SUMMARY: The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHA) office asked North American third party logistics company, Cerasis, to share their expertise on e-commerce freight shipping and the role of 3PL companies in maximizing the benefits of e-commerce for both shippers and transportation carriers.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) turned to Cerasis, a 3PL with expertise in transportation management by way of technology through their transportation management system (TMS) and managed transportation services, due to their extensive experience in working with shippers and carriers in the rapidly growing sector of freight shipments derived from sales generated through the e-commerce channel. The webinar was titled “The Growth of E-Commerce and Its Freight Transportation Impacts” and was held on January 21, 2015 as part of the DOT/FHA’s monthly webinar series titled, “Talking Freight”. Those who wish to access and download the webinar may visit the FHA’s “Talking Freight” website here.
Cerasis co-hosted the webinar with supply chain consultant and veteran Anne Strauss-Wieder of AS-W, Inc.
Ms. Strauss-Wieder covered an overview discussing the emergence and growth of e-commerce, both in general terms and in terms of its impacts on the transportation system.
Cerasis then presented after Ms. Strauss-Weider with a module titled “The Impact of eCommerce on Shippers, Transportation Providers, & 3PLs” focusing on the e-commerce activity needs, challenges, and benefits faced by carriers or 3rd party logistics firms that work with carriers who handle high volumes of e-commerce shipments; the presentation includes discussions about some of Cerasis’s transportation network and delivery strategies, challenges, and/or opportunities with e-commerce order shipments.
Many manufacturers and distributors, as well as other business-to-business, who are shipping freight more suited for less-than-truckload (LTL), are going multi-channel as they turn to their websites as a sales engine. A venture into a multi-channel supply chain requires more technology as the key to effectively make the e-commerce channel a viable product. Many shippers and transportation carriers are turning to 3PLs as the intermediary in successfully deploying technology and services in order to implement, scale, and integrate into business practices without delay. 3PLs are further aiding in the reduction of costly errors, allowing both shippers and carriers to circumvent any in-house challenges they may face as they venture towards e-commerce.
In 2013, Cerasis developed an extension on the Magento eCommerce platform in conjunction with WebShopApps to support the seamless merchant management and the online shopping user experience when shipping via the mode Less-than-truckload (LTL).
The end-to-end e-Commerce LTL Freight shipping extension from Cerasis provides the following functionality for those shippers looking to implement e-commerce ordering and also ship via the LTL mode:
- Retrieve freight rates from over 25 Cerasis Select Carrier Partners.
- Option to offer eCommerce freight shipping only when an item marked as freight is in the cart, or if a pre-defined weight limit is exceeded; this extension is ideal if you sell a mix of freight and non-freight items.
- Use with the Dropship extension to specify standard shipping rates on items from one location and freight rates on items from another.
- Use with the Dimensional Shipping extension to send dimensions into the eCommerce freight shipping extension.
- Use with Shipping Override to only offer eCommerce freight shipping in particular countries / regions.
- Have full access to the freight transportation managed services of Cerasis to include viewing invoices online, run freight analysis reports and activity reports, turn-key freight claims management, and freight accounting services of freight payment and auditing.
Manufacturing is rapidly moving toward a multi-channel commerce model that integrates several channels (e.g. online, print catalogs and sales teams) into a single, unified ecosystem. Those manufacturers who achieve effective application of e-commerce in manufacturing stand to have a competitive advantage above those manufacturers stuck in a brick and mortar only world. Those leading manufacturers that look ahead will take the multi-channel concept a step further and prioritize the implementation of omni-channel commerce platforms — technologies that deliver seamless shopping and fulfillment experiences across all possible connection channels.
“At Cerasis, our carrier relations mindset is that we must advocate both Carriers and our shippers.,” says Carrier Relations and Truck Brokerage Manager, Amy Cook. "Like a ballerina, our carrier relations team must maintain a balance by advocating on behalf of our shippers all while improving the business outcomes for our carrier partners. And as shippers turn to e-commerce as a sales channel, it is vital Cerasis bridges the communication gap between shippers and carriers for ultimate success.”
Carriers are already offering technology for shippers via applications & software. Carriers are going to benefit with the increased use of technology as it allows for optimization of networks, better utilization of capacity, and more visibility, creating more profitability and fewer errors.