5 Steps to Optimize and Balance Your Supply Chain
The road freight market is changing rapidly. Increased expectations from customers — both in the B2C and B2B space — demand fast and flawless service at cheaper rates. Supply chain professionals need to learn how to holistically embrace change and make it work to their benefit. That is easier said than done in the fragmented road freight market.
To create a business built for long-term success, shippers know they need to better leverage custom solutions fit to their businesses that address their top challenges.
To help inform your strategy, we pulled insights from our original research study, The Evolution of Technology + Humanity: Building a Supply Chain For Long-Term Success to create concrete next steps for shippers like you just starting to modernize their supply chain. These steps are based on three surveys and the insights of hundreds of shippers operating across major European markets. They can help guide your strategy as you set up your business for long-term success in the road freight market.
1: Identify your optimal tech-to-human balance.
No two supply chains are alike when it comes to balancing technology and human expertise. While most shippers and carriers cite 60% tech and 40% human expertise as their optimal supply chain balance, you will need to investigate what’s right for their business.
A good place to start is investigating these common European shipper challenges:
Plus, here were a few tasks where shippers favored technology, people or a combination of both.
Look at these areas in your own business first and consider whether you need to invest in more digital solutions, more human expertise or leverage a greater combination of the two. Once you identify your challenges and make the decision to invest, it’s difficult to know where to start – that’s where a 3PL like Coyote can help you by considering your top challenges and determining what solutions can simplify your supply chain.
2: Leverage your data.
There is more data available today than ever before. Companies big and small recognize that data is power. Though the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming, successful shippers are making it a priority to invest heavily in collecting, analyzing and storing proprietary data.
Since over 70% of the shippers surveyed by MakerStreet value accurate reporting as somewhat or very important, keep in mind that you do not have to dive into data alone. In fact, outsourcing supply chain tasks is more common among larger shippers.
3: Treat carriers like partners.
According to our MakerStreet survey, over half of shippers are working with over 30 different carriers at any given time. Though, at the same time, most would prefer to decrease the number of carriers they’re working with or keep the number the same.
By developing stable, long-term relationships with core carriers rooted in mutual trust and respect, shippers can achieve relative consistency throughout the capacity cycle. It’s not about having the most carriers and brokers in your network – it’s about having the right ones.
As a Shipper of Choice, you will be in a much better position to service your customers while controlling your costs in all market conditions. Decide who you want to do business with over the long-term then focus on retention and relationship development. Learn their network and teach them yours. Learn their business needs and tell them about yours. Always ensure you provide them with adequate lead time, timely payment, well-kept facilities and flexibility.
By treating carriers like partners, you can work to optimize your network by rewarding top-performing carriers with more freight and dedicated opportunities. Doing so is mutually beneficial to both their business and your business.
4: Invest in people.
At the heart of all of the steps we’ve presented so far are the right people. No matter how many digital solutions enter the market, shippers will still need smart people to execute their supply chain strategies. This holds true for employees, network carriers, 3PL solution providers and any other stakeholders in your business. The Coyote Logistics team knows the importance of both tech innovation and human expertise and employs hundreds of knowledgeable specialists across Europe who can help you think more strategically about your business growth.
To keep your business competitive in terms of balancing tech and people, you will need to invest in tech-savvy employees with strategic thinking, communication and analytical skills.
According to our Martec survey, this is true for shippers of all sizes:
“Technology can handle many mundane tasks and notifications. It can keep a close eye on routes and inventory. Humans need to be thinking about the bigger picture and using what’s going on outside of the business to plan.”
-Director/Manager of Transportation, <$199M shipper with a 50:50 tech-to-human ratio
“Easy tasks, such as inventory [management] are where technology should take the lead. Dealing with clients, working on solutions and using what technology is telling us should be where humans run the show.”
-Director/Manager of Procurement, $200M – $799M shipper with a 40:60 tech-to-human ratio
“Technology raised our ROI in almost all phases of the supply chain. But not all tasks can be performed by technology, especially where critical thinking is involved.”
-Director/Manager, $800M+ shipper with a 70:30 tech-to-human ratio
When asked where they could use more help from experts, shippers’ answers varied — there was no clear winner. This shows a need for people across multiple areas of the business.
5: Play the long game.
We established that the market is vast, fragmented and dynamic. That means every participant — no matter how big — is subject to its ebbs and flows. It also means the market is going to continuously fluctuate.
Stay current on the market changes by being a lifelong learner. Savvy shippers consult a variety of sources – including a trusted third-party logistics provider – to get different perspectives. Implement as many of them as you can into your business strategy to stay on top of the volatile market and streamline your supply chain.
Transformation is happening throughout the supply chain industry. A sincere commitment to a well-planned shipping philosophy, combined with a few best practices, can add more consistency to a volatile shipping world.
We used our original research to put together five insights that you can use to guide your strategy as you start balancing your business.
- Identify your optimal tech-to-human balance.
- Leverage your data.
- Treat carriers like partners.
- Invest in people.
- Play the long game.
Coyote Logistics is uniquely positioned in the European road freight market to help you balance both technology and humanity in your supply chain and overcome your challenges. Backed by UPS, our global industry expertise and vast network of shippers and carriers allow us to provide customized business solutions and trusted insights to the shippers in our network.
Want to learn more about balancing your fleet? Read and download Coyote’s research report to see the full results.