Creating a robust ecosystem or network of LTL carriers is key to battling competition, ensuring scalability and delivering high levels of customer experiences. But before banking on a particular LTL carrier, logistics stakeholders must be extremely thorough about its capabilities. Hence, it’s crucial to perform an agility litmus test while building your LTL ecosystem.
Agility here does not only mean how fast the carrier can deliver goods to a said destination. It also refers to its ability to quickly respond to changes in customer demands, follow efficient routes, be proactive, ensure seamless SLA adherence, provide real-time delivery updates and more.
To keep it in perspective here is a short but important check-list of things businesses must keep in mind while building a high-performing and agile LTL ecosystem.
How flexible is the LTL carrier with deliveries?
Delivery flexibility is an important aspect that shippers should keep in mind while partnering with an LTL carrier. Modern customers want a greater degree of self-service with regard to deliveries. They would quickly become loyal to brands that allow them to change their delivery time and location on the fly. Hence, it’s crucial to opt for LTL carriers that can accommodate such customer demands.
Are their in-transit times competitive enough?
As customer demand for faster and same-day deliveries gradually becomes a norm, it’s important for shippers to partner with LTL carriers that can ensure competitive and shorter in-transit times. Carefully analyzing every LTL carrier’s service maps and then understanding how many same-day, next-day, and second-day deliveries it can execute and then choosing the right ones is of utmost importance.
Does the LTL carrier provide real-time visibility?
It’s equally important to see that the LTL carrier you choose has capabilities to optimize routes in real-time. At the same time, it should be able to seamlessly integrate with a shipper’s tracking systems so as to provide real-time updates to customers on delivery information like ETAs and delays. For shippers, real-time visibility is also important when it comes to benchmarking an LTL carrier’s KPIs and ensuring SLA adherence. It might so happen that an LTL carrier does not have these capabilities, but it should be open enough to onboard advanced logistics tools that a shipper already leverages to optimize in-transit operations. It’s a win-win for both parties.
How cost-effective is your LTL provider?
As free deliveries make logistics operations expensive, it’s important for shippers to partner with LTL carriers that do not levy unnecessary and reasonable charges. For instance, in the US there are only a few large LTL carriers that dominate the marketplace. This lack of competition results in unfair pricing and shippers getting pressurized to accept these charges. A clear knowledge of delivery urgencies, in-trans times, product density among others can help shippers understand SLAs better and hence eliminate unnecessary charges.
Is the LTL carrier proactive enough?
In the world of logistics, delays can be dreadful. But what’s worse is not knowing about delays. Shippers should bank on carriers that guarantee information on where their goods are, when will they reach a customer’s destination and more importantly why there are delays and how does it impact ETAs. In industries like manufacturing and construction, even a slight delay can negatively impact production and site construction respectively. This, in turn, results in losses amounting to thousands of dollars in the guise of poor productivity. If an LTL carrier rightly informs about delays a shipper can inform a customer about the same and the latter can plan accordingly to mitigate losses.
How does the LTL carrier measure its performance?
If you are going for an LTL carrier, one that you have never worked with before, it’s wise to understand how it analyzes performance. A greater amount of trust can be built with an LTL carrier if the latter is willing to share information on the volume of on-time deliveries it executed, the number of failed or delayed deliveries, its damage-free ratios and more. Shippers can then measure the same against the performance of LTL carriers that they have already used and come to a fair conclusion.
Including these key questions in the litmus test while choosing an LTL carrier provider can help shippers reduce costs, gain greater in-transit visibility, ensure high levels of delivery accountability and provide competitive customer experiences.
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