Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Is Being The Shipper of Choice a Rational Buying Behavior?

I once again had to sit through a "shipper of choice" meeting with a carrier and I was as disappointed as I am with every one of these I attend.  First, congratulations to the consultant who coined this phrase "shipper of choice" - you have done a great job peddling this idea and I hope you have made a lot of money with it.  Every presentation I go to is the same so I have to believe they emanate from the same person.

For those who have not been "blessed" by one of these presentations, let me walk you through what they mean.  In a nutshell it is:  "If you (shipper) do everything in the way we want it done, regardless of what your customers want, then you will be a "shipper of choice".  Things such as:

  1. Pay your bills on time
  2. Give the freight the carrier they are awarded
  3. Perfectly forecast the freight
  4. Pay above market (or what the carrier will call "fair") rates
  5. No window times for deliver - let the carrier deliver and pick up at their leisure
  6. Have a luxurious wait room for the driver
  7. Don't have the driver do anything when he shows up
Well, you get the feeling. 

What is missing from all of this is what does the CUSTOMER really want?  I raised this question to the trucking company and, honestly, I am not sure they ever had thought about this.  I mentioned to them that we (the shipper) are not the ultimate customer.  We have customers (call them consumers) who are demanding certain things.  We are looking for the freight provider to partner with us to fully understand and respond to what the consumer wants (which, as I pointed out to them, is what each of us wants as a consumer).  So, what does the consumer want:

  1. Short order to delivery times
  2. Windows (anyone want to sit at home all day waiting for someone or do you want to know that they will come within a two hour window)
  3. Be market competitive in pricing
  4. Full delivery (White glove).
These are what the consumer wants and these are not things that are being put on the logistics network for any other reason then they are customer demands. 

Of course, there are things that make sense and should be done:  Pay bills on time, if you award the freight give them the freight etc. 

But this idea that we can ignore what the end consumer wants is completely ridiculous.  The challenge for us the shipper and the trucking company is how do we meet these complex and ever increasing demands AND be efficient. 

I wonder when that meeting will occur?

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