In the retail industry, companies need to rely on seamless shipping operations. This is critical when ensuring that products arrive on-time at the proper location and in the hands of a happy customer. But retailers also want to know they can rely on a transportation management system (TMS) that won’t compromise the quality of these goods.
Understanding Customers’ Needs
Centerboard knows that meeting customers’ constantly changing needs is imperative to maintaining positive, sustainable relationships between brands and manufacturers. And while effectively managing margins and inventory levels in retail logistics can be an obstacle, it doesn’t have to be.
Instead, Centerboard offers a frictionless experience for retailers looking for creative supply chain solutions. Centerboard Microservices are API solutions that enable seamless technology integration for shippers and technology providers alike. We present a groundbreaking approach to supply chain access via cloud-based, a-la-carte offerings that give retailers a fully customizable experience centered around their customers’ needs.
Using Technology to Ensure Seamless Operations
We believe shippers should be in complete control of their supply chain. Our real-time data gives retailers access to the entire supply chain and a single point of truth on how to move goods in the fastest, most cost-effective way.
From features like advanced shipping notifications (ASN) with up-to-date delivery statuses to carrier metrics and KPIs that measure on-time pick-up and delivery, we work with retailers to strengthen current supply chain relationships, develop new ones, and unlock valuable business opportunities.
An investment in quality transportation management software, like Centerboard, provides parties with the peace of mind that products will arrive on schedule while continuously meeting growing consumer demands.
Leveraging past lessons, prioritizing simplicity and improving efficiency.
By Glenn Riggs, President at Centerboard Originally appeared on Industry Today
The supply chain is the backbone of the economy, and with the past year turning the shipping industry on its head, many of us are left wondering what could be next for manufacturers, carriers, retailers and consumers. What will preparation for the near future require?
As we continue to navigate a rapidly evolving global shipping landscape, now is the time to reflect on trends from the past year to gain insight into the future of the supply chain and, perhaps most importantly, how new technology can play a crucial role.
What can 2021 teach us?
The past year was unusual, with all stakeholders impacted by the perfect storm of disruption to the supply chain. Demand for transportation capacity increased, labor, trucking and warehouse space was minimal, materials were scarce, and shipping prices skyrocketed.
What made this even more difficult was a series of global black swan events which couldn’t have been predicted or planned for, having a domino effect on world commerce. Every shipper has a unique strategy and specific resources, with varying access to drivers and monetary and technology assets. The same is true across industries. The silver lining lies in the fact that shipping and logistics technology can streamline operations and be utilized to fuel creative solutions, based on real-time data for a broad spectrum of carriers and partners.
How do we move forward?
Comparing year-over-year is a common practice applied when planning, but 2021 was no typical year. With the holiday season behind us, we have a unique and pivotal opportunity to capture critical data to determine the strategy for 2022 and years to come. Based on history-making trends, this is a key moment to determine logistical strategies particular to each industry, using data to drive decisions. Aside from trends, changes and unforeseen events, your unique datasets will identify patterns to monitor, helping to gain comprehensive insights, some of which may have never been a factor when planning, historically.
Fundamental information such as shipment volumes, inventory turnover, warehouse procurement and more, these metrics – when analyzed and leveraged appropriately – can help you make significant business decisions. Determining what information you need and which data to track can seem daunting but will ultimately shape more holistic conclusions about managing your supply chain.
Technology is just one solution helping to improve efficiencies and sustainability for any cog in the logistics management ecosystem. By implementing a centralized system with immediate data visibility, transportation managers are better equipped to confidently make spur-of-the-moment changes regardless of ever-changing supply chain conditions.
Additionally, it’s essential to simplify transportation management as much as possible. If we learned anything last year, it’s the need to be agile and flexible. We must prioritize simplicity and seamlessness to assist in the shipping process and arm customers with confidence. The more we can educate active decision-makers in the supply chain, the more likely they are to make impactful decisions to improve the bottom line.
Where are we going next?
The industry should be looking ahead to provide insights on where we are headed, with a focus on system tracking, diversity in supply and sustainability. It is important to both understand lessons learned from the disruptions of 2020 and 2021 and use that knowledge to avoid future pain points. As an industry, it became clear that transportation management automation should be a focus in 2022. Specifically, how organizations can transfer manual workloads, which historically proved to be overwhelming, to cloud-based solutions that alleviate the workload and make execution seamless. While it’s understandable for companies to be hesitant to deploy new technology at a time when any changes to workflows seem extraneous, in actuality investment can mean higher expenditures in the end.
Another takeaway from last year is that capacity problems have highlighted the need to squeeze more efficiency from the trucking market. As an industry, shippers should put stock in tools that benefit the transportation capacity for contract and spot markets. Last but not least, there is an increased need for the development of real-time tracking solutions. The trucking market is still very fragmented with a wide range of tech solutions so it will be helpful to close the gap on the systems to communicate with one another to provide real-time updates.
The pains brought on by the pandemic and its associated effects have changed the shipping industry forever – we experienced this firsthand. Global supply chain woes or not, digital transformation has aided in circumnavigating potential challenges, thanks to the infusion of data captured and examined. Digital advancements have positively impacted many global industries and the shipping and logistics industry is no different so long as stakeholders across the board are willing to embrace new solutions as a way to not only keep pace with market changes but improve their bottom line.
An inside look at how upcoming events and new initiatives may shape the supply chain, logistics and transportation environment in 2022.
If there’s one thing that all shippers learned in 2021, it’s that supply chain shortages, transportation capacity crunches and logistics snarls don’t always right themselves easily. As we move through the fourth quarter and start looking to 2022, the pandemic-related challenges are expected to continue but there are also some opportunities arising out of the turmoil. Shippers will want to keep an eye on these opportunities as they lay out their plans for the coming year.
Port Congestion: Any Relief in Sight?
Port congestion was a particularly sore spot for shippers in 2021. As of mid-October, 62 container ships were anchored off the coast of southern California — 37 of them destined for the Port of LA and the other 25 destined for Long Beach.
Those ships contained the equivalent of about 200,000 20-foot containers, according to CBS. With an average waiting time for ships to dock at port of about 10 days, many of the unloaded containers sat at the port for a week or more before moving onto the next leg of their journeys.
To help speed things along, President Joe Biden recently proposed a 24/7 supply chain operation for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach plus some large retailers, carriers and logistics providers.
Usually open during the week and then closed at nights and on weekends, these two important ports will now be open more than 60 additional hours every week. This will nearly double the amount of time that the port is usually open during more “normal” operating circumstances. “This is the first key step toward moving our entire freight transportation and logistical supply chain, nationwide, to a 24/7 system,” Biden said in a recent briefing.
Of course, a container ship’s unloading is just one step in a lengthier import process. “The container goes into the port terminal, is then moved to a truck or chassis, and over to a distribution center,” said Glenn Riggs, President of Centerboard.
“All of these lines in the supply chain are also full right now,” he pointed out, “so changing the port hours alone may not be enough to get everything synchronized enough to make much of a difference.”
Chinese New Year is Coming
Two major events may help assuage some of the supply chain congestion this year: Chinese New Year and the Beijing Olympics. And while the relief may come in the form of the typical January/February work stoppage (for Chinese New Year) and the diversion of resources (for the Olympics), both could be beneficial for the current supply chain disruption.
“For Chinese New Year, all production in China shuts down for two weeks,” said Riggs. For 2022, this will take place loosely between February 1-15, although the actual event may extend for a longer period of time.
“During a ‘normal’ year we’d see a surge of pre-ordering to get orders flowing in before the shutdown, to cover the inventory outage,” said Riggs. “This year, the outage itself may help clear up some of this backlog.”
For example if the flow of ships from China to the US is temporarily halted, it may give the anchored ships and ports time to work through the current pipeline. This, in turn, may create some additional fluidity in the transportation environment—something companies have been hoping for all year.
With the Beijing Winter Olympics overlapping the Chinese New Year and taking place from February 4-20, expect the country to take actions like restricting traffic or even shutting down its northern seaports. “We’re not really sure how that’s going to play out yet,” said Riggs, “but that’s definitely another event to keep an eye on.”
With these two events on the near horizon, shippers should be building as much lead time as possible into their orders right now, and particularly due to the extra dwell time that the anchored ships are causing in the supply chain. “Port congestion is and will likely continue to be a real issue over the coming months,” said Riggs, who urges shippers to work with logistics providers that have access to many different carriers and good visibility into the spot market, both of which Centerboard excels at.
Centerboard is a transportation management system (TMS) that shippers can use to connect with, obtain rate quotes from and orchestrate their freight movement on. With a centralized database to work from—and good visibility over that data—shippers can make better decisions in the heat of the moment, and regardless of current supply chain conditions.