Navigating the world of international shipping can be complex, to say the least. Choosing your shipping containers, managing the process, communicating with shippers and freight forwarders — managing a supply chain can require a lot of time and resources that could otherwise be devoted to moving your business forward.
Luckily, there are plenty of best practices you can implement to streamline your supply chain, and help it operate with more transparency and simplicity. We’ve compiled our most frequently asked questions below to help you get started.
We’ve also documented more shipping FAQs, as well as tips for optimizing your supply chain, in our free eBook.
FAQs: Optimizing Your Supply Chain
Q: What can I do internally to help ensure my shipment arrives on time?
We recommend implementing two internal best practices:
1. Pre-book shipments as soon as you can.
Don’t wait until your shipments are ready to start booking. Instead, try to access carrier schedules and pre-book wherever you can. Companies are often unaware that pre-booking is an option; the idea of having a schedule for booking isn’t the norm.
Here at Shippabo, we recommend our clients pre-book whenever they can — within a system like ours, doing so is just a matter of reviewing our network’s schedules and making your decision. If you’re booking your shipment on your own, pre-booking may be a little challenging and you’ll likely need an agent. They’ll give you a few carrier schedules to review and choose from.
2. Set requirements for In-DC dates.
When you have a specific In-DC date to work backwards from, you’re managing expectations upfront for your end goal.
In-DC: In-Distribution Center Date or, the date at which your shipment arrives
Q: How can I leverage my intelligence to help my business scale?
Reduce your inventory holdings. Doing so will help your supply chain teams worry less and, instead, focus on planning how to turn your inventory most effectively. Your sales teams can more confidently communicate with customers and earn commitments sooner.
If you pre-book and set requirements for In-DC dates, you’ll go a long way towards reducing inventory holdings.
Q: How can I best improve SKU-level visibility across my team?
Having a streamlined way to share shipping progress across your entire network is the best way to improve SKU-level visibility. That way, everyone from your logistics team to your sales or accounting teams have similarity in their data. This could be a solution like Shippabo, or a combination of shared documents and consistent communication between teams.
SKU-level visibility also gives you a better picture on what you’re spending, so you can make better purchasing decisions down the road.
Q: How can I improve my quotes and rates?
Always understand all your options, in order to keep your quotes and rates competitive. Don’t just rely on the specific vendor you’re familiar with. Take a critical eye to how and what your business is doing. And re-organize to optimize accordingly. At Shippabo, we’ve found that many businesses with successful supply chains will negotiate their own contracts and utilize market rates to create an optimized cost savings for their supply chain.
Most companies that do over 1,000 containers will do BCO contracts — or, contracts with the Beneficial Cargo Owner or importer of record who takes possession of cargo at the destination.
Companies with fewer than 1,000 containers, on the other hand, won’t utilize that option and instead rely on freight forwarders. That reliance on freight forwarders becomes a challenge for those companies. Many, when looking at rates, have a hard time understanding what is a real cost versus a fee.
Download our free eBook for more shipping FAQs, answered.