Why Trust and Reliability are Key to Choosing the Right Expedited Logistics Provider
When it comes to selecting an expedited logistics provider, trust and reliability must be at the top of any list. Trust and reliability are integral to the whole expedited shipping experience. A business entrusts its most valuable or urgent shipments to its expeditor and must be able to do so with full confidence that all supply chain promises will be kept. There is no tolerance for on-the-job training and no room for mistakes. An expedited supply chain must be near perfect the first time and every time.
But how do you know whom to trust? How can you be sure the carrier you choose can have a plan in place within minutes of your service request? Or that a carrier really does have the worldwide access it claims to have?
Clearly, a business needs to do its homework before entering into any agreement with a new service provider. Spend the time to find out exactly how capable a carrier is based on feedback from current customers, site visits to inspect and verify assets, conversations with employees, and reviews of trade publications and websites.
Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing an Expedited Logistics Provider
Customization and Collaboration. It’s essential to view your expedited logistics provider as a partner. You want to build a relationship so there is a mutual understanding of your business objectives, priorities, and needs. This information sharing can only happen through many direct conversations and ongoing open lines of communication. A good logistics provider will use this information to create a customized solution to meet your specific needs.
Personalization. As you build your relationship with your expedited provider, it’s important that the same individuals service your account the whole way through. The same individuals who prepare your original logistics solution should be the same individuals who oversee the pickup, transit, and final-mile delivery of your shipments.
Customer Service. You are paying for premium service, so it is not unreasonable to expect premium service! This should include a dedicated customer service representative with whom you have a personal relationship and direct contact information. Your customer service representative should be fully aware of your shipment needs, provide you with regular updates, and know about—and resolve—any snafus or changes before they become problematic.
Scope of Service. A quick Internet search of “expedited logistics providers” will likely result in dozens of firms that claim to offer accelerated or express service. But buyer beware! There are many different categories of expedited service, so it’s important to ensure your carrier has exactly what you need. Among the array of services currently offered:
- Air Service
- Next Flight Out
- Time-Definite Service
- On-Board Courier
- Temperature Controlled Services
- Ground Service
- Exclusive-Use Vehicles (deliveries made via cargo vans)
- Time-Definite First Delivery
- Temperature Controlled Vehicles
Depth of Assets. Integral to expedited service is having the capacity to move a shipment, at a moment’s notice, to anyplace in the world. Few providers have the deep network of assets necessary to accomplish this. A bona fide expedited service provider will be able to explain precisely how its network is configured and how it will respond to your request for service.
When it comes to managing expedited logistics, there is no substitute for experience. An experienced provider will have an integral understanding of what it takes to guarantee a seamless and hassle-free delivery. Unless a provider has been through the process, and knows firsthand what to expect, any claims of “guaranteed service” should be met with skepticism.
Border Clearance/Customs Experience. If your shipment requires an international border crossing, your logistics provider must have the necessary customs expertise. Many, many shipments have been waylaid at the border because of missing customs documentation, improperly completed paperwork, or failure to pay proper duties/fees.
Technology. Expeditors can provide high levels of visibility and shipment tracking, ensure constant communication between drivers/pilots, and have unprecedented access to route optimization and capacity availability.
Many expedited logistics providers have their own customized technology solutions that allow a bird’s eye view into operations. Often these internal systems will integrate directly with a shipper’s own network, making it possible to generate reports, billing information, and shipping materials. One logistics manager explains that this customization allows for continual tracking of “every load in our system from origin to destination and if a driver begins to run behind schedule, we see a warning on the screens in our ops center.” He went on to explain: “You have to have a Plan B when you’re moving expedited goods. You can’t rely on delivering a shipment in a lane where you can’t recover the load if there is mechanical failure or driver illness.” Technology helps ensure that assets are aligned properly and that should something go awry, a backup solution is nearby.
Value-Added Services: Many shippers rely on the premium levels of service integral to expedited service to ensure the safety and security of their shipments, and to provide high levels of service to their customers. Proof of delivery, tracking and tracing, and time-guaranteed delivery have become industry standards. Following are a few additional value-added services that some—but not all— logistics providers may offer:
- Security—Depending on a shipment’s contents, this may be the most important factor of all. Added security is integral to the expedited process because of (a) fewer touches; (b) accelerated supply chains; and (c) extra personnel to monitor shipments.
- Customs Clearance—Shipments that cross an international border require compliance with all applicable customs, security, and revenue mandates. Customs agents are very unforgiving when it comes to filing proper documentation. It is essential, if your shipment requires a border crossing, to have a qualified customs broker or logistics partner who can ensure complete compliance and a hassle-free customs clearance process.
- White Glove—Shipments that require special care—usually items that are highly valuable, fragile, or perishable or items that require assembly or installation—often require super-premium white-glove treatment. White glove is a very specialized service within the expedited industry. White-glove freight requires drivers to have special training and to travel with specialized equipment, including furniture pads, pallet jacks, specialized tools, hand trucks, dollies, liftgates, and temperature-controlled units. Special security mechanisms usually are in place for white-glove shipments, and drivers need to be properly trained to perform any necessary assemblage or installation.
- Last-Mile Service—Special attention is given to ensuring a customer-centric delivery. Customers will be notified when a delivery is imminent and again after the delivery has been made. Customers will have the option to reroute or reschedule the delivery, and great care will be taken to ensure a shipment arrives in mint condition, at the right location, and at the right time.
Expedited, Efficient Deliveries Are Important to Consumers
When the Hanjin shipping line declared bankruptcy in September 2016, shippers around the world went into crisis mode as giant container ships became stranded at sea and tons of cargo were left stranded on Asian docks. The timing of the bankruptcy came at an especially perilous time for U.S. retailers, since much of the U.S.-bound cargo was critically timed to meet fall fashion windows and to fill retailers’ shelves during the rapidly approaching holiday season.
The situation became so precarious that the National Retail Federation got involved, urging the U.S. government to help find a solution. Many retailers took matters into their own hands and enlisted logistics providers to implement expedited service solutions. Logistics companies arrived like the cavalry, rescuing stranded shipments and delivering them to their intended U.S. destinations.
This level of “emergency” service has long defined expedited service. But in recent years, it has become so much more. Today, thanks to tremendous innovation within the logistics industry and the impact of technology, expedited solutions are increasingly used for non-emergency supply chain solutions. For some industries—automotive, pharmaceutical, retail, electronics—the high-quality service and guaranteed delivery inherent to expedited services offer peace of mind that rigorous delivery deadlines will be met and shipments will arrive undamaged.
Those same attributes also appeal to today’s eCommerce businesses who must find a way to meet consumers’ changing expectations for faster and more flexible deliveries. As Deloitte reported, consumers’ have changed their opinions about what constitutes “fast shipping,” with most expecting to have their package in hand within two days.
It’s clear that both manufacturers and retailers will continue to feel the squeeze for faster and more efficient deliveries. An expedited logistics solution is often the best strategy, but a business must be sure to enlist an experienced provider with the required capabilities.
Trust the Experienced Team at Purolator International for Expedited Shipping Solutions
When it comes to expedited logistics solutions, Purolator International has the experience and commitment to customer satisfaction you need. With our custom shipping solutions and logistics expertise, you are in good hands when you partner with the team at Purolator International.
Contact us today to learn more about our expedited logistics solutions.