It’s difficult for sellers to ensure their transportation strategy is optimized to save on costs, provide the best customer service, and also to allow for growth into new markets. Having a dedicated transportation expert to help research and determine the most optimal transportation strategy can give you an edge in the market.
We asked our resident Transportation Manager, Monica Hayden what she thinks sellers are often neglecting to include in their shipping strategy. Her response included four things: analytics, transit times, international shipping, and dangerous goods compliance.
“That’s one thing that I think a lot of companies are missing—having the analytics to support their decisions,” Monica says.
At DCL we believe in giving our clients tools that provide real insights into their shipping and fulfillment. We want our customers to have the data and business intelligence to create accurate forecasts and to track progress over time.
Monica and our Transportation Team support our clients by giving them quarterly reviews and assessments of their overall shipping health. She explains, “It’s really important to pull these pieces together and create a story for leadership, so that they can make better decisions. Our reports can help them improve customer service and optimize carrier utilization. You can’t be a successful company if you’re guessing what’s working and what’s not, you have to have analytics to know the difference.”
Transit time is a crucial component of your shipping strategy and is directly related to customer satisfaction. As a seller you have to weigh how important it is for your products to get to your customers quickly (with a possibly steeper price) or with a longer transit time (and probably major cost savings).
“Transit time is a super important thing that you don’t really know about if you don’t have the metrics,” says Monica. “We have a data visualization tool we’ve built to compare the different transit times across carriers. It can track Smartpost v. Surepost v. Ground and how they differ. Part of my job is to pull quarterly reports to look at the average transit time by carrier, by service. Having this tool makes it all more tangible for sellers.”
Customer satisfaction is one of the most important parts of any company. Monica says, “You have to look at it as a consumer: ‘Do I want to buy products from this brand, even though it always takes two weeks for it to get to me?’ Some companies are okay with that. But due to the Amazon-effect consumers are expecting one- or two- or same-day delivery; some companies really need to match that in order to stay competitive.”
DCL Logistics customer Willow added a new carrier service because they realized they didn’t need 2-day transit times. It lowered their overall shipping costs by 50%. Read more here.
If you’re not considering international markets, you’re missing out on a huge market share. Monica says, “Big companies have whole teams specifically dedicated to understanding international compliance. Every country is different, every carrier is different, so knowing the regulations and adhering to everyone’s compliance is a huge part of being successful with international shipping.”
Specifically figuring out what needs to go on their commercial invoice has most sellers perplexed. Monica explains, “There are some of the basics, but then there could be 10 more requirements needed on the Commercial Invoice. Plus those items change frequently on the whim of each government.” Having a dedicated staff who really understands those changes and is able to communicate them to the seller—it’s a big step to having successful international shipping.
Monica’s ultimate advice on international shipping: spend the money and hire a broker for international compliance. She says, “Depending on your products, maybe hire a Dangerous Goods expert too because it is so convoluted. Ultimately you measure your success as a company by customer satisfaction. So invest in the tools that will give you that success.”
If you ship a product that has any type of Dangerous Goods—whether it’s batteries, flammable liquids, or compressed oxygen—being in compliance with safety regulations is extremely important.
Monica says, “Packages with these items are potentially harmful, they result in explosions, fires, and deaths in some cases.” If you don’t properly label your dangerous goods packages, and cite the dangerous goods on your commercial invoice, there are very steep fines you’ll incur.
It’s not very straightforward either. Monica explains, “I have a Dangerous Goods book that is 2 inches thick. Compliance depends on product, weight of the Dangerous Goods, carrier, country and more.” It’s incredibly important to understand your product—what it can be shipped with, what it can’t be shipped with. It’s so important from a safety standpoint, but also no one wants to get huge fines for a simple small mistake either.
If you are looking for transportation or shipping support, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out to get a quote or talk to one of our experts.