The best supply chain managers know that to thrive, each link must be scrutinized. From raw materials suppliers to finished goods your bottom line depends on top-notch sourcing of vendors and providers. With so many variables in even the simplest of supply chains, it is easy to overlook crucial details. Many times the question of “how are we going to get this to our customers,” is one of the last questions on the minds of entrepreneurs and business owners. When you cut corners or proper vetting isn’t performed, the supply chain of any company can quickly break. Here are some ways to completely ruin your supply chain – and how to avoid them by choosing the best providers for your business.
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1. POOR SOURCING
Vendors are the key to your product’s success. From where and from whom you purchase your raw materials is as important as choosing the company that will deliver your goods to shelves or warehouses. If you purchase shoddy equipment and components, you will limit your chances for success. Performing a thorough vetting of each of your partners is the only way to know you are receiving the best possible service. Your supply chain manager responsibilities should include careful planning and investigation from start to end.
Approved knows freight inside and out, so much of this list will be aimed at ways to avoid issues with your freight provider. But all of the points here can be applied to how you choose your suppliers along every step of your supply chain. Selecting a single source 3PL partner will minimize the touchpoints and aggravation of one provider outperforming another.
2. Bad Communication
With email making up the bulk of day-to-day communication in business (a whopping 269 billion are sent each day) it is easy for important information to get lost in the shuffle. By choosing a provider who has a well-designed communication process you can lessen the chance of shipping issues. In the world of freight and logistics, responsiveness is key to the success of getting freight from door-to-door efficiently and accurately. When you find a provider, who understands the importance of communication you will be one step closer to the perfect supply chain.
Ask your prospect up front how they handle requests and shipments. You should be given an information pack with all relevant points of contact. If you are already working with a provider and you are still wondering to whom you should call or email, ask for a list with contact information (actually, you should probably be looking for a new partner…). A great logistics company will anticipate the need for communication and will be proactive in contacting its shippers consistently; providing helpful information and updates on shipments throughout the journey.
3. Not Knowing the Full Scope of Work
Can your destination take a spot-delivery or will it be a live unload? Do you need warehousing space or will you be shipping just-in-time from your facility? There are many questions that need to be answered up front to ensure you receive the best possible price and service from your logistics provider. You should be able to work with your freight partner to satisfy your needs and uncover the work needed to complete the job. Planning will break the vicious cycle of sourcing solutions on the fly, and it will cut down on unanticipated costs, and errors in billing. It will help freight companies estimate labor costs and equipment needed – and you will know your costs up front.
From pick-up to delivery your logistics provider needs to know each detail to price your shipments accurately. Consequently, a silent provider – a company who doesn’t ask the critical questions – should raise a red flag to supply chain managers. The process shouldn’t be tedious and painful, but there is a bit of work to be done up front. This work ensures your supply chain runs smoothly.
4. Outdated Technology
Technology in logistics might seem to move more slowly than regular consumer electronics. Virtual and augmented reality are not huge parts of supply chains at the moment. But the industry has already adopted some key features that are must-haves when looking for your provider. Finding a partner like Approved Freight who is excited about new technology will give you the ability to grow. As the world becomes more advanced and reliant on tech your company can grow too. From real-time tracking and tracing to automatic cube scanners and freight scales, shippers have access to more accurate and robust data than ever before.
If your current provider isn’t offering milestone triggered status updates, or still requires you to dust off your fax machine to send paperwork, perhaps it is time to make a switch. Finding a provider with updated technology will make your shipping process easier and more efficient.
5. Low Pricing Offers Without Capacity
Does the price sound too good to be true? It probably is…
In a previous post, we discussed why the cheapest solutions aren’t always the best when it comes to freight. Often, in order to get your business logistics providers might over-promise with low prices, without actually having the capacity to accommodate your shipments. Finding a solutions provider that can deliver the service and value promised is vital to your supply chain success. Make sure the provider is able to handle the volume you are asking them to ship. Ask industry peers for a referral, ask prospects for testimonials, and learn as much as you can about the company with whom you are going to do business. Make sure your inventory levels never dip below the demand of your customers.
6. Misunderstanding terms and conditions
This could be listed under the Bad Communication category, but we thought it deserved its own space. Not knowing the terms and conditions of your logistics provider up front can cause nightmares down the road. Your provider should set up a meeting with you and your team to discuss their terms and conditions. This way, you will be well-versed in what their service covers. This might even raise some ideas and questions that weren’t addressed when establishing the full scope of work – giving you a more thorough idea of what is involved in moving your freight to its destination.
No matter how much work you have done with your provider to predict what is needed, the agreement still may not cover every issue and hiccup that pops up along the journey. Environmental damages and weather delays will happen – death and taxes aren’t the only guarantees in the freight world. By understanding the terms and conditions fully and accurately, you can better position yourself for getting these problems solved.
7. Inaccurate measurements and weight
This is the one thing on this list that we can’t stress enough: you need accurate measurements and weight. At its most basic, freight is the commoditization of space. 3PLs and freight providers must know exactly how much space your freight will take in a container or warehouse. A slight increase or decrease in size can have huge impacts on costs. Volume and weight discrepancies will force carriers to adjust how items are loaded. All of the research done to establish the full scope will be obsolete. Mismeasurements will cause delays and force providers to scramble and remeasure. They will be forced to come up with a plan to fit your product in with other shipments.
Most importantly for shippers, you don’t want to pay for space you aren’t using. In other words, if your measurement is more than the actual size, your quotes and pricing may not be the best you can get. The more exact the information you give to your provider, the better your prices are going to be. Measuring will allow you to recoup your transportation costs in the pricing of your item.
Ultimately – a great supply chain comes down to planning
From beginning to end, from door-to-door, your supply chain must be carefully planned and researched. A weak link will bring an otherwise healthy system to a complete halt; causing you headaches and loss of revenue. Organizing global supply chains is difficult. It’s not easy to get people across the globe on the same page. But careful consideration of your partners will go a long way in ensuring they have your best interests in mind. Reach out to a provider for ideas if you are struggling with a supply chain problem.
Approved Freight is a single source 3PL with a team of experts waiting to solve your toughest challenge – move Forward with Approved and schedule a free consultation today.