The Big List of Logistics and Supply Chain FAQs
Logistics and supply chain is a massive subject! Right from inventory management to delivery automation to demand forecasting, there are tons of subjects. And it is almost humanly impossible for one person to keep track of all. In this article, we intend to populate a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) across subjects in a simple manner to have a cursory overview of the subject. If there’s a question you want to ask, just add them in the comments, and we’ll answer them along with adding it to the list. We’ve also made a glossary of terms which you can look up here.
- What is route optimization?
Route optimization is the process of calculating the most cost-efficient route to reach a destination. It merges factors like the number of orders, multi-stops, traffic congestion, selection of the nearest drivers, location, etc., improving the speed of delivery and reduction in the carbon footprint.
- What is a delivery automation platform?
A delivery automation platform enables enterprises with enhanced functionalities and security that functions across the operations, development, and other teams.
- What is ePOD?
ePOD stands for electronic proof of delivery. It helps streamline the documentation of your deliveries, eliminating paperwork and capturing digital signatures, and photos that will guarantee delivery (offering proof of delivery).
- How is ETA calculated?
ETA stands for estimated time for arrival. ETA is calculated based on a) Time to load orders in a trip and b) Travel time to reach the customer’s location.
- What is a real-time visibility platform?
A real-time visibility platform allows operation managers and customers real-time insights into orders and shipments right from the supplier, warehouse, or store.
- Which is the best logistics software?
As business operations become more sophisticated, it’s important to effectively manage your transportation of goods and services. Some of the best logistics software include- LogiNext Mile, CAReGO, Fishbowl, Rose Rocket, Logistically TMS, and more.
- Is SaaS software better than on-premise?
Yes, SaaS software is better than on-premise as it offers better flexibility, reliability, security, and cost-effective solutions to manage your logistics operations. It helps track and manage your orders and shipments in the most robust way.
- What is auto allocation of orders?
Auto allocation is the process where your orders (on-demand deliveries) will be automatically allocated to the nearest delivery partner, reducing manual intervention, and leading to improved efficiency of your fleet.
- What is a DRS (delivery run sheet)?
A delivery run sheet is a backup for proof of delivery. A courier/ delivery person will carry a receipt of delivery acceptance, wherein the customer has to sign/ provide name/ mobile number on receiving the order, which acts as proof of delivery.
- What is inventory tracking?
Inventory tracking is a process wherein you can track items from multiple warehouses, stores, and fulfillment centers. This is essential to meet customer demand and restock items in relevant locations.
- What is the importance of tracking inventory?
Today’s customers need fast shipping for orders, whether you place an order from eCommerce marketplaces, grocery stores, and other retail industries. There has been a rise in last-mile delivery suppliers that help with same-day or next-day deliveries. For such businesses, it’s important to track inventory, as it will help in faster order fulfillment, and efficient stock control (to avoid out-of-stock messaging).
- What is the best way to keep track of inventory?
Inventory tracking should be based on the number of times you count your inventory and the technology used. The two general types of tracking include-
- Full inventory counting- This tracking method uses staff members’ time to count the inventory and offers the most accurate results. (Note: You will have to stop your operations to get results.)
- Cycle counting- This tracking method helps keep track of your inventory; wherein the inventory is divided into sections and the entire inventory is gradually covered in the different cycles which allows you to keep running your operations 24/7 but will need a proper plan to ensure all the sections are covered on a timely basis.
- How do you automate inventory tracking?
Barcodes and RFID tags are the best way to automate your inventory tracking. These can be synced to your transportation automation system or your logistics software and keep your operation managers updated on inventory.
- How can I keep track of my inventory for free?
There are a few apps that can help you keep track of your inventory for free, but having a limit of 50-orders a month, which wouldn’t be ideal for most businesses. Choosing an inventory tracking app will help your business with demand forecasting, keeping track of stock, and turnover rate, planning your floor space, labeling your products, and more.
- What is the cheapest way to ship a parcel?
Each shipment cost depends on the distance that needs to be covered between the sender and recipient. Additionally, the cost of shipping a parcel will depend on factors such as how fast the parcel needs to be delivered (express service), the weight of the parcel, peak order season, and more.
- How can retailers keep up with parcel surges?
Automation is the key to helping with order surges. Your business should have an automated system that can help with tracking and auto-allocation of orders. If you face driver shortages, carrier integration will help you meet your order demand.
- Can I track a PUDO parcel? [Pick Up and Drop Off- PUDO]
Yes, PUDO parcels can be tracked the same way as a normal parcel. A tracking link would be attached and forwarded to your number or email to ensure complete visibility of your parcel.
- What is PUDO Shipping?
PUDO Shipping is the process where order fulfillment or returns can be handled with the customer receiving or dropping off the shipment at a designated location. These locations can be post offices, local stores, supermart, and even smart lockers.
- What is a shipping carrier?
A shipping carrier is the one that offers their service to deliver goods to customers of another company. The company whose goods are to be delivered is stated as the shipper, while the one that gets the shipment is termed the consignee. Shipper carriers are the ones that deliver goods from shippers to consignees. The transportation of goods can be carried out using trucks, vans, cars, rail, airplanes, and ships.
- What is the difference between the shipper and the carrier?
A shipper can be defined as the company that holds the good that needs to be shipped. While a carrier is a company that helps with the transportation of goods.
- What is the difference between LTL and FTL freight?
LTL stands for Less Than Truckload, which keeps the truck load less than its capacity. These freight trailers can carry around 150- 15000 pounds. FTL stands for Full Truckload, wherein the entire trailer/ freight is filled to carry out the delivery. These trailers usually carry over 15,000 pounds.
- Why is LTL freight so expensive?
When an LTL carrier starts their trip, they have to stop at multiple locations and get the goods loaded and unloaded, leading to fuel idling. Drivers have to spend more time getting the deliveries completed, for which drivers are compensated by the company. The additional costs that the company bears are added to the customer’s shipping expenses, which leads to an increase in freight costs. Whereas, in an FLT carrier, there is a one-stop pickup and drop location, which reduces the delivery time and is a cost-efficient solution.
- When should you use parcels instead of shipping LTL?
If you want deliveries to be made below 150 pounds, then parcel delivery is your best bet. Note: Some parcel deliveries now accept parcels greater than 150 pounds, hence it’s better to compare costs between LTL and parcel carriers, to avoid additional costs for delivery.
- What are the drawbacks of LTL freight shipping?
While transporting your goods, the total weight should be above 150 pounds and less than 150000 pounds to be considered. Though the cost of transporting goods via LTL is cost-saving, the total savings can be hampered due to surcharges and service fees (which can also increase costs than using an FTL). The goods being transported cannot be guaranteed to reach ideal conditions since there are multiple pickups and drops, which might lead to minor damage.
- What is the difference between LTL and FLT Freight and Parcels?
LTL freights involve the transportation of goods that cover truckloads between 150 pounds to 15,000 pounds. FLT freights are when the shipment covers the entire truckload (usually greater than 15,000 pounds). Parcel freight shipping is for shipments less than 150 pounds. The key differentiating parameter between LTL, FLT, and Parcel freights is the trailer space and the weight of the shipment to be delivered.
- What are the benefits of direct-to-consumer?
Thanks to the digital era, businesses can now optimize their supply chain to offer better value to their customers. The direct-to-consumer model allows-
- Faster and more efficient deliveries using dark stores.
- Improver user buying experience
- Improve your product availability.
- Easier to collect customer insights for the complete cycle (from order placement to delivery).
- Enhance user experience and brand building.
- Improve your chance for profitability.
- What is on-time delivery?
On-time delivery is a key metric to measure supply chain efficiency. This helps the business measure whether their carrier is functioning optimally and ensuring maximum customer satisfaction on order delivery. As the competition is fierce in the market, customers’ expectations have to be met, which mainly includes delivery of the right product within the specified time window. On-time delivery will help with higher customer retention and keep customers satisfied.
- What are the different types of delivery exceptions?
Some of the top reasons for delivery exceptions include:
- Lost orders- One of the most common reasons for lost orders is the incorrect delivery address. Additional causes might include routing issues, missing or damaged labels, or missing documentation.
- Delivery driver issue- Unforeseen incidents like vehicle breakdown, incorrect address, and lack of communication, lead to delays in delivery.
- Public holidays- Shipment arrivals can be affected if they come around public holidays (since they don’t fall under business days.)
- Custom delays (international shipping)- International shipments often have to pass through customs which might lead to delays.
- Natural causes- Weathers can usually play spoilsport for order deliveries, which might even leave to orders being misplaced or lost.
- Why are delivery exceptions important?
Wherever an item is purchased online, the two main factor that the customer considers is the cost and delivery time. Once the order delivery date is set, the customer awaits to get their product within the set period. If the delivery cannot be completed within the set period, it’s important to communicate it with the customer, to avoid a bad customer experience. Offering your customers real-time visibility is crucial for delivery exceptions. The use of automation holds the key to handling delivery exceptions.
- What is fulfillment in eCommerce?
Fulfillment is the journey that begins once the customers places their order until it reaches its desired destination. The focus points of the fulfillment process include-
- Inventory management
- Checkout process
- Order processing
- eCommerce Shipping and returns.
- Which eCommerce fulfillment services are customers looking for?
As customer satisfaction is crucial in eCommerce fulfillment, omnichannel fulfillment has been utilized by multiple industries to attract more customers. Some of the key eCommerce fulfillment services that must be included-
- Buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) and Buy online return in-store (BORIS): This will help customers with order collection and returns at their own convenience by visiting their nearest store. Inventory management will hold the key when converting stores to fulfillment centers.
- Curbside pick-up: Curbside pickup was the latest trend in eCommerce fulfillment as it allowed customers to pick up deliveries without coming in contact with another person, or visiting a store.
- Same-day delivery: Most eCommerce players to attract more customers offer same-day delivery service. At present, we can even get deliveries within hours; however, there would be additional charges factored for such deliveries.
- Scheduled delivery: These are the traditional eCommerce fulfillment services, where-in customers would get to choose a particular timeslot to get orders delivered, avoiding order returns or missed deliveries.
- How do I choose an eCommerce fulfillment provider?
An eCommerce fulfillment provider should have the capability to meet the retailer’s requirements, right from understanding the business logic to operations. Sometimes, an integration marketplace (selecting multiple businesses) will help meet all your eCommerce needs.
- What does it mean when an order is in fulfillment?
When your service provider marks your order as in fulfillment, it means the order is being processed (packaging, labeling, airwaybill generation) and making sure it reaches safely and on time at the customer’s location.
- What is inbound logistics?
Inbound logistics is the transportation of goods or supplies from a manufacturer, warehouse, or retail store. It involves sourcing raw materials or finished goods to be readied for distribution.
- What is the outbound logistics process?
Outbound logistics is the transportation of goods from a warehouse or distribution center to the next leg of the supply chain. It involves packing of goods and delivery of goods to the customer.
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