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  • When it comes to organisations that ship goods internationally, dealing with freight forwarders is not a one-time transaction but a part of the business itself.  As a shipper, it’s crucial that you choose the right forwarder as they bridge the gap between you and your customer,   making the import and export process seamless.  But in a market saturated with freight forwarding agencies, how do you identify forwarders best suited for your business?  Here’s a checklist to guide your decision when choosing freight forwarders:  1) Do you need a freight forwarder? A freight forwarder is not exactly required for the actual process of import and export of goods. However, importing and exporting of goods involves a lot of paperwork that varies from country to country and coordination between several stakeholders. Companies prefer working with freight forwarders as their worldwide network, thorough knowledge of documentation, customs laws of various countries etc. makes the process easier.  Undoubtedly, it is beneficial for almost any company dealing in international transportation of goods to have a freight forwarder involved, especially when in-house resources are not well-aware of the international shipping procedures. 2) Experience counts  There are several freight forwarders in the market but it is important to award business to an experienced forwarder. Problems like port shutdowns, dockworkers’ strikes, cargo reroutes, customs issues and warehousing issues, etc. are a common occurrence when it comes to international shipments. Only a seasoned forwarder can handle them with ease and ensure that the cargo reaches the destination without any hindrance.  3) A global network is a must  A good freight forwarder has an established global network. As the vendor is likely to handle your shipments at both ends – the port of origin to the destination port, make sure that he has a network in the destination country...
  • An agile and resilient supply chain is truly an asset for organisations around the world as it boosts business opportunities and growth in countless ways. However, simplifying end-to-end logistics and building a robust supply chain doesn’t happen overnight. It requires strategic planning, the right choice of technology and a thorough understanding of the existing system.  According to the Management Events Report, the eight key drivers of supply chain development are as follows:   Reducing supply chain costs  Improving responsiveness to customers’ needs  Enhancing delivery performance  Minimizing supply chain complexity  Strengthening supply chain sustainability Improving volume flexibility  Optimizing end-to-end visibility  Mitigating risk When it comes to supply chains, the devil is in the details. In order to get the bigger picture right, it is imperative to pay attention to the minutest details. Here is a list of mistakes that supply chain professionals must avoid: Lack of strategy:  Having a strategy in place helps align logistics management with the company’s overall goal. A good starting point is to design the management principles of your supply chain and review them regularly.  Even companies with apt planning tend to fail at times as they overlook the fact that the plan needs to be modified over time. It is crucial that you reevaluate your strategy with every financial milestone of your company.  Improper allocation of staff within the supply chain:  The supply chain is one such element of your organisation that requires a dynamic team.  An industry best practice is to have a centralized strategy in place and then allot specialized managers to each unit of the chain. It is imperative to have a decentralised team to ensure that every time a crisis hits, people with expertise in their respective spaces can step in.  Ignoring the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO):  A lot of times, procurement...
  • As COVID-19 continues to disrupt global supply chains, knowing exactly where your shipments are has become more crucial than ever before. The traditional way of tracking shipments is tedious, time-consuming and ineffective, to say the least. Industry studies show that tracking about 500 shipments every month on the sites of about 7-15 shipping lines alone consumes over 8000 minutes. Now that translates to about 17 days! This is where automation steps in and offers an innovative solution to the problem.  What does an automated shipment tracking system do? A good shipment tracking system should simplify your supply chain management by providing a single dashboard to give you real-time, automated updates on the movement of all your international shipments.  It should also equip your team to make informed, data-driven decisions despite uncertainties with the help of increased visibility on the movement of your goods and the service levels of your carriers.  An efficient system should fully automate your tracking, offer the option to share tracking data with your customers for their shipments, providing them detailed updates about orders throughout the lead time and help improve their customer experiences via unprecedented transparency. Here’s how adopting an automated shipment tracking solution can help your company better manage shipments:   Unified tracking dashboard  An automated solution is designed to give you automated and real-time notifications about shipment milestones, arrivals, delays and unforeseen events on a single dashboard. A comprehensive system allows tracking of couriers, ocean and air freight. This eliminates the need to trawl through countless websites and waste time in figuring out where your shipment is.  Similarly, some software allow you to add container numbers of multiple shipments simultaneously making the job easier. Resource optimisation With the help of the efficiency that an automated tracking system gets along, you can save a great deal...
  • For organisations that ship goods internationally, shipping cost accounts for a significant expense and its dynamic nature makes it close to impossible to spot opportunities for driving cost savings. Especially for businesses that are inventory intensive, logistics cost plays a crucial role in determining profitability.  However, there are several practices you can deploy to beat the unpredictable nature of freight costs and get the best prices every single time. Here are 10 steps that you can follow to lower your freight cost and drive substantial cost savings:  Know the market and the prevalent rate It is imperative that you keep track of market rates in order to be sure that you aren’t paying an unfair price for shipping your goods. A good way to ensure this is by adopting a modern-day supply chain software that will enable you to benchmark freight rates and help you negotiate rates better.  Analyse the route Route optimisation is yet another way to lower freight costs. Sparing some time to closely study the routes and figure out the best route available can go a long way in not only reducing price but also increasing overall efficiency.  Plan effectively Effective and advanced planning can help you prioritise your requirements while shipping goods. Moreover, carriers as well as freight forwarders, look forward to working with clients who have a clear vision of what they want. Thus planning your shipments well in advance will help you build a good relationship with them in the long run. Consolidated shipments Typically, shipping in bulk is cheaper than shipping smaller consignments. You are more likely to get cheaper rates if you ship in bulk as it enables carriers to load a container more efficiently and also helps reduce the time spent in loading, unloading and processing multiple customers’ shipments. However, consolidated...
  • Deciding whether your organisation needs a 3PL or a 4PL provider is an integral part of your supply chain management. Mistakes on this front can and do happen, costing companies big money.  The key here is to understand the five kinds of logistics parties and learn to distinguish between the services they provide. While in first-party logistics an enterprise sends goods from point A to point B, in second-party logistics the enterprise owns the modes of transportation.   Whereas third and fourth-party logistics come into the picture when the enterprise outsources its supply chain process to other businesses. On the other hand, 5PL providers meet the logistics needs of multiple customers and lean on technology to simplify end-to-end logistics.  Before diving into the differences between 3PLs and 4PLs, let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of undertaking either of the logistic parties.  Image credits: Warehouse Anywhere Third-party Logistics (3PLs) Third-party logistics (or 3PLs) refers to the outsourcing of logistics processes, including inventory management, warehousing, and fulfilment. 3PLs’ providers allow e-commerce merchants to accomplish more, with the tools and infrastructure to automate order fulfilment. The enterprise maintains management oversight, but most of the inbound and outbound logistics are taken care of by the third-party business. Some of the Third-party logistics providers are Freight Forwarders and courier companies. Advantages: Proves to be cost-efficient for SMBs Distribution of goods is easier Highly decentralized  Warehouse and inventory management at their disposal Saves on time if undertaken efficiently Disadvantages:  Slow responsiveness Lack of data collection Disruption to visibility Less control over inventory Lack of responsibility and accountability Fourth-party Logistics (4PLs) Fourth-party logistics (4PLs) or lead logistics providers, is a model in which the enterprises completely outsource both the structure and oversight of their supply chain to a 4PL provider. 4PL generally offers a high level of...
  • Ongoing global disruption has pushed the supply chain industry into a phase of unparalleled transformation. Everything from the present pandemic, rapidly changing supply-demand dynamics, and technological advancements have accelerated radical change.  Supply chain resilience has become increasingly valued as organisations look to prepare themselves to face the unexpected. Today, we are looking at building supply chains that don’t merely survive disruptions but have the capacity to flourish amid the chaos.  As your organisation navigates through 2020 and prepares for the future, here are some trends that will continue to dominate supply chain management in the years ahead: No slowing down for technology   Companies today are leveraging technology more than ever and will continue to do so in the future. The recent spike in demand for integrated solutions that automate operations, increase efficiency and profitability, has shone a spotlight on the need for businesses to turn to technology to help them ride through a crisis.   While fortifying your supply chain resilience, be mindful of the fact that the digital-first mindset is here to stay. The future is cloud-based, automated solutions, whose innovations in machine learning, internet of things and artificial intelligence are rapidly reforming supply chain management. By adopting these technologies you will not only be able to capture weaknesses in your system but also reveal hidden opportunities in your business model. The big data buzz We are living in the big data era where supply chain management is data-driven and automated analytics demand the attention of supply chain professionals. To stay relevant in the market, ensure that you gather business intelligence by processing the data that your supply chains generate regularly and leveraging the insights gained.  Unlike before, the availability of advanced algorithms has not only simplified the complexity of data science but has made converting data into actionable insights...
  • More often than not, the freight world deals with two standard terms—Supply Chain Management (SCM) and Logistics Management (LM). These are used interchangeably, and the difference is not made very apparent. Logistics management is a small portion of SCM that combines the flow of goods, services, information, and capital right from raw material to its final consumer. Whereas supply chain management is much broader and starts right from the product’s source to delivering it to the consumers. Each of these has different functions and processes and are different in many aspects. Before we start picking out the differences, let’s get a brief overview of both these processes. What is Supply Chain Management? According to Supply Chain Logistics Management, a book by professors of Michigan State University, Supply Chain Management or SCM involves collaboration between firms to connect suppliers, customers, and other partners to boost efficiency and produce value for the end consumer.  In a broader sense,  SCM is a three-part process. It starts from sourcing the raw materials for the product, goes through manufacturing processes, and finally gets dispatched to the end-buyer. The process is complicated due to a lot of factors and needs intense planning and strategies. Image Credits: TechTarget Businesses and companies go out of their way to optimize their supply chain management to incur fewer losses and enhance the business’s productivity. Supply Chain Managers are the personnel who take care of your supply chain and devise various strategies to optimize each part of this process.  What is Logistics Management? Logistics management is a subset of the more extensive supply chain management process. According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), Logistics management or LM is a part of the supply chain process that plans, implements and controls the efficient, effective forward and reverses flow and...
  • With tightening capacity and ever-soaring rates in the face of COVID-19, managing logistics and shipping goods has become a turbulent experience. Investing in the right TMS can streamline your operations and boost business.  However, with so many options to choose from, how do you identify the TMS best-suited for your organisation and your budget?  What does a TMS do? A good TMS should simplify your shipping process by helping you plan, coordinate and track your shipments. It should also be designed to process data and generate insights that can assist you when making decisions. An efficient TMS should automate your freight management, improve your communication with vendors, save time and help you reduce costs.  Key factors to consider when buying a TMS The true cost of the system Be aware of companies offering you a low-cost solution as chances are further hidden charges lay in wait. Choose a system that caters to your business needs without having to rush to vendor’s support services or costly code changes every other day.  A low-cost system may appear attractive at the time of purchase, but over time, you may find your money going towards maintaining the system- instead of your bottom line.  Easy integration with existing systems A TMS is only as good as its functionality. Make sure that the TMS you choose is designed for easy integration with your existing systems and quick onboarding. A mistake here can affect you for the life of the system you select.  Scalability Ensure your chosen TMS is able to handle the depth of your existing requirements both in your jurisdiction and throughout your organisation.  Server-based systems are best avoided as these quickly become outdated. It is instead recommended to opt for a cloud-based solution as these will allow you to more easily upgrade your system...
  • June 5, 2020

    Airfreight Vs Ocean freight

    Businesses that deal with international shipments are always faced with the dilemma of choosing between Ocean freight and Air freight at some point or the other. Although the two serve the same purpose, they are poles apart in multiple ways. Choosing to use one over the other is a highly conditional decision and boils down to a significant difference in cost and time.  Determining which one is better is undoubtedly a never-ending debate. Both of them come with their own set of pros and cons and that is the reason why companies must use a mix of the two in order to respect deadlines and budgets.  To aid the decision-making process, it is imperative to consider the following factors: Cost: For most businesses worldwide, cost is of prime importance when it comes to shipments. It is a well-known fact that ocean freight offers more capacity while being the less expensive of the two options. Whereas air freight is faster and safer. But air freight comes at a very hefty price. To put that into perspective by example – a package that costs $200 by ocean freight can cost up to $1000 by air. That is why most professionals recommend that air freight be used when it costs less than 15-20% of the value of the goods.  All that being said, for ocean freight, when a package is small and less than a full container’s load, its cost is calculated in cubic metres. A lot of times, this can actually cost a lot more than air freight for the same package. That is why it is important to do a thorough calculation and cost comparison before choosing the mode of shipment. Time: While cost is a primary condition, time is an equally important one. When it comes to time-sensitivity, ocean freight...
  • The larger, more complex and interdependent an industry grows, greater the scope for errors to occur. Certainly, the rapidly growing and highly intricate supply chain industry is no exception.  When it comes to supply chains, be it a small error or a missed opportunity, mistakes can and do often cost a lot of money. They can not only leave businesses scrambling with reduced efficiency but directly affect your company’s profitability.  Luckily, most of these mistakes can be taken care of if only supply chain leaders are mindful of the red flags along the way and find long-term solutions to the problems.  Here are some of the most common mistakes supply chain professionals tend to make: Failure to break free from obsolete ways: While you might have got comfortable with the age-old way of creating inquiries manually and negotiating freight rates even without realising that it’s hurting your business, it’s high time you evolve. If your organisation is yet to adopt automated solutions and digitise supply chains, you are already at a major disadvantage.  Relying on the traditional system stifles the growth of your company as you unknowingly end up using resources where they aren’t needed. Managing your supply chain manually is not only labour intensive, time-consuming and tedious but affects your profits.  The easiest way to deal with this mistake is to deploy a supply chain software that can automate your business processes and save a great deal of time, energy and money.  Poor relationship with customers and vendors Your business is bound to suffer if you fail to create and maintain a good relationship on both ends of your supply chain network. Develop a system that will constantly listen to your customers and cater to their requirements. Remember that effective communication, concrete understanding of customer needs and timely management...