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How can shippers and carriers prepare for a busier market ahead?

Jun 29, 2021

In the supply chain industry, agility and adaptability are imperative. The last year and a half has made this clear, and as most COVID-19 restrictions have already been lifted, our country and economy are opening up once again. Supply chain experts in the industry are responding with enhanced capabilities and flexible strategies that can accommodate consumer demand in a post-pandemic world. If you’re a shipper or a carrier, are you and your 3PL partner prepared for the busier market ahead?

While the pandemic was devastating in more ways than one, it provided our industry with the opportunity to improve operations and enhance supply chain strategies. The severe disruption to the supply chain was unprecedented and one that no one was quite prepared for. Now that we’re moving into the recovery stage of the pandemic, let’s take a look at what has evolved since the beginning of 2020 and how we all can prepare for a busier market as the world reopens.

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Living In a Digital World

Digital advancement is no longer a plus – it is a must. This goes beyond simply digitizing solutions and involves integration between multiple disjointed systems, such as application programming interface (API), shipping and logistics software, order management, supplier relationship management, global trade and compliance management. The pandemic was a catalyst in further digitalizing businesses and industries across the board, and the supply chain industry was no exception.

For Carriers

For carriers in particular, load matching and customized carrier portals have become two of the most helpful solutions in furthering your growth and helping you manage increasing volume demand. As such, you  need to choose your 3PL partner wisely. The right partner will provide you with an enhanced driving experience and help you scale and grow your business with carrier resources at your fingertips. The carrier resources that 3PLs provide allow for companies to streamline operations, improve efficiencies, all while saving time and keeping drivers on the road. If you haven’t partnered with a 3PL yet, it’s worth the time to explore and take advantage of carrier solutions that help you long-term.

For Shippers

Flexibility is key during current market conditions and preparing well in advance is crucial. As shippers, how can you ensure your freight gets to where it needs to go within your timeframe in a tight market? A 3PL is your best asset. Depending on who you partner with, the carrier network can span across the country and provide you with customized shipping solutions that fit your unique needs, even when supply is very limited.

Shippers need to also adjust shipping strategies in order to navigate the current landscape. In the past, shippers have conducted RFPs on an annual basis in advance of starting new contracts. This process began to change over the last three quarters, with the traditional RFP disappearing in late 2020 as freight costs took off. Now, the RFP process has taken on a short-term look. Instead of annual submissions, shippers have to conduct quarterly or even monthly RFP submissions due to the uncertainty in the current market. As this year goes on, expect a modified system for how shippers secure 3PL partnerships and external shipping solutions.

As the country continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic, the importance of the supply chain industry is more apparent than ever. Shippers and carriers have to be prepared to quickly adapt, with the help of 3PL partnerships, to tackle the changing needs of consumers as the year progresses.

For more insight on this topic, watch NTG President Geoff Kelley discuss industry takeaways 1 year after the COVID-19 pandemic with FreightWaves CSO JT Engstrom.

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