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Brands Use Omnichannel Fulfillment to Capitalize as E-Commerce Surge Continues

Online shopping soared to new levels in 2020, propelled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, accelerating e-commerce growth expected to span years into a matter of months. As online shopping boomed and the pandemic wore on, consumers increasingly resorted to curbside and other delivery fulfillment options, like buy online pickup in store (BOPIS), as a way to avoid crowds in stores. The most prepared retailers had already established these fulfillment options prior to the pandemic; others had to make adjustments to accommodate their customers.

Adopting and implementing an omnichannel retail strategy empowers retailers to improve customer service and profitability. As discussed in a recent report from the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) with McKinsey & Company, two-thirds of survey respondents cited the growth of omnichannel and digital shopping as the most significant trend affecting the industry – and the greatest challenge. The report goes on to say, “The growth of e-commerce and demands by consumers for seamless omnichannel experiences are here to stay: consumers expect to continue making more purchases online post-pandemic than before COVID-19. With e-commerce projected to reach 25-40% of sales across categories after the pandemic abates, retailers must understand the role of digital shifts on the customer journey, upgrade e-commerce capabilities, and rethink the network as the role of the store blurs.”

At Logistyx, we love seeing our clients doing great things and implementing creative solutions to help improve the way they fulfill e-commerce orders. Some of Logistyx’s favorite shippers have been praised in the news in recent months for the great strides they’ve made with their omnichannel retail strategies by adopting some of the new innovations available to fulfillment teams, and we’re thrilled to see many of these impressive initiatives taking off.

Here are some news stories we’re excited to see:

Crocs’ record-setting quarter was covered in Yahoo! Finance

The footwear company recorded its highest revenue and adjusted operating profit of any quarter in its history as sales in Q4 ran up 56.5%. The growth was led by the Americas and EMEA regions, with digital seeing the fastest growth among channels.

E-commerce surged 92% in the quarter, representing Crocs’ 15th consecutive quarter of double-digit e-commerce revenue growth. The overall digital business, which includes owned and third-party e-commerce, grew 87% and represented 41% of fourth-quarter sales, compared to 34% last year. For the year, e-commerce revenues climbed 58.2% and digital sales, including sales at crocs.com and third-party sites, grew 50%.

Foot Locker’s strong digital sales were reported by Nasdaq

Footwear and athletic apparel retailer Foot Locker has managed to navigate the turbulences in the retail space on the back of its sturdy e-commerce business as well as prudent operating strategies.

Foot Locker has been investing significantly to reinforce its digital presence, with a focus on augmenting its e-commerce platform and saw digital sales rise triple digits across the regions that were heavily affected by store closures. The retailer further bolstered omnichannel strength by adding new services like its ‘Shop My Store’ feature on its website.

Home Depot received a glowing report on CNBC

Home improvement giant Home Depot’s Q4 earnings surged past expectations as consumers poured more money into home improvement due to the pandemic.

Digital sales increased about 83% in Q4 compared with a year earlier. The retailer grew about 86% for the full year compared with the year prior, with about 60% of those online orders fulfilled through the store.

Home Depot plans to continue to invest in integrating its e-commerce and brick-and-mortar business.

To learn how you can optimize your omnichannel shipping strategy to effectively take advantage of the ongoing e-commerce surge, see how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help.

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.

Make these 4 Shifts to Transform Parcel Shipping

2021 is the year of the comeback. According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales are expected to grow this year between 6.5% and 8.2%, amounting to more than $4.33 trillion in sales. And with Q1 2021 on the books, retailers are now preparing for their peak season(s) by fine-tuning their rebound strategies, shifting their technology to embrace transformation and avoid last year’s challenges. Four key priorities to transform parcel shipping include:

1. Adopting a Cloud First Mindset

In 2018, Gartner predicted more than $1.3 trillion in IT spending would be affected by the shift to the cloud by 2022, a prediction that is now proving true across the Logistyx customer base. Retailers are quickly discovering how cloud-based solutions offer a clearer view into all areas of the supply chain, increasing access to data to make better business decisions and seamlessly connecting people, processes, and third parties to operations in real time.  As a result, they’re prioritizing cloud adoption and migration projects with a fair amount of urgency.

Cloud-based shipping technology enhances the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of supply chains, empowering all users to execute, track, and analyze parcel shipping processes in a single solution. This improves reaction time, collaboration, and decision-making accuracy when the unexpected occurs, whether with a single customer order or because an event impacts the entire supply chain. During the COVID-19 outbreak, for example, retailers with cloud shipping systems had the necessary visibility and agility to move inventory and convert temporarily-shuttered retail stores into distribution centers, keeping staff employed and meeting a ballooning demand to ship goods and sell store inventory.

Cloud systems also offer a much lower total cost of ownership, are simpler to implement, provide more robust data security than most retailers can themselves, and require no ongoing internal IT support. Many retailers have approached Logistyx for cloud multi-carrier shipping systems because, “We want the benefits of multi-carrier shipping technology, but we don’t want to be in the IT business.”

2. Integrating Cloud Technology and Building a Supply Chain Ecosystem

When the shipping execution process is seamlessly integrated with the total fulfillment workflow in the cloud, new automation opportunities appear that bear substantial cost savings.  Therefore, many retailers have identified seamless integration between a cloud multi-carrier shipping system and systems such as e-commerce, WMS, OMS, and ERP as a crux capability.

For example, with an integrated supply chain technology stack, retailers reduce fulfillment costs by reducing the number of times a product is manually handled throughout the fulfillment process.  The final pack, inspection, weigh, and release are accomplished with only one bar code scan.  And an integrated supply chain technology stack means shipments can be executed throughout an enterprise regardless of multiple shipping origins and/or multiple modes of transportation.  With a single database and single-user interface, the system enables rating and routing rules to be set for all locations.

Finally, once a cloud-based supply chain technology ecosystem is in place, retailers can increase the speed of information flows within the organization, making it easy to set and measure corporate KPIs, compare and contrast historical information of multiple-mode shipping transactions occurring across multi-location shipping origins, and identify efficiencies and opportunities to optimize order fulfillment.

3. Normalizing Agility

In 2020, some retailers were able to demonstrate their ability to respond to a crisis with impressive agility. Now, more retailers are looking to make agility a permanent state of mind, whether in transportation planning or in execution, and they are turning to cloud multi-carrier shipping systems to give leaders quick and easy access to the data they need to continuously adapt, prioritize, and realign. A cloud multi-carrier shipping system is the connective tissue between inventory locations, carriers, and enterprise systems, linking and presenting data and insights from disparate systems to key decision makers at the right time. A centralized platform becomes the source of truth for all order fulfillment information and the fuel for data-driven decisions—the basis of making agility not just a crisis response, but a steady state.

4. Partnering with Vendors to Achieve Transformation

Partnering with the right technology providers underpins transformation success. Retailers are looking to Identify technology providers that are forward-thinking, with product roadmaps that reflect a  visionary mindset. They want partners who are willing to have conversations about what their organizations are really trying to achieve and the technology they need to get there. The right partner can offer long-term strategies and solutions for:

  • Meeting changing customer expectations
  • Quickly responding to new product and service requirements
  • Leaning on extended, multi-tier partner and carrier networks that offer more flexibility and savings
  • Identifying inefficiencies and areas of opportunity through complete shipping operations visibility
  • Creating an agile logistics infrastructure that withstands complex supply chain issues
  • Using data analytics to support strategies, innovation, and growth

Find the Right Partner to Transform Your Parcel Shipping

For retailers worldwide, now is the time to solve problems and execute transformation. The journey requires the right mindset and the right technology. Get started today with our Quick Guide: Critical Capabilities of a TMS for Parcel Shipping.

 

How to Analyze the Impact of Carrier Rate Changes

Carrier rate changes can be complicated. Carriers tend to release generalizations about the percent increase in rates, but these are just an average of the increases levied to various portions of the calculation. Shippers tend to react quickly to carriers’ published “average rate increases” by simply budgeting an extra matching average percentage for each carrier, but this is the wrong approach. The devil is in the details about where those changes take effect and the percentage increase applied. Speed to delivery, weight, distance, and package count are just some of the factors shippers need to consider to understand their true rate increase. Without examining the details closely, shippers’ rates could exceed the “average rate increase” and end up with a budget shortfall.

While the number of 2021 rate increases have been unprecedented, there’s no need to panic. With the right technology, shippers can avoid the pain points and embrace the bargains to bring their own average much lower. The trick is understanding how the rate hikes overlay with their own unique position and needs to better prepare for and execute negotiations with carriers.

Business Intelligence and automated scenario planning illustrate truer impact.

Businesses must manage growing parcel volumes successfully and offer cost-effective ways to meet rapidly evolving customer demands while also getting a good grasp on new rate increases and their impact on the business to effectively plan their budgets.

To get a jump on rate changes, shippers should simulate and analyze various transport factors to identify the potential impacts of rate increases before they take effect. Doing so supports contract negotiations with parcel carriers, and it gives merchants a chance to prepare by adjusting business rules, repackaging goods, or taking other steps.

To pinpoint cost-effective methods for parcel shipping, shippers can run the following types of simulations:

  • Assuming everything is the same as last year: Running re-rate scenarios shows the impact from one year to the next
  • Changing a business’s inventory footprint: Moving products from distribution centers to brick-and-mortar stores, etc.
  • Carrier network expansion: Adding new carriers to handle parcel deliveries, be it international or local
  • Changing the approach to packaging parcels: Administering simulations based on dimensional weight (size/weight of package)
  • Determining metrics and cost of shipment per SKU (cost per unit): Many organizations run SKU level analytics and business intelligence reports; parcel shipping data can help to illuminate even more impactful insights
  • Comparing last-mile/regional services against those from major carriers: Which carriers are best suited to meet delivery and cost expectations

Carriers run their own simulations to see how they can maximize efficiency and profits; technology can help level the playing field by enabling shippers to efficiently run simulations, analyze potential fees, and determine how to mitigate them, along with monitoring cost impacts that could take them by surprise.

For instance, Logistyx’s cloud transportation management system (TMS) for parcel shipping with Business Intelligence enables shippers to glean insights on their own shipping patterns, usage, and more with the ability to filter and identify specific characteristics to better understand impact. With the ability to analyze real time shipping data, shippers can better understand how factors such as distance, speed to delivery, package size, and density affect spend within their transportation landscape. Shippers can also highlight savings opportunities across attributes such as origin-destination, carrier services, modes, accessories, and more.

Once shippers run simulations to consider potential impacts and how to counter them, they can align strategy and budget to particular scenarios. Accessing and analyzing available data can help shippers truly evaluate carrier performance, ensuring carrier selection is better informed and they’re at an advantage when it comes to carrier negotiations.

Analyze your Shipping Data Today

To learn more about how cloud multi-carrier shipping technology can help you effectively analyze shipping data to better inform and execute carrier contract negotiations and yield greater returns, download our e-book: Understanding Carrier Rate Increases.

From Rate Shopping to Returns: How a TMS for Parcel Shipping Decreases Transportation Spend

With surging e-commerce volumes and under increasing pressure to pivot to an omnichannel distribution strategy that includes ship-from-store, ship-to-store, courier delivery, and more, supply chain leaders have a full plate these days. Yet despite all the changes that have taken place within supply chains of late, one of supply chain leaders’ biggest priorities remains: managing transportation costs. The good news is that technology, and in particular a Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping, has given supply chain leaders the capabilities they need to not only infuse order fulfillment strategies with some much-needed agility, but also to better control transportation spend.

How?

Leveraging Multi-Carrier Rate Shopping

A TMS for parcel shipping allows a shipper to deploy a multi-carrier strategy. The shipper can contract with multiple global, regional, domestic, and international carriers to build a transportation network.  Then, the system rate shops across this network, switching between carriers to continually optimize each shipment to achieve the lowest cost delivery based on point of origin, point of destination, delivery timeframe, parcel weight, parcel dimension, and any applicable business rules.

Negotiating Carrier Contracts

With a multi-carrier transportation network in place, shippers are better prepared to negotiate with their carriers. Because the shipper always has access to the best carrier rates for any given shipment, carriers have to work harder to earn the shipper’s business and are therefore incentivized to offer better rates.

Consolidating Parcels

Shippers can augment cost savings by using a TMS for parcel shipping to consolidate shipments heading to the same region or country and leveraging LTL rates rather than parcel rates. Referred to as “zone skipping” or “zone jumping,” companies can save as much as 30-50%. In addition to the cost savings, shippers distributing products internationally also benefit from fewer regulatory headaches, since a consolidated shipment requires only one customs declaration.

Managing Returns

Shippers engaged in e-commerce know consumers return online purchases at much higher rates than in-store purchases. And high returns volumes can be challenging, especially for shippers using a single carrier. It’s important to remember that just because a carrier’s core strength is outbound shipping does not mean its reverse logistics are equally strong, nor does it imply the carrier offers the most cost-effective rates. To secure the best rates for both outbound and reverse shipping, it is recommended shippers deploy a multi-carrier strategy, and the number of carriers in the network may grow significantly for shippers executing outbound and inbound shipping to multiple locations internationally.

In addition to managing multiple carriers, it’s important to note a TMS for parcel shipping also enables shippers to use data analytics and Business Intelligence to optimize inbound distribution strategies, making sure products are returned as quickly as possible to the right distribution center, warehouse, or store to achieve a quick turnaround time for resale.

Maintaining Carrier Compliance

Each carrier has unique requirements for labeling and electronic communications, which they must strictly enforce in order to successfully process high volumes of parcels.  Remaining compliant with multiple carriers’ requirements can be complicated, particularly for shippers shipping from numerous distribution centers, warehouses, and/or stores. However, a TMS for parcel shipping ensures each shipment, regardless of whether it is shipping domestically or internationally, is compliant with the designated carrier’s requirements, including accounting for import tariffs, packaging specifications, and customs rules and regulations – helping shippers avoid additional fees and delivery delays.

Improving Customer Service

Some shippers, particularly those shipping B2B, may have to adhere to their customers’ requirements for carrier selection. For example, a B2B customer may ask their supplier to ship parcels on their account. Shippers that only use a single carrier will be unable to accommodate this request, but shippers with a multi-carrier shipping strategy and a TMS for parcel shipping can easily meet this need.

In addition, a TMS for parcel shipping empowers shippers to proactively address errors to maintain customer loyalty. It stands to reason that in a high-volume shipping environment, there’s a higher potential for mistakes. This is bad news in a competitive retail environment in particular, where the smallest slip in service can lose a customer forever. Parcel TMS solutions, however, can change this equation. With a TMS for parcel shipping that includes a Control Tower, shippers can automatically identify errors such as a shipment delay and respond to the error. Customer Service teams are armed with alerts and information to proactively communicate with a customer regarding their shipment status, reinforcing brand value, protecting the customer relationship, and earning those repeat purchase dollars.

Reduce Transportation Spend With The Right TMS for Parcel Shipping

2020 reinforced for everyone how wide-spread the implications of an unexpected supply chain disruption can be. Savvy supply chain leaders will use their takeaways from 2020 to create more flexible and cost-resilient parcel shipping operations by partnering with a sophisticated parcel TMS provider. To learn more about how Logistyx reduces transportation spend for some of the world’s biggest manufacturers, retailers, and 3PLs, watch our expert video: The Logistyx Shipping Quadrant.

Failed Deliveries Pose a Threat to Retailers Amid E-Commerce Surge

Showing no signs of slowing down, e-commerce continues to surge around the globe. Online orders are reaching record-setting volumes with 69% of retailers reporting an increase in average online order values and shoppers growing more comfortable purchasing from global brands, evidenced by rising numbers of international orders reported by 54% of retailers, according to a recent study from Loqate. While these present promising opportunities for retailers, poor address data that leads to inaccurate fulfillment poses a major threat to success in the form of lost sales and damage to retailers’ brands.

As reported by Loqate:

  • 99% of e-commerce organizations own up to failed deliveries across some portion of their orders
  • 8% of domestic first-time deliveries fail, costing retailers an average of $17.20 per order or $197,730 per year
  • 74% of businesses point to bad address data as the cause of up to a quarter of their deliveries failing
  • One-third of study respondents either don’t verify address data or leave it up to the carrier
  • 41% of consumers place the blame for late deliveries on retailers

Companies can’t afford to have delivery problems on customer orders when consumers have more options for shopping than ever before and it’s easier for dissatisfied customers to take their business elsewhere. Address inaccuracies rarely get the attention they deserve, and if left unattended, retailers risk more than upset customers. If a carrier detects the delivery errors due to a faulty address, the additional charges – which start at $18 per shipment with UPS and FedEx – quickly add up.

The easiest way to prevent additional charges and lost customers is to leverage the address verification functionality in multi-carrier shipping software. With Logistyx’s automated address verification and standardization shipping software tool, retailers can pre-emptively verify addresses and fix any problems that could result in upcharges long before the carrier arrives to pick up deliveries.

Logistyx’s address verification tool makes it quick and easy for retailers’ shipping staff to resolve delivery address questions right on the shipping line with a single platform, including the ability to:

  • designate shipments as residential or commercial
  • validate addresses at the street level, city, and/or zip code level
  • detect multiple or near duplicate address matches
  • view and/or choose address details

By taking advantage of the benefits of address verification capabilities in multi-carrier shipping software, retailers can ensure all the data input into their shipping process is accurately maintained while uncovering tremendous opportunities to reduce shipping costs and effectively fulfill customer orders.

Contact us today to learn how Logistyx’s multi-carrier shipping software can eliminate incorrect delivery addresses to avoid absorbing extra shipping costs.

6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Parcel Shipping Solution

Parcel shipping is growing at an exponential rate. The Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index predicts global parcel volume is likely to more than double by 2026, driven by the quickening pace of e-commerce offerings from retailers and adoption from consumers worldwide.

And the growth rates in e-commerce don’t apply to retailers alone. Businesses too are migrating to e-commerce sales strategies. According to a 2018 study by technology and research and advisory firm Gartner Inc., 75% of all business procurement will take place via online marketplaces and sales platforms by 2023.

What’s interesting to note is that regardless of whether the purchase journey takes place in a B2C or B2B landscape, the end point is the same. In B2C, many purchasing channels work in harmony, allowing consumers to meander from product search… to investigation… to check-out… and the journey ends in fulfillment. Though the journey has different meanderings and different inventory characteristics in B2B manufacturing and wholesale distribution, it too always ends in fulfillment – which means parcel shipping, parcel tracking, and meeting “Amazon-like” shipping demands are the name of the game regardless of whether you’re a B2C or B2B shipper.

The good news is that there are a number of different parcel shipping solutions that can help retailers and businesses simplify and streamline their parcel shipping operations. The bad news is that not every solution is the right fit for every shipper’s landscape, so retailers and businesses on the hunt for new parcel shipping technology will have to do some homework.

How complex is your parcel shipping landscape?

To get started, you first need to assess the complexity of your parcel shipping landscape. While the average consumer may think parcel shipping is simply printing shipping labels, affixing those labels to boxes, and sending the boxes out the warehouse door, logistics managers know parcel shipping is significantly more complicated than this.

In order to optimize parcel shipping processes, companies must rate and rate shop each shipment to ensure they are shipping the parcel at the lowest possible cost given origin, destination, delivery timeframe, and any applicable business rules. Then, they need real-time data to track shipments and alerts to identify packages likely to miss a delivery deadline.

While it’s possible to use manual processes or carrier-provided systems to handle rating, rate shopping, and carrier selection, manual processes are time-consuming and labor-intensive. And as parcel volumes grow and marketplaces extend across borders, shipment execution can quickly become unmanageable.

In order to evaluate the complexity of your shipping landscape and choose the right parcel shipping solution for your business, ask the following six questions:

1. What is the breadth of your carrier network?

Will you need shipping options such as specialist or regional carriers? If so, you need a solution provider that can accommodate these needs. A parcel shipping solution that guarantees compliance with an extensive number of national, regional, and local carrier services can empower you to land an integrated transportation strategy worldwide – improving on-time delivery rates and saving money with each parcel journey. Think about it this way: the more carrier services you have in your network, the more choices you have to optimize your parcel delivery and transportation spend.

2. Do you need parcel consolidation?

Are you shipping multiple orders to the same region? Are you shipping across borders? Shippers often waste time and money shipping parcels to the same place at individual rates – and they may not even be aware they’re doing it. Be sure your parcel shipping solution can identify opportunities to consolidate parcel shipments heading to the same geographic area – both domestic and international – and compare carriers and services to find the best rate. The right solution will help you optimize volume discounts and zone skipping and avoid accessorial charges – cutting your costs and increasing resource efficiency almost immediately.

3. Do you need to track delivery milestones and receive delivery alerts in the case of an unexpected event?

How do you prioritize customer service and how important is it to you that staff have the ability to take proactive measures to communicate with customers and resolve delivery delays? If the answer is “very,” then you need to have your eye on all shipments at all times. Seems impossible? With the ad hoc and real-time reporting tools available in some parcel shipping solutions, that’s precisely the level of visibility you gain. The right solution will track your parcel shipments as they move through your carriers’ global supply chains, and you’ll receive instant warning alerts if a parcel is off track or behind schedule. These alerts will enable you to proactively address delivery events such as late or damaged shipments to meet your customers’ expectations and maintain your delivery KPIs. Even better: sophisticated solutions will ​have a Control Tower with Business Intelligence that collects and analyzes data and generates reports across all shipment attributes including spend, geography, carriers, and clients – empowering you to continuously streamline your transportation activity, increase efficiency, improve delivery performance, and save money.

4. What are your plans for tomorrow?

You could purchase a solution that suits your needs today, but how will those needs change in three, five, or ten years? Will your parcel volumes scale? And what about expansion into new markets?  Are you prepared for unexpected supply chain disruptions such as a weather event or (not another) pandemic?

When choosing a parcel shipping solution, you should not only consider your current requirements, but also strive for resilience in the face of supply chain disruptions as well as plan for future needs. This means the best parcel shipping solution will offer you flexibility and scalability.

For example, e-commerce growth rates unexpectedly accelerated in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, requiring organizations to fulfill unprecedented order volumes in a variety of distribution scenarios: ship-from-store, BOPIS, and more. As a result, shippers turned to cloud-based parcel shipping solutions to enhance the speed, scalability, connectivity, and flexibility of their supply chains. Cloud parcel shipping solutions empower fulfillment teams to execute shipments, track delivery events, and analyze parcel shipping processes in a single solution regardless of distribution scenario, while also offering them the agility to onboard more carrier services quickly – improving reaction time, collaboration, and decision-making accuracy when the unexpected occurs.

And while regulations, tariffs, and documentation, used to make cross-border shipping one of the most intimidating aspects of the supply chain, modern parcel shipping solutions also feature an integrated process for cross-border shipping, alleviating customs anxiety by automatically identifying and providing the appropriate documentation for any shipment. The solutions also allow you to analyze cross-border operations and find opportunities for consolidation, mode shifting, and cost efficiencies as your parcel moves from point A to point B around the world.

5. What are your plans for digitalization?

As stated above, forward thinking companies are moving their supply chain technology stacks to the cloud at a rapid pace. In a BCG study of more than 200 companies, digitally agile businesses achieved 1.8x higher earnings growth than digital laggards—and more than double the growth in total enterprise value. BCG also found that digitally agile companies are best situated to realize a “resiliency dividend,” by leveraging technology and digital capabilities to steer their business in real (or near-real) time to strengthen their position in the midst of a crisis.

Fortunately, cloud parcel shipping solutions enhance an organization’s digital maturity, putting operational agility within easy reach and allowing businesses to seamlessly connect people, processes, and third parties to parcel shipping operations in real time – improving reaction time, collaboration, and decision-making accuracy when the unexpected occurs. ​Furthermore, using a cloud parcel shipping solution enables businesses to quickly achieve a return on investment by bypassing the hit of an initial investment and reaping the benefits of rapid implementation and integration processes.

6. Do your parcel shipping operations need to integrate with other business applications?

Integration with existing systems, such as an ERP, WMS, and/or OMS, is a crux capability of any parcel shipping solution. The software should enhance and complement your other supply chain solutions, creating one ecosystem, so to speak, for the entire shipment lifecycle. This will allow you to leverage data analytics using various points of contact and empower you to ship more, faster, further, and cheaper.​

The right software will have an open platform, which expedites data mapping. This will give you flexibility in integrating with other systems, such as an ERP, WMS, and/or OMS. You’ll be able to seamlessly exchange data with these business-critical systems without building custom UIs and ultimately, you’ll improve the time to value of your parcel shipping solution investment and optimize the infrastructure for your business long-term in the cloud, in the data center, and in your tech stack.

Choose the Right Parcel Shipping Solution

While parcel shipping solutions are critical for companies to navigate unpredictable shipping environments, choosing the right parcel shipping solution based on the complexity of your shipping landscape is the real key to success. To learn which shipping technology you need to simplify the complexity of your current – and future – shipping environment, watch this expert video.

Belk Quickly Expanded Fulfillment Options

With Ship-From-Store in Place Pre-Pandemic, Belk & Logistyx Technologies Thrived as E-commerce Orders Surged

Business Challenge

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.

Solution

Logistyx addresses these and other fulfillment challenges for Belk with 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 Belk’s order management software, 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.

When faced with carrier capacity limits, 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.

Results

By automating Belk’s processes and providing advanced parcel management solutions through TME, Logistyx empowered Belk to quickly and cost-effectively transform its fulfillment operations to provide ship-from-store capabilities.

Expanding its fulfillment options with ship-from-store functionality using Logistyx TME well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit was instrumental in providing the agility required to help Belk manage the shift in consumer shopping patterns, move its in-store inventory and provide greater omnichannel fulfillment capabilities.

Utilizing Logistyx also allowed Belk to:

  • Meet increasing parcel shipping demands while controlling costs
  • Streamline the pick, pack and ship process
  • Improve efficiency and organization around ship-from-store operations
  • Decrease shipping time nationwide from its 291 store locations

3 Ways to Maximize the Power of your TMS for Parcel Shipping with Business Intelligence

According to an American Shipper report, 53% of companies aren’t using Business Intelligence to collect and analyze their supply chain data. This poor adoption rate implies companies are still performing manual data analyses (translation: excel spreadsheets). And there’s no way companies using excel spread sheets have quick reaction times when their shipping landscape changes. What they do have: delayed reactions to shipping events and hence an over-abundance of risk in the form of shipping cost increases and delivery delays.

A Transportation Management System (TMS) for parcel shipping with Business Intelligence provides shippers with an easy way to aggregate and report transportation data; however, companies can miss savings opportunities if they don’t put enough thought into how they want to use this shipping data once they have it. Optimizing a parcel TMS’s Business Intelligence technology requires companies to thoughtfully define how they will apply the technology and how they will set benchmarks and measure against them. These three tips can help:

1. Think ahead.

A common question our prospects ask is, “How much can a TMS for parcel shipping with Business Intelligence save?” We always respond with a range (i.e., 10% – 30%). One of the reasons for providing a range is the degree of change the shipper is willing to consider with regard to its transportation optimization strategies. For example, if for some reason a shipper cannot add another carrier to its transportation mix, then the shipper is working within a fixed set of variables, and savings might be on the low end of the range. In contrast, the high end of the range occurs when shippers have the flexibility to look at the existing transportation landscape and question what could be done differently, such as adding a new carrier or even a new distribution center. For those willing, Business Intelligence is an opportunity to reexamine distribution strategies and consider all possibilities, asking the question, “What if?”

2. Define KPIs.

Without KPIs, transportation management becomes subjective. For example, it’s not uncommon for supply chain leaders to tell us they’re worried about how carrier rate increases could “shake out.” What does “shake out” mean? If the shipper has reduced parcel shipping costs by 8% and increased on-time delivery rates, then it is likely meeting objectives despite the carrier rate increases. If the opposite is true, however, the shipper will have to roll up its sleeves, identify alternatives such as expanding the transportation network beyond familiar carriers, and use Business Intelligence to run simulations to identify optimal strategies.  Shippers that set a KPI up front will be amazed by how quickly they can prove the ROI on a TMS for parcel shipping with Business Intelligence.

3. Run simulations.

There are usually myriad opinions within an organization’s supply chain team when it comes to reducing transportation costs, and one way to transition from opinion to fact is to use Business Intelligence to demonstrate the value of different shipping scenarios. Running transportation simulations can identify where significant savings opportunities exist, challenging the norm and comparing “what if” to current performance. Shippers have a “sandbox” to approach transportation scenarios with a creative mindset and verify and measure the impact of various scenarios on the bottom line.

Get the Most out of your TMS for Parcel Shipping with Business Intelligence

A TMS for parcel shipping with Business Intelligence can unveil opportunities to increase throughput, decrease transportation spend, and improve customer service. However, it’s only as effective as the deployment strategy behind it.

Are you optimizing your supply chain software investments? Contact us today for a free shipping data analysis.

 

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.

Specialty Shipping Innovations for COVID-19 Treatments

The transportation of the highly sought-after COVID-19 vaccines has encountered significant challenges all over the world since the initial rollout in December 2020. The demanding requirements for these temperature-sensitive vaccines have caused some inevitable product loss, as authorities across the U.S. increasingly report high numbers of spoiled vaccines.

To prevent vaccine waste, many pharmaceutical manufacturers have given careful consideration to innovative packaging solutions before the parcel even gets labeled and prepared for transport.

For example, Pfizer’s vaccine entails strict cold chain requirements and the pharma company has specially designed temperature-controlled thermal shippers utilizing dry ice to maintain recommended temperature conditions of -70°C for up to 10 days. Once opened, the shippers can be used for temporary storage for as many as 30 days as long as they are re-dry iced every five days.

After packaging considerations are made, Logistyx helps leading pharmaceutical manufacturers and life sciences companies develop innovative strategies to effectively execute global distribution of vaccines, test kits, ventilators, and other healthcare shipments. For instance, from handling rigorous temperature-controlled storage and transportation to uninterrupted logistics management information and real-time status updates, Logistyx helps one leading pharmaceutical manufacturer effectively execute its vaccine distribution by building and maintaining a custom network of carriers to ensure the continuous availability of a quality vaccine.

Logistyx also worked with leading biopharmaceutical company, Gilead, to print carrier-compliant service labels, enabling them to quickly test print and integrate the labels to rapidly increase delivery speed of its investigational drug against COVID-19 from its manufacturing location to medical facilities in need around the globe.

Logistyx regularly helps shippers in the pharma industry ensure every parcel ships with the correct label and documentation, no matter the carrier, destination, or product. Logistyx’s worldwide network of 550+ carrier services provides regulatory compliance and certification for each shipment. When shipping a specialized product like vaccines and other pharmacological drugs that require extra documentation, Logistyx provides the necessary documents to comply with complex regulations and requirements.

Contact us today to help manage the details of your specialized shipping needs.

“Just Keep It” – Amazon, Other Top Merchants Going Further to Minimize Returns

The COVID-19 pandemic-fueled surge in e-commerce creates a growing challenge related to the age-old issue of returns. As The Wall Street Journal highlights, “That shopping shift is placing more importance on solving a problem that dates to the early days of online shopping. Free shipping and other accommodating return policies have gotten consumers used to ordering multiple sizes and colors and returning what they don’t want.”

The share of online purchases that are returned averages 30% or higher, depending on the category, three times the rate in physical stores, according to industry executives. At that level, managing e-commerce reverse logistics can be expensive. The biggest merchants, including Amazon and Walmart, have taken notice and begun adopting some of the strategies perfected by smaller, innovative merchants. Some are telling customers receiving refunds to keep the product to avoid some returns altogether; others are investing in elaborate interactive online fitting rooms to slow the growth of apparel returns.

As the number of e-commerce package returns continues to rise, it’s critical that businesses evaluate how teams are equipped to handle returns, ensuring they have strategies in place to streamline returns processes and mitigate associated costs. Taking steps now to optimize returns processes and tools with robust technology solutions enables businesses to improve shipping processes and handle spikes in returns with greater flexibility.

In fact, the right multi-carrier shipping system allows businesses to centralize returns shipping execution and decrease transportation spend by optimizing carrier service selection and using data analytics and Business Intelligence to enhance inbound distribution strategies. With growing consumer expectations around free and easy e-commerce returns, advanced multi-carrier shipping technology offers businesses the ability to choose the best-fit approach to returns for greater control on return shipment costs in any scenario.

Download our checklist: 4 Ways Smart Businesses are Revamping Returns Processes in 2021 to learn more about how a cloud multi-carrier shipping system can optimize shipping processes and help take the hassle out of returns.