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Managing inbound parcel freight has increased in complexity with the global rise of e-commerce. Amazon has mastered inbound parcel freight management as part of its third-party marketplace, and small and mid-sized shippers are struggling to keep up. Customer activity has increased, and some employees are actually sending their personal purchases to work address. While part of the larger scheme for global economic growth, inbound parcel freight has become a top priority for shippers. Those seeking to master inbound parcel freight need to understand the problems today’s changing market is creating and how tackling these considerations translate into best practices for proactive inbound freight management.

What’s Causing Problems With Inbound Parcel Freight Management?

Growth of e-commerce is expected to result in a 20-percent increase in parcel shipping in 2018, reports Tom Hazel of Parcel MEDIA. Regulatory compliance also impacts the ability to manage inbound freight, and medical and legal shipments will be subject to even greater compliance standards in the coming year. 

Use Technology to Increase Shipment Accuracy and Transparency to Customers

Shippers must increase shipment accuracy and transparency to customers, and technology holds the answer. Handheld scanners and signature pads, barcode and label printers, smartphones, tablets, and wireless scanners have the potential to provide end-to-end visibility for inbound shipments, making shippers capable of handling more inbound orders to process more outbound orders. Such technology provides an added level of automation, which can be also applied to generate automatic notifications and alerts for inbound freight problems and status.

Shippers must begin using technologies, including software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms to managing both inbound and outbound freight, reports Hazel. For example, a transportation management system (TMS), like the Cerasis Rater, is designed to handle inbound parcel freight management, as well as other over-the-road shipping modes.

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Proactive Inbound Parcel Freight Management Can Reduce Lost Parcels

Poor inbound parcel freight management contributes to an increased risk for damaged and lost products. As explained by Pitney Bowes’ Presentation via SlideShare, up to 3 percent of inbound parcels are lost in multi-site organizations, which is slightly higher than the 2-percent losses of inbound parcels in single-site organizations. Shippers must implement inbound parcel freight management programs, including updating and sharing the inbound vendor routing guide. Although often used for vendors delivering freight via full truckload and less than truckload, the inbound vendor routing guide should specify business rules for handling inbound freight correctly.

Monitor Carrier Performance

Speaking of the inbound routing guide, it only holds value if carriers and vendors are held accountable. Shippers should begin tracking inbound freight metrics, especially among inbound parcels. Key metrics to track include average shipping time, cost, delays, instances of incorrect billing, and compliance with the inbound routing guide.

Document the Chain of Custody

Proactive management of inbound parcel freight requires a heightened level of awareness for documenting the chain of custody. Depending on the nature of the specific freight, such as items requiring cold storage for Food and Drug Administration compliance, like medications and fresh meats, shippers must take additional precautions to ensure the safety of the shipment for use. Failure to do so could result in the spread of illness and legal consequences.

File Damage Claims Fast

Since inbound parcel freight carries a higher risk of damage or other loss, shippers should consider purchasing freight insurance for all inbound items, especially those of high value or risk, namely things that may contribute to legal action in the future. If anything does go awry, file damage claims immediately. Depending on the terms of insurance coverage, claims management must begin with X number of days from delivery, or missed delivery in the case of lost packages. As a result, shippers must know how to identify lost inbound freight and file claims for each carrier. Standardized processes, as well as flexible processes, should be the cornerstone of all training programs for employees to meet this need.

The Big Picture

The importance of accountability in inbound parcel freight will continue to grow, says Hazel, and the impact will begin to permeate throughout all industries, including legal and health industries. By considering the ways a shipper can streamline inbound parcel freight, shippers can gain a better, 360-degree view and control of freight spend and operations.