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:

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, 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

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.


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.