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Blogistics.ca Blog

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.

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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.

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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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