Transportation Reinvented

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No Freight Broker is an Island

Freight Broker IslandWe have recently added the groups and associations to our website so I thought it would be a great time to outline why we are part of these groups in this blog.

The non-transportation groups that we’re suppliers to and member of include; United Grocers Inc. (UGI), Independent Pool Group of Canada (IPG) and the Retail Council of Canada (RCC). These groups are all leaders in their field and we’re honoured to work with both them and the member companies. We find it is a great way to network and learn more the current trends in our customers’ industries.

Transportation Intermediaries Association

In the 3PL industry we are a member of the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) www.tianet.org .With over 1400 members the TIA is the largest association for Freight Brokers in North America. On their website the TIA explains they provide 3PL’s with the “resources, education, information, advocacy and connections to establish, maintain and expand ethical, profitable and growing businesses in service to their customers.”

I’ve been very impressed with this group so far especially with their code of ethics that all broker members must adhere to. I also like their thorough screening process. They made sure we had the required licenses/surety bond to broker loads and they also ran a credit check on Mactrans. I’m proud to say Mactrans is one of only 50 Canadian freight brokers that are part of the group. They are the most expensive of all the associations we belong to but I believe it’s worth the price because when a carrier sees that a broker is a TIA member they know they have passed all of their strict standards. They have amazing content on their website and I’m also looking forward to attending my first TIA conference in San Antonio in April 2016.

National Transportation Brokers Association

We have also recently become a member of the National Transportation Brokers Association (NTBA) www.ntba-brokers.com. The NTBA is similar to the TIA but with a Canadian focus. They have some of Canada’s oldest and well established freight brokerage companies as members and on their board. It’s great to hear that over the last couple of years the NTBA only started allowing brokers who have their MC # and carry a $75,000 surety bond to join the group. I’m only a couple months into this group and looking forward to learning more about the association.

Toronto Transportation Club

For a good time call the Toronto Transportation Club (TTC) www.torontotransportationclub.com. This group is mostly social in nature and probably the best club for networking in the GTA. They are also one of the oldest in Canada dating back to 1913. They put on some very entertaining events including golf tournaments, skiing days and a night at the races. Their best event of the year is the annual dinner at the Royal York Hotel. It’s the one time of year you can relax and have a drink with some of your biggest competitors in the trucking industry.

Delta Nu Alpha

Last but not least is the Delta Nu Alpha (DNA) www.deltanualpha.ca. It is both an educational and social club and they put on intimate events once a month in Mississauga. I’ve got to give a shout out to their hard working board. Like the other non-profits listed above the board gives up so much of their time for their members. I’ve had the opportunity to take part in two of their panels. The first one was last year as a panelist on Power Brokers: the Next Generation and most recently as the moderator on a panel about Changes in Technology in the Canadian 3PL Industry.

These are just some of the associations in our industry. There are a number of other great ones like the OTA and TTA that a geared more for asset based trucking companies. If you are new to the industry or just looking to expand your network check out to one of these industry events or clubs. If it’s the TTC annual dinner make sure to get your ticket early. I waited too long and the tickets sold out quickly this year. I’ll get on it earlier next time.

Transportation Tips for Trade Show Exhibits

trade_shows_exhibitsYou’ve invested an important amount on an exhibit, your team has developed a major marketing campaign and you’ve spent thousands of dollars to secure floor space at an upcoming tradeshow. You are flying in with your team, and will incur important travelling expenditures. You get to the show, excited about the quality people you will meet over the next few days. Unfortunately, the delivery of your booth missed the receiving deadline at the marshalling yard.

Your floor space has a lovely carpet, which you also paid for, however your booth didn’t make it on time and the show must go on…

Exhibitors need to understand the vital role that logistics plays in getting their exhibit and events material to and from a tradeshow venue. We’ve listed a few general rules of thumb to help mitigate the risks involved in not delivering – or recovering – your exhibit material on time.

  • When time permits, ship early. Most carriers won’t charge storage to hold your freight locally until the move-in date. You can also ship to the advance warehouse for the show. This ensures you are on time for the move-in, however the show’s handling costs will be greater.
  • Use a transportation provider who is familiar with tradeshow deliveries and available to reach 24 /7. Ensure you communicate the marshalling yard location, your assigned check-in time and be prepared to pay for waiting time.
  • Include all pertinent information on the bill of lading: name of the show, booth number, exhibitor name, on-site contact, telephone number and any other important detail.
  • Attaching your business card to every item is a good safety measure to ensure any items that get separated from the shipment make it back to you after the show.
  • Label each shipping unit with as much information as possible, including the number of pieces.
  • Use a coloured stretch wrap to help your team locate the pallet(s) easily at the show’s receiving dock if need be.
  • Do not stack any crates or pallets in the delivery truck, you will otherwise incur additional handling fees to have the exhibit offloaded (more or less 25% greater)

Once the show is over, there are important guidelines to follow to avoid penalties and resulting costs for not getting your shipment recovered on time:

  • Before leaving the show, confirm outbound shipping arrangements with your carrier and the show’s service desk. As with the move-in, your carrier needs to know his assigned check-in time and the marshalling yard’s precise location where to proceed.
  • Affix new labels to each shipping detailing the outbound information. Remove old labels and attach copies of the return bill of lading to your shipment. Specify the name of your transportation provider as well as their 24/7 telephone number and contact name.
  • Once your shipment is packed and ready, turn in the bill of lading AND the material handling form (MHA) to the show’s general service contractor. The material handling form authorizes them to move the freight from your booth location to the designated carrier. Both of these forms need to be turned in to avoid your shipment being ‘forced’.
  • Ensure the name of your carrier is included in the designated area of the material handling form.
  • Confirm that all payment arrangements have been made with the show organizer. Your exhibit could otherwise not be released and loaded onto your carrier’s truck.

When a shipment remains on the show floor after the scheduled move out deadline, it gets forced. This means that your exhibit will be shipped from the tradeshow facility via the show’s designated carrier. Unless that carrier happens to be the one you booked for the return, you will be liable for exorbitant fees to recover your shipment once it has been forced. Understanding the importance of effective transportation to/from your next tradeshow will help you choose the right transportation provider. The day-to-day carrier you use to deliver  on-critical shipments may offer competitive pricing, however they may not have the knowledge and experience in tradeshow logistics you need to help you reach your tradeshow objectives. Whichever carrier you are planning to hire to transport your booth, ask for references from other satisfied clients who swear by them when it comes to events and tradeshow deliveries.

Young Entrepreneurship Opportunity

As a follow-up to my blog ‘Logistics: an exciting off-road path for women’ – I would like to invite young women in logistics with a sense of entrepreneurship to consider an amazing opportunity.

In an effort to minimize waste and energy, optimize the handling process and create maximum recycling and upcycling opportunities, H&M Germany is inviting 20 emerging social entrepreneurs to come to Hamburg to solve a ten-week group Challenge.

The DO School invites applications from upcoming entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs aged 21 to 31 from around the world with relevant interest and skills.

With the support of experienced coaches, the candidates will work as a group to solve the packaging challenge, turning ideas into actions and develop an individual venture plan. Next to creating innovation for H&M, they will develop their own start-up plans.

Enjoy the read: http://thedoschool.org/challenges/packaging-challenge/

Non-Merchandising Goods – A Major Retail Logistics Component

Over the last decades, retailers have heavily invested capital, time and expertise into their supply chain. Most retailers today have the necessary tools to precisely determine the logistics cost allocated to each item that gets displayed on a store shelf, in a showcase display or onto a mannequin.Standard size stretched wrap pallets of boxed clothing, food cans, books and other general merchandise travel safely in a hub-and-spoke LTL network. Replenishment orders make their way through distribution centers efficiently and every penny allocated for handling and transporting these goods from manufacturing to the final retail outlet is accounted for.

Logistics costs for delivering non-merchandising goods are different

store_fixtures_transportation_logisticsBut what about the logistics costs associated in delivering the store fixtures, architectural millwork, countertops, refrigerated cases and the many other non-merchandising parts which features practically everything sold in a retail outlet? Anyone who has attempted to receive these types of shipments through their regular inbound network can confirm that a completely different logistics approach is required to deliver these types of goods. Visual merchandising focuses on creating purchasing desire and increasing sales, the logistics component is not a priority in designing these units. The unique dimensional aspects and the fragility of these items often require additional packaging and direct drive services to limit the handling in transit and in order to avoid eminent damages. The physical attributes of such goods, however, are not the primary challenge in getting them to destination.

After hour retail fixture installations are the norm, so should be the delivery

Retail outlets run their core operations during normal business hours. A mall store will lose potential sales if a carrier occupies their main entrance for an hour and scares clients from walking into their door. Supermarkets and large scale retail stores reserve their receiving docks for the consumer goods inbound operations. After-hour installation or visual marketing teams are often the ones expecting the non-merchandising deliveries and will prefer to receive these goods after standard operating hours so they don’t get misplaced amongst general goods on a receiving dock throughout the day.

Other modest-sized retail outlets, kiosks and urbanely located storefronts do not permit access to a receiving dock and therefore require specific offloading equipment such as hydraulic liftgates or loading ramps. Heavy or bulky units will warrant the services of additional manpower typically offered by moving companies.

 

Select a strong partner, who understands the complexity of retail fixture logistics

The challenge becomes even more interesting when a chain of restaurants or retail outlets need to replenish, open or close an important number of locations in a reduced amount of time. Whether you are renovating a single outlet and need to replace the architectural millwork – or you have a roll-out to replenish fixtures in thousands of stores across North America – a strong logistics partner will recognize the potential roadblocks and will find the optimal solution to overcome the emerging challenges. This includes various levels of white glove service such as debris removal, reverse logistics, coordination of deliveries with mall security and project managers, basic installation, after hour deliveries or additional manpower.

Every store opening, renovation or closure has its unique components, hence, so will every tailored logistics solution.

Logistics: An exciting off-road path for women

I am one of the privileged women who ventured into an amazing career in Logistics, a traditionally male realm.

For the most part, my friends were all studying or entering the marketplace in the arts and fashion industry. I consequently often found myself surrounded by a group of artists and designers. Although I preferred certain brands of clothing and makeup, I was at a complete loss when the conversation went deeper into the influence of fashion on society. I must have smiled my way through a dozen of those conversations in my early twenties! As opposed to many women in my surroundings, I don’t have a clue where to begin if you place me in front of a blank canvas with a paint brush.  For me, a colour palette is either an Orange CPC pallet or a blue Chep version. Stimulating my creativity stems with hours of going through a client’s annual transportation database to extract potential saving areas.

Transportation and logistics industry, hungry for success stories

The transportation and logistics field is hungry for potential success stories. I have been swimming in this industry for almost 20 years and I am more passionate than ever about my career. It’s simple; every item we touch, anywhere in the world, needs to be carried through some form of Supply Chain. Globalization and offshoring, followed by nearshoring, and every moving trend in between, makes our job every day more challenging than the previous.

women_in_logistics

Women in logistics, are passionate and determined

Perhaps it is the fact that careers in transportation and distribution are non-traditional for women, yet the women I know who succeed in this industry are the most passionate and determined ones I have met.

My daughters are free to follow any career path they wish, I strongly encourage them, however, to look beyond the popular traditional sectors segmented by gender or other factors. I would probably be a very unhappy assistant designer had I followed the trend of my entourage.

The logistics industry is the largest private sector employer in Canada

It is unfortunate that Transportation and Logistics was not a top choice on our school guidance counsellor’s list of promising careers in the 1990s, even though Logistics is the largest employer of any private sector industry in Canada. Luckily, a happy combination of circumstances led me into this extremely captivating sector shaped daily by passionate professionals.

I am proud to work in Logistics

The Whole Retail Solution

As online retail increases substantially, it is interesting to note that some US retailers still use shipping providers that offer a two tiered solution to their Canadian customers. These US retailers, instead of giving the customer a quote right away for duties, taxes and shipping, re-direct the customers to another website and now the customer has to deal with another company to order the product. Often this solution involves giving a U.S. address or sending it to a border town for staging. All this does is delays and confuses the experience. They may want your business, but they make the process more complicated and time consuming than it should be. It is always best to know the total cost up front.

the-whole-retail-solution

US companies should become non resident importers

One solution is for US companies to become non resident importers and take time to learn what duty rate their products fall under and create a door to door solution. The success rate for these retailers would increase if they provide the whole solution at the outset of the order being placed. I would even venture a guess that many Canadians stop the checkout process and bail on the transaction because of the hassle and the costs. All these elements have to add to the cost and now the item is not competitive. Any savings are eaten up by all these extra fees.

Make the experience less complex and seamless for a Canadian customer

No doubt if the Canadian buyer goes to a website and sees all the costs and the security of buying from the actual retailer they will make the purchase and embrace the experience.
You see and hear the word experience used and I think it really stands out in this case. If I have an easy and pleasurable experience I am going to spread the word and repeat my business. We are all a little scared the first time we try to buy something from a US company and do not want to have an unsatisfactory experience.

If setting up as a non-resident importer is done correctly shipping to Canada should be as easy as shipping State to State.

Do your vendors pay the freight charges on your inbound transportation?

Most customers of logistics companies are mainly interested in their outbound freight shipping needs and related costs. They often neglect to realize the benefits of controlling their inbound needs and costs.

Many firms have not yet gone through the exercise of comparing the cost of their inbound products versus the cost of products and transportation allocation. There is important potential cost savings for consignees in switching the terms of the bill of lading from prepaid to collect and using their own logistics provider.

changes_in_transportation_for_canadian_retailers

Advantages of using your own transportation logistics provider

Beyond saving the administration fees of vendor managed transportation, taking control of your inbound freight movements will enable you to separate out transportation costs from vendor invoices leading you to better manage your overall transportation budget. Your negotiation power with your service provider will increase substantially, by combining your outbound/inbound transportation. In addition to the tangible cost reductions, taking control of your inbound transportation will increase your visibility into your supply chain, help better plan freight receiving and consequently reduce warehouse congestion.

Most logistics companies will assess your transportation supply chain at no cost

If your company does not have the expert resources to take over such an important cost saving analysis, an efficient third party logistics provider can proceed with a no-cost comprehensive study of your current situation.

If the results are conclusive, the Logistics provider can manage the process for you. They will monitor carrier compliance, arrange your day-to-day transportation needs and increase your visibility on all inbound movements through cloud based Transportation Management System (TMS) or other technology.. All your inbound/outbound shipments will be invoiced together from a single provider, reducing the time and costs consumed in freight bill auditing.

With enough data, you will be able to reduce your freight transportation costs

Once you have streamlined your processes and have collected enough data, you will be provided customized reports from the Transportation Management Software (TMS) to evaluate your shipping/receiving patterns and determine how you can consolidate your inbound movements and/or coordinate with your outbound movements to further reduce your overall transportation costs.

Changes in Transportation for Retailers

My first job in transportation logistics was fifteen years ago selling Ontario and Quebec LTL for a “retail specialist” carrier. This trucking company concentrated on selling prepaid freight to vendors of major Canadian retailers such as Eaton’s, Zellers, Bargain Harold’s, SAAN Stores and BiWay. This industry was booming and as a result, the transportation service sold itself.

US Retailers entering Canada was good for the Canadian transportation industry

changes_in_transportation_for_canadian_retailersWhile the next decade was not a good time for most of the Canadian retailers listed above it was a busy time for Canadian carriers moving retail freight. The American retail invasion was well on its way with new players entering the market every year. For a complete list of when some of the largest American retailers entered the Canadian market please read this article International Retail Expansion in Canada: New Frontier or Next Wave? With all the new stores opening up in Canada, transportation providers that managed freight for American retailers were growing at a rapid rate. Then 2008 hit and everything changed. There were more carriers and less retail freight to split amongst them. Many of the US retailers stopped opening up new stores in Canada. Any companies that thrived and survived during that time found ways to reduce costs and compete against the American powerhouses.

How can Canadian retailers reduce freight transportation costs?

One of the ways Canadian retailers can reduce costs today is through vendor consolidation programs. This is especially true for retailers located in Atlantic and Western Canada that are hundreds and even thousands of miles away from the large vendors in Ontario and Quebec. If you are a retailer and not controlling your own freight and not using consolidation programs you may be leaving a lot of money on the table. In the past retailers received much of their freight on a prepaid basis from the vendors. Now the terms have switched to collect and the LTL shipments from various suppliers consolidate and move as a full load. This program will reduce the amount of trucks delivering to their facilities and reduce overall transportation and administration costs. Under the terms of this program vendors usually pay the retailers a freight allowance.

What the future holds in Canadian retail transportation

There have been many changes in retail transportation in the last fifteen years and I’m sure the next fifteen year will have even more surprises in store as home delivery and retail e-commerce continue to grow at an ever increasing rate. These programs need to be supported by logistics service providers. Transportation Management Systems (TMS) should provide for full transparency on all shipments and even allow such features as tracking by buyer, GL code and splitting invoices by purchase orders.

Toronto Eaton Centre image courtesy of ValeStock / Shutterstock.com.

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We're proud to be a part of the following Associations

TIA NTBA IPG UGI RCC DNA TTC