Archive for ‘Transportation’

Holiday Shipping Preparedness – Here We Go!

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

holiday preparedness

Black Friday weekend is over, and that means the shopping season is officially here. According to NRF, more than 164 million consumers were expected to shop over Thanksgiving weekend and spend 4.1% more than last year. Transportation and logistics companies have been preparing to support retailers during the peak shipping season for months.

For those retailers, getting products on shelves and to consumers is priority number one. Last year, even Walmart struggled with fulfillment. To combat the challenges, logistics professionals and retailers alike are using several strategies to improve efficiencies and save costs in 2018 so that consumers receive their purchases accurately and on-time.

One of those strategies is to fill warehouse space with back stock. Beyond the demands of the holiday season, concerns over the coming tariffs have incited some to stock up in preparation. This is a sharp turn away from just-in-time inventory management trends, which increase efficiencies by receiving goods only as needed. The additional costs associated with this tactic may very well be worth it come January 2019.

To support the increased movement, most shippers have hired additional workers. Flexible shift models have allowed recruitment of a larger workforce. By accommodating their employee’s family needs, bus schedules, second jobs and more, companies are seeing success in seasonal hiring!

Consumer expectations for on-demand delivery is never felt stronger than during the holiday season. Consumers shop across a variety of retail outlets, though 55% plan to buy online (NRF). The old faithfuls – FedEx, UPS and even DHL – are still responsible for getting most products safely to the consumer’s home. To combat the last-mile delivery challenges, logistics companies are adding more drivers or contracting with additional carriers. Some are taking advantage of alternatives like Deliv, UberRUSH and Task Rabbit. Tech is also playing a crucial role, such as with Amazon Key.

Hold on to your hats, holiday shipping is here – whether you’re a retailer, shipper or consumer – you’re in for a wild ride.

Godspeed.

To learn more about how American Warehouse can help you solve your holiday logistics challenges, contact us today!


Logistics Profit Center: Cost Savings Isn’t Enough

Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

logistics-profit-center

Supply chain, warehousing and transportation have long been considered cost centers in logistics – necessary services to move the business forward. As support resources, they were accountable to achieving certain metrics that did not necessarily contribute to the top-line growth. Consistent with the industry shifts, that is no longer the case. Logistics professionals are instead finding themselves running profit-centers. Is your department functioning as a revenue-generating business center or continuing to operate as a service center? If it’s the latter or you aren’t quite sure, it’s time to re-evaluate.

Cost center: the way of the past

Running the logistics department as a cost center means you are not directly adding to the profits of the business, but still cost the organization money to operate. While the services you provide are necessary to the organization, you do not directly generate revenue. There is another way.

Profit center: the here and now

Effectively running as a profit center, you’re generating your own results and earnings. You may already be accountable to a revenue or profit metric that contributes to the business.

If you aren’t quite there, you’re not alone. So how do you get a seat at the profit-center table? The key lies in efficiencies, agility, and technology. Utilizing a third-party logistics (3PL) company gives you instant access to the necessary tools – warehouse management system (WMS), skilled workforce, and a transportation network. With heightened demand and shortages amassing, a well-connected partner will offer you the cost-savings that actively contributes to the profitability of the company.

With a proactive approach to logistics challenges and results that positively effect organizational profitability, you’ll be ready to take a seat at the table.


Transporters are Diversifying Their Talent Pools

Friday, August 17th, 2018

talent in transportation

No one in the transportation industry is left unaffected by the shifts in logistics caused by a strong economy, increasing customer demands and phenomenoms like the rise of ecommerce. Arguably one of the most pressing challenges on the supply chain manager’s mind is the talent shortage.

“Employment in the transportation and warehousing industries fell 1,300 from June to July, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” (BLS)

With the trucking industry stretched in both drivers and truck availability, railways are taking the opportunity to claim some of the transportation business. However the tight labor marketing is stretching their resources as well. While not every sub-sector is experiencing shortages, there are crucial transportation jobs in need of qualified talent.

Some are turning to tech to solve the problem while others believe the shortage is a farce and blame the predicament on a faulty recruitment process. To combat the challenges, top recruiters are paying more, turning to freelancers, committing to training, and recruiting across generations. Recruiters are using a full tool belt to build a workforce that will best serve their customers.

There are companies finding ways outside of monetary compensation to attract and retain employees. Others, like BNSF Railway who is offering a $25k bonus in certain markets to attract new talent, are showing a willingness to beat out the competition with financial incentives. Offering benefits – financial or otherwise – is only one peice of the recruitment puzzle.

With people opting to work for themselves, the gig economy, freelancing and consulting are on the rise. Employers who recognize this shift are diversifying their support systems while continuing to work with the top talent.

Some employers are looking outside of the industry for talent. Inexperienced doesn’t translate to unqualified. Through training programs they are building their own talent pool. Employers can thus offer more competitive value to desirable prospective employees.

Recruiting the next generation is a top priority, and not just for the transportation industry. Building a multi-generational workforce creates a distinct advantage for your company. Leveraging strengths from a diverse group of people will make your business stronger.

We have been blessed with talented and dedicated employees, including the likes of Jeffery. That doesn’t mean we here at American Warehouse haven’t been affected. The challenges across the industry make us even more grateful for our partners. The relationships with have cultivated with committed logistics professionals allow us to continue offering competitive prices at the highest level of service to our customers.

To learn how American Warehouse can help you fill the gaps in your supply chain, contact us today!

Column: Transportation and Warehousing: NAICS 48-49. (2018, August 17). Retrieved August 17, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag48-49.htm#iag48-49emp1.f.p

Column: Aligning People, Processes, and Technology for the New Future World of Work in the “Gig Economy”. (2018, July 26). Retrieved August 18, 2018, from http://www.supplychain247.com/article/the_new_future_world_of_work_in_the_gig_economy/apics


Amazon Re-shipper Services Give AU Shoppers More Access

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Amazon Re-Shipper Services

Australia may have just gotten Amazon Prime, but they’re now out of luck when it comes to shopping the global Amazon marketplace.

For Australia, buying foreign goods is often less expensive than buying from a domestic retailer. In an effort to level the playing field for Australian businesses, legislation was introduced to apply a 10% goods and services tax (GST) on overseas purchases.

While some are less worried than others over the new tax, Amazon has taken surprising measures in response. On May 31, 2018, Amazon announced their decision to disallow Amazon customers in Australia from purchasing through the US and other global versions of their ecommerce site. Citing the tax as the reason, Amazon determined the collection and payment of the tax to Australian Taxation Office was not worth the relatively small amount of revenue generated from the continent’s global online shopping.

For those looking to get around the block, Amazon buyers are using alternative methods like re-shipping services. Here’s how the package forwarding services work:

  • Shoppers outside of the US shop US-based ecommerce retailer sites
  • At checkout, the shopper enters a domestic address provided by the re-shipper
  • The re-shipper receives and forwards the package to the shopper’s international address

 
At American Warehouse, international shoppers shopping US sites can get the same service we offer our clients. We offer efficiency and cost-savings. We do this by minimizing dimensional weight through repackaging in more economical ways, as well as combining shipments for the shopper as requested.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. With 400+ million more products available on the US-version of Amazon, Australian and other international shoppers, are looking for ways around the new law. The Amazon re-shipper services offered by American Warehouse give AU shoppers access to more product options at lower prices.


eCommerce Fulfillment: Beyond the Garage

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

eCommerce Fulfillment

You’re up and running. You’re gaining some traction, and then suddenly you’re feeling like this:

overwhelmed by boxes

It may be time to outsource your logistics.

The ecommerce sales channel is growing at an unprecedented rate. According to the U.S. Commerce Department,

Consumers spent $453.46 billion on the web for retail purchases in 2017, a 16.0% increase compared with $390.99 billion in 2016. (Digital Commerce 360, 2018)

It’s no wonder that more and more entrepreneurs are trying their hand at online retail. The concept is simple: Choose a product that meets a need, build your ecommerce site, and market it with a compelling offer. The challenges come once you start seeing success:

  • Amazon Effect – Innovation is constantly changing the game
  • Warehousing – You’re running out of space
  • Inventory management – Receiving more orders than you have products
  • Picking and packing – The quality and accuracy of the fulfillment process
  • Shipping and/or Distribution – Carrier management and partnerships
  • Scaling – Your resources are limited and tied up

To ease your pain, there are several alternative choices for managing operations:

Self-warehousing
In the interests of control and simply misunderstanding what will be required, some will start their own warehouse operation. With this option, the business owner is now running two businesses, and not focusing on their revenue generating business.

Co-habitation
Joining forces with another business allows you to share responsibilities and cost. These releases some of the burden of self-warehousing but misses the opportunity to partner with a professional.

Outsource to a 3PL
Bringing in a professional with the right tools and connections allows you to focus on your strengths while assured that your distribution is handled with efficiency in time and cost.

The options span the gambit, but please don’t try to build a warehouse for your fulfillment needs. The costs associated with rent, equipment, staff and the mistakes you’ll inevitably make far outreach the costs of hiring a professional that already has these in place. A 3PL will handle all your logistical challenges so you can focus on your core competencies:

  • Manages warehousing and distribution channels
  • Has the processes and systems in place to manage your inventory and orders with accuracy
  • Reduces costs associated with running a warehouse and distribution center
  • Provide a personal touch to optimizing your business logistics and supply chain

A 3PL solves your warehouse and fulfillment challenges so you can get back to focusing what you’re good at – driving ecommerce sales through your business.

Column: U.S. e-commerce sales grow 16.0% in 2017. (2018, February 16). Retrieved June 2, 2018, from https://www.digitalcommerce360.com/article/us-ecommerce-sales/


Cross-docking: In One Door and Out the Other

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

Cross-docking

If you’re not cross-docking, you’re missing an opportunity to gain a fully optimized supply chain. Cross-docking services streamline your distribution process, reduce risk in inventory handling and lower your costs. It works by skipping the warehouse to unload products from inbound shipments and reload directly onto another outbound shipment. Utilizing this distribution method, a third-party logistics provider (3PL) can streamline your distribution process and limit the need for contracting with multiple vendors to move your goods.

Commonly confused with cross-docking, transloading is a similar service that shippers utilize. With transloading, your distribution center transfers your product from one mode of transportation to another. Though the service is different than transloading, cross-docking accomplishes the same the goal – to improve efficiencies in your supply chain.

Efficiency
Like a synchronized orchestra, the cross-docking process relies on flawless execution to move products in and out of the dock. As there is little to no time where your inventory is warehoused, your products keep moving and shipping times are greatly reduced.

Inventory management
Cross-docking facilitates the growing need to limit manufacturing yet be quick to ship in order to meet customer demands. Plus, inventory is less at risk for damage when it see minimal storage and handling. When you’re in control of your inventory, yet agile in your manufacturing, that’s a win for your business.

Financial impact
The deep efficiencies innate in the system, as well as the savings from bypassing the warehouse, reduce overall costs of moving your goods from manufacturer to consumer.

Cross-docking is an effective logistics strategy because it relies on precise planning and execution. Quality control and inventory tracking are all the more crucial to ensure the benefits of the service are being fully realized. With conflicting demands to navigate through, cross-docking offers manufacturers and shippers a valuable tool in solving the supply chain optimization challenge.


Hope on the Homefront for Port of Portland

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

Hope on the Homefront at Port of Portland

The marine facilities at our hometown of Portland, OR offer advantages over other Pacific NW ports because of access and proximity to major markets as well as having the only rivergrade interstate highway and rail routes to the interior. Further, the port is served by efficient and modern rail lines.

Terminal 6

Despite the benefits of its location, the Port of Portland is no stranger to the industry-wide challenges facing transporters, manufacturers and supply chain professionals. The port has undergone tremendous change and controversy in the last few years. Unlike others, Terminal 6 is publicly owned by the state and is competing directly with commercially-run entities.

The port has resolved some of the most disruptive problems, particularly the temporary shut down at T6, but many are questioning the direction. After an evaluation by a consultant, the Port of Portland was encouraged to diversify at T6. The multi-use plan recommendation would include a variety of pass-through options such as multi-modal, breakbulk, cars, etc.

Full steam ahead

Introducing rail service back at T6 this past January through a partnership with BNSF Railway was a positive move for the port. Shippers can now move goods through Puget Sound to their final destination overseas. But this doesn’t put us in the clear. Currently, T6 is a holding ground for intermodal transportation. As with the driver shortage, the port is experiencing a container shortage.

Shortages, shortages, shortages

The port is reportedly running out of room for Tacoma containers entering the facilities. The effect is increased back-orders for retailers and suppliers. The containers go right back out as the supply is not keeping up with the demand. The Chinese New Year, an important time of celebration across the ocean, creates a shut down for 2-3 weeks. This yearly activity exacerbates the situation, creating a shortage in China and an abundance of containers state-side. Shippers must wait it out until those containers make there way back across seas at the end of the celebration.

With both labor and equipment in short supply, shippers are being forced to forecast out further. With 2-3 day wait times, shippers should plan on ordering more stock to ensure they have the necessary inventory quantities on hand. The lead time getting a container to warehouse is increased as well.

Economic impact on Oregon

Here in Oregon, we’re feeling the effects. Costs are increasing along with demands that aren’t being met. Those changes are impacting our economy as well.

“A full one-third of Oregon’s economy is based on goods movement dependent industries, with as many as 93,000 U.S. jobs being supported by the goods that move in and out of Oregon. Experts estimate it’s a $300 billion economic impact of imports and exports that move around and through our state.” (Capital Press, 2018)

Here at American Warehouse we’re keeping an eye on costs and maximizing our transportation connections to provide value to our customers. We’re hopeful the positive changes happening at T6 and the innovation throughout the industry will put us all back on track.

Column: Dear Port of Portland: Please diversify. (2018, February 16). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from http://www.capitalpress.com/Opinion/Columns/20180216/column-dear-port-of-portland-please-diversify


Transportation Capacity Nearly Maxed Out

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Transportation Capacity Nearly Maxed Out

Last month, we touched on the challenges faced by the global transportation industry. By land and by sea, logistics professionals are being called upon to provide solutions to meet consumer demands. One of the many opportunities ripe for resolution nationally is the truck driver shortage. As consumers expect more for less, we here at American Warehouse have experienced the effects first-hand.

“As the U.S. population grows and the economy increases with it, we will see continued gains in demand for freight transportation,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. (McNally, 2017)

Maxed out

Consumer trends, like ecommerce and the Amazon-effect, are causing the transportation industry to max out. In FTR’s recent Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) report, they state that they expect “the index to remain elevated and even increase further in 2018.” However, the supply required to meet those needs is coming up short.

ELD mandate

On April 1, a new mandate takes effect that will require truckers to use an electronic logging device (ELD) in lieu of a paper record of their hours and routes. The intention behind the new regulations is safety on the roads, though critics believe the new law is misguided. Some feel the mandates limits the flexibility required get the job done. Many industries have fought for an exemption, and won, and some states are even looking to block enforcement of the mandates. For those in compliance, transportation times and costs are expected to rise.

Driver shortage

Though the ELD mandate is adding to the transportation industry’s troubles, one of the most pressing challenges is the driver shortage. Trends show that as the economy improves and the demand for trucking rises with it, the workforce it needs most turns to more desirable or lucrative career paths. Recruiters often find themselves competing with the manufacturing or construction industries to keep or bring on a new hire. Though needing to source non-traditional demographics, the younger generations are not particularly attracted to the difficult lifestyle. Further, the demand to lower shipment costs does not support the need to offer more attractive compensation packages. Many logistics companies are turning to other benefits like offering LTL shipment transportation so to limit nights away from home.

What this means for carriers, manufacturers, and third party logistics service providers is that for now: rates will rise, trucks will be harder to obtain and shipment delays will occur. But don’t despair, solutions are in the works.

Tech and labor management

Some innovators are tackling the problem with technology. The same man who launched a Tesla into space with a BFR, is working towards a solution. Though self-driving trucks are still years away, progress is being made to alleviate the strain. In turn, launching a fleet of autonomous trucks will create desirable jobs in mechanics and engineering.

Here in Portland, the start-up Fleet is working to simplify the supply chain by consolidating providers into one system. The technology will help small and mid-sized businesses with exporting and importing products around the globe. Fleet hopes to help minimize waste in the transportation process, saving shippers time and money.

Transportation employers have a few options as well – retention and recruiting outside of their typical demographic. Truckers have options so employers will do well by engaging in proactive retention efforts. Though the ability to reward by monetary compensation is somewhat limited, they are finding additional ways to remain attractive to their drivers and new recruits alike. Scheduling routes that allow the driver to be home at night is one benefit being offered as an incentive.

Shippers are trying to keep up with competing priorities and demands as the market hits them from all angles. As demands rise and resources tighten, logistics professionals are challenged to crack the code. Shippers must balance building the workforce to fulfill demands, create efficiency in the supply chain, and minimize costs. And we always remember to thank our truck drivers.

To learn more about how American Warehouse can help you solve your logistical challenges, contact us today!

McNally, Sean. ATA – ATA Forecasts Continued Growth for Trucking and Freight Economy, 17 July 2017, www.trucking.org/article/ATA-Forecasts-Continued-Growth-for-Trucking-and-Freight-Economy.


Partner Spotlight: Knickerbockers American Manufacturer

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Knickerbocker Bed FramesKnickerbocker, an American manufacturer of high-quality bed frames and bedding support systems, has been family-owned and operated for 100 years. Brothers Jacob and Lazar are 4th generation operators of the family business. They accredit their success to innovative, patented products, quality of craftsmanship and customer service. They are also the only bed frame manufacturer that still manufacturers all their products here in the USA.

When it comes a bed frame, Jacob recognizes that it’s not an item that people think about too often; “it’s usually when they stub their toe, or it breaks.” Few realize the importance of how a foundation affects the quality and performance of their mattress set. By providing innovative bedding support products, Knickerbocker has redefined the category to provide their customers with the lasting support they need.

Knickerbocker manufacturers all of their products in their New Jersey facility, but sells to mattress and furniture stores throughout the United States. Their products travel by rail freight to various distribution centers across the country.

Their supply chain network spans far and wide, but reaching some of their customers proved a challenge. In particular, the distance from their Texas distribution center to their Pacific Northwest customers put them at a disadvantage to serve retailers in Oregon and Washington. After hearing from their customers along the west coast that they required next-day service, Knickerbocker sought out a west coast logistics partner.

When Knickerbocker met with American Warehouse, it was an instant connection. According to Jacob, he found an organized and diligent staff at American Warehouse. With accurate inbound and outbound tracking, they felt assured their deliveries would be accurate and on-time. American Warehouse understood Knickerbocker’s business needs and quickly became a valuable extension of the team. As a result of the partnership and their presence in the northwest, orders in Oregon, Washington and Idaho are up 100%. Expanding their network of logistics support with another regional warehouse allowed Knickerbocker to better serve its customers, and with it generated a significant increase in orders.

Wishing to respond to customer demands, Knickerbocker set out to find a warehousing and distribution partner in the Pacific Northwest. Finding the right solution in American Warehouse, has allowed them to better serve retailers while reducing the worry associated with expanding the supply chain, and growing their business as a result.

To learn more about how American Warehouse can help you solve your logistical challenges, contact us today!


The Perfect Storm in Global Shipping

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

Transportation Perfect Storm

The global logistics shipping industry, from domestic trucking to international air and ocean transportation, is experiencing a whirlwind of upheaval and change. Driven by the political climate, changing consumer demands and labor shortages, manufacturers and shippers are being called on to solve unprecedented challenges all while rates are down and service demands are increasing. With global shipping becoming increasingly difficult to navigate, logistics professionals will have mountains to overcome in the coming years.

While NAFTA negotiations continue to loom over our heads, people in and outside of the transportation industry are fearful of the impact. The loss of trade benefits could be devastating, should the United States pull out of the deal. It’s a similar situation with potential trade tariffs for China and Brexit in the works. It’s yet unclear how the shifts in trade agreements will affect the global economy and shipping industry.

Already affecting the industry: ecommerce. Merchants selling online are generating more sales, but increased business creates challenges in consumer demands and logistics. Ecomm shoppers want faster and cheaper – if not free – delivery. And they expect it to be an experience. Further, the state of the global shipping industry will greatly impact our ability to trade and ship from manufacturers outside of the United States.

On the national front, the United States is experiencing a trucking crisis with a driver shortage. The effects are already being felt, with delivery delays and higher costs to transport. Driverless cars and trucks are on their way but technologists don’t agree on how quickly that day will come.

Commerce flowing in and out of our homebase in Portland has also been impacted by the struggles experienced at the Port of Portland. With the existence of 2000 TEU carriers, and a number of other factors, the Port of has been unsuccessful in attracting ocean freight carriers. The port has shifted its focus to a mixed-use model in order to serve a more diversified client base. To move products overseas, the Port has partnered with BNSF Railway to transport goods north to Seattle-Tacoma to be shipped overseas.

By air, water or land, the transport of goods is crucial to our economy and way of life. Transporters are being challenged in the current environment and where it will turn is yet to be seen. Despite the mounting challenges in the transportation industry, there’s enormous opportunity for innovation and growth. Those who adapt to the changes will come out on top.

American Warehouse can help navigate your logistics, contact us today to learn more!