Consumers, Cash and Carbon: A Challenging Balance

Last Sunday, I pulled into my neighborhood behind a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) delivery truck. It stopped at one of eight houses on my short street to deliver one package that the resident had likely ordered from Amazon. This event brought to top of mind the challenges that customer expectations are causing for companies trying to pursue sustainability initiatives. Meeting consumers’ burgeoning e-commerce demands for the products they want delivered when and where they want them requires additional inventory deployment, expensive delivery methods and inefficient shipping practices.

On any other day of the week, a USPS letter carrier makes deliveries at every house on the street, so the Sunday shipment density was reduced by 87%. To provide some analytical perspective, this scenario is the equivalent of shipping a full truckload trailer loaded with only three pallets as opposed to full capacity of twenty-six. In an age when customers want their products now, but also want companies to be environmentally friendly, what can shippers do?

Clearly, shippers have to strike a balance between service, cost and carbon footprint. The only way a company can begin to achieve this equilibrium is by having access to robust data and analytical tools. But it’s deeper than just the data. A company must have detailed understanding of its customer demand, as well as its product supply. Only then, through analysis and visualization, can companies identify supply chain waste and craft solutions to improve efficiency and achieve corporate goals. During this analysis, consider a variety of solutions, including:

  • Vendor-directed shipping
  • Corporate collaboration across supply chains
  • Third-party engagement
  • Traditional supply chain optimization

While seemingly out of scope for the operations side of the business, companies should also consider pricing incentives to influence consumer behavior. This not only helps discourage inefficient practices, but it also increases top-line revenue.

Enterprise Logistics Providers like Transportation Insight possess the tools and expertise to provide analysis and assist in implementing multi-modal solutions that support efforts to improve customer experience, profitability and corporate responsibility. As a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay® Excellence Awardee, Transportation Insight understands the importance of achieving balance between corporate responsibility and stakeholder interests, even in today’s buy it now, get it tomorrow world. You may even shorten a Sunday for a USPS driver in the process.

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