Highly Effective Shippers

Highly effective shippers are successful because they have developed the right attitude and habits regarding shipping.

Below is a list of the 7 habits of highly effective shippers:

1.  Strategic view of shipping

Highly effective shippers see a well-run shipping function as a competitive advantage.  With this in mind, they hire the right people and find the best logistics providers.  Highly effective shippers realize that purchasing decisions should be based on value, not just cost.  They are willing to pay a reasonable price for a good logistics provider, rather than risk a service failure with a bad logistics provider.  Great shippers work with good service providers and typically insist on very competitive pricing.  The best value combines a good price, with excellent on time performance and great service.

2.  Solid relationships with logistics providers

To get maximum impact, shippers need to develop close professional relationships with their logistics providers.  Knowing this, the best logistics companies will expect some degree of commitment from and integration with their clients.    The best shippers take the time to find great logistics providers and therefore the commitment and integration is less risky.  Poor shippers are reluctant to partner with logistics providers because they fear they will miss out on savings by being too close to any one logistics provider.  These shippers, attempt to skip the marriage, but somehow reap the benefits.  Without a commitment, a shipper will not get the best from logistics providers.

3.  Excellent communication

Communication is the game changer in logistics.  Do it well and succeed or do it poorly and suffer.  As a logistics guy, I know that shippers who communicate well, save money and get better service.  There are two types of benefits that come from good communication.  First, the routine, day to day shipping is improved through good written and verbal communication.  Secondly, a lot of improvements are discovered through conversations between shipper and logistics pro.  These opportunities are lost if the parties don’t talk.

4.  Measure logistics performance

A highly effective shipper will use metrics or key process indicators (KPIs) to monitor logistics performance.  Ideally, the KPIs will also be used to measure the performance of logistics providers.  Great shippers know that measuring performance is only the first step; driving improved performance is the ultimate goal.

5.  Process oriented

Highly effective shippers create processes to ensure that their shipping function is effective and efficient.  Processes also enable cross training and continuous improvement.  The best shippers define processes for important functions and communicate them to their internal team, logistics partners and clients.

6.  Technology  

The best shippers recognize the need to use good technology.  Not technology for the sake of technology, but value added tools that streamline the process for moving freight.  Regardless of the shipping type, there are technology solutions that help the process become faster, better and less expensive.  Technology also has the added benefit of providing data.  Good data will provide great insights for future actions to improve shipping.

7.  Continuous improvement

The best shippers expect ongoing improvements from themselves and from their logistics providers.  To capitalize on new opportunities, the shipper needs to develop a culture of openness and sharing.  Otherwise, internal people and logistics providers will hide mistakes and be reluctant to share new ideas.  Highly effective shippers expect to continuously improve by learning from mistakes and taking advantages of new opportunities.  A dedication to ongoing training and learning is also key to continuous improvement.

Bottom line:  Highly effective shippers do what it takes to become successful.  They plan, acquire the right tools, involve the right people, monitor progress and continuously improve.  They value the role of logistics and invest the time and resources to ensure it’s success.

Questions:   Do you agree with the list?  What habits should be included or excluded from the list?