If you’ve ever seen a kids’ soccer match, you know how adorable yet ineffective these games can be. The kids still haven’t learned how to communicate and pass the ball well enough to get it in the right goal. When they do score, it’s at least partly due to luck.
In the world of shipping, anything short of perfection can make your company look a little too much like 5-year-olds sporting their first pair of cleats. Even relatively minor problems with deliveries can throw off schedules and disrupt the availability of goods. These issues cause major problems when trying to please customers.
The complex web of logistics that shippers deal with creates many opportunities for mistakes and financial losses. By overcoming these problems, however, shippers can deliver consistently excellent service and improve their bottom lines.
Here are the five most common challenges shippers face, along with real solutions for tackling those problems.
1. Tracking Shipments
Your customers want to know where their valuable shipments are at all times. To answer their questions, you have to call the carrier. You usually speak with a dispatcher, who then has to call his driver to get answers. This chain of communication will inevitably give you and your customers a headache.
There are many technological tools available that create improved shipment visibility through real-time tracking. By utilizing digital tools provided by a Logistics Service Provider (LSP), you can deliver accurate shipment status, location, and ETA information to your customers whenever they want to see it. Even if you miss a delivery target, people tend to be more understanding if they’re kept in the loop.
On your end, real-time tracking gives you the ability to proactively communicate, reschedule, and expedite when needed. An LSP can expedite, reorder a stop, transfer a load to a different carrier, or even divert the shipment to another delivery location. In the long term, these insights can help you improve processes by changing order flows and deployment strategies.
2. Managing Claims and Disputes
Even with a perfect strategy, unexpected hiccups and problems will happen. Items will sometimes break during their journey, and people will be understandably upset. In addition to potentially losing clients, your accounting team can spend hours making a case for who owes what.
Perceived customer service failures can cause you to lose business. We recommend outsourcing these tough conversations to someone trained in claim mitigation and dispute resolution. A third party like Sheer Logistics can manage these high-stakes tasks for you.
3. Auditing Invoices
Incoming invoices are often incorrect, making you scramble to match them with corresponding quotes or contracts. You could lose a lot of money through invoice errors and overpayments. Avoiding this problem requires spending money on an auditing process.
This is another area where making use of technological tools can save you money, minimize errors, and ensure accuracy. Using advanced LSPs allows you to electronically match invoices with quotes and automatically identify discrepancies.
4. Negotiating Carrier Contracts
Operating without a contract, routing on vendor recommendations, and fielding multiple quotes with little data can negatively impact your logistics operation. Contract negotiations sometimes save you money, but even if they do, carriers can still plague your business with shipment issues that go unresolved. Freight claims can cost you money through write-offs, and you can suffer surplus expenses for product replacement (and labor) not covered by the carrier freight claim.
An ideal solution is a custom approach to identifying and securing the best carriers for your product, as well as a method for regularly reporting carrier performance. A typical 3PL will be able to supply the complete data you need in order to choose the ideal carriers for your particular logistics situation.
A thorough process can guarantee that you get the least costly provider among vendors with contracts that take more than just monetary savings into account. It allows you to monitor the real performance of your carriers, including historic data on missed pickups, on-time delivery rates, claims ratios, and more. You can then use this information to forecast for annual budgeting and future carrier decisions.
5. Measuring Performance
Transparency is not something that Excel spreadsheets or manual data entry and reporting can provide. As a result, staff members from various departments are slowed down by gaps in communication and a general lack of available logistics information. When problems aren’t resolved, time and resources are wasted, and more employees need to be hired to reduce initial waste.
Be proactive in managing all your logistics issues with a TMS that provides you with the necessary tools to maintain full visibility of your entire operation.
For anyone in the logistics world, communication and coordination must be flawless. Sheer provides the advanced tools and industry expertise to enable shippers to optimize their supply chain operations and take their businesses to the next level.