Dealing with supply chain breakdowns and product delivery logistics is a worsening problem, especially for e-commerce retailers. But physical store merchants are also heavily impacted.
Solving the growing supply chain problem involves getting non-tech-savvy merchants and shippers to adopt the latest tech-based software platforms. Otherwise, the needed transparency will stay blurry.
“The number one challenge e-commerce leaders, traditional retailers, and logistics providers have is the struggle to find technology that can effectively manage warehouses, transportation, and final-mile deliveries on a nationwide basis,” said Doug Ladden, co-founder and CEO of Deliveright Logistics, an AI-powered logistics and delivery platform.
Getting a stronger handle on visibility for shippers and streamlining the integration of order, warehouse, and transport management systems is a big step in smoothing out the business and shipping flow.
Deliveright in April released version 3.0 of its flagship Grasshopper platform to bring that solution. It equips retailers, e-commerce, and delivery companies with a revamped, enterprise-grade platform to manage complex logistics from the dock to the doorstep, providing complete visibility from pickup to the last mile.
Mounting Logistics Issues
Audit, tax, and advisory services firm KPMG found that 60% of organizations are prepared to invest in digital technology to boost supply chain processes. However, research from PwC reported that 83% of executives had not seen the results they expected from their supply chain technology investments.
All technologies are not created equal. A logistics platform must be capable of managing every segment of the supply chain to improve efficiency, which requires communication between carriers from the first to the final mile of the delivery.
Labor shortages, cybercrime, and supply chain disruptions have been significant challenges for logistics companies in recent years. Buying fluctuations during the pandemic drove peaks and troughs in supply.
Add to this; global political unrest is now a primary cause of supply chain issues, which contributes to disruptions in material availability and transport, according to industry reports.
As these conditions continue, planning and manufacturing goods are becoming more challenging. Port congestion and global container shortages drive similar issues in logistics.
What Grasshopper Does
Grasshopper provides a holistic solution for managing the entire logistics process using just one platform, from pickups of items to fleet routing, invoicing, and more, complete with up-to-the-minute visibility from dock to doorstep, explained Ladden, whose company specializes in logistics and final-mile delivery of large and bulky goods.
The Grasshopper platform incorporates an order management system (OMS), a warehouse management system (WMS), and a transportation management system (TMS) for an end-to-end visibility solution, reduced complexity, and increased cost efficiencies to help improve customers’ bottom lines.
The software provides real-time data and has a revamped user interface for easier adoption. The platform gives retailers and delivery companies a more customizable and streamlined solution for all their shipping needs, according to Deliveright.
Cases in Point
Clark’s White Glove Delivery is an example of how innovative technology can lessen the pitfalls of OMS, WMS, and TMS issues. Its founder Jim Clark recounted that in 1997, all his company needed was one truck to manage the volume of deliveries. There was no indication that logistics would become such a critical and complex process.
Today the company has six locations and over 250 deliveries daily. The technology in place to operate every inch of Clark’s business lacked the innovation to compete in this new, far more demanding landscape.
“Controlling costs and efficiency are vital for survival, but Grasshopper’s comprehensive technology allows us to confidently report delivery accuracy of 99%. It has everything we would possibly need to succeed without a big IT team or other costly resources,” Clark offered.
A weather event forced shipping firm RPM Expedite to close for 10 days, causing a congested dock and an unprecedented volume of freight in the warehouse. According to RPM’s CEO Eric Kunz, that exposed a clear need to replace the company’s traditional processes, which were very manual in nature.
“Grasshopper enables a streamlined flow of information through its uniquely integrated WMS and TMS systems, allowing for visibility throughout the shipping process and reducing manual work, human error, and costly delays for RPM,” Kunz told CRM Buyer.
The platform is highly customizable. Once tailored to maximize efficiency, RPM’s integrated scanning capability now allows constant and consistent inventory tracking, he said.
After adopting Grasshopper, RPM reduced claims from 300 in six months to 67. It decreased customer service calls by 83% per day and doubled the number of trailers loaded and unloaded. The platform improved the company’s overall damage rate from an average under 1% versus the 10% industry average, according to Kunz.
Revamped Product Upgrade
Long term, RPM’s day-to-day business operations are thoroughly improved and are now fully optimized for sweeping efficiency, Kunz offered. A sophisticated and reliable scanning system replaced manual cataloging, which facilitated the loading and unloading of inventory and enabled automated product tracking anywhere in the warehouse.
Kunz detailed that RPM worked with Grasshopper to implement a purpose-built API that can pinpoint business problems by providing real-time profit and loss statements categorized by route, region, and partner.
“No other solution on the market today combines WMS and TMS systems like Grasshopper. It is the only option that can offset problems across the supply chain, ultimately enabling the delivery of the right items to the right customers without delay,” said Kunz.
According to Ladden, one of the key improvements in the latest platform release is the revamped user interface that makes it easier for users to adopt the Grasshopper platform.
“Over the course of several years and millions of deliveries, user feedback on ways to improve the interface has proven invaluable. We spent a lot of time and effort coming up with a more intuitive and efficient design for consumers, shippers, carriers, and our team,” Ladden told CRM Buyer.
Unified Visibility Platform Key to Consistency
The most challenging part of having a WMS and a TMS in one platform is having the fundamental skills to develop a sophisticated WMS and TMS, Ladden explained. It is much easier to become proficient in one area than two.
“Still, we spent many years working to provide both within the same visibility platform — a core differentiator of Grasshopper. Users do not have to worry about ensuring consistency between two systems which often results in errors. Grasshopper already contains both. No manual reviews needed and no worries about integration issues,” he offered.
Customers frequently mention that their teams have an easier time getting work done because Grasshopper provides a complete view and troubleshooting ability for all orders anywhere in the U.S., shared Ladden. Grasshopper’s comprehensiveness makes life easier for customers and carriers alike.
Another point worth making is that his company has a global team working on Grasshopper’s continuing development. These workers have experience building large trading platforms used by some of the largest financial services companies in the world.
Technology Missteps Affect Transparency
Transparency is an issue within the shipping process because of the disparate technology used by the various players involved in each segment of the supply chain, Ladden explained. Most consumers are used to the Amazon/FedEx/UPS world of fulfillment and visibility.
“While the processes used by these companies work very well, the big and bulky, e.g., appliances, furniture, etc., segment is more nuanced and includes many players who have been slower to adopt new technology,” he noted.
When those facilitating one link of the supply chain use paper to process orders, it compromises the perceived performance of every other player by eliminating visibility for that step. In turn, it renders that portion of the chain dark.
“Unfortunately, there are many such paper-based players today, compromising far too many shipments,” he said.
Solution Waiting for Adopters
The technology industry is trying to solve this problem, but its approach has been misguided. According to Ladden, many providers push for visibility, but their solutions still include digitizing input from paper-based companies.
That approach duplicates existing errors resulting from paper-based processes and introduces the possibility of new errors during the digitization process.
Instead, he sees the best approach is to introduce these analog companies to tech-based solutions so information can flow automatically across all parts of the supply chain. The lack of visibility from companies with outdated methods detracts from the value of the visibility provided by more automated companies.
“The transparency issue is ultimately a result of shipping companies with limited technology to support visibility properly,” he added.