Rising fuel costs. Emission-reduction regulations. Peak season surcharges and capacity crunches. Across modes and all over the world, importers are working hard to balance competing priorities: keeping their supply chains moving quickly while protecting their profit margins.
As the industry evolves, it’s imperative that shippers adapt. We’ve written about strategies to reduce shipping costs, but this week we take a bigger picture view with proactive approaches to respond to a changing industry and a changing world.
Become forward-thinking and flexible
- With pressured capacity, finding trucks and ships on short notice isn’t a sure thing. Working ahead with your logistics partner, freight forwarder, or other transportation partner allows them to start sourcing transportation so it’s ready when you are.
- Planning ahead and increasing your lead time is essential. Transport often takes longer than it used to, so start regularly checking transit times to forecast accordingly.
- Build flexibility into your delivery dates and warehouse hours.
- Explore multiple options such as consolidating into a larger shipment, or breaking shipments up; evaluate all options to determine the most cost-effective strategy.
Increase your supply chain efficiency and visibility
- Look at transportation in the context of the total supply chain efficiency and evaluate (or re-evaluate) your shipping needs.
- Explore multiple sources for your raw materials to maximize cost-efficiency. Plan your orders well ahead, so you’re not pressured by last-minute orders. Also, look at different ways to ship your raw materials.
- Use of software, big data, and robotics is increasing all along the supply chain. Analytics software can give you better end-to-end visibility to help you identify and resolve the parts of the supply chain that are not working efficiently.
- As technology advances in the shipping industry, powerful 5G mobile communications networks and increasingly electronic processes and documentation can help you track your shipments in real time.
Maximize creative collaboration
- Work with a quality freight forwarder. Forwarders work with a broad network of carriers, so they can often access more capacity based on their long-term relationships with carriers.
- Look for ways to work more closely with your logistics partner or freight forwarder. As supply chain professionals, they can offer insight into ways your process can be streamlined. Stronger collaboration can help reduce your costs and make your logistics provider’s job easier, too.
- Bundling freight and consolidating shipments is a common practice of most logistics providers. Logistics service providers will combine freight loads if shipment times align, and if there’s a geographical match.
- Collaborative shipping is different, but also worth exploring; companies at the same level of the supply chain (ie., between suppliers or between buyers) establish partnerships and bundling opportunities are identified prior to shipment. Read more about collaborative shipping practices and how they might work for you.
Cole International has a team of seasoned professionals ready to guide you. Contact us today to learn how we can streamline your shipping operations.
Freight Forwarding. It's what we do.
Information provided by: Freight Dept. - Cole International