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Recovering Economy Accelerates Technology Implementations as Supply Chains Evolve

The COVID-19 pandemic stifled supply chains across many industries, with shipping capacity strain, carrier surcharges, the pressures of meeting changing customer demands, and other challenges pushing many organizations to their limits. While technology has the power to minimize the impact of pandemics, weather events, and other disruptions on supply chains, the economic downturn of 2020 led some organizations to cut budgets or pause technology implementations altogether.

Thankfully, many economic indicators now suggest a full U.S. recovery is already underway, and to prepare, some of these same organizations have begun to restart or accelerate technology implementations to improve their agility and flexibility. Efforts to digitize supply chains, migrate supply chains to the cloud, or boost omnichannel offerings for example, improve their readiness for the coming growth and ahead of the next disruption.

FedEx Chief Economist Tim Mullaly presented many positive economic indicators during the 2021 FedEx Compatible Envision annual conference, including the highlights that follow.

Real GDP Forecast - Dip in Q1 2020 and rises into CY22-Q1
A full recovery of GDP is expected in Q2 2021.

Gross domestic product (GDP) indicates the monetary value of goods and services made during a particular period and is often used to estimate an economy’s size or growth rate. According to data from FedEx Corporate Economics included in the chart below, U.S. GDP is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2021 and continue growing at an impressive rate through at least 2022.

Industrial Production Manufacturing headed down but Real Personal Consumption Expenditures Goods will rise
Demand for goods has risen sharply while production has lagged.

Reflecting many of the previously mentioned supply chain challenges of 2020, U.S. manufacturing production plummeted in the early days of the pandemic. Although it has since recovered some, overall production fell over the course of 2020 despite consumer spending increasing as much as 12 percent over the same period following a similar dip in the early days of the pandemic.

Manufacturing and Wholesale dropped significantly in 2020 but are both rebounding
Manufacturing and wholesale are catching up to retail sales.

Retail sales more than recovered in 2020. In 2021, supply chains and manufacturing capacity should continue to increase to create greater capacity for economic growth.

Drewry East-West Air Freight Index has steadily decreased since 2014 but spiked in 2020 and is now maintaining higher levels
The price to move goods internationally has increased sharply to historic heights.

Much like the carrier capacity constraints of 2020 that made shipping parcels difficult, international shipping costs also rose sharply. While air cargo prices increased as pictured below, the World Container Index Freight Rate composite reported that container shipping rates grew even faster (below).

World Container Index Freight Rate Composite had never reached 1,000 since 2014 but spiked in 2020 to over 5,000

Shippers take steps to minimize impact of persistent fulfillment challenges

The economic recovery directly impacts parcel shipping, especially as demand drives up carrier rates even as carriers add capacity. Manufacturers, retailers, and third-party logistics (3PL) providers continue to face immense pressure to distribute high volumes of products across significant distances faster than ever. Organizations seeking to contain costs while meeting rising customer expectations need meaningful insights into their shipping processes more than ever; parcel shipping technology with business intelligence can produce these insights and streamline operations to expedite speed and service while containing costs.

To effectively navigate the rise in e-commerce and consumers’ increasing same-day/next-day delivery expectations as the economy roars back, now is the perfect time for organizations to move their new or stalled technology projects forward and invest in parcel shipping technology. Efforts to increase fulfillment flexibility now position shippers well for the likely surges and disruptions that lie ahead.

A cloud multi-carrier shipping system simplifies complex parcel transportation management processes by providing easy access to tools such as multi-carrier rating, rate shopping, delivery tracking, returns, business analytics, and more – all in a single solution. For shippers with a global footprint, a cloud multi-carrier shipping system provides guaranteed label and documentation compliance with global carriers, while also enabling consolidated shipping to cut costs and increase efficiency by combining shipments headed to the same geographic area.

As businesses look to meet demand for goods, fulfill soaring numbers of online orders, and quickly ship high volumes through their parcel carrier networks, implementing a cloud-based multi-carrier shipping system enables shippers to accelerate integration processes with enterprise and third-party software applications to realize a return on investment quickly. For example, Logistyx’s cloud-based multi-carrier shipping system can connect shippers to a network of 550+ global carriers, empowering shippers with the most comprehensive rate shopping capabilities and providing the optimal transportation formula for each parcel shipped.

Cloud-based parcel shipping technology enables businesses to dynamically manage growth and effectively navigate unexpected events or surges in demand by allowing them to seamlessly scale shipping volumes. Whether a business requires basic labeling and execution or worldwide omnichannel order fulfillment analytics, cloud-based fulfillment technology can provide the technical capabilities to handle parcel shipping from start to finish in any shipping landscape.

Advancing investments in parcel shipping technology today will not only help companies take advantage of the economic recovery currently underway, but enable long-term scalability, profitability, and efficiency.

Contact us today to learn how parcel shipping technology can help you effectively meet your global shipping needs and take advantage of this moment of economic growth.

Logistyx President Ken Fleming Highlights Success of Vaccine Supply Chain in Healthcare Purchasing News

Healthcare Purchasing News recently published two articles on COVID-19 vaccine supply chain challenges and considerations for non-acute care facilities. Logistyx President Ken Fleming was among a handful of experts quoted; while acknowledging the challenges faced by front-line workers, Ken praised vaccine manufacturers for their flexibility and success in delivering life-saving vaccines. From the article “Pandemic response primes most intense just-in-time, last-mile logistics projects:”

“The scale of the operation is massive and requires a great deal of coordination from end to end,” Fleming said. “With 50 states employing individual approaches, the lack of a unified system introduces unique variables.”

Fleming urges people to think positive.

“With all of that accounted for, the success of the effort to get vaccines into arms has been rather impressive,” he indicated. “From a distribution and logistics standpoint, manufacturers have implemented new strategies – like shipping directly from manufacturing sites instead of central distribution warehouses – and created custom shipping containers for cold-chain storage requirements. Carriers have prioritized vaccine shipments, ensuring they have capacity and the cold-chain capabilities to rapidly deliver fresh vaccines when and where they’re needed. Vaccination sites have ensured they have the necessary cold storage and the personnel on hand to administer the vaccines in rapid fashion.

“Have there been challenges along the way? Of course, but it’s also been quite successful,” he added.

Ken goes on to detail three key steps vaccine manufacturers used to improve delivery speed, maintain required temperatures and ensure the return of custom shipping containers.

In “For COVID-19 vaccine administration, non-acute facilities need access in excess,” Ken highlights the importance of communication:

“The most important aspect for facilities is constant communication,” Fleming insisted. “If they’re encountering issues, not receiving expected shipments on time or in the expected condition, it’s critical to communicate that to everyone up the chain, including state agencies overseeing vaccination programs, carriers and manufacturers to ensure those issues are being addressed and addressed quickly.” 

Be sure to read both articles to better understand the role of supply chain in the ongoing vaccination efforts. Kudos to all involved for the impressive response and results to-date!

Logistyx Helps Companies Achieve their Supply Chain Goals

Successful retailers, manufacturers, and 3PLs are able to adapt when facing unforeseen supply chain disruptions. But this agility requires the right people, processes, and technology…as well a lot of thoughtful planning. Logistyx partners with companies to create custom, detailed parcel shipping strategies that can support supply chain goals and help them move confidently toward success.

A Look at Logistyx’s Approach

With decades of experience in the parcel shipping industry, our teams have solved just about every kind of parcel shipping process and technology challenge. They are experts that understand how to use cloud multi-carrier shipping systems in a wide range of parcel shipping scenarios, from cross-border shipment execution… to hazmat shipment execution… to inbound shipment execution… to ship-from-store strategies.

“Supply chain leaders need more than just software to achieve their order fulfillment KPIs,” says Ken Fleming, Logistyx President. “In partnering with our teams, our customers optimize their technology and strategies to maximize their multi-carrier shipping system investment, and thrive.”

Help with Ship-from-Store

To meet consumer demand driven by the growth in e-commerce, Belk committed in recent years to investing in supply chain technology enhancements to better serve customers, including finding new methods to optimize fulfillment and shift more e-commerce delivery origins from distribution centers to stores. While simple in theory, executing store-level shipping presents considerable challenges, including limited carrier selection and complex rate shopping.

Logistyx worked with Belk to address these and other fulfillment challenges by implementing Logistyx TME, a solution that provides stores with instant access to carriers and services offering the best rates for each particular location. Seamlessly integrated with Manhattan Active Omni, the solution supports multi-carrier rate shopping, shipment execution and label generation, real-time shipment tracking, and delivery transparency.

Leveraging TME, Belk utilizes its stores as mini distribution centers without having to employ major process changes to get shipments to customers’ homes, a key advantage as parcel count increased considerably due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, when faced with carrier capacity limits during the pandemic, Logistyx helped Belk grow its carrier network by tapping into its library of more than 550 carrier integrations. This added greater capacity into Belk’s parcel delivery mix by introducing more options through using regional and specialty last-mile carriers, while also reducing transportation costs to provide a consistent level of service to customers.

A Plan to Accelerate Global Shipment Execution and Gain Real-Time Shipment Visibility

For global shippers like Cummins, managing huge numbers of global and local carriers can be extremely challenging. Like many manufacturers, Cummins had difficulty managing carrier information and shipment specifications, and producing shipping labels and transmitting shipping information according to each carrier’s specifications was a complex process. Cummins knew they needed to take control of their shipping and improve warehouse efficiency, and turned to Logistyx for support.

Cummins worked with Logistyx to gain real-time production of shipping labels and carrier documents, as well as the ability to perform shipment consolidation and monitor event tracking data. By implementing Logistyx’s flagship software, Logistyx TME, Cummins created shipping workflow efficiencies such as:

  • Ship-to addresses are valid and package weight and dimensions are within carrier restrictions.
  • Logistyx TME automatically identifies shipment consolidations and produces shipping labels in real-time at the moment the package is created, reducing process time and labeling errors.
  • When invalid shipments are identified by the system, error labels are printed that include instructions to the user to resolve the problem.
  • Logistyx TME performs instant freight calculations in real-time, so that actual freight costs can be added to sales invoices.
  • Logistyx TME produces carrier manifests and freight letters (CMR) at the end of each day, providing Cummins with the information they need when they need it.

How can Logistyx help your Supply Chain?

What parcel shipping challenges keep your organization from achieving its potential? Chances are, Logistyx can help. Whether you need to migrate to the cloud, create an integrated supply chain technology stack, or add new carriers to your transportation network, we have options to fit your unique needs. Learn more about the breadth of Logistyx’s technology and watch The Logistyx Shipping Quadrant.

Enduring Supply Chain Disruptions Call for Renewed Action

The widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains over the last year have grown more visible and reinforced the need to create more flexible and resilient operations to navigate any future disruptions. Continued issues in global shipping and supply chain shortages have prompted renewed calls for action from many.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, President Biden recently signed an executive order directing a broad review of supply chains for critical materials with the aim of spurring domestic production while strengthening ties with allies. The executive order mandates a 100-day review of supply chains for four areas:

  • Semiconductors, used in products from cars to phones
  • Large-capacity batteries used in electric vehicles
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Rare-earth elements that are key to technology and defense

President Biden also called for a separate, one-year review of supply chains covering six broader sectors, from technology to food production.

According to a fact sheet released on the order, “Securing America’s Critical Supply Chains,” agencies and departments – which could include the U.S. Department of Transportation – will also be required to identify locations of key manufacturing and production assets and the role of transportation systems in supporting supply chains.

The hope with issuing the executive order is to produce a longer-term plan to help the federal government prevent future supply chain problems.

In a similar effort to address increasing demands in parcel shipping, the United States Postal Service (USPS) recently unveiled a contract for its next generation delivery vehicle (NGDV), set to hit the road in 2023. According to CNN, the vehicles will have more cargo space than current vehicles, allowing USPS to deliver more packages, a growing and profitable part of its business, rather than traditional letters, a segment that’s shrinking.

Many, but not all, of the NGDVs will be electric vehicles; the rest will be what the USPS calls high-efficiency traditional gasoline engines. With electric vehicles changing rapidly and the vehicles designed to last decades, the USPS contract calls for the electric versions to be retrofitted to keep pace with advances.

These recent actions by the White House and USPS are among many signs that governments and organizations worldwide continue to make substantial modifications to their supply chains to avoid disruptions in the wake of an unprecedented year that altered the global supply chain industry.

When supply chain disruptions caused by events like the COVID-19 pandemic occur, a cloud Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping is a lifeline to supply chain professionals seeking to rapidly increase their available shipping options to manage any issues that arise and improve coordination across the supply chain. The use of an advanced TMS for parcel shipping will increase agility and transcend supply chain boundaries during a supply chain disruption by providing shippers with the ability to quickly onboard, leverage, and optimize multiple carrier services while producing the data and analytics necessary to understand where logistics performance is sub-par and uncover opportunities to increase performance and savings.

Contact us today to learn more about how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help you navigate increasing shipping complexities and create a more resilient supply chain.

Essential Workers: Keeping the Supply Chain Transportation Workforce Safe During COVID

When the COVID-19 pandemic initially broke out, warehouses, distribution centers, and other transportation hubs rushed to do what they could to keep their workers safe. Many supply chain businesses had little choice but to continue operations due to their critical nature. As more was learned about proper health and safety protocols, supply chain managers implemented new ways to keep employees safe and ensure the essential work could continue.

In the past several months, for example, these companies have adjusted workflows in warehouses and established other changes from rigorous sanitizing of warehouse equipment, requiring warehouse employees wear masks, reconfiguring workstations to encourage social distancing, staggering shifts, and limiting visitors into local offices and warehouses. These changes enable supply chain companies to keep workers safe while also handling the increasing demand for e-commerce.

However, as the pandemic rages on, the coronavirus continues to disrupt labor availability throughout the supply chain, with many in the industry calling on the U.S. government to prioritize transportation workers for vaccines, rapid testing and personal protective equipment (PPE), including dockworkers and truck drivers.

As Transport Topics reports, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee scheduled a hearing to assess the pandemic’s impact on the country’s mobility networks, and potential solutions to ongoing problems. The panel’s chairman, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) reiterated the importance of transportation workers in keeping the economy moving, stating that they “… are vital to keeping grocery stores stocked with supplies and transporting PPE, and other medical equipment, including life-saving vaccines, throughout the country during the pandemic.”

Keeping supply chain transportation workers safe and healthy would help mitigate any major workforce disruptions from COVID-19, ensuring both supply chain sustainability and consistent deliveries to consumers.

It’s crucial to protect workers within the supply chain to maintain continuity of their critical contributions, and Logistyx salutes their effort and dedication in a time where delivery has become a vital tool for securing the health and safety of global populations.

Logistyx works with manufacturers, retailers, 3PLs and leaders in the pharmaceutical industry alike to help distribute vaccines, ventilators, PPE and other critical tools in the fight against the global pandemic through industry leading technology, but none of it would be possible without the supply chain workforce fulfilling orders, making deliveries, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help you prepare for the next supply chain disruption.

2020 Hindsight: Top 5 Takeaways for Retail Supply Chain Leaders

Well, we’ve reached the point where we can use the phrase “hindsight is 2020” literally. This cataclysmic year is officially in the rearview mirror, and we can start making sense of what we learned as supply chain leaders and professionals—and how we changed—during this pandemic. While it’s hard to limit the number, here are our top five takeaways.

1. The customer delivery experience is king.

In a world where anyone can build an e-commerce site (and in 2020, many did), marketing products online is no longer enough to generate an ongoing revenue stream. With a single click, consumers have myriad choices, which means retailers need to look beyond their digital marketing strategies to transform those browsers into repeat customers.

More than ever, it’s the customer delivery experience that gives retailers a competitive edge. In 2020, 40% of global retail professionals cited enhancing product delivery as a critical initiative.

Some brands were early to recognize this. For example, Amazon’s partnership with major retailers, in which the retailer accepts returns on behalf of Amazon, is just one example of the extent to which a company will go to improve the customer experience. And of course it goes without saying that even before this reverse logistics play, Amazon had re-defined the customer experience altogether by offering same-day delivery in some areas, for free.

There’s no doubt customers value this immediacy and convenience. Consider that 49% of shoppers say that same-day delivery makes them more likely to shop online. But even though Amazon and other retailers have successfully prioritized the delivery experience, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to accomplish. Like many modern business challenges, it’s technology that makes the difference.

Cloud multi-carrier shipping solutions enable companies to efficiently ship goods worldwide and improve the customer experience by:

  • Leveraging multiple carriers to offer fast and flexible delivery services
  • Increasing delivery transparency and providing proactive responses to unwanted delivery events
  • Ensuring carrier compliance to avoid delivery delays due to incorrect labels and documentation
  • Rate shopping with contractual partners to select the best carrier service for each shipment according to customer preferences and business rules
  • Identifying and quickly on-boarding new carriers to better leverage last mile services and expand into international markets
  • Using Business Intelligence (BI) tools to identify poor-performing carrier partners

2. Carrier Capacity can be a hot commodity.

Most industry experts expected pandemic-fueled online shopping to increase the pressure on carriers, but few predicted volumes would skyrocket to the point major carriers such as UPS, FedEx, and DHL would stop picking up parcels from major retail customers with “no exceptions” during peak season.

If anything, this underscored how important it is for shippers to build transportation networks that include regional and local carriers and embrace multi-carrier parcel shipping solutions that enable real-time rating and rate shopping across the transportation network. Those who prepared diligently to adopt this model in 2020 prior to peak season, found themselves in a much more manageable position with the ability to consume whatever capacity the major carriers had to offer them and then tap into other carrier services to effectively ship the rest.

3. Omni-channel is omni-critical.

While brick-and-mortar stores were closed for business, merchants had to implement curbside pick-up (BOPIC) and ship-from-store as a solution, often using their stores as additional warehouses. This allowed stores to take the path of least resistance: they could use carrier services to reach nearby consumers quickly or make hand deliveries curbside, eliminating the need for a carrier service altogether. Moving forward, many retailers say they will plan to keep distribution strategies such as ship-from-store and BOPIC in place.

For many shippers, how rapidly and efficiently omnichannel distribution can be accomplished depends on how well mission-critical fulfillment technologies have been integrated within the supply chain. Shippers using standalone systems in their supply chains will confront more challenges. Without connected systems working as one, shippers incur more costs and require more manual labor to fulfill orders. Lacking the inventory visibility and other controls afforded by integrated systems, these shippers cannot deliver the same level of customer service as their high-functioning, agile competitors.

On the other end of the spectrum, shippers with supply chains that are fully integrated benefit from inventory visibility and controls throughout the organization and can quickly augment omnichannel capabilities with specialty software. These merchants require little or no human involvement to deliver hundreds of thousands of parcels daily from either a single distribution center or by deploying ship-from-store, BOPIC, BOPIS, and other innovative fulfillment strategies.

4. Reverse logistics are taking center stage.

With e-commerce on the rise, retailers have been forced to focus on reverse logistics strategies. According to Dotcom Distribution’s 2020 e-commerce consumer survey, 76 percent of shoppers reported returning up to a quarter of their online purchases, and 56 percent said a company’s lack of a free returns policy prevented them from making a purchase.

Some companies avoid returns altogether, including many luxury brands, who choose to skip the expense and improve customer service in one motion. E-tailers (sellers with no brick-and-mortar stores) are now increasingly following suit, sometimes telling customers to keep incorrect products and avoid the cost of returns.

For those companies committed to handling returns, however, the best way to mitigate returns costs is by implementing a multi-carrier strategy. Equipping fulfilment teams with multiple carrier services from which to choose and technology that facilitates rate shopping across carrier services will keep costs low and empower teams to work around any carrier service delays or disruptions.

Furthermore, and as stated earlier, the priority is on convenience.  Therefore, all efforts need to be made to ensure returns strategies breed customer loyalty. Forward-thinking organizations who put the customer experience first simplify returns, using dual-use labels (labels that serve the purpose of both the outbound shipment and return) or peel-off labels (where the outbound label easily peels off to expose a return label) and accepting returns of online orders in stores.

5. Carrier services are being redefined.

During the pandemic, Instacart, Postmates, Roadie, Shipt and others became household names, in many cases integrating into retailers’ transportation networks to complement traditional carrier services.

For those watching, it was easy to spot the trend and see that these gig-based delivery services were steadily racking up retail partnerships over the last several years. Many initially scaled through food, grocery, or restaurant, and in 2020, this growth was further hastened by increases in both non-perishable retailer demand and consumer adoption rates.

As companies increasingly ship orders from stores rather than from central distribution centers, we will continue to see growth in services that deliver parcels from stores to local customers – and their increasing inclusion in retail transportation networks. Expanding the carrier network and choosing to work with specialty delivery services empowers retailers to provide a consistent level of service to customers, even when carrier capacity is surging.

Furthermore, employing a multi-carrier shipping system with the ability to integrate with these delivery services will empower retailers by offering both a breadth and depth of choice so they can compare rates, delivery times, etc. between carriers and delivery services. The software provides flexibility when seeking the best way to fulfill any given order, which can be especially helpful when facing capacity limitations.

Supply Chain Disruption Breeds Supply Chain Resilience

2020 reinforced for everyone that when one industry is impacted (like retail), so are countless others (like carriers, 3PLs, and so on) and there are widespread impacts operationally and financially. Savvy supply chain leaders will use their takeaways from 2020 to create more flexible and resilient operations to weather whatever the future has in store.

To learn more about the impact 2020 will have on 2021, watch our webinar: Parcel Shipping Predictions for 2021 and Beyond.

Creating Supply Chain Flexibility for Fast and Efficient Vaccine Distribution

If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s that things change quickly! It’s been a long year dealing with the ups and downs of COVID-19, but with news in recent weeks promising efficacy rates in vaccine trials and inoculation readiness, the supply chain logistics around vaccine distribution has taken a sudden shift.

FreightWaves reports that distribution of the first COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. could begin as early as December 11. The announcement was made after Pfizer submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency authorization to approve its candidate vaccine, with an application from Moderna for its vaccine candidate also expected soon.

The initial vaccine distribution will be both limited and targeted. For example, once the FDA grants emergency approval, Pfizer has prepared to quickly distribute the coronavirus vaccine with a focus on hospitals, outpatient clinics, community vaccination locations, and pharmacies as some of the first locations to receive the inoculations.

As has been widely reported, Pfizer’s vaccine entails strict cold chain requirements that add a level of complexity to its distribution plans. The pharmaceutical company has specially designed temperature-controlled thermal shippers utilizing dry ice to maintain recommended temperature conditions of -70°C for up to 10 days with the intent to utilize Pfizer-strategic transportation partners to ship by air to major hubs within a country/region and by ground transport to dosing locations.

With such stringent requirements, supply chain leaders involved in critical vaccine distribution need to adopt an agile approach to shipping that allows them to anticipate, adapt, and prioritize within shorter time frames in response to carrier capacity issues and other potential disruptions to the supply environment. The ability to optimize distribution strategies in real time and make smart decisions by quickly comparing distribution scenarios to adapt to ongoing shifts in demand, while mitigating delivery risks will allow logistics experts, pharmaceutical distribution specialists, and global carriers to prepare for any potential hiccups in the process.

To help attune their approach to shipping in today’s fast-changing environment to prepare for quick vaccine distribution, participating organizations should adopt a digitized supply chain established via cloud solutions. Integrating a cloud-based transportation management system (TMS) for parcel shipping with their supply chain technology stack can help organizations predict and anticipate risk while improving transparency and coordination across the entire supply chain. This kind of system can provide the data and analytics necessary to detect sub-par logistics performance and uncover opportunities to optimize execution for better outcomes.

ebook logistyx future-proofing-supply-chainDigitized supply chains provide faster, more accurate, and more flexible solutions than other supply chains. For instance, leveraging a cloud-based TMS for parcel shipping enables shippers to efficiently expand their transportation network and utilize multiple carriers, including regional carriers and last-mile couriers – essential partners to create supply chain flexibility and diversity to help attain the distinctive scale of this crucial endeavor of vaccine distribution.

Contact us to learn more about how Logistyx enables shippers to quickly adjust and respond to even the most complex supply chain scenarios.

Global Supply Chain Considerations for Shipping COVID-19 Vaccine

Typically, prediction precedes preparation, but when it comes to developing a supply chain strategy to distribute life-saving COVID-19 vaccines to global populations, time is of the essence. A recent Crain’s Chicago Business article explored the many challenges that face supply chain professionals responsible for distributing a prospective COVID-19 vaccine and any plans currently in the works.

With dozens of vaccines currently moving quickly through testing phases, supply chain professionals have started exploring methods for shipping life-saving immunizations quickly, safely and cost-effectively. Some of the key considerations for shippers, manufacturers and other industry professionals include:

  • Scale: To effectively combat the virus, a vaccine must be distributed widely to the world’s populations, requiring a global, cross-border shipping strategy. According to Crain’s, it will take approximately 8,000 cargo planes to transport enough vaccines to protect half of the global population – a feat that will require precise coordination from production to delivery. Leveraging multiple carrier services, including local and regional carriers, and experimenting with new delivery modes may be required to attain the global scale of this crucial endeavor.
  • Distribution: The COVID-19 pandemic has put the airline industry in disarray and stymied many large manufacturing hubs, creating numerous supply chain challenges. With this in mind, considerations need to be made for distributing the vaccine to remote, indigent populations that may be harder to reach, which may require special technology and options for flexible last-mile delivery. Drones serve as one option for delivering vaccines to these areas, though getting the medicine to those in need will likely require a mix of transportation modes.
  • Shipping conditions: Transporting vaccines require a complex set of protective measures, including precise refrigeration settings and advanced technology to keep the inoculations intact. To maintain a vaccine’s efficacy, health officials have cited that a temperature setting of 35.6 to 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit needs to be ensured throughout the shipping process.

While there’s no way to predict the unknown, looking ahead at how COVID-19 vaccines could make their way through the supply chain is a reminder of how complex shipping scenarios can be simplified with the right software. As explored in our recent eBook, React, Recover, Prepare: Future-Proofing Supply Chain Management, moving towards a proactive strategy created with future challenges in mind is a must for supply chain resilience through the pandemic and beyond.

ebook logistyx future-proofing-supply-chainAs the industry continues to prepare for supply chain challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and the race for a vaccine, Logistyx can equip organizations with best-of-breed parcel shipping software to handle even the most multifaceted logistics scenarios, just as we helped Gilead Sciences fast-track the shipping process of its investigational coronavirus treatment.

Contact us today to learn more about how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help increase supply chain agility.

Supply & Demand Chain Executive: An Analytical Approach to COVID-19 Recovery

This year COVID-19 shook the world, including causing major disruptions in the supply chain. The question isn’t whether companies were affected, but how they’ll go about recovering.

For the June 2020 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive, Logistyx Vice President of Business Intelligence and Data Analytics Mike Eisner tackled this exact question in an article titled “Supply Chain Analytics Planning for Pandemic Recovery.”

The speed with which retailers had to respond to an evolving supply chain, disrupted retail model, and enhanced e-commerce consumer demands during the pandemic is forcing many retailers to reflect on the systems they use to support their business. Implementation of a global, flexible, multiple carrier parcel platform to support consumer fulfillment requirements is critical. Leveraging this with insights from prescriptive analytics to support strategic decisions and leverage the execution platform is equally critical. Retailers not utilizing these types of technologies are at a competitive disadvantage and will struggle to quickly and accurately make the right decisions affecting their survival.

Mike covers both the supply chain challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and how companies can apply predictive and prescriptive analytics to recover and gird against future disruptions.

Read Mike’s full article in Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s June 2020 issue: https://issuu.com/supplydemandchainfoodlogistics/docs/0620sdc_digital/34

Supply & Demand Chain Executive: Emerging Technologies in the Supply Chain

Robots. Artificial Intelligence. Automation. Machine Learning. All of these impact the modern supply chain.

For the cover story of Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s June 2020 issue, Brielle Jaekel spoke with industry executives for their insights about “emerging technologies that claim to help companies in the supply chain.” Logistyx President Ken Fleming was among those interviewed and quoted in the article:

Large-scale technology launches can take up to seven years. But, smaller scale activations are what companies look to launch quickly to help increase demand and keep employees safe. Some even say that those who have failed to implement large-scale technology deployments are already too late, since the transition period is so long.

“Many of the supply chain industry’s least desirable common practices are being replaced or circumvented with technology, but it’s almost too late for those that haven’t yet started planning for these transitions considering how long they can take,” says Ken Fleming, president of Logistyx. “With global retail holding companies mapping out 5- to 7-year transition plans and some of the most established U.S. retailers requiring as much as three years or more each time they update their warehouse management system, it’s easy to understand why organizations that haven’t already launched these initiatives would hesitate to go to such lengths to embrace new technologies, become more efficient and better serve customers.”

Going beyond tech adoption challenges, Ken also discusses success stories of adopting automation and technologies that speed up manual processes in both large and small operations, as well as the future role of artificial intelligence in data processing and analysis.

To read the full article, including Ken’s comments, visit Supply & Demand Chain Executive: https://www.sdcexec.com/software-technology/article/21133671/a-smart-supply-chain-is-an-efficient-one

Ken Fleming Shares How to Fuel Supply Chain Resilience with Multi-Carrier Software in Business Chief

With e-commerce demand increasing significantly in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many organizations have sought ways to improve the agility of their supply chains. Logistyx President Ken Fleming recently shared insights with Business Chief on improving supply chain resilience through the use of multi-carrier software. A few key benefits to this approach include:

  • Flexibility – The ability to access multiple carriers centralized within one software database makes pivoting easy, whether that means switching carriers when needed, tapping into a broader last-mile delivery network or streamlining cross-border execution.
  • Customization – The recent spike in e-commerce has increased customers’ ability to select their desired shipping scenario, whether through home delivery; buy online, pick-up in store; drop ship, etc. Multi-carrier shipping software enables shippers to work with multiple carriers’ labeling and communications requirements to meet customers’ delivery demands from within the shipper’s own system.
  • Cost savings – Providing access to a wider variety of carriers and more affordable delivery options can help keep costs in check.
  • Increased trust – By building relationships with reliable carriers, companies can ensure consistent parcel delivery fulfillment leveraging multi-carrier shipping software to provide greater transparency through data used to uncover opportunities to improve performance and reduce costs.

In Ken’s words, “A cloud-based multi-carrier shipping system can give shippers the ability to quickly onboard and optimize new carrier services. This is a game changer in a crisis that requires a retail shipper to suddenly increase capacity, or pivot to a ship-from-store model, for example – or even pull local courier services into the transportation mix to maintain on-time delivery rates.”

Read Ken’s full article on Business Chief: “Multi-carrier: One way to improve supply chain resilience” and drop us a line to learn how you can respond to, and recover more quickly from, unforeseen disruptions by optimizing supply chain operations.

How COVID-19 Will Prepare Supply Chains for the Next Disruption

Global supply chains have historically faced myriad forms of disruption – from weather events… to the Amazon effect… to Brexit… to trade wars… and now to the COVID-19 outbreak. And with each disruption comes ambiguity regarding a) how shippers and customers will be impacted and b) how long the disruption will endure.

ebook logistyx quadrant Choosing a TMS for Parcel ShippingWith regard to COVID-19, the answer to the latter could be grim.  According to Ethan Harris, head of global economic research at Bank of America, “The shock to supply chains is deeper and more sprawling than the trade wars of the past two years and likely to be more prolonged than the storms, earthquakes, or floods that have been a source of stress for major industries in the past.”  Oxford economics echoes this prognostication, estimating the COVID-19 outbreak will cost the global economy $1.1 trillion.  And Dun & Bradstreet similarly weigh in, predicting approximately 5 million businesses around the world could be impacted.

Unfortunately, our early observations here at Logistyx are in line with these statistics.  We’re seeing multiple industry sectors impacted in some way, and we’re finding the reactions to these impacts fall into one of three categories:

1. React

Companies have had to react to the epidemic because they were unprepared. They either have urgent PCR activity to support their supply chain operations or have implemented cash conservation measures until clarity with respect to the longevity of the situation is better defined.

2. Recover

Companies are planning for recovery after the pandemic.  Current estimates project we will begin to see relief in Q3, and companies are preparing now on two key supply chain fronts:
a) Re-establishing supply chain projects and activities, and
b) Navigating a very short preparation window for Peak Season.

3. Prepare

Some companies are already establishing programs to prepare for the impact of another unforeseen situation.  Unplanned downtime is being used to strategize how to minimize future disruptions, some of which includes Disaster Recovery Plan and Continuity Plan upgrades, increasing carrier access and connectivity, cloud-based system upgrades, and increasing supply chain visibility programs with Control Tower applications.

Retailers Prepare Now to Return to Normal Later

Currently, Logistyx is managing an influx of requests to support companies in the Recover and Prepare stages.  The vast majority of retailers in particular are aware a 100% focus on the immediate situation may have unfortunate consequences once the world exits lock down and returns to something approaching normal. In fact, we have many retailers going through system upgrades now, so they are not impacted later during Q3/Q4 Peak.

In addition to taking steps today to successfully navigate a compressed timeframe for Peak planning, many retailers are also considering that consumer behavior may change forever.  Let’s face it: even the most ecommerce-phobic consumer may place their first grocery order online to avoid crowds, be satisfied with the experience, and emerge from this pandemic a convert.  Online retailers will of course benefit enormously, and channel strategies for legacy retailers and brands will need to radically shift as a result if they are to survive. Retailers that quickly identify what this means for their supply chain and technology infrastructure and pivot their channel strategies accordingly will gain a competitive edge.

Cloud Technology Decreases Supply Chain Risk

In addition, we are receiving a number of requests from manufacturers, retailers, and 3PLs alike looking to digitize supply chain management and move as much of their technology stack as possible to the cloud.  The goal is to improve the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of their supply chains by building a single source of truth, and a digitized supply chain improves a company’s ability to anticipate risk, improve transparency and coordination across the supply chain, and manage the issues that arise from increasing complexity.  Retailers, for example, with the digital technology necessary to flex omnichannel fulfillment muscles such as ship-to-store, order pickup, and ship-from-store, have been ahead of the game this go-round, and others are learning from their example and positioning themselves accordingly for the next disruption.

Control Tower Improves Transparency

Finally, many companies are leveraging Control Tower technology to track potential delivery disruptions and share information easily. By improving the visibility of a product’s journey from warehouse to consumer, or store to consumer, or even store to store, they’ve found they’re in a better position to pre-empt delivery delays and communicate real-time information with customers, preserving brand loyalty during this unusual time.

Furthermore, Control Tower and Business Intelligence technology also normalizes shipping data and enables quick, real-time analysis.  Companies can look at their transportation costs in a deeper way and inform decision making.  For example, rate shopping – critical functionality at a time when surcharges are increasing – can be executed quickly and without an intense reliance on human resources.  Instead of scrambling at the last minute, companies have a lot of information at their fingertips within minutes of a potential disruption.

Act Today on COVID-19 Supply Chain Disruptions

Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic has most companies making substantial modifications to their supply chains to avoid disruptions. The long-term question is: what lessons will they learn?  According to Sunil Chopra, a professor of operations at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, “There is a human tendency to basically think bad things will not happen if they have not happened for a while.  So if it has been a year or two since the last rare event, we start thinking, ‘Oh, that’ll never happen.’ But the biggest mistake that we can make is to severely underestimate the probability of it happening.”

For more information about how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help you prepare for the next supply chain disruption, contact us today.