillment ops and set each parcel up for cost-effective, on-time delivery before it leaves the warehouse
  • Integrate with leading business systems to seamlessly execute shipments from any operation, whether it’s automated, manual, or somewhere in between
  • Identify the best carrier service and automatically provide a label that complies with the carrier’s requirements
  • Account for the variables in carrier contract negotiations and eliminate the guesswork in budgeting
  • Calculate the impact of a new carrier contract on the bottom line
  • Identify savings opportunities across attributes such as origin-destination, carrier services, modes, and accessories
  • Automatically compare carrier invoices against expected transportation costs and identify discrepancies
  • Report on transportation spend according to geography, business unit, accruals, and GL Coding
  • Identify opportunities to deploy different multi-carrier parcel delivery strategies that yield greater returns
  • Send instant warning alerts if a parcel is off track or behind schedule

Why is a TMS for Parcel Shipping Important?

Market factors such as an increasing demand for omnichannel distribution. Rapidly growing ecommerce order volumes have changed how companies operate, requiring them to support faster order fulfillment processes, millions of parcel delivery variables, infinite supply chain work streams, and a more global customer profile.

Additionally, demand for same-day/next day delivery is growing and carrier services are expanding. The C-Suite is under growing pressure to reduce net landed cost of goods and manual labor expenses. End-to-end order fulfillment data is trapped in silos. Companies are trying to navigate this new market, and they need a powerful software solution to succeed.

Implementation Cannot Happen Soon Enough

Any efficiencies achieved in the distribution model can help companies successfully navigate these new market dynamics, and shippers who can invest in TMS for parcel shipping systems stand a better chance of keeping overall transportation costs in check and improving customer satisfaction. With the right TMS solution, modern companies are eliminating multiple steps in the order fulfillment process, optimizing carrier service selection, syncing shipping data across business-critical systems, and yielding tremendous gains in on-time delivery in full rates – all of which helps them compete in an ever-changing market.

Learn how a TMS for parcel shipping can benefit your business today.

How a TMS for Parcel Shipping Helps Grow your Business

Consumer demands push parcel shipping volumes to new heights every year. It’s a global phenomenon, and as a result, both retailers and manufacturers are re-prioritizing the role of parcel shipping in the organization. But good intentions alone won’t get the job done.  To understand the implications of parcel shipping on the supply chain, shippers need to re-think distribution strategies and consider the myriad challenges scaling shipping volumes, expanding marketplaces, and same-day/next-day delivery expectations can present.

Global Omnichannel Distribution

Perhaps you’re looking to implement or revise your omnichannel strategy. Or maybe you want to expand your product offering to another vertical or geographic area. Growing your company doesn’t happen by itself, nor does it happen overnight. And let’s not forget that only so much can be done by your workforce.

The definition of omnichannel is changing, and the reality is that a global, modern omnichannel strategy requires you to ship from anywhere to anywhere at the desired time, making it necessary to work with different carriers in order to deliver as promised. This can be tough on your fulfillment team, who may suddenly need to adhere to parcel shipping regulations in a new country, select the right carrier, and meet the specific documentation requirements – all while handling the usual influx of orders.

Parcel Delivery Transparency

Today, buyers expect to know the exact status, location, and ETA of their package, and the latest research indicates a delivery failure influences the customer experience more than a mediocre website.  This means that for companies looking to establish and maintain customer loyalty, exceptional customer service has to be more than just lip service.

But high levels of service require more than a friendly voice on the end of the line.  They require shipment data.  And sadly, this shipment data can be hard to come by.  Carriers each have their own status messages and formats, making shipment visibility fragmented.  Unfortunately, customer service departments often struggle to create a full overview of a shipment’s status, let alone communicate proactively to a customer regarding delivery time.

Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Scale

Automated, consistent parcel shipping processes backed by the right tools can overcome obstacles and make scaling your business possible.  A TMS for parcel shipping will empower you to fulfill more orders and track their movements anywhere in the world – using the same workforce.  And the benefits don’t stop there.  With the right TMS for parcel shipping, you can also:

  • Optimize carrier selection and ensure cost-effective delivery to customers
  • Monitor every shipment to ensure carriers are performing services as contracted
  • Create both domestic and cross-border carrier compliant documentation and labels to avoid delivery disruption and prevent fines
  • Gain real-time visibility to each parcel and implement smart exception workflows to rapidly react to delivery disruptions and inform customers
  • Seamlessly connect to your business-critical applications, allowing your teams to work across systems without interruption

Want to see how your company can benefit from a TMS for parcel shipping?  Schedule a demo today.