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One thing that all retail businesses benefit from is finding creative ways of optimizing their supply chain.
One of the fastest and most efficient ways of achieving this goal is with the help of software built for this sole purpose. A well-built Transportation Management System (TMS) can help companies find the right carriers, balance loads, improve on-time delivery, and save money overall.
These systems are so useful that the mass majority of retail companies of all sizes depend on transportation management systems to get products out to their stores.
The typical TMS used in today's supply chain started as a simple software that was accessible only on a desktop or physical server. Fast forward just a few short years and most TMS platforms are 100% cloud-based, highly secure, and easily accessed from just about anywhere!
Transportation Management Software platforms are a type of 'Software as a Service' (SaaS) and they are used by shippers in a variety of industries. Retailers to wholesalers, distribution facilities to manufacturers all make use of some form of TMS.
The original TMS systems were software programs that needed to be installed on a centralized computer or in an on-site server room. Additionally, with each new installation, the company would be expected to pay another install fee!
Needless to say, that outdated pricing model no longer works as it was simply out of budget for most smaller companies. Nowadays, with the advancements in cloud computing, that old pricing model is nothing short of laughable.
Today's cloud-based TMS solutions utilize advanced security protocols such as blockchain technology. Additionally, most TMS solutions are packed with tools that retailers locate, rate, schedule, monitor, and invoice their carriers. These additional tools may include load and route optimization, contract creation, order tracking, and push notifications.
There are many ways TMS software benefits retailers. But today, I want to talk about the three most important out of the bunch...
Retailers deal with several variables that impact their business. From peak seasons for certain products to supply issues from distributors, manufacturers, and other vendors. The retail industry is rife with these ever-fluctuating challenges. And that's not even to mention things such as large sales and liquidations that happen on a store-level. Yes, store-level events become supply chain issues really, really fast.
One of the best ways to improve the movement of both inbound or outbound freight is to measure and compare your load metrics every week. Tracking these metrics is absolutely vital to the overall health of your business as the shipping load amounts are going to always be reflected in the final invoice. Most TMS software has the ability to help you gather this data and make better sense of it all. And we highly recommend that retailers take advantage of that feature when available.
The last thing you want is to try to get that last minute shipment out the door but forgot to keep your load in check. This is never good and you end up not being able to send your store the promised amount of product. And the reason? Improper budgeting and costs for which you didn't account. That is never a good look!
If there is a magic formula to retail shipping success, it is route planning. Honestly, that is the key to success for most other types of shipping operations, as well.
Retailers who have to deliver along dedicated routes can configure their TMS to improve their efficiency and delivery speeds. Doing so allows them to improve on-road performance, complete more stops per hour, and reduce overall expenses.
Good business relies on equally good customer service. Providing quick, efficient, and accurate delivery of products to stores around the globe is the name of the retail game. Shipments that are constantly suffering from delays loses customers. This is not an opinion, it is a fact.
No matter whether you are the retailer or the customer, delays and poor customer service destroy companies every single day.
While sometimes delivery delays occur, a good TMS is able to resolve most customer complaints through instant notifications. Furthermore, once resolved by your TMS, it presents new data for you to analyze.
Overall, a solid TMS improves the customer's experience. But it also presents shippers with better ways to structure their operations to further prevent those same types of problems.
A transportation management system is a potent tool that helps shippers in every industry. But for those in retail, having a robust and custom-configured TMS solution is crucial to improving their supply chain functions, improving customer service, and reducing shipping expenses.
If you'd like to learn more about how Redwood Logistics can help you design a custom TMS solution, drop us a line today!