Secure supply chains: shipping and logistics costs as a key success factor

6 steps to optimise your logistics.

Nothing has hit manufacturing companies worldwide as hard as the interrupted supply chains.  The result: supply bottlenecks, shortages of raw materials and higher prices for imports and exports.1 Due to their dependence on global goods flows, companies must still expect enormous fluctuations in supply and demand. This means they must put their company in a position to react flexibly. To do this, it makes sense to implement effective risk management in the supply chain and, as a first step, to take a critical look at one’s own supply chain. In short, to optimise the (global) supply chain. This is the only way to identify and resolve weak points in order to secure your supply of goods. At the same time, this helps purchasers to save costs and resources and thus increase margins.

How can I, as an SME, secure and optimise my supply chain?

Optimising your supply chain depends on several factors: your business needs, your existing supply chain and company-specific challenges. The bottom line is to ensure the optimal operation of a manufacturing and distribution supply chain. This means maximum availability of goods/(pre-)products while maximising profit.

There are many ways to optimise your supply chain. In our 6-step guide, we focus on optimising shipping and logistics costs in small and medium-sized enterprises. And not just because we are experts in B2B shipping, but because for SMEs, optimising shipping and transport costs – regardless of whether it’s a package or a pallet – is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to save costs.

The challenges for small and medium-sized businesses in Germany (EU)

Around 23 million small and medium-sized enterprises in the European Union are responsible for economic growth. This means that 99.8 percent of all European companies are small and medium-sized enterprises. They are drivers of innovation and competition in many areas and secure millions of jobs.2 In Germany, almost all companies are SMEs, with a share of 99.4%.3

In contrast to globalised large companies, which have recourse to risk supply chain managers in procurement and can thus react more quickly and effectively to fluctuations in the supply chain, measures to secure supply chains are far less developed in SMEs. Due to their corporate structure, among other things, they often lack the resources to set up a functioning “risk management in the supply chain“. This goes at the expense of flexibility in the event of fluctuations and makes it difficult to maintain an operation in times of crisis.3

Just 6 steps to optimise your logistics

The following 6 tips are intended to help you optimise your shipping processes and show you which steps you should take into account and what an all-in-one booking and shipping platform can do to mininise costs and resources in shipping.

1. Analyse the supply chain: What takes up the most time and resources in my shipping process?

Review and identify the areas of shipping that are most susceptible to delays and tie up staff in the company.

At the beginning of your shipping process, you always have to search for a suitable shipping service provider and the respective shipping conditions. Usually, you start with an extensive search on the pages of the individual carriers and try to find the fastest and/or cheapest solution, depending on your requirements. This is time-consuming, not least because the costs are not always shown transparently in the comparison. In addition, you have little chance of booking reputable carriers at attractive shipping conditions due to low shipping volumes and no contract obligations.

A multi-carrier shipping platform for companies can support you enormously in this. After registering free of charge, you get an overview of all available shipping service providers and the shipping costs are displayed transparently in a table. And all of this without any contract or volume commitments

2. Identify supply bottlenecks: What is slowing down the flow of my goods?

Identify the areas of your supply chain that disrupt the flow of your goods. The following causes can slow down or even disrupt your shipping process, making the movement of your goods uncontrollable.

  • Geopolitical impacts (natural disasters, wars, lockdowns, etc.)
  • Unreliable (unknown) shipping service providers
  • No overview of delivery times
  • Lack of communication with your suppliers and logistics partners (see also steps 3 and 6)
  • Non-transparent shipment tracking
  • Missing documents or details in the customs clearance process
  • Time-consuming claims management

For all these challenges, we recommend that you work with experienced shipping experts. They can take a lot of the work off your hands: You get an overview of the delivery times at the same time as the price comparison. From the first booking onwards, carriers operating worldwide will take care of your transport and customs formalities. The large selection of shipping service providers allows you to rebook your shipment or find alternative transport routes even in times of crisis – in other words, to be flexible.

Another plus: If you have urgent queries, such as complaints, LetMeShip Customer Service is always available to you personally by phone or email. With us, there are no annoying queues or chatbots waiting for you, but real people with logistics expertise who will support you promptly with your shipment.

3. Ensure effective communication: How can I avoid language barriers and price negotiations in my shipping booking

Effective communication is crucial for an optimised supply chain. Make sure that your suppliers and logistics partners have all the information they need to process shipments on time and without problems. This includes, among other things, required customs-relevant commercial documents for imports or exports, data details, but also the coordination regarding the booked carrier and the shipping costs incurred.

When booking via a B2B shipping platform, there is no need to select a carrier. You decide which carrier you want to book and at what shipping conditions. Required information for customs is also requested at the same time and the selected carrier also accompanies your shipment through the customs clearance process. If you want to ensure that your suppliers only book certain carriers at your conditions, you have the option of inviting suppliers to your account and specifying this in advance. This eliminates the need for price negotiations or discrepancies in foreign languages and gives you control over your shipping costs at all times. You can find out more details about the supplier connection in step 6.

4. Planning security within the supply chain: Which technologies and services can support you in your shipping?

In advance, you should clarify the shipping requirements within your company. An exact forecast of the needs can help you to plan and control your shipping more effectively. Especially in the manufacturing sector, the most important goal is to ensure the supply and thus the (ongoing) operation. The topic of plannability and reliability in shipping is thus even more important.

Often the shipping requirements in SMEs are diverse and range from parcel to pallet to document shipping, nationally and internationally, within or outside the EU. Accordingly, the shipping solution for companies should also offer maximum flexibility, transparency and predictive accuracy.

The benefits of a multi-carrier shipping platform are obvious: in an all-in-one system, you are transparently shown the prices and delivery times of all carriers available for your shipment. With a variety of shipping options, such as standard or express, the shipping of hazardous goods or one of our special services, such as air freight shipping, you can send both recurring and ad hoc shipments on their way. And if all else fails, our personal customer service will help you.

5. Automate shipping processes: What can you do to save time and resources?

To increase the speed and efficiency of your supply chain, we recommend that you automate as many steps as possible. This also applies to your shipping and booking process. This is often time-consuming and makes it difficult to keep track of all booked shipments and suppliers, especially in manufacturing companies. An automated shipping process – from price comparison, booking and tracking to supplier management – can help you minimise errors and save time and resources. An automated shipping process also means:

  • The carrier you commission not only accompanies your shipment safely from A to B, but also through the customs process.
  • Digitised trade documents can be easily uploaded in one place and are immediately available to your carrier.
  • From the moment you make your booking, you will receive automated updates on the location of your goods via the integrated shipment tracking.
  • The invoice archive stores the invoices of all your booked carriers so that you can view/check them at any time.
  • In the event of a complaint, you can enter the claims section quickly and easily online. 

6. Improve supplier management: How can I manage and keep track of my suppliers and supplier costs?

Your suppliers are an important link in your supply chain. This makes it all the more important to check their performance and ask yourself the following questions: Do my goods arrive on the agreed date? Is the quality of the shipment right? Are the shipping costs reasonable for my company?

With a large number of suppliers in different countries, it can often be difficult to control them, and the transport costs incurred. Especially if you book the shipments via different carrier sites in different systems and have to track them later in the shipment status. This also makes it almost impossible to get a complete overview of the costs of all booked shipments, not to mention the time you have to spend on this.

A shipping platform that allows you to control and manage all your suppliers in one system is recommended. With LetMeShip, you have the option of inviting all your suppliers to your account, both nationally and internationally.

Supplier connection – full cost control

When you invite a supplier to your account, they are directly linked to your account. This means that they book at your conditions, which are stored for you with us. By booking shipments from one source, you create more transparency and always receive attractive shipping conditions. An additional advantage: You can control the availability of shipping service providers and services and switch them on and off depending on the supplier.

As the account holder (administrator), you decide what your supplier can and cannot see. Among other things, you can deactivate the price view. In this case, your suppliers will only be shown the available shipping service providers and the booking screen. You also have the option of defining mandatory fields for your own process optimisation. This could be, for example, the mandatory entry of a delivery reference, e.g., an order number, a supplier identification, or important information for your goods receipt process. Define whether your supplier can only ship to specified addresses and which transport providers/services are available for selection. The invited supplier will not see any sensitive data from your user account. If you have activated the notification function, you will receive a confirmation email with a tracking link when you make a booking, so you always have an overview of all supplier shipments.

The invoices are sent via your account. This means that you can view all invoices at any time, as they are sent to your stored address, even if your supplier is responsible for the booking. All consignments booked by a supplier based abroad are displayed in the system as import consignments. You remain the main contact person and have control over services and shipping costs at all times.

Multi-Carrier Shipping: Reducing Complexity and Time

The 6 steps to optimising your supply chain show how a multi-carrier shipping platform can reduce the complexity and time involved in your shipping. By working with an experienced shipping partner, you save costs by avoiding the opaque and complicated shipping processes that often arise when working with multiple contacts and carriers. In addition, you reduce the required internal resources. Regardless of whether you ship nationally or internationally, it is always advisable to have a shipping expert who transparently manages all carriers, suppliers and transports for you. True to our motto “Simplify Shipping”.