6 Trends to Make Supply Chain Managers the Heroes of Their Company!

Supply chain leaders and heroes will face the year with uncertainty and opportunity. Digital technologies are becoming more prevalent in basic supply chain functions, and changes in legislation are likely to spur dramatic changes that will result in the need to reevaluate supply chain strategy in both domestic and international locations.  How can they be Supply Chain heroes?

Similar to the supply chain maturity curve of technologies, as explained by Steve Banker of Forbes, supply chain managers should consider how top supply chain trends will influence operations in the coming year.

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The Amazing Supply Chain of Your Morning Coffee!

Even though modern coffee machines offer an attractive variety of caffeinated drinks like cappuccino or latte macchiato, for me it is a simple cup of black coffee that helps kick-start my productivity when the clock strikes 8 am.

This “kick-start”, or boost aspect of coffee was randomly discovered between the sixth and the ninth century. A widespread tale sets the scene in the kingdom of Kaffa, in Abyssinia – which today is Ethiopia – where a shepherd one day observed that his sheep were unusually cheerful after eating white blossoms and red cherries from a previously unknown plant.

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Breaking your Supply Chain Traffic Jam!

Does anyone like being stuck in a Traffic Jam?

Prior to one Holiday season several years ago the volume that was coming into the Distribution Centre receiving area was unprecedented and unpredicted.   We were out of room on the docks and we were out of storage space but trucks kept on coming.  And we were still weeks away from being able to ship product to stores to relieve the pressure.

We were gridlocked.  We kept inching our way along but we were very, very close to having this traffic jam of activity shut us down.

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The Benefits of Providing Tracking Information to Customers!

Online shopping has become an integral part of many consumers’ lives. The increased volume of parcels shows that this new way of acquiring goods and services and the provision of tracking information is here to stay.

While a lot of packages are successfully delivered, sometimes, they can get misplaced, damaged, and in worst cases, lost. For these reasons, many customers will want to know the exact location and status of the items they ordered to ensure that it will safely arrive in their homes.

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6 Technologies that will Change Transportation and Trucking Forever!

Modern transportation and trucking is currently experiencing major changes thanks to transformative transportation technologies. Although we’ve become accustomed to long international flights, jam-packed public transportation and diesel trucks that only get 20 mpg, the future of transportation promises to change all of that and much more — and it’s closer than many people realize.

Let’s take a look at 6 transportation technologies sure to impact the trucking and transportation industries forever.

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Which is Better? Amazon FBA or 3PL?

E-commerce is defined as the buying and selling of products or services exclusively through electronic channels. If you’ve made an online purchase through eBay, Shopify, Amazon (through Amazon FBA), and other platforms, then you have made your purchase via an e-commerce site.  More and more people spend their time browsing on the internet and the more likely they are to buy stuff online.

Admittedly, the e-commerce industry is booming. Retail e-commerce sales in the United States are projected to grow at a fast pace in the coming years, going from 322.17 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 to just over 485 billion US dollars in 2021.

Why You Need Order Fulfillment Services

 If you’re looking for a business that will eventually get you out of your 9-5 job, or looking to expand your existing business, having an online presence and web-based store could fulfill this goal. For beginners in the e-commerce trade, what do you need to do to get more sales, with a lot of online businesses competing for customers’ attention?

Amazon

Customers want products that will give the best bang for their buck with speedy delivery, and good after-sales support. Here’s where the different companies offering order fulfillment services come in.

What is an Order Fulfillment Service?

 Order fulfillment is defined as the steps involved in receiving, processing and delivering orders to end customers. A fulfillment service is defined as a third-party company that provides these order fulfillment steps on behalf of another party, such as an online seller.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of using either Amazon FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon) or a 3PL for your fulfillment needs.

Fulfillment By Amazon

 FBA, or Fulfillment By Amazon is a business model wherein e-commerce sellers on the Amazon Marketplace, big or small, can have their products stored in any of Amazon’s giant warehouses, pack and deliver them to customers, handle customer support, and returns.

FBA Pros
Expertise and Reach

 Amazon has one of the most advanced e-commerce fulfillment service in the world, can help you scale-up or grow your business and as of the last measured period, the source estimated 90 million paying Amazon Prime subscribers in the United States, up from 63 million in June during the previous year.

Amazon Prime customers are eligible for 2-Day Shipping, Free Shipping and other benefits. If you sign up your products for Amazon Prime, your products are eligible for free shipping, too.

Customer Service and Returns

FBA handles customer service and returns. Listings are displayed with the Prime logo, so customers know that Amazon handles packing, delivery, customer service, and returns.

They handle the fulfillment services side of the business and saves your time, so you can focus on the other aspects of your business.

Multi-Channel Fulfillment

With Multi-Channel Fulfillment, you can fulfill orders from other sales channels using your inventory stored in Amazon order fulfillment centers. Single-source your inventory to streamline your fulfillment operations, manage your inventory through an online user interface and can direct Amazon to return your inventory in e-commerce fulfillment centers at any time.

Cons of using FBA
Customization

Little to no order customization. Sellers must comply with existing Amazon .processes.

Branding

Items are shipped in Amazon boxes. Sellers can ship in generic boxes which may cost extra.

Warehouse Pricing

Storage fees are generally higher compared to 3PLs and usually rise during holidays.

Higher order handling fees for non-Amazon orders.

Communication

Solutions are based in standard processes which may pose little opportunity for dialogue.

Conflict of interest

The fact that Amazon may actually be a competitor to the seller. Amazon is in the business of selling, they just happen to offer shipping services. For Amazon, it’s free product and market research, and they’re making money off you.

Third Party Logistics (3PL / TPL)

Third–party logistics in logistics and supply chain management is a company’s use of third party businesses to outsource elements of the company’s order fulfillment services.

Pros of Using 3PL
Customization

Boxes/bags and all internal packaging are customized to a specific brand. Processes are adapted to your business’ operation and specification.

Warehouse Costing

Attractive storage costs that is variable. Customer pays storage space on a given month. Some 3PLs even offer free warehouse storage for a limited time.

Communication

Has onboarding processes, frequent communication before and after product launch. Collaborative approach is encouraged.

B2B (Business to Business)

Certain 3PLs can handle both B2B and B2C (Business to Consumer) fulfillment, resulting in one e-commerce fulfillment partner for all sales channels.

Cons of Using 3PL
Finding a Trustworthy 3PL company takes time.

Not all 3PL providers are created equal. It takes time to find a good company to work with from the beginning. Once you find someone you can trust, you can rest assured that your goods are being properly cared for. The initial search could be stressful but it will all be worth it once you find a reliable 3PL company.

Bad Service Reflects on Your Company

An inefficient 3PL provider could make your company look bad. Your customers do not care who is in charge of getting the product to them. All they care about is the end result. It is very important to look for a good distribution center early on to avoid customer-satisfaction issues in the future.

Amazon FBA or 3PL in Conclusion

Order Fulfillment Services are a crucial part of your business and a major factor in determining its success or failure. Whether you entrust your fulfillment services to FBA or a 3PL, there is a greater chance that you will be in good hands – these are fulfillment experts, after all.  The key difference is you as the owner,  – what do you want for your brand and what kind of customer experience you want to give to your consumers.

If you are happy to use Amazon’s existing system and tap into their wide customer reach, FBA may be a perfect fit for your company.  If, however, you would like more control over your order fulfillment services, partnering with a 3PL could be the best solution. Make sure your order fulfillment service provider is experienced with the type of operations you need before you entrust them with your reputation.

Amazon FBA article and permission to publish here provided by Dona Dimaculangan at 3p-logistics.co.uk. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on March 8, 2018.

Importing From China! The Essential Guide!

China has fast become a key player in the world’s economy. Since 2012, China has been the world’s number one trading country, and it shows no signs of moving from this spot anytime soon.

China is now the leading exporter of many items and Chinese products have become absolutely ubiquitous. In America alone, consumers purchase more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods per year.

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5 E-Commerce Order Fulfillment Choices! (Infographic)

Businesses have long since entered the E-Commerce marketplace. But how do you physically fulfill all of those online orders?The age of technology and innovation has made E-Commerce order fulfillment business processes and solutions so readily available that it has become highly competitive.  

This competition is especially apparent in the area of E-Commerce  Third-Party Logistics (3PLs).

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Supply Chain Predictions!

As to Supply Chain predictions, in the book The Living Supply Chain, the authors argue that, “Speeding up the supply chain is at the root of everything that is good: improved revenue, reduced working capital, higher profitability, and less obsolete inventory. Conversely, slowing down the supply chain is at the root of everything that is bad: working capital write-offs, reduced profitability, and slowing revenues.”

To “speed” up the supply chain is to invest in change and change will come with the digital transformation of the supply chain, which is the major focus for executives in the future.

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Do You Have Hidden Freight Costs?

Having come from a company wherein we were selling Freight management services I was curious about Freight spend at this new company.  But I could find no one answer to my question.

“How much were we spending on Freight?”

The fact that no one knew the answer raised the first alarm bell.  The answers that I got raised a whole slew of other alarm bells.

This was going to be an area that was full of opportunity!

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Why don’t you have a TMS (Transportation Management System) Solution yet?

Why have so few companies adopted a TMS (Transportation Management System) solution?  There are tremendous benefits but there are obstacles, real or perceived, that get in the way. I believe that the benefits far outweigh the obstacles but the obstacles often do not have anything to do with the benefits.

Many years ago I started a Supply Chain Services business as a new service within the company. The fundamental premise was that we had great Supply Chain expertise, tools, systems and processes which we could easily offer to customers.

One of the services that was very compelling was our Freight Management service. We had a tremendous amount of spend leverage globally, a seasoned team, great supplier relationships, very strong processes, and an excellent Transportation Management System (TMS). With all of that we went to market!

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6 Major Delivery Logistics Trends!

It was an important year for delivery logistics trends. With ecommerce sales reaching $23 trillion in annual sales worldwide, customers are relying on better and faster deliveries for all sort of goods and services.

But this evolution in the supply chain, and for last mile fulfillment in particular, doesn’t end with retail. From restaurant chains to supermarkets to pharmacies to service providers, the world of logistics is experiencing unprecedented change.  What are the delivery logistics trends?

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Our 2017 Top 10 Blog Posts … So Far!

It’s been 6 months since we launched supplychaingamechanger.com.  Our goal has always been to share experiences and expertise.  The site has evolved.  The number of categories has continued to grow.  And the response has been absolutely tremendous. We can now present our 2017 Top 10 Blog posts.

In that time Supply Chain Game Changer was also selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 75 Supply Chain Blogs on the Internet.

So we thought that this would be a good point at which to share a list of the 2017 Top 10 Blog posts that we have published so far.  We would be remiss if we didn’t also thank the phenomenal Guest Bloggers who have given us such great content.

So here is the 2017 Top 10 Blog List, so far …

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TMS is Mandatory in the Digital Age! Get Yours Free!

We are in the Digital Age!

In Supply Chain that means we want and need full end to end visibility and transparency.  To provide that end to end visibility requires electronic connectivity of all nodes of the Supply Chain.

And when it comes to providing that visibility and connectivity with respect to the movement of goods throughout the Supply Chain it means we all need a Transportation Management System (TMS).

But gone are the days when you needed to create your own TMS or even buy one.  In this Digital Age you should be able to get this capability for free!

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The Current State of the Shipping Capacity Crunch!

The shipping capacity crunch is not a new topic, but the end of 2017 is shaping up to reveal an unprecedented crunch, reports Chris Brady of Logistics Viewpoints.

An active hurricane season, the forthcoming implementation deadline for electronic logging devices (ELD) and record-shattering projections for the upcoming holiday shipping season reflect some of the top factors affecting the current state shipping capacity crunch.

Moreover, according to Dustin Braden of the Journal of Commerce (JOC), the driver shortage is worsening in tandem. To successfully mitigate the potential setbacks from the shipping capacity crunch, your organization must understand more about its current and projected driving forces.

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