Here are four practical ways to compare your shipping practices to industry peers, including why they’re essential and ideas on what to do about them.
There are a lot of reasons each business is unique. And a big one is how effective it is at managing its shipping operation.
Some parts of a quality logistics function are pretty cut-and-dry, like taking steps to ensure the company is paying market-appropriate rates. Also challenging and less easy to figure out is how well a company is doing when it comes to its logistics operation. The technology a shipper has in place and the effectiveness of its RFP process are examples of less quantifiable things that are helpful to understand.
This article aims to give readers a sense of what industry peers are thinking and doing with their approaches towards logistics processes to provide a better perspective on their operations. As unique as any business can be, it is still helpful to understand and learn from other companies.
Through the course of several recent surveys and customer interviews, we’ve pulled together the most interesting and insightful data points we could find to help give you more of that perspective. The following are highlights regarding shippers’ perspectives on four critical areas of the logistics process.
1 – Carrier Procurement
Central to every logistics operation is the process of finding and qualifying carriers. With that comes the age-old question of what’s more important—cost or service?
It turns out that shippers are equally divided on their answer to that question. About half of the shippers we’ve talked to cited cost—with the other half saying service. This split is not a surprise, however. Any experienced logistics pro knows there is always a trade-off between cost and service. And, the best answer will change depending on what’s required in a given situation.
On a related topic, we asked many of those same shippers their thoughts on whether they have concerns about using brokers or 3PLs instead of asset-based carriers. This can also be a divisive question, but 75% of the companies we spoke to said they do not have concerns about working with non-asset-based carriers.
The takeaway? Companies need to have flexibility with how their shipments are routed. Having carrier options based on cost, mode, and transit time needs to be built into their daily process. Dynamic pricing and comparing cost and service by mode are a must. And sometimes, that takes the help of a third party.
2 – Logistics Data
Leveraging data and using Business Intelligence (BI) to improve supply chains operate gets talked about these days.
But how much companies are actually using and benefiting from their shipping data is another story. Just like with the previous ‘cost vs. service’ question, the shippers we spoke to are split equally, with half doing about the bare minimum with data (but something is better than nothing) by at least tracking some freight metrics. But unfortunately, half of the companies are not doing anything at all.
The takeaway? With half of shippers doing only the minimum with their data, the opportunity for companies to exceed the marketplace (and their competition) by investing more effort into using data and BI. The benefits are known, so taking the first step is really the only hard part. If you’re not using your shipping data for all it’s worth, you’re not alone—but that doesn’t mean you’re right for not doing so.
3 – Biggest Challenges
In the end, the logistics department is there to get stuff done. And right up there, with balancing cost and service, driving efficiency is always on the mind of most logistics pros.
Here’s what shippers told us are their most time-consuming tasks. What’s your answer?
- Discovering rates across different shipment modes – 35.8%
- Managing and/or tracking shipments from different carriers – 28.3%
- Other notable but less popular answers included: Managing carrier performance, Generating data for management, and Tendering loads with contracted rates.
A question we’ve explored a lot as well is: ‘What are your biggest day-to-day shipping challenges?’ The two stand-out answers have been ‘Paying Competitive Rates’ (28%) and ‘Late Deliveries (28%)’. Another comment often heard is ‘frustration over a lack of follow-up and not meeting commitments.’
The takeaway? Chances are, most of these responses sound familiar. The good news is most of them are directly fixed with even the most basic logistics technology. Something technology does really well is managing complex data and making it accessible (i.e., Discovering rates across different shipment modes) and connecting systems (i.e., Managing and/ or Tracking shipments from different carriers). Now, think about your top challenges and if they could be helped with technology.
4 – Technology Adoption
If we’re right and technology is the answer to solving companies’ biggest logistics operating challenges, there’s room for improvement for many shippers. Our research shows that only 57% of companies use a TMS solution.
Of the companies that do, here are the features they appreciate and use most
- 29% Tendering loads with contracted rates
- 24% Managing and/or tracking shipments from different carriers
- 24% Discovering rates across different shipment modes
- 12% Managing carrier performance
- 11% Financial dashboard
The takeaway? The benefits that companies appreciate most from their TMS align with the most common challenges other logistics operations find the most difficult. Even better is that you’re positioning your company in other ways by implementing a TMS. For example, integrating your TMS with a platform like Loadsmart is a powerful way to address gaps in your carrier procurement and data analytics procedures. With Loadsmart, your shipping operation has access to dynamic rates and carrier choices to ensure your costs are always market-appropriate and shipping mode optimized.
Transforming the future of freight, Loadsmart leverages technology and logistics data to build efficiency around how freight is priced, booked and shipped. Pairing comprehensive logistics technology with deep-seated freight industry expertise, Loadsmart fuels business growth, simplifies operations and increases efficiency for carriers and shippers alike. For more information, please visit: https://loadsmart.com. Move more with less.