the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
the PartnerShip Connection blog
Potential Shipping Issues: How to Be Proactive
04/25/2018 — Leah Hyland
When you deal with freight, there will always be some shipping issues that are out of your control. You can’t stay with your freight throughout its whole journey, and there are a number of sticky situations you might find yourself in. However, if you know how to prepare for some worst case scenarios, you can position yourself to bounce back quickly.
One of the most common disruptions that can cause shipping issues is the weather. Storms and other severe weather patterns can have a significant impact on a carrier’s delivery network. When one area is hit, it creates a ripple effect that’s felt all over. Especially during hurricane season and the winter months, it’s important to keep an eye out. However, even in milder months, you can’t let your guard down because Mother Nature can be unpredictable.
If possible, give yourself a buffer zone for transit time. Build in extra days, especially for time-sensitive shipments. That way, if a storm hits and your shipment gets delayed, you’ll still be in the clear. It’s also a good idea to work with a broker to gain access to additional resources in a pinch. You’ll be able to expand your carrier network and lean on them when capacity is tight.
Criminals targeting your freight are getting savvier and are constantly finding new ways to hit shippers. Dealing with cargo theft is a nightmare, and it can happen to anyone. Especially if you’re shipping electronics, raw metal materials, food items, pharmaceuticals, or other highly targeted commodities. Thieves are not only surveying ship yards for arrival and departure changes, but are also engaging in sophisticated scams. Some are posing as transportation companies, using counterfeit documents, or working an inside job.
To be proactive against cargo theft and the shipping issues that go with it, there are a few simple things you can do. Ensure your driver is using a locking system that includes a variety of locks, from king pin locks, air brake valve locks, and glad hand locks. Using GPS tracking is also a good tactic to keep an eye on your freight and make sure it’s where it’s supposed to be. Overall, it’s important to carefully select transportation providers and warehouse staff.
Every time you turn on the news it seems like there’s a new cybersecurity issue. Unfortunately, the shipping industry isn’t immune. The technology that is on trucks nowadays can leave them vulnerable to ransomware and malware that could shut down the vehicles and put your freight at risk. Cyber attackers could potentially be targeting your freight for theft or could be looking to shut down a carrier’s service in hopes of securing a ransom.
The risk of a cyber attack affecting your freight right now is slim, but cybersecurity issues are becoming increasingly prevalent across all industries. While prevention is more in the hands of your carrier for cyber attacks on trucks, staying educated and planning ahead is key. Create a plan that details what you would do in the event your freight gets caught up in the middle of a cyber attack. That way the contingency protocol is clear and you’ll have resources readily available.
Dealing with damaged freight involves a lot of heartache. Not only are you out your product, but you also have to deal with the nightmare that is the claims process. You may experience damages that are visible upon delivery or damages that are concealed, meaning they aren’t discovered until after delivery. Luckily, as far as shipping issues go, this is one you have some element of control over.
Preventing freight damage starts with proper packaging. If you’re the shipper, don’t be afraid to spend a little extra cash upfront to ensure you’re not spending more after the fact. Be conscious of the weight capacity of your chosen container and invest in quality materials. Then choose packaging that is sized right – with just enough room for the contents and the necessary impact protection. If you’re palletizing your shipment, make sure your items sit squarely on the skid with no overhang. Weight should be evenly distributed with heavier boxes on the bottom, and everything should be completely secured to the skid with banding, stretch-wrap, or breakaway adhesive.
If you are receiving the shipment, make sure you’re following the proper procedures for accepting freight. Inspect your freight immediately and notate any damages on the delivery receipt. File your claim as soon as possible and make sure you have all the necessary documentation. Any small misstep can lead to your claim being denied, so it’s critical that you’re thorough.
Some shipping issues will be beyond your control, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck. By educating yourself and being prepared, you can mitigate the impact. The shipping experts at PartnerShip have seen it all, and we’ll help you navigate through the toughest issues. Want to learn more about how to tackle freight challenges? Check out our latest white paper!
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Laying the Foundation: Construction Shipping 101
04/09/2018 — Jen DemingWarmer weather is finally creeping in and that means construction season will soon be upon us. Shipping in the construction industry is characterized by tight deadlines, oversized hauls, multiple stops and complicated loading and unloading – and unfortunately, a crew can only build as quickly as the materials arrive. Whether building a new home, sports arena, restaurant location or corporate parkway, there is a unique set of challenges for shippers who are trying to transport their materials to and from a staging area to an active construction site. It's important to know what to expect in order to anticipate any possible setbacks that can complicate your plan of action.
The product and materials being shipped to a construction site or for a building project vary wildly. Lumber, roofing material, windows/glass, dry wall, flooring, natural stone, plumbing fixtures/electrical components, home appliances, and landscaping elements are all commonly shipped construction loads. Additionally, the specialized equipment and large machinery necessary to build needs to be moved from rental location or site to site. Though the product materials may vary, a common denominator for many of these shipments is size of the load and tendency to be over-dimensional, particularly as it relates to width. Understanding and selecting the proper carrier and trailer type is essential in getting your loads transported safely and securely.
If the building material or equipment IS oversized, you will most likely need to obtain a permit, which can have different requirements depending on the state. You will need to adhere to the requirements for each state that your shipment travels through, so it's important to review requirements for each state beforehand. Maximum legal length for trailers is 53 feet; width is 8.5 feet. Maximum height is 13.5 feet and max weight is 40 tons. It's important to note that weight maximum is based on a per-axle limit, so sometimes simply readjusting the load can keep your shipment legal. Most frequently, if a load is determined to be oversized, it is due to over-dimensional width.
Pilot or escort cars are required in most states for loads that are over 12 feet wide. In many states, traveling with oversized shipments requires transit to take place during daylight hours, with nighttime restrictions in place up until 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset. Keep in mind, as well, that traveling during weekends or holidays is often prohibited and varies by state. All of these factors help contribute to the importance of knowing your exact route and researching the requirements for each state that your shipment will be moving through.
On smaller shipments of a few pieces at a time, it may be possible to ship via LTL freight rather than a dedicated truck. Just like when delivering to schools, churches, or military base locations, active construction sites can sometimes incur "limited access" or "non-commercial" fees. These are charges similar to residential delivery fees that are common with most national LTL freight carriers. Unfortunately, these fees can be unpredictable as some carriers may charge, and others may not. Typically the fee is passed on by the carrier depending on the situation at the time of delivery; for example, extra time and effort spent in accessing the site for unloading. The difficulty in planning for the charge can be an added frustration for shippers.
Moving via LTL carrier service can also be difficult due to restricted items and limited coverage on high-risk materials such as glass or electrical equipment. It's also super important to be sure you have accurate dimensions, as many of these products will be classed based on density. One final note relates to the security of the shipment. These larger and potentially fragile LTL shipments may be specially crated and packaged, but depending on the length of transit, there is still a risk of damage during loading and unloading at terminals throughout the course of transit. A partial or dedicated truck may be a less competitive rate, but shippers could save money in the long run by avoiding damages and shortening the transit time.
Businesses looking to move construction equipment and materials can expect to experience quite a few "oh ship!" moments unique to the industry. Planning, researching, and serious attention to detail can help offset any unexpected difficulties that challenge your timeline – not to mention your patience. Rest assured, you aren't alone. The shipping experts at PartnerShip are familiar with the distinct challenges that come with shipping construction materials. From understanding the proper trailer type you need to helping classify your freight, we mind the details so you don't have to.
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How to Select a Freight Broker: Top 8 Factors Shippers Should Consider
04/03/2018 — Leah Hyland
Selecting the right freight broker to manage your shipping can make or break your business. You want to be sure they are up to par and will be able to address your needs. The relationship between you and your freight broker needs to be built on trust and communication – not unlike personal relationships. And just like when you’re dating someone new, you want to make sure they check all the right boxes. Here are the top factors shippers should consider when selecting a freight broker.
1. Licensed through the FMCSA
First off, to ensure the freight broker you’ve chosen is credible, check that they have a license through the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It is a federal law that anyone arranging transportation for compensation must have a federal property broker license issued by the FMCSA. You can check here if your selected freight broker is properly insured.
Licensing involves a number of strict criteria, including bonding and insurance requirements. Insurance requirements vary but cover things like loss and damage or property damage. The bonding protects you against fraud or other unlawful actions that the broker could commit by providing opportunity for compensation.
2. Specializations that match your needs
Most freight brokers will offer a number of services and work across a variety of industries, but that doesn’t mean they are all equal. When selecting a freight broker, ask what kind of experience they have shipping your products and if they specialize in the mode you typically use. If they’re familiar with your industry or have experience shipping your product, they’ll know exactly what to look out and understand how to get around some of your common challenges.
3. Insurance options and claims assistance
Dealing with lost or damaged freight can be a nightmare. When you select a quality freight broker they will not only provide the option to purchase additional insurance, but they will also offer assistance in the event that you need to file a claim. It’s a full time job understanding everything you need to know about filing claims and a lot can go wrong. Selecting a freight broker that offers protection and can help get you a fair resolution is invaluable.
4. Strict vetting process for carriers
The freight broker you select should only work with the most reputable carriers. Before working with a broker, ask about their vetting process. Do they verify the carrier’s operating authority and safety rating? What would disqualify a carrier? They should be checking the carrier’s history and safety ratings through trusted sources like DAT and the FMCSA.
5. Recognized and certified in the industry
The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) is the premier organization for third-party logistics professionals and holds its members to high set of ethical standards. A quality freight broker will be a member of TIA and will have staff members that are certified through the Certified Transportation Broker (CTB) Program. There are also a handful of other affiliations that can show you the credibility of a broker. Select a freight broker that is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and is recognized through industry affiliations like the NASTC Best Broker Program and Truckstop.com’s Diamond Broker Program.
6. Tracking options
Freight visibility is essential when choosing a freight broker. Using tracking systems allows your broker to keep an eye on your shipments and handle any hiccups before they become major issues. Tracking also helps protect you against cargo theft, giving you added peace-of-mind.
7. Long history in the business
Freight shipping is complex and can be tricky, which is why you need a master, not a novice. A more established freight broker will not only have more experience, but will also likely have deeper carrier relationships. Freight brokers that are newer to the scene likely won’t have a proven track record or the same kind of buying power a more established broker will.
8. Overall value
It may be tempting to choose the freight broker that gives you the cheapest quote, but sometimes you get what you pay for. Working with a broker that offers quality services can be worth the extra cash. Instead of considering price alone, consider all of the other factors, including customer service, quoting tools, claims assistance, tracking capabilities – and then determine what they are worth to you.
Working with an experienced freight broker that can meet your specific needs can make a world of difference. With the current state of the industry it’s more important than ever to have a broker in your corner that can effectively navigate through a capacity crunch. As an experienced broker, PartnerShip helps you ship smarter with competitive pricing and quality service. Get a quote today.
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4 Freight Challenges That Will Actually Better Your Business
03/27/2018 — Jen DemingThere are many stressful parts of freight shipping, and for businesses shipping regularly, it can seem the challenges are never-ending. From shipment delays to damaged freight, it can seem there is a definite lack of control once your pallet leaves your dock or doorstep. Informed shippers can turn these frustrating obstacles into positive opportunities to take back control of your shipping processes, and better your business in the long run.
-Late freight is a very common issue for shippers, and one that can often affect the relationship between your business and your customer. Fortunately, it is also one of the easiest challenges to avoid, and it all boils down to transparent communication between you and your chosen carrier. It may appear that you are at the mercy of your vendors with regard to your inbound shipping orders for supplies and raw materials, but you don't have to be. Setting up routing instructions with specific requirements and chosen carrier preferences is something you can and SHOULD discuss with your vendors, that way your needs are met and you can rest easy. Most carriers offer online tracking services through their company websites, and you can always stay informed by setting up alerts and notifications by either text or email, so you can stay informed about the transit status of your freight. Selecting the appropriate service type is another way to avoid late freight. Different service levels are often determined by transit timelines. Time-critical and expedited shipping options can help get your shipment where it needs to, at an accelerated rate. Another way to avoid delivery delays is to be sure you are familiar with your shipping locations. If there a short window for dock hours, or pick-up/delivery appointments are required, and you don't make the carrier aware when scheduling the shipment, you can bet on a missed or delayed delivery.
-Damaged or lost freight is every freight shipper's worst nightmare. Accidents happen, and every freight shipper will most likely experience damage to their product, especially as volume and frequency increases. If you are seeing repeated incidents, or a frequent occurrence, it's possible that there may be an underlying issue--improper packaging. Even minor adjustments can make all the difference in a long transit where shipments are being loaded and unloaded at several terminals and different trucks.
-In the unfortunate event that your shipment is damaged, the last thing you want to worry about is compensation for that loss in order to repair or send a replacement product. In order to receive compensation from a carrier, it is necessary to prove that they were at fault or negligent. It's crucial to take as many pictures as possible to prove the product was in good condition prior to pick-up. Even if you are able to win the claim after filing, oftentimes the payout leaves a little to be desired. The amount of coverage is often paid out at a fixed dollar amount determined by commodity and class, and there are endless rules and exceptions. The headache can be avoided if the shipper is proactive and obtains supplemental cargo insurance to cover the cost of the load. Many providers do not require the carrier is proven negligent and shippers can avoid carrier tariff loopholes such as restricted freight classes.
-It's a tough time for shippers. With the ELD mandate deadline behind us, many carriers still do not meet minimum requirements, thereby restricting the number of available carriers on the road. With truck drivers unwilling to risk the run as law enforcement officials crack down on non-compliant carriers, an already limited truck capacity is tightened further. Carriers that DO happen to have available trucks are asking a premium, and with options limited, they will get it. Shippers need to take control and shop rates among carriers, but that takes time, patience, and industry knowledge--and that's where working with a 3PL can come in handy.
There seems to be no end when it comes to obstacles that shippers encounter. Getting your shipments delivered on time, safely, and smoothly seems like a no-brainer, but once that pallet has left your dock, control is pretty much out of your hands. But it doesn't have to be. A quality 3PL provider can serve as an extra set (or two!) to make sure you are shipping smart and staying competitive. The team of experts at PartnerShip have taken a look at the most common problems shippers experience and how they can actually BETTER your business. Download our free white paper today!
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Reduce Your Carbon Footprint With These Eco-Friendly Shipping Tips
03/16/2018 — Leah Hyland
With freight trucks being a top contributor to air pollution, eco-friendly shipping may seem like an oxymoron. However, there are some green shipping options that can help you reduce your carbon footprint.
According to SmartWay, an EPA program committed to advancing supply chain sustainability, the transportation sector is responsible for over 50% of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, over 30% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emissions, and over 20% of particulate matter (PM) emissions in the U.S. All of these pollutants contribute to poor air quality and put the health of people and our environment at risk.
SmartWay also adds that by 2025, shipments of U.S. goods are predicted to grow another 23.5%, and a total of 45% by 2040. As this trend continues upward, it’s more important than ever to offset the harmful effects of transportation-related pollution and harm to the environment.
1. Choose partners committed to eco-friendly shipping
You have options when it comes to selecting brokers and carriers to work with. It’s imperative that if you’re interested in eco-friendly shipping, that those responsible for moving your freight make concerted efforts to reduce the environmental risks involved with that transportation.
Before choosing to work with a broker or carrier investigate what kind of green shipping options they offer. For example, FedEx provides EarthSmart solutions, which includes initiatives like environmentally friendly packaging, fuel efficiency management, and eco-friendly vehicles. UPS has options for sustainable packaging that include reusable envelopes and an eco responsible packaging program.
You can also look for brokers and carriers that are SmartWay certified. This EPA program helps to reduce fuel use and increase efficiency. To become a SmartWay partner, the broker or carrier need to meet strict criteria and accountability standards. SmartWay also provides performance metrics each year for increased transparency.
2. Go green with your packaging
Investing in eco-friendly shipping supplies is another way you can reduce your carbon footprint. For e-commerce shipments, use products that were made from recycled materials or regenerative natural resources. There are a number of companies that sell environmentally conscious supplies. For example, EcoEnclose sells packaging products that meet stringent sustainable packaging criteria. It takes into account the recycled materials a product is made of as well as the carbon footprint across the entire supply chain.
On top of using packaging that is environmentally friendly, right-sizing your boxes is another way you can go green. Not only will it eliminate extra materials, but eliminating the extra space will help protect against dimensional (DIM) weight pricing. When you use packaging that is larger than the contents inside, you run the risk of paying to ship unused space. Not sure if DIM weight pricing would apply to your package? Check out our helpful DIM calculator.
To right-size your packages, look into ordering boxes that are customized for your products. EcoEnclose products are fully customizable from the box style, to the size and strength, and can even add your branding. You can also use FedEx Packaging Services, which offers design assistance as well as package testing so you can be confident that your package will hold up in transit.
For larger shipments, there are green shipping options for your pallets. You can purchase recycled pallets or use a pallet recycling program, like Millwood offers. The Millwood pallet recovery and recycling program will repair damaged pallets or completely remanufacture them. They also offer a green disposal process for pallets that are no longer useable – repurposing pallets into yard mulch, animal bedding, and more.
3. Consolidate orders
If you’re in the e-commerce space and you want to do your part to reduce carbon emissions and implement an eco-friendly shipping strategy, think about consolidating orders. In the age of Amazon Prime, consumers are expecting quicker and quicker delivery, which can make consolidating difficult. However, you can offer customer incentives like credits or freebies for selecting slower delivery options. If your customers are environmentally conscious, developing and marketing a “green shipping option” they can select could even be incentive enough. Also consider setting an order minimum before providing free shipping. This could cause customers to order several items at a time instead of placing separate one-off orders.
Consolidating orders can not only reduce the amount of vehicles on the road and the resulting emissions, but it can also save you money. For example, in many cases the cost to ship three 10 lb. boxes is significantly more than the cost to ship one 30 lb. box. It’s a win-win.
4. Make donations to offset your impact
This is perhaps one of the most obvious ways to move towards more eco-friendly shipping. Making donations to environmental programs for your shipments is a great green shipping option, and Carbon Fund offers an interesting way to do so. Use their shipping calculator to determine the carbon footprint of your shipments, then select a carbon offset project to donate to. They offer projects in energy efficiency, reforestation, and renewable energy to choose from. There are a large variety of projects, from one that collects and destroys landfill gas, to one that reduces tailpipe emissions by providing truck drivers with heating, air conditioning, and appliance services without requiring to idle their engine.
Overall, you can decide to take big or small steps towards a more eco-friendly shipping strategy, and every little bit helps! As a SmartWay partner, PartnerShip is committed to helping reduce the environmental impact from freight transportation. Get a free quote on your next shipment and start shipping smarter!
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ELD Updates: From Exemptions to Enforcement
03/12/2018 — Jen DemingAs we enter mid-March, we approach the three-month mark since the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate deadline passed in December 2017. While the mandate has been "softly enforced" since the deadline, full enforcement will kick in beginning April 1. A stricter enforcement will include steeper fines, CSA points and subsequent out-of-service citations. That all adds up to tighter capacity and limited available truck drivers. So what does that mean for both carriers and shippers and what's been going on in the meantime?
As a review, several industries and specific groups have extensions and exemptions that are currently in effect, or will be approaching an expiration date. Most carriers will be required to adhere to the mandate, unless qualified by a series of standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If you are not currently required to keep a record of duty status, you do not need to equip your vehicle engine with electronic logging technology. Additionally, if you keep RODS (Record of Duty Status) less than 8 days in a 30 day period, you are exempt as well. If you are a "driveaway/towaway" driver, or your vehicle's engine (not body, cab, or chassis) was made prior to 2000, the new ELD mandate does not apply to you. Rental truck drivers and those covered under the 90- day agricultural extension also are exempt for now. Agriculture and livestock haulers will have to file again, or install approved ELD devices by March 18. If they do not, fines and citations can be issued, but drivers will not be put out-of-service until April 1.
Since the official implementation of the mandate in December, many additional groups have filed for further exemption requests. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has been very transparent in its opposition of the mandate, and has asked for an oversight hearing in order to express its concerns over the mandate and it's implementation. The organization's main issue with the mandate concerns technical issues and malfunctioning, which is an ongoing concern with many of the approved devices. System failures and crashing, issues with GPS tracking and reporting, and mechanical difficulties linking to the truck engine are all cited challenges with the current ELD devices being used. On top of that, the current FMCSA list of approved ELD vendors includes many "self-certified" providers who are NOT actually compliant with requirements. It's a complicated vetting process that leaves many questions and lots of confusion for both truck drivers and law enforcement officials.
Enforcement of the mandate up until this point has been spotty as well, due to the technical issues with the devices and insufficient training of both drivers and enforcement personnel. In fact, 17 states have decided not to enforce at all until April 1, with the remaining states leaving it up to the individual officer's discretion. The FMCSA has given direction to use a specific code, 39522A, in order to report violations in order to track ELD compliance, but to this time, the code has not been showing up in reports. Namely, this is due to the complicated nature of the devices and the wide range of types being used. Put simply, both drivers and enforcement officers are finding it difficult to recognize whether a carrier's chosen ELD is truly compliant. As a result, drivers are required to carry cards indicating proof they are compliant, as well as instructions on how to operate their software, report device errors, and alternative options to record their hours of service.
With less than 3 weeks away to a more strict enforcement period, many carriers and truck drivers have yet to move ahead with becoming ELD compliant. Some are battling training issues or troubleshooting their current ELD technologies. Many small enterprises are simply waiting out the soft enforcement period and then find it easier to leave the industry entirely. Either way, it's safe to say that major changes will be occurring in the next few weeks and that the crunch in capacity will continue to affect shipping rates. PartnerShip can help make sure your shipments are covered at a competitive rate. Ship smarter with PartnerShip, get a quote today!
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Dallas, Here We Come! A Look at CAMEX 2018
02/27/2018 — Leah Hyland
Months of planning and preparation lead up to one very important show for us – CAMEX! If you’re not familiar with CAMEX, it is the campus retailing industry’s largest educational conference and buying expo. It’s produced and hosted by our parent company, the National Association of College Stores (NACS), so it’s a big deal for us. CAMEX gives us a chance to meet with our customers, talk to them about their shipping needs, and have some fun with them!
If you’re going to be at CAMEX, we’d love to see you. Here are the top four reasons you should visit us in booth #2631:
- You need a place to chill. We have plenty of space to sit and put your feet up when you need a break from walking the floor. Our booth has comfy couches, tables, and even a charging station so you can juice up your phone.
- But first, coffee. You need energy to tackle the day, and we have your fix. We’ll be serving complimentary coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and cookies all day. Whatever your preference – it’s our treat!
- You can say you went to jail at CAMEX and you’ll have the photos to prove it. Our photo op will transport you into the Wild West, complete with cowboy props. Don’t ask questions — just come check it out.
- You couldn’t imagine missing your chance to visit with your favorite PartnerShip rep. Our senior account representatives Bryan Chambers and Dillon Rickards want to hear what’s going on with your store and help you with your freight.
Mark your calendars
As you’re planning your days at CAMEX, you’ll want to make sure your schedule includes these events:
- On Sunday from 4pm – 5pm we’ll be hosting a happy hour at our booth! You never turn down an invitation to happy hour, right?
- On Monday from 1pm – 1:20pm our very own Dillon Rickard will be presenting at the CAMEX Theater. He’ll give you some practical tips on how to become more efficient with your shipping operations and help you identify areas where you can save money.
We’re excited to see everyone in Dallas this year. If you’re going to be at CAMEX, make sure to stop by booth #2631!
Want to keep up with us during the show? Follow @PartnerShipLLC on Twitter!
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Slow Season Tips for Shippers
02/19/2018 — Jen Deming
The make-or-break peak season for shippers has passed, and the holiday rush and subsequent surge of returns is over. Months of preparation and planning have paid off and now is the time businesses get to take it easy and enjoy the lull, right? Truth is, this is the most valuable time you can use to plan and forecast for the next year, so you better make the most of it. Here's some core tips on what shippers and business owners can do during the intermission.
Review and Reflect
One of the most important things a business can do almost immediately after a peak shipping season ends is step back and review how the busy period went. By taking a high-level look at successes and opportunities, it's easier to see what adjustments need to be made for more efficient operations in every area of business for a better bottom line. Is your industry consistently cyclic? Are busy times evolving into lengthier periods? Do you need to prepare earlier than you used to? Did you have a large enough workforce to fulfill orders easily? How effective were your marketing promotions? It's also imperative to take a closer look at this year's expenses and where most of your costs, both anticipated and unforeseen, were invested. How close did you come to your projected budget for the period? These are all variables that you need to look at in order to have successful subsequent peak seasons.
With less stress on order production, fulfillment, and replenishment, it's a great time to get organized and focus on what you can't during peak season. In order to operate more productively, it's important to make sure everything is in order from top down – office space, production facilities, and warehousing. Reviewing everything from payroll applications, updated production equipment, inventory strategy, and warehouse management technology is crucial in identifying potential roadblocks that may impede your business from operating at maximum potential. It's also a great time to reinvest in your staff, from developing additional training programs to conducting employee reviews on workplace culture and performance. With less immediate emphasis on production and meeting deadlines, a forward-looking business can also evaluate industry trends as well as evaluate peers. That way, you can better project what you need from purchasing inventory to hiring your sales force.
Good inventory management procedures are important in creating a seamless peak period, specifically for order fulfillment and replenishment. Now is the time to implement proper organization and best practices, in order to maximize efficiency and save time and money on the front-side. Depending on budget and expenses, the slower period is a good time to take a look at updating tech and software. RFID (radio frequency identification) systems, wireless LAN, and bar code systems can all help with monitoring of your sell-through cycle by improving accuracy giving you real-time data. It's also a very good time to take a look at your inbound shipping procedures for your supply orders. Are your vendor-directed options making sense for your business and your customers? If you haven't already, it's a good time to take control of your inbound shipping and take advantage of available alternatives.
To piggyback off of inventory management, it's a great idea to take a look at your shipping procedures as a whole. Was there a high amount of damages to your shipments during transit? Limiting the costs put into freight claims replacement orders is a great way to avoid unexpected expenses, and you can do this by reevaluating packaging type and procedures. Did you have difficulty hitting delivery deadlines? Oftentimes, fulfillment centers can charge for late arrivals or hold-overs in addition to sort and segregation fees. It may be smart to take a look at your available carriers or service options to see which make the most sense for your business and your customers. Different service options can save you time and offer peace of mind about the security of your shipments. With more time available to shop options, it's a great opportunity to collect shipping invoices and conduct a shipping audit with different carriers to see if you are getting the best rates available. Shipping costs add up, especially during heavier freight times, and this is another effective way to keep your expenses down.
Remaining vigilant and being proactive after peak season is crucial for businesses to prepare for upcoming peak periods. Taking a look at what can be improved going forward, and what worked for you in the past an ensure success, and less stress! A huge portion of preparing your business is making sure you have your shipping processes streamlined, and the experts at PartnerShip can help. From analyzing your freight costs, to making sure you have the proper services selected for your shipments, we find the solutions that are right for you. Call 800-599-2902, email sales@PartnerShip.com, or click below to get a free quote today!
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It's Show Time! Wrapping up at Fancy Food and Winter NAMM
01/30/2018 — Jen Deming
It's winter tradeshow season here at PartnerShip, and this year two of our favorites are taking place back to back! Senior Program Manager Harry Centa attended both the Winter Fancy Food and NAMM Shows, jet-setting from San Francisco to Anaheim, California, taking in all the music and tasty snacks one could handle over the course of a week.
First up was the Winter Fancy Food Show, put on by the Specialty Food Association and created for industry leaders and innovators eager to exhibit the future of specialty food! Over 80,000 products are exhibited, with plenty of samples and take-homes to enjoy and share. Thought leaders plan sessions on buying, storefront trends and hot new flavor profiles to expect for 2018.
Harry set up shop in the lobby, helping SFA exhibitors prep their event shipments' return trips home and answer any questions about PartnerShip and the shipping services we provide members. The show is also a great opportunity to re-connect with association members and recognize industry leaders with awards honoring creativity and culinary excellence.
After receiving his fill of tasty treats, Harry traveled to Anaheim for the Winter NAMM Show, where artists, tech experts, and music lovers unite twice a year to share industry trends, education, and of course, enjoy live music! The bi-yearly event, put on by the National Association of Music Merchants, serves as a gathering place for industry leaders who want to expand and present the newest innovations in musical development, sound recording, lighting technology and serves as a platform for educational programs promoting the importance of making music.
Now entering its 117th year, the show features over 7,000 brands and five stages featuring live concerts from up and coming musical artists, as well as quite a few big names. One of the highlights of the show included the Breakfast of Champions with special guest Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead as well as She Rocks Awards at the House of Blues, honoring women in music with a performance by Melissa Etheridge.
From snacks to songwriting, the Fancy Food and NAMM shows allow PartnerShip the opportunity to say hello to old friends and meet business owners and industry professionals who can benefit from their association memberships. These are two of the most anticipated events we visit during the year, and we would like to thank all of the attendees and exhibitors who helped make them such great shows!
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Trade Show Shipping Tips
01/26/2018 — Leah Hyland
Trade show shipping can be nerve-racking and a bit confusing for exhibitors. Nobody knows this better than Jennifer Hammersmith, our Customer Service Manager. Her team helped exhibitors ship to 215 different trade shows last year, and she has seen it all. I asked her a few questions and she was kind enough to share some wisdom about what exhibitors can do to make everything go as smooth as possible.
How far in advance should you get a quote for your exhibit shipment?
One to two months out from the show is the ideal time to get a quote. Any farther out and rates may change due to fuel. But you don’t want to wait until the last minute either. Use the advanced warehouse rather than shipping directly to the show site to ensure your exhibit materials are ready to go for the show.
What tips do you have for first time exhibitors?
Don’t overdo it. Start small with a 10x10 booth and a modest stock of product. Your first year is a great time to learn and gather new ideas. Once you’re there, make sure to walk the show floor to look at what other exhibitors are doing and to get inspiration. Also, take plenty of notes about what worked and what didn’t. That way when you plan for the following year you’ll be ready to take it bigger.
What is a common question you get from exhibitors?
Exhibitors usually ask about the roles between PartnerShip, the carrier, and the decorator. As the broker, PartnerShip helps exhibitors set up their shipment. One of our customer service representatives will recommend specific days to ship your materials out, secure a discounted rate with the carrier, and help you schedule your shipment. The carrier then picks up and delivers your shipment. Once it arrives, that’s where it’s handed off to the show decorator. The decorator is responsible for the drayage and material handling, meaning they get it to your booth.
What’s the best way exhibitors can plan around bad weather?
The advance warehouse exists for a reason. Take advantage of it and ship early! Keep an eye on the weather – not just in your city and the show city, but also nationally. Think about what happens to airlines when one city is hit with a bad storm. Flights in and out of that city aren’t the only ones affected. Airlines will often have to delay and cancel flights across the board. Shipping is very similar. Bad weather in one area affects a carrier’s network all across the country, causing costly disruptions.
What are some best practices exhibitors should follow?
- Ship early (have you noticed a trend?). It’s the best way to ensure you’re all set for the show. If there’s damage to your shipment or you experience delays due to weather, you’ll have time to create a contingency plan.
- Use bright, unique packaging. The best way to think about this is how you mark your luggage when flying. The more you can make your luggage stand out, the easier it is to identify it as it comes through baggage claim. A simple way to do this is to find patterned duck tape and wrap it around your container.
- Track and confirm delivery. When you confirm delivery with the decorator you can also have them send you a picture. That way you’re able to see if there’s any visible damage ahead of time. This extra step will save you from potential heartache when you arrive to the show.
- Take a picture of your freight before it leaves. If you have a picture of your freight (with a time-stamp if possible), you can easily help the carrier or decorator locate it if it’s lost. You’ll also have evidence of its prior condition if it sustains damage during transit.
- Create a pack list. If the shipment is lost or damaged, you’ll have all the information you need ready to go. Include a list of your products, along with the quantity and costs.
- Be prepared for the worst case scenario. To compare trade show shipping to flying again, think of how you might protect yourself against lost baggage by putting some essentials in your carry-on. Bring some extra product or collateral in your luggage, just in case something happens to your shipment. Also, think of all aspects of the show – not just your shipment. Have a plan for if you encounter any other disruptions like delayed/canceled flights or the wrong carpet in your booth.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you’re exhibiting at a trade show, but if you follow Jennifer’s advice, you’ll be in good shape. If you have a show coming up, you can reach our customer service team by calling 800-599-2902 or emailing sales@PartnerShip.com - or simply request a quote by clicking below.
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