Analytics are being used more and more in parcel shipping because the challenges brought on by the pandemic have not abated, says Jeff Lomax, senior director of product marketing at e2open.
The explosion in e-commerce orders brought on by the COVID-19 lockdown continues. As a consequence, shippers are finding that overburdened giants, such as UPS and FedEx, are facing capacity challenges. For many shippers, regional carriers might be the solution they need.
Visibility, as always, is another challenge today. That’s true for both B2C and B2B transactions, Lomax says. “All customers want to know at every moment, ‘Where’s my shipment?’”
Workflow complexity is yet another challenge that companies have to contend with today. They prefer one solution for the entire business ecosystem, rather than spot solutions in different geographies. “They're dealing with such things as shipping from distribution centers, shipments from stores, inventory swaps using parcel,” Lomax says. “Complexity comes with some of those workflows and how you integrate with source systems and cross borders. And that complexity is growing across the board. Those are the three biggest challenges we're seeing now, but there are a lot of others.”
Analytics is key to meeting these everyday challenges. For one, “old school” dashboards are still around to enable tactical decisions and see performance of carriers and costs incurred. These are useful to supply data to company decision makers. However, predictive and prescriptive analytics are more useful in determining if changes are necessary, Lomax says.
He cites the example of a company doing 400,000 parcel shipments a day. “We see that during peak periods. They will look at on-time delivery and the carriers they use in a more global sense, and start to adjust their business rules.”
Lomax says, “We're seeing a lot more aggressive tools, a lot more outputs that are prescriptive and predictive.”
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