5 Tips for Finding the Right Retail Consolidation Solution

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Tags: Retail, Demand Planning, Cross-Docking, Transportation Management

Using multiple vendors can leave you vulnerable to inefficiencies and higher transportation spend. Here’s how to find the right consolidator for your business.

Spencer Smith, VP of Client Development, Hub Group, 800-377-5833

The planning and management that go into multivendor supply chains are an orchestration of many complex parts. The process for new and existing brands trying to get into big box retail requires close attention to detail, juggling multiple vendors, and managing numerous requirements for compliance.

Using multiple vendors can leave the shipper vulnerable to higher transportation spend, undependable delivery, and compromised customer relationships. It can be daunting.

The solution is letting an expert manage the process with a well-designed, customized retail consolidation program. Here are a few tips to help you find the right consolidator for your business.

1. Find the right transportation provider.

  • Make sure the provider you are interviewing has a good track record and extensive experience in consolidation with major retailers.
  • Is the provider currently working with any similar vendors or retailers? If they already have a good working relationship with some of the same contacts, this can be beneficial.
  • Can they provide intermodal, truckload, LTL, managed solutions, cross-docking, and final mile solutions? Do they understand the required lead times for each? Be sure to ask what other value-added services are offered that can reduce overhead costs and turnaround times.

2. Harness the latest technology.

  • Finding a provider that has the latest transportation and warehouse management systems, as well as onboard monitoring equipment for all their modes of transportation, is essential. Real-time visibility can help avoid problems, resulting in better vendor-, customer-, and carrier-relations by keeping everyone informed at all stages of the journey.
  • New technology also helps avoid human error, including OS&Ds and unnecessary delays due to missing or unsigned paperwork.
  • A top retail consolidator uses reporting and analytics to help forecast freight needs and monitor processes, as well as detect recurring issues for easy improvement.

3. Does the consolidator have a favorable compliance record?

On-time scheduling is one of the biggest hurdles for retail shippers. Meeting tight deadlines, following strict guidelines for appointment making, delivering, unloading and inspection require tenacious oversight. All these measures must be stringently executed and enforced to keep the wheels turning and costs down. A sound and customizable retail consolidation program with managed solutions does just that.

4. Efficient use of capacity saves money.

Truckload shippers who end up paying for empty cargo space can benefit from a well-thought-out consolidation program. Less-than-truckload shipments and partial shipments are also prime targets for reaping the benefits of such a solution. Consolidation means better use of space in a trailer and less handling.

5. Strategic planning and execution are key.

Strategic planning, execution, and final on-time delivery are the ultimate goals of any retail consolidation plan. Doing so correctly can result in a more efficient order process, improved compliance metrics, and full end-to-end visibility that provides all stakeholders with great peace of mind.

These tips for finding a retail consolidation program can be the springboard for a more efficient, cost-effective, and scalable supply chain process.

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