New product launches, store refreshes or displays for a large marketing campaign can be game changers for your organization. Taking large volumes to market across thousands of retail locations is no doubt exciting, chaotic, and challenging. Time constraints compound the complexity of coordinating across multiple delivery locations, managing installations and in some cases multiple shipper locations. Especially for companies who are undertaking multiple projects simultaneously, partnering with the right logistics provider can turn these difficult endeavors into simple affairs. A true logistics partner understands your needs and is prepared to manage the inevitable challenges of delivering a cost-effective, claims-free solution without interrupting your day-to-day operations.
Proper preparation is the key to navigating difficult projects and having the below questions answered beforehand can make the difference between success and failure.
1. Logistics Provider: Do I have the Right Partner?
Choosing a partner that provides true flexibility, creative solutions, and burst capacity to market is the first step towards a successful rollout. Each and every project is unique, and having the right partner makes every rollout successful. Properly vetting a logistics provider involves discovering the details of their proposed solution. Understanding the provider’s track record of success managing large scale rollouts is first and foremost. Referenceable clients are a simple way to validate messaging and capabilities. Examples of thinking outside the box and finding ways to avoid “hub-and-spoke” damage risks are very beneficial. Challenging your carrier/provider-base on the front end is absolutely critical. If you partner with the wrong provider, it can be devastating, so make sure you do your due diligence in vetting early on.
2. Knowing the Product: What are the Product Specifications?
The type of product being delivered can define the entire rollout. Product fragility, value, and security risk often dictate the type of transportation methods suitable for that project. Utilizing the right network options is much easier when done in advance, as surprises in product specifications can drastically alter the project cost and success by forcing last-minute changes. Packaging methods and driver configurations are difficult to alter and making those types of changes can turn an otherwise successful project into a failure.
PWD’s (piece count, weight, and dimensions) are used to route freight in a cost-effective, time-efficient manner. Inaccuracies in this area can actually prevent product from being loaded into certain types of equipment or create unique challenges when delivered to the destination. Issues with door clearance, lift gate, two-man delivery teams, or even product breakdown are all problems that can arise from inaccurate product information. A good logistics partner will insist upon accurate information beforehand, including pictures and site visits, to prevent high cost and time delays caused by specification changes.
3. Project Origin: Where is the Freight Moving From?
The shipping origin can significantly increase the complexity to the structure of a major rollout. The packing procedures and shipping hours of the origin points are frequent limiting factors of how quickly the product can be mobilized; that information is crucial when routing the project. Freight/cargo inaccuracies here can cause trucks to incur demurrage or be turned away empty. Labeling and packaging needs must be addressed in advance so that the logistics provider can make appropriate arrangements. Homogenous labels can be delivered to any final destination, while some products have store-specific labels which create a unique set of challenges that must be accounted for before the project begins.
The origin locations may have already begun moving the product when the logistics partner gets involved, especially for projects with longer time frames. In such cases, the load plan, on-hand piece count, and project status must be clearly communicated to avoid duplications, missed pickups, missing product, or other problems. Giving the logistics provider total control over how the freight is moved is the best way to limit these issues. Again, accurate information before the project begins will save money as well as hours of confusion and headache later on.
4. Project Destination: Where is the Freight Delivering?
The delivery location defines the “final mile” of any shipment. For project rollouts, accurate information about the destination ensures that the correct type of delivery is utilized. Delivery hours and unloading requirements are two of the most important pieces of information. Different types of equipment will be utilized based on accessibility to dock access and/or the need for inside delivery. For oversized freight, door dimensions are crucial, and two-man teams may be necessary. Logistics providers also need to know if the final destinations require advance notifications of delivery or appointments to prevent freight being turned away. These issues if unknown can result in installation delays, SLA penalties, lost revenue, and overall client dissatisfaction. Addressing the delivery requirements before the project begins can go a long way towards 100% on-time delivery.
5. Channels of Communication: Has Effective Communication Taken Place?
Effective communication is crucial for any collaboration to be successful. This begins before the project starts but continues throughout final delivery. Accurate information allows both parties to anticipate the challenges and prepare appropriately. However, when unexpected problems arise, the channels of communication must be flowing smoothly to handle those difficulties quickly. Miscommunication at any time can create additional costs in the form of delays, additional accessorial charges, lost product, and other inefficiencies. It is crucial to choose a logistics partner that fosters confidence through excellent communication so that you can trust them to take care of problems quickly and efficiently.
Proper planning leads to improved efficiencies, more consistent service and greater client satisfaction. Everyone’s goal is to reduce handling, decrease costs and provide superior on time performance.
To view some examples of how choosing the right logistics partner can improve your projects, please visit our website and contact a team member for further information: