Shippers may work with countless vendors in today’s world, and in the age of e-commerce, it is possible for shippers to work with vendors and suppliers from across the globe. Unfortunately, managing this complex vendor network and controlling inbound freight costs is difficult at best. However, the use of inbound freight data can help shippers know when to consolidate the business, and other words, shipments, to reduce freight spend, increase inbound freight volume and reap the benefits of more significant vendor discounts.
Furthermore, it is essential for shippers to understand and evaluate freight spend across the supplier base, including the impact of increasing freight costs, how inbound freight data offers alternative solutions to issues and a few steps to leverage inbound freight data to its highest potential.
The biggest problem with inbound freight data derives from a common issue; inbound freight costs are increasing which is the result of general rate increases across all modes of transport, especially parcels and LTL freight. Unfortunately, the worsening of the capacity crunch and pushback from drivers that fall under HOS regulations will continue to result in higher freight costs. In some cases, shippers may be unable to even schedule inbound freight due to a lack of capacity available drivers as part of the reason shippers are working with each to gain shipper of choice status to make their freight more attractive and keep costs under control. However, merely gaining shipper of choice status is not enough to truly impact profitability.
The road is changing, and inbound freight is no exception. As consumers have grown accustomed to an endless variety of products and services, more shippers are working to improve inbound freight relationships. Ultimately, better ways of managing inbound freight translate into better savings and customer service for inter-users. According to Jayne Marchesan of Talking Logistics with Adrian Gonzalez, shippers can turn to technology and inbound freight data to develop more flexible approaches to managing inbound freight also known as continuous flow optimization, allowing shippers to optimize processes and design dynamic distribution models that self-optimize continuously. Of course, deploying the right set of technology and tools necessary for such customization and optimization, including in inbound freight data-generating and -analyzing transportation management system (TMS), is crucial.
Inbound freight data offers excellent potential for shippers and is essential to gaining visibility in inbound operations. Unfortunately, inbound freight data is complex. Instead of merely managing outbound freight data, shippers must now add the inbound component to the equation. Shippers must have the tools and resources in place to analyze such data, and even when analyzed, shippers must know what to do with the data. Fortunately, those that follow these practices can put the power of inbound freight data to work without much of the stress associated with traditional data management and analysis:
Utilizing inbound freight data can help shippers understand inbound freight costs, work with more vendors and suppliers, avoid violations to inbound freight routing and improve customer service by reducing company overhead. Depending on the specific use of inbound freight data, shippers may also consider new investments and processes, such as cross-docking, to further reduce costs.
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