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The leading inbound freight trends for 2020 reveal a stronger push to improve inbound logistics efficiency and lower barriers to inventory management stress. Shippers that take time to understand these trends can position their organizations for success. 

1. Strategic Partnerships With Suppliers Will Dominate the Industry

With the coronavirus well entrenched in supply chain disruption, shippers will look to boost strategic vendor partnerships through technology. In other words, companies will look to diversify available suppliers, secure more capacity options, and find raw materials and products from more manufacturers. 

2. Strong Inbound Vendor Compliance Standards Will Become the Norm

Part of the problem with inbound freight goes back to poor compliance. In the top inbound freight trends, shippers should expect to revamp inbound freight routing guides and leverage dynamic workflows to automate processes and hold inbound supplier-carriers accountable. 

Inbound Freight Costs: How Gaining Visibility Achieves Bottom Line Savings

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3. Smart Processes for Replenishment Will Reduce Miscommunications and Over/Under Ordering

Better use of data and centralized platforms will also reduce the risk for miscommunications in replenishment. This further includes smart payment processing and better demand planning through advanced analytics. 

4. Inbound Freight Consolidation Will Save Money for Shippers and Hassle for Carriers

Inbound freight consolidation forms another trend in inbound freight management. Instead of simply hoping to reduce congestion at docks, shippers can leverage automation to reduce dock traffic and improve scheduling, lowering costs along the way. As noted by Logiwa:

“Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments are inefficient and lead to unnecessary costs both in terms of shipping and unloading. Indeed, when a company unloads 10 to 14 different LTL shipments, it spends 5 times more than it would unloading just one truckload.”

Therefore, shippers can bring in the right amount of product, at just the right time, at a lower cost, and with reduced stress. It is a win-win for shippers and vendors alike.

5. Consolidation Within the Industry Will Lead to Less Capacity for Inbound Freight

Industry carrier consolidation, as well as bankruptcies like the NEMF bankruptcy the industry saw in 2019, will also likely lead to less available capacity in the coming months. This deduction in capacity will be the result of forced disruptions due to ongoing trade war and the coronavirus. As a result, shippers will need to rethink carrier contracts by creating backup plans to replace SMB-carriers that do not survive. Now, some carriers will undoubtedly merge to avoid bankruptcy, and that again will present opportunities to renegotiate contracts and overcome the trials created by limited loads deriving from disruption in the supply chain

6. Automated Freight Invoice Settlement Will Boost Vendor-Shipper Relations

Automated invoicing and freight processes will reduce miscommunication between vendors and shippers. As these systems grow further into the digital frontier, their value will optimize payment and accounting processes, adding to supply chain efficiency. In addition, accounting will become a greater focus on inbound freight trends as blockchain moves to finally give shippers and vendors access to smart contracts. Basically, blockchain smart contracts could leverage robotics process automation to self-validate invoice details, review potential claims for damage or missing freight, perform additional audits, and complete freight settlement processes. Those same benefits will extend across inbound logistics and outbound freight management too, opening doors to further opportunities for lower freight spend and better shipper-vendor relationships. 

Listen to “What is an Inbound Routing Guide & Why Do Shippers Need One” on Spreaker.

7. More Data-Driven Insights Will Enable Continuous Improvement for Shippers and Carrier-Vendors Alike

Data-driven analytics’ insights will provide more actionable intelligence to support the other inbound freight trends in 2020. All companies vye for the latest and greatest opportunities to leverage data, but all too often, gaps remain between data insights and application. As explained by Inbound Logistics last year, companies must start working to incorporate dashboards to understand and apply data-driven insights in real time and avoid data siloes or opportunities for miscommunication:

Data is generated constantly throughout the product journey. Still, there are too many gaps in the available data. For example, you may have information about a specific shipment from one location to another, but does it connect to any data related to the order’s placement, or its final destination? Having end-to-end visibility can help maximize efficiency by revealing opportunities for optimization. A centralized data management system allows you to view and monitor the different steps of the product journey holistically. 

Evolve Your Supply Chain to Reflect These Inbound Freight Trends

There is not yet any real proof of how far disruption will go in the global supply chain, but shippers have a chance to reduce out of stocks and improve inbound efficiency by adhering to these trends.