While the number of shippers operating hands-free increased 3 percent from last year, a significant 44 percent still manually enter data for all of their shipments, and another 22 percent do so for complex shipments such as hazardous or international, increasing errors, delays and the possibility of fines when traveling across borders. Manual parcel shipping persists in nearly a quarter of respondents' DCs.
Eight hundred companies took part in the survey, including retailers, manufacturers and shippers.
On top of the continued pressure for parcel carriers to deliver on new and innovative services, the economy continues to throw off mixed signals, prompting many shippers to be conservative in their investments. That caution is reflected in respondents' planned supply chain investments. More than a third (37 percent) are choosing to hold steady with their current state, rather than invest in their operations. However, more than 25 percent of participants are looking to upgrade their software and a further 25 percent are planning to employ staff in the next 12 months, in either shipping and/or trade compliance.
Respondents state that parcel and less-than-truckload shipping is now being viewed as a vital and strategic component of supply chain activity, and excelling in these areas is an important contributor to overall business goals. More than 92 percent of respondents ship small parcels, but they account for a wide range of parcel volumes, with 27 percent shipping more than 1,000 parcels a day, 34 percent shipping less than 100 and the balance evenly mapped between the two levels.
With increased strain put on carriers to fulfill consumer demands such as next-day delivery, specific time slots or 90-minute delivery, the use of regional and niche carriers has increased by 8 percent, with retailers and suppliers pulling on their capabilities to deliver on such demands. For the larger, more well established carriers, pushing out a high volume of parcels, this specialized and in most cases individual level of execution is not possible with their internally developed systems.
When it comes to international shipping, most shippers review contracts every year (55 percent) or every one to three years (16 percent), but 19 percent of respondents are examining them twice a year or more often. Shippers using commercially available analytic software are most likely to review rates twice a year or more.
Just over half of the exporters that participated in the survey process between 101 and 5000 export shipments each year. Most exporters are shipping to North America (94 percent), Europe (85 percent) and the Asia/Pacific regions (83 percent each), but more than three quarters also export to South/Central America/Caribbean and two thirds are shipping to the Middle East and Africa.
Alan Gold, vice president of marketing and business development for Kewill, says, "This report highlights the challenges that retailers, manufacturers and other shippers face when they have to deal with increasingly complex shipping volumes and services. Organizations that were holding steady are now showing signs of expansion again and are investing in systems to deliver business efficiency."
For the full report, click here.
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