How Nearly Every Company Can Cut Supply Chain Costs

How Nearly Every Company Can Cut Supply Chain CostsYou can easily save millions of dollars annually by reducing your supply chain costs. And even better – opportunities exist in every supply chain.

What should you look for?

Here’s several areas that can benefit nearly every business in any industry:

  1. Give Customers What They Really Want – Not What They Think They Want

Yes, this principle sounds so simple in practice. But it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.

For example, one company offered next-day delivery to its customers. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Well, after researching the issue further, they found not every customer actually needed or wanted this. So, they were wasting money by giving extra service that didn’t provide any additional value.

Or, one distributor would satisfy customer complaints with a free delivery offer. This cost them around $500,000 yearly. But, the problem was they didn’t solve the underlying issue causing the complaints.

A few simple changes would eliminate the need for free delivery. Don’t put a Band-Aid on a broken leg!

  1. Outsource

By far, the most frequently outsourced parts of the supply chain are warehousing and transport. However, you don’t always actually save money. So, you have to remember to conduct audits to see how much your outsourced services would cost you versus doing them yourself.

Don’t forget the needs of the company providing service to you! You can ask for price breaks – but the relationship goes both ways and you have to make sure they profit too. So, take an active interest in being a good customer and make sure your service provider benefits also.

One potential area for efficiency improvement could lie in your freight rates. For example, if your service provider charges you per truck, that doesn’t incent them to utilize their fleet efficiently. But, if you change that to a per-pallet rate, the game completely changes into a win-win scenario.

  1. Utilize Your Current Assets

What assets does your supply chain have? Vehicle fleets, facilities, and inventory under your control must be used as frequently as possible. The more they sit, the more they cost – while providing no return on investment.

For example, a bakery retailer once used their trucks just in the morning – allowing them to sit idle the rest of the day. To make more efficient use of their fleet, they spread deliveries throughout the day – and serviced customers willing to take deliveries in the evening.

And a large beverage manufacturer would experience a peak in volume around Christmas. Rather than owning a warehouse all year long and paying for empty space, they rent for a month or two.

So when was the last time you studied your supply chain? You may have all sorts of savings opportunities sitting right under you.

Learn what you can from these tips – and how they might help you save millions over the next year.

Essity’s Roots with SCA Primes the Company for Great Success

Essity-SACYou know about SCA. Well, in 2017 they split off Essity as a separate company. Essity now handles personal care, consumer tissue, and professional hygiene products.

So since they’ve got such a great foundation for success, you know they’re already good at what they do. With a mission of developing value-added hygiene and health products and services, Essity’s primed to lead the market.

Let’s take a little closer look at Essity to learn what they’re all about:

  1. Values Focused on Making the World a Better Place

Yes, Essity wants to drive growth for shareholders. But, the company’s about much more than just money.

It aims to help more people enjoy a fuller life via a sustainable society. And at the same time, it aims to help employees realize their full potential.

So it aims to create a win-win-win for everyone affected by the company and its actions.

One of its initiatives involves in eliminating the problems incontinence causes in adults worldwide. People with this condition, for example, hurt their own health by not exercising because of their fear of leakage showing to others. So Essity helps with products that conceal this (and which you don’t notice) plus education and exercises that reduce the frequency of incontinence.

  1. Staying Close to the Market Results in Innovative, Useful, and Profitable Products

Whatever products you use from Essity will make your market happy. The company deeply integrates innovation into its business model using tangible mechanisms.

They stay close to market trends and consumers. Teams collaborate daily and throughout all stages of a project to ensure rapid product development and lower costs.

This led to Essity creating 30 new products and applying for 54 patents in 2015 alone.

  1. A Quick Look at Tork, Essity’s Hygiene Brand

Yes, Tork includes all the products you’d expect of a leading hygiene brand. That includes paper towels, toilet paper, sanitizer refills – and practically anything else you can think of. And you can be sure these products closely match you needs.

But, Tork also has a service called EasyCube, which uses IoT to streamline the management of facility cleaning, staff management, and supply ordering. This results in more satisfied customers than ever – and greater cost savings too.

Put Simply – You’ll Love Essity

Look, Essity rocks because it began as part of SCA and now focuses only on hygiene products.

With its amazing focus on innovation and deep understanding of the market, Essity consistently delivers winning products.

And you should jump out of your chair with excitement when you learn they’re a good fit for you!

5 Trends Shaping the Future of Packaging Automation

5 Trends Shaping the Future of Packaging AutomationHave you automated as many steps as possible of your packaging process?

Demand for this will only increase. And if you haven’t fully adopted it already, market forces will dictate a shift toward as much automation as possible.

What are the trends increasing the need for automation?

Here’s several:

  1. Manufacturer’s Cost-Cutting Focus

Labor rates in Chinese cities have skyrocketed in recent years. That puts additional pressure on manufacturers to find cost savings somewhere.

And as a result, they’re looking more closely at the role of automation in their processes. Automation equipment is also now more able to perform complex actions at low operating costs.

So, it’s simply becoming the next natural step.

  1. Affordably Produced Packaging Automation Machinery Is Easily Adopted

Packaging automation equipment isn’t just for the biggest companies with the largest budgets. It’s already being produced so it’s affordable for even small and medium businesses.

Because of this, it’s already becoming a widely adopted technology.

  1. The Food and Beverage Industry Is Primed for Growth – and Price Pressure

The food and beverage market is projected to grow anywhere from 10-12%, depending on the source you read. Regardless of the source, practically all predict substantial growth.

Driving this growth is market demand for natural beverages that provide nutritional and functional benefits. The market is shifting away from sodas with empty calories.

Another market segment is dairy alternatives like soy, almond, and coconut milk.

With such amazing growth projections in place, this market is primed for increased packaging automation use.

  1. IoT Data Will Help Manufacturers Find More Efficiency Gains

The simple use of automation is a start. However, companies will also have IoT devices collecting data. It will take years to understand that data and use it to increase production efficiency.

However, you can rest assured it will be yet another factor driving the growth in packaging automation.

  1. Cybersecurity Concerns are Actually Holding Growth Back

Believe it or not, packaging automation isn’t growing as fast as it could. That’s because manufacturers don’t have an in-depth understanding of how to protect their machinery from cyber criminals.

Manufacturers overall have some level of understanding. But it’s not as in-depth as need be to fully alleviate fears of growth and change.

Despite this concern, packaging automation remains primed for amazing growth. And you can bet it’s more than worth your company’s time to understand exactly how it could increase your efficiency and reduce your costs.

5 More Strategies to Reduce Your Freight Costs

Just because your freight costs seem fixed doesn’t mean they actually are. If you’ve always just accepted your freight costs as part of your operational costs, now could be the time you finally make a change for the better.

You can reduce your freight costs. You read a few strategies on last month’s post.

And here’s a few more:

  1. Use Consistent Lane Volumes to Negotiate Savings

Do you know you’re going to ship through your carrier every day? With consistent work flow, your carrier can plan their hauls with great efficiency.

That puts you in perfect position to negotiate a price break.

  1. Use Only the Dunnage You Actually Need

When was the last time you analyzed how much dunnage you use to protect your product as it ships?

Every air bag, extra foot of paper, or layer of bubble wrap adds up. No, this won’t be the largest opportunity for reducing freight costs. But, every little bit helps.

  1. Get a Reputation for Fast Load Times

Carriers typically figure 2 hours to load their trucks and about $25 per hour.

What if you could get your own loading processes so efficient it typically only takes you an hour to load?

Not only does this reduce your carrier’s costs, but it actually makes the carrier want to work with you more as a customer. Carriers don’t experience this often – so you’ll certainly attract their attention when you let them know about it.

  1. Offer a Night Pick-Up

With this one, you can more than likely score a huge savings. Most shippers close their dock from 6 PM – 12 AM. Carriers frequently have to cancel requested pick-up times. So, you can capitalize on that with a later one that allows them to pick up their stuff on a backhaul. Plus, the carrier can still make their other delivery on-time.

By doing this, you’re helping the carrier make the best use of their shipping time and assets. And you can reward yourself with big savings as a result.

  1. Ask Your Carrier for Recommendations on Building Efficient Pallets

Do you ship your product in a box that fits the product perfectly? Or do you have space leftover? Do you stack your pallets to the greatest extent possible so you use the fewest pallets you can?

Ask your carrier for information on efficiently stacking your pallets, or conduct your own audit.

It’s another huge opportunity for savings.

Yes, you have savings opportunities available. You just have to know where to look.

So consider these, and the ones from the previous post, and figure how they apply to your company…and watch your freight costs plummet.

3 Ways to Make Your Company More Environmentally Friendly

You hear the craze about being “green” and becoming more “environmentally friendly.”

Your customers want it. Millennials, the single largest generation of Americans ever, love to see it from businesses.

And in addition to customers wanting to see this from you, you can substantially reduce your costs when you go green. In some cases, you can actually turn a profit where you didn’t have one before.

How?

Check out some of these innovative approaches:

1. General Mills Profits from Their Waste

This company used to send all its solid waste to landfills – at the cost of $100 a ton. Oat hulls, the remnants of Cheerios after they’re made, used to cost that much when hauled off.

But General Mills learned oat hulls can be burned as fuel. And now they have customer scompeting to buy it. General Mills actually turns a profit on removal of Cheerios’ oat hulls – instead of paying $100 a ton to get rid of it.

2. Costco’s “Dumb” Lighting Move

“Dumb” here doesn’t mean stupid. It actually refers to the fact Costco doesn’t use smart lighting to reduce its electric bills. The “smart” controls the company first considered took way too long to offset their cost of purchase and installation.

So what did Costco do?

If you’ve been in their stores, you know they use skylights to allow the sun to offer some help. This works well in Western states with lots of sun year-round. But you’ll also notice it in states all across the nation – even those with long, overcast winters.

In addition, Costco also installed LED retrofit kits that reduced lighting wattage from 100 to 35. A manual dimmer was also installed to allow employees to reduce lighting below 35 watts.

In the Pacific Northwest, Costco gets a 3-year payback on this approach. In sunny California, this falls to about a year.

3. TaiKoo Hui Guangzhou Mall

This mall currently ranks as the epitome of green on a large scale. It includes waterless urinals, graywater flushing (reusing water used in sinks), and it repurposes food waste as compost.

To top it off, the lighting and HVAC systems are all built highly energy-efficient.

Innovation is one of the main reasons America remains a leading superpower. And at a national level, it’s how you can remain competitive and appeal to your market.

So what will you do with the capital saved? Pass it on to your customers, or invest in new projects that drive your company forward?

4 Strategies to Reduce Your Freight Costs

Shipping costs can be a real nightmare. It’s hard to tell when they’re getting out of control. But to even the best of businesses, problems with freight costs happen.

So if you find yourself wondering what to do about your freight costs, relax. Be glad you discovered the problem, rather than letting it silently kill your profit.

And if you have just such a problem, or if you now realize the importance of it at your own company, here’s what you can do to reduce your freight costs:

1. Ship On Off-Peak Days

A group mentality develops in nearly every aspect of business. Most companies want their product on Thursday so they can shelve it on Friday and sell it over the weekend.

But you can save around 10% on your shipping costs by shipping on Friday – an off-peak day. Mondays tend to be off-peak days too. If you sell non-consumer goods, shipping off-peak makes for a great savings opportunity.

2. Find a Consolidation Program

Want to save 25% versus unconsolidated loads? Combine your LTL shipments with other companies to help you both save some good cash.

You can start by searching at your local Chamber of Commerce. Or you could also contact a 3PL and ask about their retail consolidation program.

3. Stick with Long-Term Business Relationships

Using this approach, you can score an additional 5% that’s inaccessible to your competition. By “inaccessible,” we mean it would take them years to get the same discount.

You may feel tempted to end your current carrier relationships and find new ones to get lower prices. That’s one way to do it.

But, you can get nice advantages with longer-term relationships. This gives your carrier more time to create other relationships so they have a more efficient shipping network. With greater profitability on their side, they have the room to give you better rates. Plus, if you sign a multiyear contract, you can lock in those lower rates for some time.

4. Proactively Manage Lead Times

The more notice you can give your carrier, the better they can plan how their shipping works. That means they can offer you a better price. Their biggest cost is often paying for a semi-trailer that sits idly at your facility.

By managing your own lead times more efficiently and giving advance notice to your carrier, you can win up to 20% more off your shipping costs.

Armed with those four strategies, you’re positioned to save on your freight and reinvest that capital into other initiatives that can drive you past your competition.

How to Green Up Your Supply Chain

Sometimes, you might question why you should make your supply chain greener. Sure, you can see the obvious benefit to the environment. But if it costs your company money, how will you remain competitive?

Fortunately, you can absolutely improve the green-friendliness of your supply chain. And you can cut your costs (or turn a profit) too.

Here’s some ideas to learn from to inspire your own initiatives at your company:

1. Container-Making Company Maersk Slashes Carbon Dioxide Emission

Can a container-making company actually be green? They get hammered in the media all the time. But, they make products essential to your lifestyle and the American economy.

In 2016, Maersk actually achieved a goal they wanted to accomplish in 2020: they reviewed 2,000 of their suppliers and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 25% for each container.

2. Toyota Does It Well All-Around

Toyota was named a Best Global Green Brand from 2010 – 2013.

Why?

They’re implementing a series of six challenges that will result in zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Their goal is to:

  • Manufacture cars that emit 90% less carbon dioxide by 2050
  • Eliminate the carbon dioxide emitted by their manufacturing processes
  • Switch to alternative energy sources
  • Minimize and optimize water usage
  • Create a system for using more recycled resources
  • Restore harmony with nature by planting trees and implementing other environmental initiatives

Now that’s about as green as you can get!

3. UPS

UPS believes the future of its business rests on its ability to meet demand, while also reducing environmental impact. They set a goal to drive one billion miles with alternative fuel by 2017 – and actually met this goal in 2016.

By 2025, they want 25% of their electricity use to come from renewable energy sources. By 2020, they want 1 in 4 of their new vehicles to operate entirely on alternative fuel. 40% of all ground fuel use will also be from sources that don’t include gas or diesel.

When you consider the size of their 8,300-vehicle fleet, that’s significant energy savings!

So, what did you learn? You may be able to directly implement some of these practices in your own supply chain.

And maybe not.

Perhaps instead these examples merely serve to inspire your thinking. Regardless, you now have more tools for environmental friendliness at your disposal.

What Makes Elkay Plastics So Amazing

When it comes to plastic bags, you just can’t top Elkay. They have the broadest selection of plastic bags you can find anywhere.

They’re not all about selection though…

So what makes Elkay such a big deal? Why do we happily share their name with our customers?

Here’s why:

1. Consistently High Product Quality

Elkay’s products are ISO 9001:2008 certified. And they also pass CFIA and Annual Food Safety Audits.

You may already be familiar with the common ISO standard. As a quick review – it measures an organization’s ability to manage their processes and keep customer service high.

The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) regulates the safety of food, plants, and animals. And you know how tough and unforgiving any regulating body can be.

2. Elkay Offers Expertise in Helping You Grow

Elkay doesn’t just end their service by giving you bags. Actually, their sales team acts as an extension of your own sales force. With their expertise on your side, they help you choose the right product for your customers – and sell more.

3. Their Packaging Saves You Time and Money

Elkay’s bags frequently ship in cartons with individually labeled inner packs. Since you receive their product in a clean, orderly way, your labor costs stay under control. You don’t waste time receiving and shipping product. And you don’t waste the product itself.

4. Environmentally Friendly Options Available

Elkay remains highly aware of plastic bags and how they can affect the environment. To support this view, they manufacture many of their bags with d2w controlled-life additives.

What are those?

When exposed to sunlight, those additives accelerate the decomposition process. Rather than taking decades, Elkay’s plastic bags take about two years to fully decompose. And they do this without sacrificing the strength or quality of their bags.

5. Intensely High Level of Customer Service

Elkay’s customer service reps undergo rigorous training and certification. When you talk to their team, you get the right answer the first time you call.

You don’t waste your life away waiting on hold. And you get accurate answers quickly.

So, when we recommend Elkay for your company, take that seriously. They’re every bit as good as they sound.

Why You Should Jump for Joy When We Recommend Automated Packaging Systems’ Products

At Pollock, we’re happy to recommend vendors when they make sense for our customers.

…And you should be elated when we recommend Automated Packaging Systems.

But why?

What makes them such a great catch?

Here’s what:

1. They Specialize in Putting Systems to Use to Give You More Value

Automated Packaging Systems’ competitive advantage lies in combining machines, materials, and services into solutions customized just for your company. Some programs are available exclusively to customers using certain product types. And these customers get a variety of preferred services and incentives also.

2. Sophisticated Bagging Machinery Works for You

Every machine this company builds has been engineered for high productivity and efficiency. Automated Packaging Systems’ focus on this never stops.

Their bagging machines have been engineered to be so reliable that many customers use them more than 3 decades after purchase – without any sacrifices in quality or productivity!

And if you do decide to purchase one or more of their machines, they have such a broad selection they’ve got one specifically suited to your needs. With all this working together for you, you typically see positive ROI on your investment in under a year.

3. Guaranteed High-Quality Packaging Materials

Yes – Automated Packing Systems’ manufacturing facilities are ISO 9001 certified. And they also exceed the rigid tolerance standards of the Flexible Packaging Association. In addition to this, their products and processes meet or exceed industry-specific standards and regulations.

Regardless of the type of packaging you require, you can relax, knowing you have a high-quality product that allows your business to run smoothly.

4. Consistently Convenient Service

Qualified and experienced reps field your phone call. Tech support helps your machine and company operate at peak performance. And you can even get training so you can perform your own basic repairs – and operate your machinery with efficiency. Over 8,000 spare parts remain on stock so Automated Packaging Systems can quickly get you what you need and maximize your uptime.

So when you hear us say that Automated Packaging Systems will make a good fit for you – grin with excitement.

It’ll only lead to good things for your company.

5 Benefits of the Right Packaging for Your Products

Do you have custom-designed packages for your products?

You may not have considered why you would do this. Although, the fact you’re reading this article means you have some curiosity on the topic.

So why would you create custom packaging? Here’s why:

1. Reduce Material Costs

You know you have to operate on slim margins to stay competitive. Custom packaging fits your product perfectly. That means lower costs, which means more money available to grow your company in other ways.

2. Reduced Shipping Costs

Dimensional weight shipping is a fair approach to carriers moving your product around the country. By comfortably fitting the greatest volume in the least space, you get the best shipping costs. And that’s something no retailer can argue with.

3. Get Your Product Noticed

Every market segment likes a certain feel to the product they want to buy. Hit that feel spot-on, and you make it easy to keep your product flying off the shelves.

For example, have you seen Duluth Trading Company commercials? They absolutely rock their connection with men and women who work blue-collar jobs:

Your packaging needs to have that same effect. And it isn’t always easy to do.

4. Reduce Refunds

Ever had it happen where you bought a new product, and the handles broke? Then your product gets damaged and you need to take what you just bought for a return.

Or if you didn’t do that, you made the conscious decision to not return to that retailer.

It happens. And even some nationally-known retailers consistently have this problem.

Custom packaging puts an end to the wasted time and money this causes.

5. Improve Logistical Efficiency

Yes, you can design your custom packaging to fit as efficiently as possible in a semi-trailer.

This reduces the number of trips you need to make. You use less gas transporting your goods.

And once again, you have more money available to make other investments.

Once you understand all these benefits to custom packaging, it’s hard to justify doing anything else. Keep them in the back of your head as your company moves forward.

Bissell Deep Cleaning Equipment Keeps Your Building in Top Shape

If you’ve been reading our President’s Club vendor profiles of late, you’ve heard exclusively about a number of product manufacturers. Mostly, they’re making consumable commodities you use in large volumes.

Today though, we’re changing things up a little. Bissell manufactures deep cleaning equipment – and it’s been doing so since – get this – 1876. As you might guess, their goal is to help your company create the cleanest environment possible in an environmentally friendly way.

Company founder Melville Bissell actually invented the floor sweeper – also back in 1876. Today, the company keeps his same focus on quality and innovation.

Clearly, Bissell has been in the industry longer than everyone else. And they’ve certainly created a nice competitive advantage over that time.

But what specifically makes Bissell a smart choice? Find out below:

1. Focus on Making Their Products Improve Your Efficiency and Increase Your Bottom Line

Look, it’s not often you hear of a commercial cleaning products maker who also understands how to reduce your costs. Most want to focus on their product and cleanliness.

Bissell certainly understands both. At the same time, they also design all products to make your cleaning operations more efficient, which in turn reduces your operating costs. While every company is well-intended, few remember to see how they can actually improve your bottom line.

2. Products Specially Designed for Every Industry

Every company designs products for specific purposes. But we can’t think of one that creates commercial cleaning equipment for particular industries.

You can see this evidenced on Bissell’s website. To find the product you want, you actually search by industry first, and then find the product that makes sense.

Most companies do the reverse. And you can bet it makes a huge difference to the performance you get from the deep cleaning equipment you purchase from Bissell.

3. Product Spotlight: Hurricone Cordless Floor Dryer

Have people tracking in snow that melts on your floors and keeps them wet? Do you simply need to dry a recently cleaned area of your store much faster?

That’s where the Hurricone Cordless Floor Dryer comes in. It’s actually shaped just like a “Caution Wet Floor” warning cone you see in the store. But it also includes a battery with an 8-hour run time that pushes air out the bottom of the cone to dry your floors faster.

That protects your company’s reputation and minimizes the chances of a lawsuit being successfully taken against you.

When it comes to commercial deep cleaning products, you just can’t beat Bissell. And you now know why we heartily recommend them every chance we get.

Amazon’s Retail Market Domination Isn’t Unbeatable

While Amazon certainly has control of the retail market here in 2018, and seems positioned to remain the dominant retailer for years to come, they aren’t unbeatable. And traditional brick-and-mortar powerhouses can do more than they realize to snatch back market share.

Yes, you read that right. The state of the retail market isn’t totally out of your control. You can still compete. However, you have to be as quick and willing as Amazon to adapt.

Here’s how you can position yourself to outdo the competition here in 2018:

1. Your Brick-and-Mortar Stores Need an Experience that Reinvents Convenience

One retail consultant entered a Bonobos store. They could have just tossed a few discounts his way and called it a day. But obviously, that’s not a sustainable business model.

Instead, an engaging salesperson helped him quickly find the right size of clothing for him to try on. They already had their floor space set up as a showroom so you could quickly and easily see what to choose from.

Two days later, the products this consultant wanted show up at his door. Attached is a friendly and personalized note from the salesperson.

And then Bonobos made it simple to go online and make follow-up purchases.

Now that’s a different, and highly personal, experience.

And it’s what you need to recreate to offer customers a reason to shop at your store instead of buying from Amazon.

2. Why Costco, T.J. Maxx, West Elm, Lululemon and Ulta Can’t Slow Sales Down

These stores have bottom lines that still rock. Going up and to the right on their charts is an expectation, not a miraculous event.

Why?

Clearly, they focus on value pricing.

But they also make it easy to discover new products. It’s difficult to replicate this experience online.

Costco offers a marketplace-like experience because it has such a large and spacious interior. On Saturdays, they also have employees handing out food samples, which enhance the marketplace atmosphere even further.

3. All Your Sales Channels Must Work Together

We won’t name the company, but suffice to say it is a nationally known retailer. And in fact, a similar experience happens at another one.

Their website loads slow. Sometimes the product pages don’t load at all. The checkout process frequently gives you multiple frustrating errors, which it makes it a pain to purchase.

Now, those are just the basics of online sales. And some of the largest retailers in the nation have trouble with that.

Today, consumers expect you to have a similar sales experience across every channel you sell on. Retailers have known this for some time, but few do it well.

So, when your customers order online, what do they experience?

Have you tried shopping and browsing your own website yourself? Have you tried going across multiple sales channels to see how it feels?

If you don’t understand precisely how this works, it’s time to figure it out. Conduct user experience testing. Take feedback seriously. And make sure you have a team whose sole job it is to constantly research and implement this across all your sales channels.

You may not have the technological capabilities Amazon does. But that doesn’t mean you can’t compete and increase your market share here in 2018.

Companies who take these tips seriously will find their stock charts quickly growing.