Looking at ways to get your product out the doorThere are loads of choices for shipping, with seemingly more options every day. Besides selecting plane, truck or boat shipments, you can choose if you want your packages to arrive the next day, the next month, or in time for the next big seasonal shopping spree a couple quarters out. How you approach your shipping strategy will depend on:
- The kinds of products you are shipping, and if special handling is required
- The volume of goods being shipped
- The customer's requested delivery date
Look at the major players
For big loads, find a specialistIf your shipping needs go beyond small volume pick-ups, talk to specialists in truckload and cargo container shipments.
Shop aroundGet an idea of how much services will cost and request a competitive quote from several vendors. This is especially handy if your shipping needs are changing.
Use your connectionsYou may be able to get group discounts from shippers through business organizations you join.
Consolidate servicesIf you have multiple types of documents, boxes, special-handling requests and delivery locations, you may want to think about consolidating everything through a clearinghouse type of provider.
- Be flexible, and make sure you can quickly tweak your shipping strategy as customer needs evolve and supply and demand fluctuates.
- Monitor your shipping activity in three- or six-month time blocks; as your shipping volumes change, renegotiate shipping prices and service level agreements. As you better at understand your shipping needs, hammer out longer-term pricing agreements.
- Evaluate shipping and logistics software tools that can link into finance, inventory and manufacturing systems. Analyzing combined data points may improve customer service, time-to-market opportunities and competitive advantage.
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