For organisations who ship goods to customers, shipping management has become one of the most vital components of the overall business strategy. Shipping has become a primary battleground of this decade, and the competition is unforgiving.
To add to the pressure, it’s also a time of turbulence for freight and logistics globally. Prices are rising and supply chains are groaning under the strain. You may be seeing some symptoms of this in your own business – so it’s always good to take a look at your processes and see if there’s anything that can be improved.
Here are three reasons your shipping management may be broken – and how you can fix it.
1. You aren’t actively seeking the best transport rates
Transport rates are somewhat of a mysterious thing for retailers and wholesalers. It’s tough to find a ‘going rate’ or standardised benchmark to compare your rates against. They’re like that by design.
Shippers may have pricing agreements with certain businesses, but others just get the standard rate. If you haven’t proactively negotiated your rates, or you aren’t using a 3PL or 4PL, it’s likely that you’re paying over the odds for some of your consignments. Over time this can really add up – putting pressure on your freight task and requiring you to cut some corners in other areas.
2. You’re shipping inefficiently
In an ideal world you could have one ‘standard’ consignment. But it’s simply not the case for most businesses. You’re shipping multiple combinations of products, in different sized shipments, all across Australia – and even the world.
There are many carriers out there who say they can do it all – and perhaps they can get your shipment where it needs to go – but for specific types of shipments or certain geographies, there are specialised carriers who can do it better or cheaper than the rest. Tapping into that network of shippers unlocks growth opportunities and efficiency gains for your business.
3. Your customers aren’t happy with the shipping experience
There’s no doubt that customer expectations when it comes to shipping have skyrocketed in the past few years in both B2B and B2C. We can make an order – whether it’s a pizza, some new computer equipment or industrial components – and have it delivered before the end of the day. To compete, shippers need to take this into consideration.
If you’re seeing a lack of return customers, your shipping experience may be to blame. And although we might not all be able to compete on delivery time, there are many other factors that make up this experience. Consider your tracking capabilities and the data you’re able to share with the customer during the process. Could you be doing more?
The solution to better shipping management
Getting great rates every time, lowering costs across your whole freight task and providing a great customer experience might seem like pie in the sky – but they’re actually realistic to achieve with these two tactics.
1. Use multiple carriers and compare them against each other for each job
Having a preferred carrier is great, but you should always check them against the competition to ensure they’re deserving of their ‘preferred’ status. For certain jobs, you may find that a smaller or more local carrier can take the consignment for a lower price or reduced shipping time. Prices will differ on every consignment, so if you have the opportunity to save a few dollars each time, it really adds up.
Comparing carriers also gives you the flexibility to choose a carrier based on the customer experience you want to provide – perhaps shipping time is more important to your customers than cost, or certain products require a ‘white glove’ service.
2. Use a smart FMS (freight management system) to manage carriers – and your entire freight task
Comparing carriers sounds nice, but if you don’t have a freight management system in place, it’s a headache. Whoever has drawn the short straw will have to manually log in to each carrier portal individually, and manoeuvre through their outdated UI to find the prices, which they’ll then have to copy into a spreadsheet to compare.
With a smart, cloud-based FMS, you can seamlessly integrate all of your carriers into one window, instantly comparing them against each other for each individual consignment. Surcharges and extras are all factored in – you just click the best option and the job is sent to the carrier. FMSs like MachShip also make your entire shipping management process much more efficient and streamlined, automating lots of manual processes along the way and allowing for powerful reporting. Everything you need to fix a broken shipping management system is included out of the box.