The Command Center – July 2021 Shipper News

CCJ: Boost Sustainability with Digital Freight Matching

The Command Center: April News for Shippers

Free Report: Sustainable Transportation Guide

Free Report: How You Can Level Up Your Home Delivery

Download the free report here.

The past year has seen a transformation in the home delivery space. Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders have left people ordering online more and relying more on having those items delivered directly to their homes. At the same time, industries that once relied primarily on in-person sales are now making more online sales than ever.

A successful shipping strategy adapts to meet customers’ changing needs and leverages new technology and processes to do so. But shippers, you’re not alone. Choosing partners to take over (or automate) the most challenging parts of the operation can be beneficial.

We’ve seen some common technological needs from shippers, regardless of what’s being shipped. There are three critical components that shippers should expect when partnering with a technology solutions provider:

  1. Real-time location data. It doesn’t matter if this is tracked via a device on a truck, tag on a product, or through a driver’s phone’s GPS location. While it may seem obvious, the ability to find this information is what’s most important.
  2. An analytics engine. Collecting data is one thing, using that data is another. An effective solution can alert the shipper to potential issues before they even arise. An example of this is identifying the likelihood of an exception. With home delivery, a driver may have multiple stops – a late delivery for one end-customer can lead to issues for half a dozen other customers.
  3. Push notifications. Notifications can be given through SMS, email, or a phone call. This gives shippers options when coming up with ways to communicate with their customers.

Want to learn more about leveling up your home delivery strategy? We’ve created a report to help shippers of all sizes.

Download the free report here.

Is Your Home Delivery Turning Off Customers?

Manufacturers are devoted to creating the best product. But nearly 50% of the negative feedback posted to Amazon reviews has nothing to do with the product itself. Instead, it’s a negative delivery experience that can cause headaches, making it more difficult for merchants to sell products.

A satisfying delivery is so much more than getting the product from Point A to Point B. The last 12 months have seen a titanic shift in consumer expectations regarding home delivery. Today, shippers are expected to provide full transparency, offer proactive notifications, and present it with a little bit of style.

Now, companies who relied on brick and mortar business are shipping out more orders than ever. Furniture stores, which often had customers coming in to try before they buy, are now making sales to customers who have never even seen the product in person. The only customer service they’ll probably experience is with the delivery driver.

How do you ensure your customers receive a positive delivery experience? We’re here to help.

We’ve created a white paper that highlights approaches to home delivery needs that go beyond traditional parcel services and shares best practices from companies with the most challenging deliveries.

Click here to download the report.

 

Current State of the Ports of LA and Long Beach

Just ahead of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, Maersk representatives shared the company’s perspective on the current state of the neighboring ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach with the Harbor Trucking Association’s Productivity Committee.

Import volume is expected to continue through November. A slight decrease is expected in December, not due to demand but because of capacity and labor challenges. Q1 2021 is expected to continue with strong demand at least until Chinese New Year in February. Volume is expected to pick up after the holiday.

Shortages of Containers, Space, and Labor

Maersk pointed out issues with transporting goods from both ends of the Pacific. In Asia, there is a shortage in vessels and containers, with no containers available for lease until July. 

In LA and Long Beach, there is a shortage of skilled union labor, shortage of dock space at the terminals, and shortage of chassis. Vessels generally sit in the lineup for 2-4 days before they can be worked, and truck turns continue to rise. Depending on the terminal, 20-50% of transactions take over two hours. 

For Maersk, this may mean blank sailings in December, as the company does not want vessels sitting in the lineup for several days. Its primary focus is getting empty containers back to origin, collaborating with terminals to make it easier to return the empties, and turning vessels faster once they arrive into LA and Long Beach.

These challenges echo the larger problem with overcrowding at the ports. This past weekend, Bloomberg reported that nearly a dozen cargo vessels were anchored just south of Los Angeles as the ports were at maximum capacity for containers. Federal regulators are investigating the source of this and similar roadblocks in ports. Like Maersk’s report, the Bloomberg article cites the shortage in empty containers as a cause of delay.

On our end, we’re working with terminals to ensure we’re able to get appointments and make goods available more rapidly. However, shippers and carriers moving goods through the Ports of LA and Long Beach should plan for delays. For shippers, this may mean keeping customers informed of possible delays. For drivers, this may mean bracing for long waits at the port.

Four Takeaways from Home Delivery World

Last month, Home Delivery World took place on the internet, connecting hundreds of supply chain leaders for a series of panels, discussions, and even a few (virtual) happy hours, if you knew where to look.

Home Delivery World Logo

While the discussion covered everything from white glove delivery service to track & trace technology, our team in attendance came away with four critical themes that will shape the supply chain in 2021 and beyond.

  1. Home delivery is here to stay– It’s trite that a room full of professionals who make their living overseeing home deliveries agree that home delivery will be critical for the future of the supply chain. However, it’s also crucial to really delve into the shift we’ve seen, especially as a result of COVID-19. While companies like DoorDash and Instacart were pushing the envelope of what types of goods are supposed to be deliverable, the global pandemic has turbocharged the shift to home delivery, with everything from stand up desks to toilet paper expected as available, almost immediately.
  2. Logistics just became part of the UX– In the new “deliver everything” view, it’s critical for brands to think about the actual delivery as part of the customer experience. There was a great mention of how much negative feedback on Amazon product pages has nothing to do with the product, and everything to do with the delivery. “The driver left it on my doorstep without ringing the bell, and my package was stolen.” “The box my glass coffee pot came in looks like someone played soccer with it; big surprise, the coffee pot is shattered.” “I love the product, but the ETA changed a half dozen times, and I had to give this to my mom a week after her birthday”… the list goes on.
  3. It isn’t just pricing that’s complicating this peak season– Every peak season is different, but this year’s iteration is bringing a wide range of atypical issues. On the one hand, many truckers are canceling agreements because they can find more money for a similar load elsewhere. Others see that they might have extra room in a trailer and pick up an extra bit of freight to really fill the truck (and improve their margins). This would be fine, except when shippers pay for FTL, they don’t expect to see their goods potentially damaged by someone else’s goods. These issues have been particularly prevalent for some of the newer companies that have removed the storefront experience from their operations, such as exercise equipment companies and mattress sellers. This capacity crunch is being exacerbated in port cities by tremendous (often record-level) imports.
  4. APIs and stitching are the future, and the future is now– “In the last seven months, we’ve moved the supply chain ahead 10 years.” The idea of digital transformation has been discussed for years, but the necessity of touchless delivery, coupled with the frantic pace of change required to get goods where they were needed, has dramatically increased digitization efforts. In the coming months and years, an onslaught of connected systems and IoT infrastructure will increase the number of points generating data, meaning more systems will need to be stitched together to understand and interpret the meaning of the flood of new information.

The organization behind Home Delivery World did a tremendous job adapting a traditionally in-person show into a digital setting (their own digital transformation?) , and kudos are deserved for a wonderful set of panelists and fireside chats.

If you were at the show, what were your impressions? If not, what other shows should we hope to meet you at?

The Challenges of Local LTL Shipping

Challenges in Local LTL shipping

When it comes to moving freight, Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipping is a great option for long hauls and often the only option for local shipments. For long hauls, shippers can often save money by only paying for the truck space they use while truckers and carriers can maximize earning potential by filling the entire truck with shipments from many shippers, but this often comes with the cost of time. For local LTL shipping, the challenges are many. Following is a list of some of the more common issues you’ll find in local LTL shipping:

Rates

Rates can vary quite a bit when you’re looking for local LTL shipping, but it’s important to remember that you often get what you pay for. Choosing the cheaper option to save some money may end up costing you more in time, money and headache later on. Do your research to find someone reliable and trustworthy that can haul your freight at a competitive rate.

Capacity

Just because you have freight to ship doesn’t mean you’ll always have access to a truck that can move it whenever and wherever you need it. Space is a recurring issue as many traditional LTL carriers strive to always operate at full capacity. Additionally, not all carriers provide local LTL shipping, so you have to find someone who offers the service or you may have to utilize a third-party provider to help connect you with the right carrier.

Quality

Not all carriers are created equal. As a shipper, you want a carrier who will be professional and can ensure on-time delivery. It can be a challenge to find quality carriers and vetting carriers and drivers properly takes time, money and persistence. Always be sure the carriers you work with have the proper authority, licenses and insurance as well as a solid history of safe operations.

Time

It can often take LTL shipments longer than you’d like to arrive at their destinations because the carriers work to fill the trucks to capacity by aggregating freight from many shippers. This often leads to manual monitoring of your shipment via emails and phone calls so you can track where your shipments are in the process.

Insurance

Even when you’re shipping a smaller amount of freight with LTL shipping, insurance should be a priority. Trucking companies carry a variety of insurance policies, and some may not fully cover your freight in all situations.  Always be sure your shipment is covered.

When it comes to local LTL shipping, what other challenges have you faced? In our next blog post, we’ll be going over ways you can overcome these challenges to help you utilize local capacity as successfully as possible. If you’re interested in learning how Cargomatic can help you, connect with us!