I’ve made a lot of friends in my consulting travels, some of whom keep in touch by running various business problems by me. I received a note from one of my old contacts the other day that read like this:
Vigilant management of transportation and finding the most optimal movement for their shipments is something manufacturers and retailers need to think about today more than ever. In order to work with partners to switch away from prepaid to collect freight terms, they must have a process in place to manage these shipments. This generally means investing in a Transportation Management System (TMS), which is used to calculate the scheduled inbound shipments and build out a trailer.
There's a recurring problem here as you may already be picking up on. Problems start small and get out of hand quickly. My next horror story takes place at a mid sized manufacturing company, whose problems snuck up on them when they least expected it. This company was sitting on top of the world. They had prepared themselves for EDI problems. They had done their research, and heard the other horror stories. They decided to take matters into their own hands, and circumvent their own technology in an attempt to "beat" any EDI problems that might arise.
When asked about predictions for 2013 in the global logistics sector Gartner estimated that software as a service (SaaS) and cloud TMS will command 25 percent of the total addressable TMS market. This represents significant growth potential. It also says transportation and logistics is in a state of transition.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “change”? For many of us, words like “anxious”, “overwhelmed”, or “unknown” pop into our head. Why is it that changes and transitions bring on so much negative energy? One hypothesis is that we may be wired to fear change. Imagine our ancestors in nomadic times as they assessed their surroundings for any sign of change and possible danger, as the two most often went hand-in-hand. Perhaps our DNA is to blame for associating “same” with safety and “change” with danger.
ec-bp has been participating in social media for nearly as long as the platforms have existed... that is, I've been participating in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google + since each of them became available as beta experiments. Most of the content from ec-bp.com has been posted to these sites under my personal accounts. That's changing.
Picture if you will, a small record company. The company was beside themselves with joy, with one of their biggest clients being a huge retail store. This was a high volume client, and the company was over the moon with joy to have such a huge customer account, especially since they were just a small business. A cloud gathers over the Accounts Receivable department and their mood darkens as they begin to notice a problem.
I was called in to facilitate a confidential EDI productivity meeting with a group of senior management officers from various medium size companies. The meeting was great, right up to the point that I uncovered an alarming similarity. It would seem, at first glance anyway, that these companies had little in common. Each of these companies operated in very different fields. Each one had very different operating budgets, and they all were working hard to meet very different goals. What they did all have in common was a very similar problem.
Most business owners have at least a basic way of collecting data from their companies, and at least some basic form of data analytics. The thing is, many business owners don't know what they should really be doing with that analytical data. A lot of times it is glanced at, and then pushed aside, without really having any effect on business one way or the other. However, there is actually a lot that you, as a retailer, can be doing to leverage those analytics to help you in the day to day running of your business.
Using EDI with your transportation providers or 3PL's is an element of business that is often overlooked, although it shouldn't be. Even business owners who are already utilizing EDI for other aspects of their business, might not be using it with their transportation providers. There are many benefits of using EDI with your 3PL's, and today we are going to focus on a few of those.