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inbound freight

A Shipper’s Guide to Inbound Freight Logistics

Nathan McGuire
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June 8, 2023
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A Shipper’s Guide to Inbound Freight Logistics
Table of Contents

North American consumers expect their favorite products to be on the store's shelves by the time they arrive to shop. Most people who casually stroll down supermarket aisles don’t stop and think about the immense coordination and careful planning that is needed to get retail goods like Canadian whisky or Mexican candies to the store in the first place. Even less time is spent thinking about how shippers procure the raw materials needed to manufacture, package, store, and transport those goods. This process, known as inbound logistics, is equally vital to a shipper’s overall supply chain. Commodity sourcing ensures that shippers keep their manufacturing and distribution facilities fully stocked with the materials needed to continue elaborating the goods they sell.

This article takes a closer look at inbound logistics. It offers a helpful guide for shipping managers to make informed decisions on what to look for when partnering with a transportation service provider to help manage their supply chain.

Unraveling the Complexities Surrounding Inbound Logistics

Inbound logistics is a complicated business. It requires demand planning, raw material procurement, inventory analysis, inventory optimization, sufficient warehouse space and fulfillment, route optimization, detailed record keeping, and full-scale over-the-road transportation service options. Most shippers don’t have the time, energy, or budget to purchase and maintain a fleet of trucks and equipment to vertically integrate transportation into their supply chain. Instead, most companies look to partner with a transportation service specializing in inbound logistics management across various industries.

Demand Planning

Anticipating customer demand means making sure your company has an adequate supply of stock available to fulfill PO orders for their customers. Shipping managers must consider their inventory levels for all the raw materials used in the elaboration of their products. They also must anticipate seasonal market fluctuations in the North American logistics industry and the uncertainties within the U.S. economy. These factors must be considered within demand planning to avoid possible supply chain disruptions and prioritize customer satisfaction.

Material Procurement

Every ingredient and raw material needed to manufacture, label, and package a product requires inbound logistics. Depending on the industry, current economic conditions, and the physical location of the shipper, inbound logistics managers consider the costs and time needed to procure supplies for their company. Shipping managers may source materials locally when they are readily available or procure materials from domestic or international suppliers. It’s important to partner with a service provider that offers a full range of transportation and supply chain solutions.

Inventory Analysis and Warehousing Services

A properly managed inventory ensures that your company has sufficient stock to meet consumer demands. Shipping managers must carefully balance between having too much or too little inventory. Both lead to a loss of profits: too much product means higher storage and warehousing fees, and not enough product means a loss of potential sales revenues. Wicker Park Logistics helps shipping managers ensure their inventory remains properly stocked year-round through various distribution and warehousing services tailored specifically to their customers' unique operational requirements. With Wicker Park Logistics, customers get access to the latest technology that helps shippers get more control over their inbound logistics.

Centralized Data and Record Keeping

Most shippers rely on outdated methods of internal data collection that are manually computed into company spreadsheets or a transportation management system (TMS). Most companies employ a team of operations reps that manage certain customer accounts. When a load is assigned to a carrier, all load notifications, drive information, and shipment paperwork like bills of lading (BOLs) are stored in bloated email servers. Shippers who use Wicker Park Logistics get access to a fully-customizable API-connected TMS and a digital portal that centralizes all load information into an easy-to-use interface. The advantage, of course, is that every load shipped from your company can be searched via load number or BOL. This gives shipping managers more transparency over their supply chain and more organization.

Transportation Solutions

Inbound logistics requires flexibility from your transportation service provider. Customer demand can fluctuate depending on the time of year. Being able to source raw materials quickly and as efficiently as possible means that your carrier must offer a range of value-added services to meet your company’s goals and expectations. Whether you need to pull a single pallet from a truck and ship it LTL in a sprinter van overnight, source a truck immediately to recover a spot load, or source a dedicated solution to support and fulfill an increased volume of orders, make sure your provider can cover everything you need.

On-Demand Capacity

One unique advantage customers find when working with Wicker Park Logistics is the ability to count on WPL to source quality capacity when customers need it most. Wicker Park Logistics offers North American customers guaranteed on-demand capacity sourcing in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. With dedicated capacity for all domestic and cross-border shipments, Wicker Park Logistics connects shippers with an extensive network of carefully vetted carriers. Shipping managers can use the customer portal to get instant rate quotes for spot loads and contracted rate pricing. 

Real-Time Visibility on All Shipments

No matter what material your company is sourcing for your inbound logistics, shipping managers need transparency over their supply chain to make sure trucks arrive on time to replenish inventories. Supply chain visibility remains one of the biggest challenges shippers face with their daily operations. Poor communication leads to missed pickup and delivery appointments, detention fees, and potential supply chain disruptions. Wicker Park Logistics provides customers with real-time visibility on all domestic and cross-border shipments, along with unprecedented transparency throughout their supply chain.

The Benefits of Inbound Freight Management Solutions

There are several key advantages that shipping managers gain when they partner with a service provider that specializes in inbound logistics. Wicker Park Logistics, for example, has a team of logistics experts and data analysts that use the latest technologies to provide customers with:

  • Route optimization
  • Inventory management & tracking software
  • Improved KPIs for on-time and in-full deliveries
  • Lower risk of insurance claims due to damages
  • Automated load notifications
  • Streamlined communication
  • Enhanced levels of customer satisfaction

Let Wicker Park Logistics Help Manage Your Inbound Logistics

Optimizing your company’s inbound logistics can help lower yearly transportation costs, improve on-time deliveries, and reduce the time and energy spent on tasks that require manual data entry. That’s why North American shippers trust Wicker Park Logistics to help manage their inbound logistics. Its friendly team of logistics specialists and pricing analysts offers practical solutions to resolve some of the nagging problems shippers face when fulfilling their supply chains. Wicker Park Logistics’ technology gives customers total transparency over their inbound logistics management, allowing shipping managers to run customizable reports to ensure their supply chains are optimized and running smoothly. Connect with an expert at Wicker Park Logistics today!

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