January 27, 2015

Hunkered down (presumably you’re already over that phrase for the year, right?) for the inevitable snow day, it seems like the ideal time to show off some of our shots from last week’s Outdoor Retailer Winter Market show.

Our intrepid adventurers left the bright city lights of NYC for the, well, only slightly less bright lights of Salt Lake City last week to meet some of the greatest brands of the Great Outdoors. Continue reading Outdoor Retailer Winter 2015: Bigger Than Any Blizzard

January 21, 2015

Brands that specialize in the great outdoors are an intriguing mix of the rugged, adventurous approach that their customers adore, and the precise preparation that makes that adventure possible.

We appreciate this even more thanks to our work with companies like Kor Water, Backcountry.com, and DynoMighty. These are brands that embody the rugged outside spirit, yet understand that getting great products into the hands of consumers requires a robust supply chain, underpinned by precise planning.

Mountain range great outdoors
Outdoor brands and product help consumers prepare for adventure. | Image Credit: Ilya Katsnelson

It’s important to have that sense of adventure to drive your business into the unknown, but delivering to customers isn’t somewhere you can afford to fly by the seat of your pants!

Consider a camping trip into the back and beyond, for example. It’s more similar to building a trusted brand than you might think.

Yes, you’ll pick somewhere remote, exciting and wild so that your sense of adventure is satisfied. There will be certain dangers out there in the unknown and you won’t plan exactly where you’re going and the place you’ll stay, as you might on a city break or package trip.

Before you set off, however, you’ll consider all the known dangers that you might face and prepare accordingly. The basic building blocks of a successful trip – food, water, route and shelter – will all be pretty thoroughly planned, as will the equipment you take with you. That’s where the outdoor sports and adventure brands that have earned your trust come in, giving you more confidence to boldly go where no man… okay some men, as well as a number of women… has gone before.

Backcountry.com
Backcountry.com – Branding Adventure

For those businesses, building their brand to the point where you trust them with your survivial came in a very similar way. They had to have a bold idea and strike out into an unknown marketplace, certainly. But to build that business from a bold idea to an operation that reliably supplies its customers time after time took a lot of planning.

To us, setting up a firm foundation for a successful venture means preparing a robust supply chain that keeps manufacturing at a high level of quality, and has products reliably sourced, shipped, stored and delivered to your customers. It’s a complex process and one that requires a lot of thought before it’s implemented, but seeing an efficient supply chain in motion is something that drives us, which in turn translates to a passion for your products and making sure they come to your customers on time and looking great.

After all that talk of the outdoors, we’re exploring nature via the Great Indoors this week at Salt Lake City’s excellent Outdoor Retailer Winter Market show. Keep your eye on our Instagram and Twitter for the brands we see as best prepared for success!

And if you’re at the show don’t hesitate to contact sales@capacityllc.com if you’d like us to take a look at your logistics.

All that said, if you simply have to end on an adventurous note, how about the 10 most dangerously beautiful places to visit on Earth? Happy hiking!

 

January 19, 2015

Our recurring “Unpacking” series digs into the deeper meaning of commonly used terms and trends in the supply chain world that prompt a lot of questions. You can read all of the previous entries here.  

We like to think of ourselves as the final mile of your supply chain, handling the final packing and value-added services that provide the final touch before a product heads off to your customer. Of course the final final mile is the carrier who physically takes the package to their door, and there are more ways to achieve this than you might think.

That’s why today we’re unpacking hybrid delivery solutions and what you need to know before selecting one for your business. 

 One door, two delivery providers

Hybrid Package Delivery

Hybrid systems such as UPS Surepost, USP Mail Innovations, FedEx SmartPost. To make these deliveries, there are two carriers involved in handling the freight. The service consists of FedEx or UPS making the pickup at your chosen location, then delivering the package to the U.S. Postal Service facility closest to the destination.  The local USPS then makes the residential delivery.

unpacking a car
Who has the final hand in your package delivery?

While these services offer a more affordable way to deliver packages that qualify for hybrid delivery, it’s very important to set the right service expectations from the get go, as they differ from pure delivery solutions using only one provider.

Some of the distinguishing factors include the following:

  • There are no guaranteed delivery times.
  • Service tracking extends only to a delivery confirmation on the FedEx/UPS site.
  • Claims cannot be made for packages that are either damaged, or where a customer claims they didn’t receive it when the package states delivered, unless the issue occurred before the package is handedoff to USPS.
  • Shipping to Hawaii and Alaska is not recommended via a hybrid delivery service because of the elongated lead times involved.

For comparison to your standard delivery service, the average delivery times for hybrid delivery are 3-7 business days for locations in the continental US, and 11-14 days for Hawaii and Alaska, hence the recommendation to avoid the service outside the continental US.

One advantage of hybrid delivery systems, in addition to the lower cost, is that packages can be delivered to PO Boxes and military addresses becase USPS is the final carrier. Standard FedEx Home Delivery and UPS Ground Residential do not offer delivery to these locations.

If you have more questions about hybrid delivery or how to integrate such services with your existing order fulfillment process, give us a call on 732-745-7770.

We also like to hear what you’d like to see next, so please get in touch with suggestions!

January 16, 2015

West Coast importers are feeling the burn of a labor dispute dating back to the middle of last year. 

Unfortunately, the culprit depends on your perspective and no-one’s quite sure just how much it’s hurting. What everyone agrees is that the sooner the dispute is over, the sooner the supply chain can get back to business as usual.

Cranes at Port of Long Beach
Cranes at the Port of Long Beach are seeing less action than usual as the labor dispute drags on.

Workers at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach are out of contract, demanding new terms and accusing their management counterparts of organizing insufficient labor, while they themselves are accused of deliberately slowing down operations to influence a decision in their favor.

The dispute spilled out of the office and on to the docks over the holidays, disrupting daily operations and delaying stock movements that some retailers were relying on for their sales during this crucial period. Even so, not everyone is aware of the congestion and FedEx CEO Frederick Smith believes it has been underestimated, telling the LA Times:

“The slowdown in the West Coast ports has been a much bigger deal than people think. I suspect that you’ll see a lot of purchases of gift cards in lieu of merchandise.”

Regardless of who’s to blame, or the exact economic impact of the delays, no-one who relies on cargo coming in through Pacific shipping routes is happy. Congestion at North America’s busiest port – approximately 40% of all U.S. imports come in via Los Angeles – has a knock-on effect up and down the coast, delaying shipments and threatening the livelihoods of many as stock fails to arrive and customer orders aren’t filled.

So aside from waiting out the negotiations or shutting up shop, what options are open to businesses moving cargo into the country?

Going Bi-Coastal

Question mark bubbleWhile it sounds like more of a personal lifestyle choice, a bi-coastal import solution is firmly rooted in logistics and is one of the more flexible ways to keep your business moving, if and when adverse weather, strikes or some other major issue gums up the works on one of the coasts.

We operate storage and distribution facilities out of both the Tri-state area (based in New Jersey) and Los Angeles for just that reason. If you come to Capacity with a question about the best way to bring cargo into the country, we can factor in the latest conditions and offer the most efficient route.

If it seems like the opposite coast would just take too much time, consider the visual presented in this article, with lines of container ships (now into double figures at times) struggling to even berth in Los Angeles. That’s thousands of containers just sitting in line, with limited resources – and perhaps dwindling desire – to unload them. Add to that the fact that night shifts were recently withdrawn and you have delay stretching from days and potentially into weeks, just to unload a vessel (which usually takes hours) and move products out of the port.

Even if everything is resolved soon, the port’s past (and the nature of this business called logistics that we love) suggests that it won’t be the last time this happens. Whether your products come in via the east or west, having the option to use either coast as a back up is an attractive alternative that might make all the difference when it comes to satisfying your customers.

We’ll keep you up to date on all the latest news and views from the port of Los Angeles, as well as other major issues emanating around our industry.

To get ahead of the curve on these updates, be sure to sign up for our email alert updates here.

 

January 13, 2015

It was a hectic holiday season as usual, so between squeezing in those last-minute orders and stuffing in the festive feasts, you can be forgiven for reducing your logistics reading.

As always, we’re happy to go the extra mile for our readers and gather the most relevant logistics industry news and view that you may have missed during December.

Here’s what happened as the year came to a close:

  • After a disappointing Black Friday/Cyber Monday start to the seasonal sales period, retailers saw only average increases on the previous year’s sales figures despite significant economic growth throughout the intervening twelve months. Investors ended the year unhappy, with share prices in major retailers like Macy’s falling and both themselves and JC Penney announcing major store closures for the year to come.
  • Congesti0n continued to plague West Coast logistics, as operations at the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach were further disrupted by a labor dispute. Despite coinciding with a $50 million commitment to infrastructure by the Port authorities, industrial action continued and delays frustrated retailers trying to get product out to make the most of a key sales period.  (As a bi-coastal logistics provider we keep a close eye on these developments and provide options to remedy delays. Sign up for our email alerts here to receive the latest industry announcements.)
  • Rail freight ended the year on a high, rising 5.4% in the final week of 2014, compared to its comparable week the previous year. In the meantime, otherwise buoyant intermodal freight also slipped slightly, providing a reverse of the typical pattern of 2014. Summing up the year, an Association of American Railroads (AAR) representative said that “2014 was a challenging year for America’s freight railroads, [due] to traffic surges and shifts in traffic patterns.”
  • The American Trucking Association announced a record-breaking increase in  tonnage for November 2014 last month, seeing a whopping 3.5% rise in road freight for the month. That’s compared to a more standard 0.5% in October, and a reverse of 4.4% the previous year in November. The figures are the largest since records began in the seventies and are attributed to the rush of final cargo movements by retailers anticipating a busy holiday season.
  • Delivery rates increases took effect just before the turn of the year, finally forcing some businesses to shift to pricing based on dimensional weight and leaving the industry closely watching the results of this transition.
  • To close out the year we rounded up all of our best and most-read blog articles of 2014, which provide a useful book end to a busy year in logistics. Take a few minutes to read those that interest you and prepare yourself for another hectic (and prosperous!) year ahead.

 

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