Anticipating Customers’ Shipping Needs

Customer expectations often unfold as a result of broader market conditions, changes to their businesses & industries, or shifts within related industries. Acumatica already captures industry-specific nuances and makes it possible to adapt an entire business to disruptions imposed from outside without causing new ones. 3G Pacejet Shipping, as an extension of the ERP, can help a business do the same for shipping, and be ready to evolve fulfillment operations to meet changing customer expectations in real-time.

Certain changes in customer demands have a more profound impact than others and readiness to meet them is a supplier’s key differentiator. Some to be particularly mindful of are:

  • Shifting demand mix for current products (or pressure to introduce new ones)
  • Distribution model changes in response to consumer behaviors
  • Prioritization of speed vs. cost

When these evolutions will occur, and the specific form they’ll take, remains unpredictable (at least well in advance). But knowing they will happen at some point, in some way, is valuable because it lets you set up the right systems now to deal with them as they happen.

Shifting Product Demand

The ability to alter production or inventory acquisition quantities is well managed with an ERP like Acumatica, but what about actually moving those products? Different products within anyone’s lineup will have different shipping implications. Newly-popular large, heavy items will require freight transportation at scale. Trending DIY items, on the other hand, may contain chemicals requiring hazmat labeling and handling. The advantage will go to those most able to manage new modes, carriers, and services with ease given the unique nature of each.

Distribution Model Changes

The rise in direct-to-consumer sales we’ve experienced in recent years has had far-reaching implications not only for how companies sell and manage orders, but how they ship, too. Consolidated parcel shipments to retail locations all of a sudden became large freight shipments to central distribution centers. Other orders were no longer touched by the retailer and instead drop-shipped on its behalf. These are among the evolutions that lead to substantial shipping changes – such as a need to self-manage freight transportation, or all-new compliance requirements. Once again: nearly impossible to predict, but easy to be ready for – when shipping software is already configured to handle any number of distribution patterns.

Speed and Cost Priorities

Depending on the overall economic climate, customers’ emphasis on shipping speed and costs will change. When demand is slower, and margins threatened, extra transit time is more acceptable than potential cost overruns. But when everybody needs it yesterday (and is willing to pay for the privilege), speed is the name of the game. Those using only one or two carriers, unable to rate shop across carriers, modes, and service levels, are unlikely to have the advantage. Similarly, absent the tools to make accurate shipping cost estimates, the potential to disappoint customers multiplies.

While Acumatica ERP is ideal for managing new demands, 3G extends that with a transportation management and shipping software suite to handle related shipping requirements. It connects via a Fulfilled by Acumatica integration, and shares mutual third-party integrations with other tools, too. When movement of goods is concerned the combined solution can make any manufacturer, distributor, or retailer a greater source of certainty and partner to its own customers.

Trying to figure out what your customers will want you to do next, and what that might do to your shipping operations? Connect with us. Be ready for anything, whether or not you can see it coming.