Shipping lines are backed up to record-breaking levels, and retailers worldwide struggle to keep shelves fully stocked. While the Lunar New Year holidays brought about a brief respite, it is quickly fading, especially in light of the developing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. There is a growing problem in the global supply chain, and it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better.

Despite the near-perpetual congestion, global e-commerce sales are expected to grow to 21% of total sales in 2022, almost an 18% increase in market share in just two years. That growth is expected to continue to 24.5% by 2025. By the end of 2022, it’s likely that the global e-commerce market will total $5.55 trillion and will continue to grow throughout the coming years. This means more packages, more complicated logistics, and more strain on an already over-stressed supply chain.

As there is no silver bullet solution that can fix all of these troubles overnight, companies will need to look at what steps they can take to alleviate their own burdens. Inefficiencies are rust and, if left unchecked, can erode the entire supply chain. That said, there are many ways to improve supply chains. The question is, where to begin?

The answer, to a large extent, lies in the way the yard is managed. Compared to other industries, the logistics and transportation industries have been slow to embrace the new era of technology. Many large and well-established companies still rely on heavily manual processes such as spreadsheets, whiteboards, or card systems to manage their yard operations. While these systems were adequate at one point, they weren’t designed to be easily managed at higher volumes.

The problem is when yard management systems fail; it quickly starts causing problems throughout the supply chain and the last mile of the delivery. Missing trailers can result in shipping delays, which can incur customer penalties, such as Walmart’s On-Time, In-Full (OTIF) policy. Revenue is also impacted when critical inventories such as seasonal or promotional materials are lost. Additionally, every delayed trailer runs the risk of creating backlogs in the receiving docks due to a higher influx of shipments, which further complicates last-mile deliveries.

Why mastering the last mile matters

Being the touch-point between the seller and the end customer, the last mile segment has quickly grown in importance. Businesses and consumers alike have developed heightened expectations, which will continue to grow as companies like Amazon push closer to same-day deliveries. Unfortunately, the market is crowded with competitors of every stripe, which means the room for error is vanishingly small.

In the end, it comes down to the last mile, the final leg of the delivery cycle that sees the goods moved to the final intended destination. On-time delivery and delivery visibility are the two most critical aspects of final mile deliveries and significantly impact customer service. The more steps a customer has to go through to find out where their package is or the longer it’s delayed, the lower the overall customer satisfaction levels. Worse yet, the less likely the customer will be willing to do business again.

In addition to customer service, the last mile tends to be the most expensive aspect of the delivery cycle, which makes it worthy of additional scrutiny. This is especially true as spot rates continue to climb to absurd levels, given the capacity crunch within the ocean freight industry.

How a yard management solution can help with last-mile visibility

Visibility can be directly translated into the ability to know where stock is precisely at any given time and be able to convey that information to the customer. The warehouse or distribution center is often the last stop for freight before processing and shipping to the customer. The larger sites tend to have busier yards, which means more opportunities for errors and delays, directly affecting on-time deliveries for shipments

Companies that employ an advanced yard management solution will typically see an improvement in warehouse throughput upwards of 10 to 12 percent for outbound operations during peak season. This is because trailer movements are better tracked through the yard, which reduces loading delays.

This ability to track trailer movements through the yard and move them through the warehouse in a timely manner directly impacts visibility. First, loads can be scheduled more efficiently, which improves ETAs provided to customers. Driver dwell times and dock congestion is cut down drastically, allowing for a smoother, more efficient processing of trailers and freight. YMS systems can also increase the amount of data captured within supply chain operations, highlighting areas that can be improved and enabling companies to set and track better metrics for KPIs.

Simply put, the global supply chain will need all the help it can get. Increasing yard visibility can minimize delays. This improves the speed at which retailers can get items stocked while simultaneously bringing the world closer to resolving the current debacle.

About C3 Solutions

C3 Solutions is an information technology company specialized in yard management (YMS) and dock scheduling (DSS) systems. Since its founding in 2000, C3 has gained the confidence of clients worldwide and across many industries, including retail, grocery, distribution, manufacturing, and parcel post.

Headquartered in Montreal (QC), Canada, and privately owned, C3 develops, implements, and supports the most complete yard management and dock scheduling products on the market today.