Throughout 2020, disruption took center-stage, leaving companies and shippers scrambling to find resources and strategies that will enable the survival of the coming peak season shipping capacity crunch. While big data analytics have taken the spotlight in recent years, their value will grow beyond expectations as companies look to navigate peak season surcharges' complexity. And the logistics industry is on the cusp of the biggest peak season in history—giving rise to tighter capacity and extended lead times. Some, such as The New York Times' Shira Ovide, have even described the current state of logistics as approaching a "shipageddon," where traditional approaches to securing capacity are falling by the wayside. As also explained by Hannah Testani, Chief Operating Officer of Intelligent Audit, in a recent Paul Ziobro's Wall Street Journal article, "It seemed like there was always a way where you could buy more capacity. Now, that doesn't exist."
For that reason, shippers need to know a few tips to survive and thrive with a data-driven, peak season shipping strategy.
The first step to overcoming the holiday package capacity crunch is simple; shippers and brokers need to know what to expect from rates. Why? Rates are driven by demand and available capacity. As rates change, they allude to fluctuations within available peak season shipping capacity, lead-time, and asset utilization. By knowing what to expect from peak season surcharges, freight management parties project freight spend and stay strategic.
When capacity is tight, it feels as though no solution works. However, capacity is an objective aspect of supply chain management. Tight capacity overall doesn't mean all locations experience the same phenomena. Individual sites and lanes may have available capacity. New, local, and regional carriers may have available space too. Unfortunately, the traditional standards of quickly finding those carriers have flown out the window.
Carriers have responded to that demand by "asking their customers to make changes to try to move some shipping volume to times when there may be more slack in their network," reported Ziobro. But the only way to achieve that goal is to recognize what's happening within the supply and to use analytics to make decisions that take up the slack.
Clear, consistent, and contextual messages and communications within the supply chain further streamline peak season shipping management. Instead of guessing what is happening, contextual resources apply historical information and data to provide a complete picture of the supply chain. In turn, that reduces the risk of delays, missed pick-ups, added detention charges, and other surcharges that contribute to higher freight spend.
Automation remains a vital part of modern supply chain management. Automated auditing and freight settlement shorten the time requirements between tender, invoicing, and payment processing. And automating the process, using analytics from the cradle to the grave, helps avoid overpayment and enable automated exception management. For instance, automation in payment processing means quoting or booking systems feed data into analytics. With those connections already in place, analytics could determine which carriers will provide the best service, avoid errors in invoicing, and much more.
While no one can change Amazon's decision to launch peak season shipping frenzy 30-days earlier, it signals to all companies that now is the time to act. And there is indeed still time to make strategic decisions by unlocking the doors to automated exception management through the power of advanced business intelligence and analytics. Remember that actionable analytics don't just find the problem: they apply a prescriptive approach to overcome the issue and avoid it in the future. It's all about creating a continuous loop of improvement that survives disruption.
All supply chain leaders recognize the complexity and semblance of technology to thrive through peak season. However, not all analytics and advanced supply chain management resources are created equally. Supply chain leaders must find the best-of-breed solutions that have a proven following. For example, Intelligent Audit was recently named in the FreightTech100 for the third consecutive year. And with Intelligent Audit's dedication to using data to enable informed supply chain management, the choice is a no-brainer. Request a consultation by contacting Intelligent Audit online to get started.
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