Logistics, Technology , Supply ChainFrank McGuigan is Chief Operating Officer, Transplace, 866-413-9266Q: What is the current state of the freight market?A: In addition to the typical seasonal swings, there are a number of external economic factors that have impacted the market. For example, in Q1 of 2018, retail sales growth slowed, but the rise of e-commerce and omni-channel fulfillment has also dramatically impacted the supply chain in recent years and continues to exacerbate ongoing industry challenges. And this trend doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.Once consumers were shown what was possible in the world of online retailing and home delivery, their behavior—and expectations—began to change. This shift forced retailers to change how they did business, worked with suppliers, and served their customers.Now consumers can compare products from multiple manufacturers and/or retailers in order to find the best product at the best price—all from the comfort of their own home—and then have it delivered within days or even hours. This consumer behavior has and will continue to put pressure on the supply chain. Q: What can shippers do to combat some of these issues?A: As manufacturers and retailers work toward optimizing their supply chains to address capacity constraints and changing customer demands, it's critical for them to make sure they have the proper processes, technology, and logistics partners to deliver the velocity, visibility, predictability, and control they need.The market will continue shifting and building supply chains to better support new channels and find new ways to service customers. Supporting a multi-channel delivery model requires an agile supply chain and exceptional planning and execution processes and technology to make it work. It also requires comprehensive connectivity with all business partners—from suppliers to manufacturers and distributors, retailers, transportation companies, and delivery fleets.It's also important that shippers remain close to their logistics network and optimize their supply chains using actionable data. Proactively managing routing guides by using data and analytics enables better recognition of underperforming tender acceptance in lanes/regions and drives a swift sourcing action to improve performance.Further, by using historical data to better predict when and where capacity shortages will occur, shippers can then dictate procurement requirements impacting carrier choice, lane depth etc., as well as drive better utilization of the trucks that are already in the network.All of this can and should be automated with the right TMS to drive operational improvement on a daily basis.
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