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How Customized Shipping Solutions Benefit Your Supply Chain

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How Customized Shipping Solutions Benefit Your Supply Chain

Gone are the days when the one-size-fits-all approach to logistics is good enough to meet the exacting standards of every shipment. In fact, maybe those days were never really here.

Though they may seem like a good bargain, many of the out-of-the-box logistics services of today lack the flexibility to accommodate specialized loads like artwork, delicate medical equipment, and other sensitive or rush items. Seemingly innocuous errors with such shipments can cost thousands of dollars, or possibly more. 

SPECIALISTS IN FREIGHT FORWARD THINKING 

Today’s shippers and shipments demand more from their 3PL provider, but unfortunately, some providers still cannot rise to the challenge. Thankfully, there’s a solution for supply chains looking for individualized services. Nimble, more personalized 3PL’s operate with the specific goal of handling sensitive cargo. The Magnate Worldwide family of companies – comprised of TrumpCard and Masterpiece International – serves supply chains with a variety of customizable solutions for businesses big and small. They offer a boutique approach to logistics not possible with larger, more generic providers. 

Founded in 1995, TrumpCard specializes in domestic air and ground expedited shipments that are handling-sensitive and time-definite in nature – from medical equipment to aerospace parts to entertainment industry equipment. “We focus on domestic shipments routed by air and ground that have special handling requirements or rapid deadlines,” said Chris Zingrebe, President of TrumpCard, “The industries we serve typically have sensitive cargo that may require elevated service levels, such as White Glove or next day delivery.” TrumpCard offers a premier white-glove service for special deliveries into sensitive environments like hospitals or data centers. The company’s expertise in this type of mission-critical shipment has made them masters of proactive communication and efficiency when it comes to handling sensitive shipments and time-definite services. 

Founded in 1989, Masterpiece International specializes in logistics, freight forwarding, and customs brokerage of fine art for museums, galleries, and art fairs as well as offering services to private clients, and the entertainment and events industry. “Masterpiece has a rich history in providing premier logistics services to the fine art industry,” said Thomas Gilgen, President of Masterpiece, “…we’ve taken that and expanded across many other industries with specialized requirements.” Over the years, Masterpiece has developed an International Logistics Solutions Division which focuses on shipments for technology, life sciences, energy, marine, aerospace, retail, trade show, and household goods industries. Due to the highly specialized nature of their shipments, Masterpiece International has developed expertise in handling sensitive shipments and provides that high level of service across all cargo, whether they’re shipping priceless works of art, mission-critical aerospace equipment, concert, and event cargo, or temperature-controlled life sciences materials.

MINIMIZING RISK, MAKING DEADLINES, AND ADDING VALUE 

No matter what the cargo is, shippers are inherently taking a risk when transporting goods. Unfortunately, that risk only increases as the value of the cargo increases. Not only are you risking merchandise becoming lost or damaged, even the risk of delay can throw off an entire supply chain. The key to eliminating risk and guaranteeing a successful delivery is working with a 3PL partner that you trust to get your shipment where it needs to go, when it needs to be there. But nobody has a crystal ball, so how do you know you can trust your 3PL? It pays to do your homework. 

In logistics, time is money, especially when one delay can cost thousands of dollars and set off a domino effect of even more problems. That’s why it pays to select a provider that has the expertise to get your shipment where it needs to go on time, every time. When selecting a 3PL, a provider’s on-time rate is an excellent indicator of what you can expect for your own merchandise deliveries. TrumpCard, for example, boasts an impressive 99% on-time rate, in addition to a 24/7 team managing shipments. TrumpCard’s state-of-the-art tracking software ensures that all shipments are accounted for at all times, so there is no room for delay or loss, and you can always keep tabs on your merchandise no matter where it is in the supply chain. 

One optional service a business may want to consider is additional security measures for the supply chain. Though not necessary for all shipments, when shipping valuable or sensitive material, additional security services can offer peace of mind by minimizing security risks and blind spots. At Masterpiece International, teams specialize in minimizing risks when planning, routing and executing and have access to an in-house security and supervision team for protection of high-value goods. That team, the Masterpiece Security Group, is a licensed security organization with tarmac access at many major U.S. airports, their own dedicated vehicles, and a partner network of highly vetted agents and carriers. 

Ultimately, when it comes to selecting a logistics provider, added values like built-in security and customizable solutions only matter if your 3PL has the visibility and customer service skills to back them up. Both TrumpCard and Masterpiece believe that visibility and customer service are key from the moment they take possession of your merchandise to its final delivery at the end-user. Both companies offer online track and trace, shipment imaging, and supervision all designed to keep tabs on your merchandise and give you peace of mind. At Magnate, customer service is more than just a pleasantry, it means that experienced agents are problem solving, customizing solutions, and providing timely and important information to the client with a personalized touch that suits the individual needs of your business. 

In the end, a combination of many factors create value, not just a big name or a low price. Customizable solutions with additional features like an excellent on-time rate, added security, transparency, and expertise in sensitive and high-value shipments are all part of what adds value to a specialized supply chain. TrumpCard and Masterpiece International have been trusted to handle sensitive, mission-critical, and high-value shipments for over 50 years of combined service – continuously getting the job done right for your business. 

e-commerce

5 Must-Have Features of Enterprise E-Commerce

E-commerce is everywhere — unless, of course, you look in the B2B space. Unfortunately, one segment lags behind all the rest when it comes to online sales: manufacturers. Just 38% of manufacturers have e-commerce websites, and only 6% of all manufacturer sales come through this particular channel. 

Part of the reason manufacturers are so slow to adopt e-commerce can be traced back to the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The traditional ways of doing business largely haven’t posed a problem yet, so many manufacturers don’t feel a real sense of urgency to explore the increasingly relevant direct-to-consumer model. 

It also has a lot to do with technical hurdles. For many manufacturers, moving to e-commerce involves taking on yet one more system to master — that or an expensive integration with their current enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. It’s nearly impossible to get an e-commerce platform to talk to an old “closed” mainframe, so plans to upgrade often involve a two-year timeframe or longer to get everything up and running. They might also involve a million-dollar price tag. Not surprisingly, this tends to put e-commerce on the back burner pretty quickly. 

And it’s important to note, too, that most manufacturers work through distributors and dealers, making e-commerce seem like nothing more than a mere alternative to their current traditional sales channels. 

A Missed Opportunity

What many manufacturers seem to be missing, though, is that B2B customers are also B2C customers. Chances are that they’re already shopping online for their personal needs, and not having a way to buy their business products and services online can have a hefty negative impact on the customer experience. If you’re manufacturing a commodity product and your sales process lacks the convenience of shopping for that product online, your customers might begin to look elsewhere. 

Remaining passive about e-commerce is simply the wrong approach, especially with B2B buyers moving more of their purchases online all the time. As it stands, nearly half of all companies utilize online channels for 50% to 74% of all their corporate purchases. Not being online just means you’ve missed out on an opportunity — not only to secure additional sales, but also to broaden your reach to a global level

Also, remember that it’s easier than ever for competition and new players in the market to get in front of your customers via Google, Facebook, and email. Not having an e-commerce site could easily cost you market share, even if the competition’s product isn’t as good as yours.

Beyond the Basics

Knowing that it isn’t enough to conduct all business offline, know, too, that it isn’t enough to just invest in getting an e-commerce platform, leave it there, and call it good. Your site has to offer the functionalities necessary to run an online business. If your system doesn’t support multiple pricing tiers, it probably also doesn’t mimic your current sales process. Clearly, that’s not a good thing. 

Your site needs to be able to support multiple buying options, such as “requests for quotes” as opposed to a shopping cart model. It can take time to arrive at a number in a complex B2B transaction, and the last thing you want is for a customer to have to take the interaction offline just to finalize scope and nail down specifics. 

This naturally leads to my next point. Assuming your e-commerce site comes equipped with all the basics like browse, add to cart, checkout, email confirmation, etc., there are a few features to look out for at the enterprise level. Those often include the following:

System integration options

In e-commerce, a certain amount of coordination is necessary between the website itself and your back-end system that you use for inventory and accounting purposes. Without proper integration, order fulfillment can easily get problematic. Focus on maintenance, data input, and offering a seamless user experience. Most of all, understand all the system integration options of your marketplace website before going with one provider over another.

Proper data to support search

Product information is important. It’s what consumers see prior to making a purchase decision. But it can sometimes pale in comparison to the product data used behind the scenes. A number of data fields and HTML tags enable your products and website to rank in both Google and on-site search results. Make sure your platform accommodates these options. Also, inquire about the tracking capabilities of your on-site search function. It can be useful to monitor what users found — and didn’t find — during a visit.

Customer tiers

At the enterprise level, you’ll likely run across different types of customers. Being able to segment these customers into various tiers can come in handy. Based on their purchase history, for example, you might determine that one tier would respond well to a certain promotion while another’s browsing behavior could inform subsequent product recommendations. In other words, segmenting tiers allows you to personalize your messaging, pricing, and other marketing efforts to fit the needs of your customers. So look into this functionality while reviewing your e-commerce options.

Analytics integration

Whether you’re looking at an off-the-shelf platform or a custom solution, reporting is very important. At a bare minimum, make sure a standard tool like Google Analytics can be integrated with your e-commerce system. You’ll also want to inquire about the setup of advanced features like e-commerce tracking.

Merchandising

Generally, any platform you go with will provide the functionality of assigning products to categories. This can help with on-site search and make it easier for visitors to browse your product line. Beyond that, you might wish to feature certain products. The question, then, is what ability do you have in the platform to create banner ads, highlight related products on a product page, create landing pages around a spotlight topic for the month, and feature products in other ways? 

Providing a good online experience naturally makes customers feel good about doing business with you. It also increases the likelihood of driving new customers to your business without needing to invest in additional resources. 

Ultimately, you can handle more transactions with an e-commerce site in your corner. Just make sure your site provides you with all of the functionalities you need to keep your business running smoothly and your customers happy. 

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Michael Bird is the CEO of Spindustry, a digital agency focused on e-commerce, SharePoint portals, and enterprise websites. He has almost 30 years of experience in interactive development, user behavior, and business solutions. His successful agency, Spindustry, puts these strategies into practice to help businesses grow.