Demand for e-commerce capability is increasing. E-Commerce requires intense coordination between supply chains and an understanding of how to achieve maximum efficiency in all modes of transportation, explains BigCommerce.com. When it comes to over-the-road (OTR) shipping, e-commerce becomes even more difficult, requiring advanced knowledge of various carriers, rates, HOS regulations, the ELD mandate and more. As a result, it is important for shippers to understand the top challenges in OTR e-commerce lanes and how to achieve lasting success.
E-Commerce Creates Additional Challenges in OTR Transportation
Trucking faces a major crisis. Capacity is down. The ELD Mandate is up, and costs are increasing. Even for companies barely entering the notion of e-commerce sales, its effect can be felt. OTR modes are subject to decreased capacity due to Amazon’s continued use of resources. Meanwhile, Amazon’s own adventures, such as its Uber-like App, known as “Flex,” gives independent last-mile drivers an opportunity to make extra cash. Although creating apps or working with extensive transportation networks can help meet demand, it opens the door to increased risk. This includes the risk of inaccurate deliveries, late shipments, lost shipments and more. So, implementing the best practices for e-commerce shipping must go beyond the simplistic views of standard OTR transportation.
Robust, Comprehensive Shipping Strategy Must Include All Types of OTR Options
A winning strategy for managing e-commerce shipping must be comprehensive and consider all types of OTR shipping options. In the world of e-commerce, it is not enough to focus solely on small package or LTL shipping. In addition, the capacity crunch and truck driver shortage continues to undermine the efficacy of a successful e-commerce strategy. In turn, shippers may be forced to utilize any available mode, so developing a series of best practices for e-commerce shipping for each mode is key to success.
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Best Practices for E-Commerce Shipping Excellence
There are best practices for e-commerce shipping that transcend specific modes. Many best practices are applicable to full truckload (FT), LTL, small package, and last-mile delivery. However, shippers must focus on specific best practices for each type of transportation. This will help keep supply chain strategies in harmony and enable growth and scalability in an already stressed industry. Some of the best practices for e-commerce shipping to reduce OTR costs, reports Inbound Logistics, include:
- Maintain discipline among drivers by preventing bottlenecks and confusion. Since drivers have great bargaining power under the current conditions of the capacity crunch and driver shortage, shippers must work to maintain discipline and improve employee satisfaction of their drivers by streamlining loading, unloading and route optimization.
- Take advantage of LTL and parcel carriers in conjunction. Although traditional supply chain strategies may have called for full use of FT shipping, shippers should also take advantage of LTL and parcel carriers at the same time.
- Maximize shipping lane use by reducing deadhead. Under the capacity crunch, maximizing shipping lane used by reducing deadhead can result in an effective doubling of available capacity, but it will require collaboration with other supply chains, even those that may be your competitors.
- Leverage freight consolidation to build FT shipments. As with any freight consolidation program, being able to successfully deconsolidate freight into LTL and smaller shipments is essential to success.
- Consider local, regional, state, and national carriers. Although many shippers in the age of e-commerce made utilize the big three carriers, it is important to consider local, regional, state and national carriers as viable OTR options.
- Maintain proper stacking during loading procedures. Proper stacking will help prevent delays and enable better use of freight consolidation services.
- Track package movements. Real-time tracking of small packages will help reduce costs.
- Move product closer to consumers. Moving the storage in order fulfillment closer to end-users will successfully reduce overall small package costs, which applies to all modes.
- Take advantage of alternative delivery options. Alternative delivery options might include delivery lockers and doorman services, reducing legwork during last mile and small package delivery.
- Audit invoices and logistics costs. Auditing is another step in ensuring shippers are not overbilled or double billed for the use of small package services.
- Consider the use of non-traditional delivery locations, like post offices, pickup locations, and workplaces. This is similar to alternative delivery options, but it may include the use of concierge services as well.
- Research programs that allow for delivery drivers to leave package’s in consumers’ homes, like Amazon Key. In fact, following Amazon’s lead on unique last-mile delivery options can help shippers stay competitive
Above all else, integrate your e-commerce shopping carts with tools to automatically and immediately calculate shipping costs, allowing your organization to give customers the power of choice and manage freight spend simultaneously.
In a Nutshell
The world is growing more focused on e-commerce and shippers that take advantage of the best practices for e-commerce shipping can successfully navigate the treacherous waters that lie ahead.