Caffe latte, available just about anywhere thanks to a Seattle-based coffee shop chain, is a winner by just about any measure. So where did it start? Who invented it? That may be hard to say; success has many fathers. But the flavored latte-well, that's easy. In the early 1980s, while sitting in San Francisco's landmark Caffe Trieste, a coffee industry veteran called "Brandy" Brandenburger reportedly experimented with a mixture of espresso, steamed milk and Torani Italian syrups. And that, says the Torani web site, was the first flavored caffe latte, which forever changed the course of espresso history.
True or no, Torani Italian Syrups, founded in San Francisco in 1925, certainly has had an important role in cafe culture. And the so-called "beverage renaissance" of the '80s certainly didn't hurt its business Today, Torani sells at least 65 flavors as well as lines of sauces, smoothie bases and frozen beverage blends. Its customers range from food service distributors to boutique coffee shops. And while its products may go well in a latte, it has a number of recipes-such as the Mocktail--that have nothing to do with coffee, or alcohol for that matter. Rinaldo's Fuzzy Navel, anyone?
As the company has grown, so has the complexity of its logistics needs. It ships domestically and internationally from its West Coast headquarters, primarily truckload and less-than-truckload. A typical shipment may exceed 110 cases and weigh up to two tons.
Moreover, the company has aggressively pursued smaller accounts, and that has had a profound impact on the supply chain. Many of these accounts require small-package shipments of point-of-sale literature, samples and other items.
Initially, the manufacturer used the PowerShip automated shipping management system from FedEx for its small-package needs. It was easy to print labels with the system, and FedEx's rates were competitive. But Torani's logistics team felt it wasn't able to meet targeted reductions in operating costs with PowerShip.
Enter Agistix and its small-package solution. There was some initial resistance to an on-demand, managed-service solution, but Agistix won over the skeptics. Its small-package shipping service allows front-line employees and mail room personnel to instantly process, prioritize, price, send and document any small-package shipment up to 150 pounds. The Torani team felt that was ideal for all domestic and international small packages, small parcels and envelopes.
What are the tangibles? The most dramatic result has been a decrease in small-package shipping costs between 35 percent and 50 percent.
Other benefits include a flexible system that lives on the desktop. There, the user can tap into carrier-neutral, negotiated-rate information. Consolidated billing is designed to enable accounting to efficiently process invoices. There are no paper invoices, incidentally. Each shipment's digitized documentation can be easily retrieved for tracking, accounting and reporting.
Whatever happens in the beverage world, Torani clearly has its own growth plans. One thing under consideration is shipping from multiple locations across the United States. Today, Torani enjoys excellent service and highly competitive rates through relationships with multiple, medium-sized to large freight carriers. Should the company decide to begin shipping from additional points, there's no reason why the Agistix solution can't enable the manufacturer to continue to get the best rates.
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