Inbound freight is an area of supply chain management that is frequently overlooked when optimizing your business.
For starters, many suppliers include their shipping costs as part and parcel of the price of your goods – this makes it easy to forget that this is a cost that can be negotiated.
Second, the overall lack of visibility into your inbound shipping can create an “information vacuum” – you don’t know what to fix because you don’t know what’s going wrong in the first place!
If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to optimizing your inbound shipping, you’re not alone. This article will lead you through some common inefficiencies in inbound processes and provide some simple, actionable ways to get your inbound shipments back under control.
Let’s get right into it.
What is inbound freight management?
Inbound freight management is a complex process containing many moving parts, including:
- Sourcing and procurement
- Purchasing from suppliers
- Inbound transportation
- Receiving and handling freight shipments
- Storing and warehousing the goods
- Keeping track of the inventory you have in stock
Managing these processes better starts with gaining visibility.
This visibility can clarify which areas could benefit from being reworked, replaced, or given a little TLC.
The benefits of managing (and optimizing) your inbound freight
Aside from the relief of operations flowing smoothly, investing in managing your inbound shipping can offer you a range of benefits in return.
Optimizing your inbound freight can:
- Reduce freight transportation costs
- Lead to more on-time deliveries and fewer delays
- Decrease safe stock inventory and lower warehousing costs
- Improve communication with vendors and suppliers
- Increase outbound reliability
- Improve administrative efficiency
- Better manage available resources
However, many companies don’t prioritize managing their inbound shipping processes despite knowing the benefits. Compared to outbound operations, it can seem like you as a shipper have little control over how and when your stock arrives – and whether it makes it on time!
The following tips are designed to provide a starting point for gaining visibility into your inbound shipping, setting you up to optimize your operations, cut costs, and regain control.
Tips to help you manage your inbound shipment and streamline your business
Gain visibility into your inbound freight processes
If you only follow one piece of advice from this list, you might want to make it this one.
As we mentioned earlier, it’s almost impossible to optimize without insight into which parts of your inbound shipping set-up are falling short.
Making visibility a priority can start when negotiating with your suppliers by requesting enhanced shipment visibility. New logistics technologies have helpfully made real-time geolocation updates and disruption notifications more accessible to businesses. Opting for a supplier and/or carrier that can provide these can give you a marked boost in your inbound shipping visibility.
Negotiate shipping prices
As you opt for carriers that can provide you with the necessary visibility, negotiating shipping prices is also well worth your time.
Whether your shipping is provided by your vendor, a vendor-associated carrier, or a separate carrier, it may be helpful to request a price breakdown. Doing so provides you with the uncoupled product and freight fees, giving you a firm figure to utilize in negotiations and considering whether you could be saving on shipping by switching carriers.
Separating these costs alone is estimated to save shippers a minimum of 10% on their freight shipping, so it can be worth the effort to ditch the convenience of a parceled product and freight price.
Consolidate deliveries or choose LTL shipping options
Another key way to optimize your inbound shipments – in terms of cost, efficiency, and environmental impact – is to consider consolidating, pooling, or switching to LTL shipping options for your deliveries.
Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping lets you share truck space with other businesses, meaning you only ever pay for the space you use.
LTL can be a great choice for low-volume, frequent shipments without specialized transit needs such as temperature control.
Make use of a transportation management system (TMS)
Finally, investing in a transportation management system (TMS) – a software solution that facilitates freight optimization – can go a long way in assisting with managing your inbound shipping.
These types of software can take a lot of the legwork out of optimizing costs and routes by providing quotes and comparisons of carriers and other logistics services, setting you up to make the best choice for your business.
The data that a TMS can provide about your ongoing inbound operations adds another level of visibility, helping you to make optimization an ongoing priority.
Finally, working with an expert logistics services provider can be a smart way to manage your inbound shipping and implement optimization strategies without carrying the load internally. That’s where Jansson comes in.
Need a helping hand with your inbound shipment logistics?
If you’re looking for extra help managing your inbound shipments, then Jansson is on hand to offer custom logistics solutions to suit your business needs.
As an independent agent of Landstar, Jansson can offer the expertise that comes with over a decade of experience navigating the logistics industry, but with the friendly touch of a small and dedicated team.
No matter the current size or state of your inbound shipping set-up, our extensive network of carriers, warehousing solutions, and experts are on hand to make your inbound freight management worries a thing of the past.
To find out more, or to request a free quote, reach out to Jansson today!