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Illuminating hidden shipping data crucial to diagnosing supply chain health

The logistics industry is undergoing a veritable technological revolution. Companies across the supply chain are embracing digitization, prioritizing visibility and slashing inefficiencies. Throughout this process, shippers have become acutely aware of the importance of data-driven decision-making. 

For decades, professionals across the logistics industry were forced to make decisions based on a combination of gut instincts, outdated market insights and unreliable or incomplete data sets. This is no longer the case. As organizations have realized the value of real-time and near-time data, more high-tech solutions focused on everything from rate benchmarking to key performance indicator tracking have entered the market. Now, the challenge revolves less around accessing data and more about understanding it. 

While companies know that data is important, many of them still struggle to understand the health of their shipping operations and make better, more informed decisions. This is especially true when it comes to parcel shipping. 

Parcel carriers have seen huge spikes in demand over the past two years in response to surging e-commerce orders. They have had difficulty keeping pace with these changes and responded by issuing a frenzy of surcharges while simultaneously walking back performance promises. 

Most recently, Amazon announced its plan to add a 5% fuel and inflation surcharge on sellers using its fulfillment and delivery services beginning April 28. 

At the same time, the Postal Regulatory Commission approved a plan by the United States Postal Service to extend long-haul delivery windows beginning May 1. This plan will affect nearly one-third of all first-class parcels, which will now be delivered one to two days later than current delivery windows allow. The move, which is intended to curb the use of airfreight in favor of ground transportation, will likely lead to an onslaught of consumer complaints as packages begin to show up later than expected. 

As shippers cope with breakneck changes to delivery services, it can be difficult to understand how these shifts ultimately impact their bottom lines and customer service scores, especially as multiple changes mount on top of one another throughout the year. That is where data analysis comes into play. 

Parcel data is incredibly complex. It’s disparate, and there is an overwhelming amount of it. Shippers often don’t know how to begin working with this data because it cannot be properly visualized via traditional methods like Excel spreadsheets. Sifted aims to help shippers make better use of their data by handling the analysis and visualization through their software. 

“Getting data from a carrier can be very difficult. The data is not clean, and there are often a lot of data fields that don’t make sense,” Sifted VP of Data Science Kevin Miller said. “We’re able to clean it up for people so it is easy to understand. Trying to do that on your own is incredibly overwhelming because Excel cannot process that much information. By having Sifted do the heavy lifting, you’re not stuck sitting at a frozen computer.”

Sifted does not stop at freeing the data from complicated spreadsheets, however. The company has created a solution that analyzes data and scores shippers in several key areas in order to identify costly issues that were previously hidden or swept under the rug. 

Sifted’s AI-powered solution issues performance scores for six core areas of a shipper’s business.

  • Contract: How is your carrier contract performing for you?
  • Distribution: Are packages reaching your customers in two to three days?
  • Carrier: Are delays impacting your customer experience?
  • Accessorials: Do you know the impact of accessorial fees on your spend?
  • Operation: Are you getting hit hard with dimensional fees?
  • Service level: Does your service mix need adjustments?

These scores help shippers identify areas of their businesses that aren’t performing as well as possible, allowing them to focus on the right things and shift their energy to potential areas of improvement. 

“The feedback is very focused because we are helping people drill-into things they didn’t even know were an issue,” Miller said. “We highlight the top five movers that impacted your score, so you can focus on the things that changed from last week to this week. This helps shippers stay proactive instead of reactive.”

When companies have solid insights into their ongoing issues, and the data to back it up, they have more power to make tangible improvements to their operations. Not only do these scores guide their attention to the biggest problems, they help prove that problems exist in the first place and allow improvement tracking over time. This makes it easier to get key stakeholders invested in improvement plans, especially when those plans cost money on the front end. 

At the end of the day, getting out ahead of issues before they become catastrophic problems enables shippers to increase profitability, improve customer service and better compete with their peers. 

Click here to learn more about how Sifted can help improve your operational performance.