Will Driverless Trucks Ever Gain Traction?

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Driverless vehicles article created for Supply Chain Game Changer by Eric Weisbrot, Chief Marketing Officer at JW Surety Bonds.

Self-driving vehicles are being tested throughout the world, with technology companies focused on bringing greater efficiency and profitability to the freight business.

Heavy hitters, including Uber with its recent purchase of Otto, and Tesla with its initiatives for autonomous driving platforms, have made waves throughout media outlets and investor groups alike.

However, driverless trucks have yet to gain full traction in the broad market for a variety of reasons.

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Are You on the Supply Chain Naughty List or Nice List this Year?

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Supply Chain is a very difficult business area to work in.  It is not for the faint of heart.  But the fact that it is such a challenging area, promising both risk and reward, is one of the things that makes it an exciting career path.  At any point you can be on the Naughty list or the Nice list.

These are hard jobs.  I’ve heard it said many times that just staying afloat in Supply Chain is success because there are so many things that could drown you from one day to the next.

And even though the Supply Chain is absolutely essential for running virtually any business the Supply Chain team doesn’t always get the recognition they deserve for keeping the company afloat.

So we felt that it was time to sit back and reflect on what kind of year you’ve had and think about what you’ve done, what you’ve overcome, and what you’ve accomplished.

What do you think?  Are you on the Naughty list or the Nice list?

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Self-Storage Has Become Big Business! (Infographic)

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While immensely popular in the United States, self-storage solutions have remained pretty uncommon throughout Europe… that is, until now.

More and more entrepreneurs are recognising the untapped opportunity presented by the storage industry and as a result we are seeing a major increase in the availability of facilities in Europe.

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Supply Chain Innovation: The Path to Success!

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Supply Chain innovation article posted on kencogroup.com by Kristi Montgomery.  Permission to publish here provided by Greg Boring at Kenco Group.

Innovation is a team effort requiring collaboration and buy-in from all levels within an organization, and it’s especially true when it comes to bringing innovation to the supply chain.

While new and buzzworthy technologies like drones and robotics are consistently being introduced, innovation for the supply chain is truly a continuum of small improvements that make a greater impact – whether it’s improving processes or the overarching business model.

Continue reading “Supply Chain Innovation: The Path to Success!”

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

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Supply Chain heroes article originally published by, and permission to publish here provided by, Adam Robinson on  https://cerasis.com

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 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!

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Coffee article written by Julia Severins and originally published on http://allthingssupplychain.com  .  Permission to publish provided by David Weaver.

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. Further, it is said that the shepherd told monks from the nearby monastery about his new discovery, but they tagged the beans as “Devil´s work” and hurled them into a fire. The delicious smell that rose from the pit of the fire brought on the idea of roasting the beans.

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Breaking your Supply Chain Traffic Jam!

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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.

Continue reading “Breaking your Supply Chain Traffic Jam!”

The Benefits of Providing Tracking Information to Customers!

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Tracking information article originally published by, and permission to publish here provided by, Jake Smith at https://www.gopeople.com.au

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 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!

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Transportation and Trucking article originally published by, and permission to publish here provided by, Adam Robinson on https://cerasis.com

Modern transportation 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?

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Amazon FBA article by Dona Dimaculangan of 3P Logistics at https://www.3p-logistics.co.uk/.

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, 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.

Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on March 8, 2018.

Importing From China! The Essential Guide!

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China article and video, and permission to publish, provided  by Simon Pleass, Managing Director at https://www.2flow.ie/

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.

Continue reading “Importing From China! The Essential Guide!”

5 E-Commerce Order Fulfillment Choices! (Infographic)

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E-Commerce order fulfillment article by Dona Dimaculangan of 3P Logistics at  https://www.3p-logistics.co.uk/.

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).

Continue reading “5 E-Commerce Order Fulfillment Choices! (Infographic)”

Supply Chain Predictions!

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Predictions article originally published by, and permission to publish here provided by,  Kuebix at https://www.kuebix.com

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.

Much change in the supply chain industry will be due to innovative technologies for digital transformations, along with the recent tax reforms, and the still-current driver shortage/capacity crunch. Digital transformation of the supply chain will change everything – for the better.

Supply Chain predictions

These are the innovative technology predictions companies must use to undergo this transformation within their supply chains:

Cloud-based technology deployments lower cost of ownership due to not having a large capital expenditure on hardware and upgrades. Cloud-based solutions are ideal for any size business because they can be scaled up as your business grows and are easier to set-up and manage.

Advanced Analytics will support real-time decision making based on data captured across the supply chain. With analytics, businesses can more effectively predict and fill demand. You can also manage relationships with carriers, suppliers and customers while improving processes. Using advanced analytics in a transportation management network to look at historical traffic patterns, you can plan a truck’s route that takes into account time delays for more accurate arrival times.

Tracking and Tracing of raw materials through manufacturing to the end customer must take on Amazon-like capabilities, meaning customers will know where their orders are at any one time, just like when you order from Amazon. With track & trace, you will get deep visibility to SKU-level information from first-mile to last-mile, including the tracking of costs to better monitor transport spend. Communications with customers will be proactive instead of reactive, alerting customers if their order will be late or when it will arrive.

Supply Chain Visibility will make data collected from end-to-end across the supply chain available to all stakeholders, giving them greater control and visibility into what is happening across the enterprise. You can uncover roadblocks within your supply chain that could lead to delays in shipping.

 

Blockchain will provide interconnectivity between ledgers of supply chain trading partners, enhancing traceability of transaction history. Automating the flow of information among trading partners provides transparency and boosts efficiencies. Blockchain works with cryptocurrency to determine payment amounts, allowing drivers to be paid as they complete parts of their journey. This completely removes the transport broker from the equation, giving drivers access to quicker settlement. However, blockchain is still a technology that needs further development before it can be proved useful to some businesses.

Artificial Intelligence initiatives require specialists who are hard to find, potentially stalling any projects. AI utilizes algorithms to detect patterns in vast volumes of data and interpret their meaning such as predicting whether a carrier will be on-time based on weather conditions and past performance.

Predictive Analytics, often combined with Artificial Intelligence, helps shippers understand, automate and optimize their supply chain processes to gain better efficiencies. Predictive analytics provides shippers with actionable intelligence and predictions to guide the decision-making process, helping you to reduce costs and optimize operations. Scorecards on carrier performance can alert shippers on which carriers can better meet their service obligations.

The Internet of Things (IoT)– More devices, from pallets to trucks will have sensors embedded to transmit status and performance data. This real-time information will be used for monitoring everything from equipment health to asset locations to order tracking and more. Advanced analytical systems use the data to uncover trends that lead to predictions and performance improvements and cost reductions.

 

Originally published on Supply Chain Game Changer on March 14, 2018.

Do You Have Hidden Freight Costs?

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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!

Continue reading “Do You Have Hidden Freight Costs?”

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

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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!

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