Business People Sitting in an Office Building Chatting

Is Blockchain The New Supply Chain?

Blockchain!  The new hip and technical term everyone is hearing more about; what is it exactly and how will it affect your Supply Chain in the very near future?

Throughout modern history, the majority of anything involving the sale/transfer of goods and services between two or more parties was recorded on some form of a physical ledger. With the development of the computer and the internet over the last several decades, technology has proven that the use of a physical ledger is no longer efficient and can be highly risky for business.

Technology dictates how we buy and sell and keeping records of that has become increasingly more complex and leaves too much room for inaccurate data and in some cases, even fraud.

Take for example, a widget manufacturer; the company’s supply chain can be vast.  Sourcing materials from multiple vendors, assembling products lines and having third party logistics providers transport product direct to customers. Without Blockchain technology, a company is forced to rely on transactional data from multiple intermediaries who own and control their data.  This is inefficient as parts of the data can be changed by various owners and therefore, visibility for the manufacturer and other parties in the supply chain is highly limited.

And here’s where Blockchain technology can be a game-changer– as every transaction or data input occurs, it would be placed into its own “Block.”  When another Block of data is created it is then linked to the previous Block.  All parties have permission to see the data Blocks and once they are created, they cannot be changed, moved or deleted unless all parties involved review and agree to the changes. This is HUGE for transparency. Who doesn’t love transparency? Especially with your own business – honesty is the best policy, I always say.

As technology continues to develop there will be more and more room for error and fraud.  Blockchain is a simple and efficient solution to provide value and security for companies, consumers and logistics providers to ensure that the data they operate off of is correct and tamper proof.

Tesla

Can Tesla’s New Semi-Truck Pave the Way for an Entire Industry?

The commercial trucking industry is integral to our daily lives.  In the United States approximately 70% of all freight is moved by commercial trucks; the figures are higher for food, agricultural and pharmaceutical products. Essentially, nearly everything you come in contact with on a daily basis has at some point, been on a commercial truck.

Interestingly enough, these goods/products are moved across the country by trucks that have gone virtually unchanged for nearly 50 years; what has changed is the technology utilized to organize and move goods more efficiently.  The core problem for the commercial trucking industry remains that freight is moved by energy/fuel that may not be available or will become too expensive in the near future.

This is where Tesla comes in.

Tesla has been breaking barriers in the automotive industry with the success of their fully electric fleet of vehicles for consumers.  Now Tesla is going to try to change the hearts and minds of the commercial trucking industry with the unveiling of their fully electric Semi-Truck come September, 2017.

Manufacturers for the commercial trucking industry today seem more worried about driver shortages than what their trucks will run on in the next 5 to 10 years.  But they need to also be concerned about fuel prices and that’s where Tesla has the answer.

As electric vehicle technologies become more common and less expensive, trucking companies will quickly see the benefit of operating those vehicles over fossil fuel.  The cost of electricity will also be managed with companies creating their own electricity through solar, wind, water, etc.  Not to mention the significant federal and state tax credits that these vehicles will allow companies to apply for.

Tesla is the ONLY Company to successfully bring to market a fully electric and non-polluting vehicle fleet and the same will be true with their new semi-truck.

The trucking industry in the US alone operates over 15 million gasoline powered vehicles and economists are predicting that this ‘cheap gas phase’ we have had for the last two years is going to be short lived.  Fuel prices are expected to increase by 75% by 2020 and the cost for charging electric vehicles will be significantly less than it is today.

One thing is for sure, significant change in the commercial trucking industry is coming.  Whether it is using other forms of alternative fuel rather than electric; the fact remains that in our lifetime gasoline and diesel will be a thing of the past because it simply is inefficient and costs too much.

WSJ

No longer your father’s supply chain!

It’s obviously no longer your father’s supply chain!  We have all been witnesses of what we consider significant changes to traditional supply chains.  The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Kellogg Company will remove the leg of actual store deliveries from its traditional supply chain to retail grocery stores and just deliver their sought after goods directly to the grocery store warehouses.  This means the grocery chains will now have the responsibility to handle the actual store deliveries.

So what’s the impact here, well for Kellogg, they intend to close 39 distribution centers and will eliminate approximately 1000 jobs.  So for Kellogg workers this is certainly a major blow.  For the grocery chains, this means more goods moving through their distribution centers for actual store delivery; obviously at additional costs.  We also wonder if the reduced costs Kellogg will benefit from by making these changes will be passed onto their customers in terms of reduced prices for the “delivered” goods.  Somehow we don’t think that will be the case however.

Here is a link to the full article.

Tony Nuzio, ICC Logistics

US Shoppers Not Satisfied with In-Store Shopping

A recent article published by Internet Retailer provides some very interesting statistics regarding US based shoppers dissatisfaction with in-store shopping.  The results are quite interesting and based on a survey conducted by consulting firm, Capgemini.  The results stated that 31% of US shoppers viewed “shopping in stores as a chore, while 17% said they’ d rather wash dishes or clothes than venture into a store.”  Now these comments are very interesting because when my wife asks me to go shopping at the mall with her, I tell her I’d rather have root canal.

Capgemini surveyed some 500 retail, executives and 6000 shoppers from around the world.  The report is titled, “Why Physical Retail Stores Need a Reboot.”  And here are some of the key highlights from the report.

  • In store shoppers are dissatisfied because there is a lack of choices in the store compared to the E-commerce shopping experience
  • Consumers are bringing their on-line shopping expectations into the store, including personalized and hassle free shopping and not receiving that same experience in the store
  • 71% of the respondents stated there is an inability to compare products when they are in the store
  • 75% of the respondents stated they wish they could survey the in-store inventory before they make the trip to the store
  • The survey also states that consumer satisfaction is “worryingly low” as one in two retailers received negative score from consumers
  • The retailers have a range of challenges, not the least is adequate training of store associates

The results of the Capgemini survey are very insightful.  Is it the online shopping experience that is so much better than the instore shopping experience?  Or is it the retailers failure to properly train their store associates on how to go above and beyond their comfort zone to provide the instore shoppers with an unforgettable shopping experience.  We suspect the dissatisfaction with the instore shopping experience has been going on for years, but now those same shoppers have something to compare their negative instore shopping experience to.

You can read the full article here https://www.internetretailer.com/2017/01/16/online-shopping-changes-consumers-store-expectations?utm_campaign=Online+shopping+changes+consumers%E2%80%99+in-store+expectations&utm_medium=ShareClick&utm_source=AddShoppers

Tony Nuzio, ICC Logistics

Shore Up Profits By Plugging Up Leaks

Check out Tony’s great article on how to Shore Up Profits by Plugging up Leaks in Parcel Magazine!

http://parcelindustry.com/article-4793-Shore-Up-Profits-By-Plugging-Up-Leaks.html

Leave a comment and let us know your thoughts!

Success concept

What You Can Do To Make 2017 The Best Year Ever!

Well as they say, “Out with the old and in with the new”, and so it goes for saying goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017.  As business owners and managers, we are tasked each and every day to not only challenge and improve ourselves as leaders, but to also challenge the status quo to ensure our businesses succeed as well.

So where do we start; how do we get on the road to success so we can accomplish all of our challenging tasks?  In order to be successful, we need to have a clear picture of where we have come from, and perhaps even more importantly, where we need to go.  How do we attain the successes we seek both personally as well as meeting the challenges management puts in front of us each and every day.  These challenges are further complicated by the never ending demands of corporate management to:

  • Do more with less
  • Continually reduce costs, and
  • Make a significant contribution to improving corporate profits at the same time; and that my friends, is no easy task!

But before we all put our heads in the oven because these demands of everyday business are so overwhelming, let’s take a methodical look at these 3 key challenges we all face.  It is time to clearly outline a path for success in 2017 and beyond, to assure our personal, as well as our businesses goals succeed in spite of these critical demands.

 

  1. Doing More With Less:

What business owner or manager for that matter, hasn’t been confronted with the need to reduce staff or has had a “hold” put on new hires due to diminishing corporate profits?  So when we are faced with this challenge, what do we do; how do we react to this daunting challenge?  The answer to this question will speak volumes about who we are as a business owner or manager.

Sometimes our initial reaction is to make it known that certain functions that had been previously performed within the company or department will no longer be performed due to the reduced staffing.  Well, if that’s the case, how important were those functions in the first place?  What successful business owners and managers should be doing is taking a pro-active approach to this particular challenge, well before the demand is made.

That pro-active response is to continually review and analyze all of the functions being performed within the business or within a particular department.  The goal here is to make sure that all of the functions are needed and are being performed in the most efficient manner possible, with the least “qualified” person handling those functions.  Do you have the proper processes and procedures in place to ensure performance at maximum efficiency; do you have the most efficient people or teams performing each of those functions?  If you have not answered yes to these questions, and have not performed this review within the most recent 6 months, your business or department may not be as efficient as you might think.  And the need to reduce staff will definitely have an additional negative effect on your business.

And while we are on the subject of processes and procedures, has your company or department completely documented all of the critical processes and procedures it performs?  If a key employee is no longer around to perform those critical tasks and is the only person who truly knows how to handle those tasks, your business is at risk and will suffer greatly from the loss of that key employee’s expertise.  We can assure you that many companies fail miserably at documenting critical processes, and cross training for that matter, and therefore remain at tremendous risk.  Don’t let your company fall victim to this easily corrected shortfall by making sure you immediately address it.

 

  1. Continually Reduce Costs:

Oftentimes business owners and managers accept the challenge of reducing costs when it is forced upon them by financial concerns or a demand from corporate management.  But again many companies rarely act in a pro-active manner to reduce costs as a regular part of their business processes.  What business owner or manager does not want to see their business grow and prosper by achieving financial success?  It’s human nature to want bigger and better things for our companies each and every year.  But having said that, how many companies are truly prepared to ensure their businesses financial success by continually monitoring all costs, regardless how small and insignificant they may seem.

To start you need a plan of action that outlines exactly what cost centers your business or department is responsible for.  What control do you have over the expenses that are being charged to your department, if any?  And if not, that’s the first problem you need to address.  How will you gather the necessary information for each of these expense categories so you can perform a comprehensive analysis to see if the costs are the lowest possible costs for the services or products you are responsible for?  Here are some examples of expense reduction areas to review immediately:

  • When was the last time you had your telecommunications invoices audited?  Are you paying for land lines you no longer use; are you being charged for services you never authorized?
  • Do you have your energy invoices audited by an independent third party who has the expertise to find over-billings that may have been going on for years?
  • When was the last time you had your insurance policies benchmarked to see if your coverages are exactly what they should be and that the premiums are the lowest for the coverages required?
  • Do you continually benchmark your transportation contracts to make sure the costs are constantly competitive?  The freight carriers increase their rates at least once a year, so if you haven’t looked into these costs in the past year or two, what are you waiting for?

And these are just a few suggestions that can have a major impact on corporate profits.  These four areas alone can contribute tens of thousands and maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars to your company’s bottom line.  And the best part, you do not have to sell a single product to gain this bottom line improvement.  We like to call it a “no brainer!”

 

  1. Improve Corporate Profits:

All too often businesses operate as individual silos with each department or division only assuming responsibility for the profitability of their own little fiefdoms.  These departments or divisions should also be concentrating, and be held accountable for, achieving financial success for the entire corporation as a whole.  Management also sometimes fails to foster corporate wide cooperation within the silo operating concept to achieve a much larger positive financial outcome goal than each department or division can achieve on their own.  Don’t mis-understand me there is nothing wrong with each department, or division for that matter, having their own individual financial goals and budgets.  However, they should not be allowed to focus solely on those goals at the expense of achieving much greater financial success for the company.

Sometimes departments will come up with thoughts and ideas that will clearly improve customer service, however these concepts may end up “costing a little more” to achieve.  You’ll note we put the words “costing a little more” in quotes and that’s because very often the hard dollars of the additional costs can be accounted for, but businesses have no way of measuring the financial success these programs can have on their businesses through increased sales and customer loyalty.

The point of all this is to challenge each department to work together to ensure that there is a cohesive understanding of the impact these individual decisions have on the overall financial success of the company.  While we’re on the subject of “improving customer service” (again in quotes), what does that really mean?  One thing we can tell you for sure is that “improving customer service” means different things to different companies, for example;

When you call your utility company and you get a recording that sounds something like this “thank you for calling ABC Company  your business is very important to us so please listen carefully to the following menu options as they have been changed to serve you better.”  Are they kidding?  Do you call that improving customer service?  We think not, but they obviously do!

Or finding out you’re overpaying for your monthly cable service, solely because you have been a “loyal customer” for years.  While that same cable company offers new subscribers two year contracts at half the price you have been paying. So much for customer loyalty.  Sorry cable company, (and others for that matter), you got this all wrong!  The net result, when your contract is up you switch to another cable company, (hopefully there is another one in your area).  That business model tells the customer they mean nothing to the company offering that level of “customer service”.

The reason we bring customer service up under the title of “improving corporate profits” is precisely because many companies do not focus enough on their customers’ wants and needs as they should.  And, by ignoring the customer’s needs and wants, they are clearly jeopardizing corporate profits.  Nothing will enhance corporate profits more than on-going customer loyalty year after year, after year.  You have to earn it, but when every employee and every department within your company works together to achieve true customer loyalty, the company will clearly have succeeded in improving its corporate profits.

Let us know what your plans are for business success is 2017, we’d love to hear from you!

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Parcel shipping experts especially convenient to New York,including Long Island (Nassau County, Suffolk County), NYC, New Jersey (NJ), Pennsylvania (PA), North Carolina (NC), South Carolina (SC), Georgia (GA), Florida (FL), Virginia (VA), Connecticut (CT), Delaware (DE).