Transportation Management 2021 Outlook

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Transportation Management 2021 Outlook

Featuring Jeff Kanterman, RVP of Transportation Management at NFI

What do you think will be in store for transportation management in 2021?

Much of the supply chain disruptions that occurred over the past years were mainly due to consumer behavior, and a lot of it had to do with e-commerce and people ordering their products from their couch, from their home, as opposed to going to a retail store. But what we also saw was a drastic imbalance between manufacturing and retail, and that imbalance created a bottleneck in the transportation industry that drastically increased the cost of transportation expenses and created challenges procuring equipment. This past year, many shippers conducted bids in the early summer months to take advantage of the lower transportation costs. And what actually happened was that imbalance was created when we started to see the economy reopen in the United States and those rates became null and void at that point, creating additional challenges in budgeting and procuring transportation and in managing overall freight spend. So what we might see in 2021 are smaller bid cycles over a period of a quarter as opposed to potentially a year. In 2021, what we might see is more volatility until people are vaccinated and we see cases of COVID start to drop.

What advice would you give to shippers in 2021?

Scalability is critical. We’ve seen more volatility in the market over the last year given the global pandemic and with that volatility, a shipper needs to have flexibility with resources and additional bandwidth. Partnering with a transportation management provider that has multiple accounts and can leverage or shift resources to accommodate seasonal growth or a short-term spike in volume is critical to the success of a transportation management program.

Here are a couple of things you can do to align your supply chain for success: 

  1. Stay close to your carriers, manage those partnerships, and understand what they’re seeing in the market.
  2.  If you have a transportation management provider, leverage their industry acumen and understanding of what’s occurring.
  3.  Use data to the greatest extent, understand what has occurred historically and what type of volumes you expect to see in the future so you can properly communicate with your partners and align your networks to make shifts within your supply chain if needed.

How can a transportation management solution help shippers moving forward?

Throughout the past 12 months, we’ve seen more volatility than maybe we ever have in the history of supply chain, and it’s no secret given the global pandemic. And so shippers experienced a tremendous amount of volatility this past year and were forced to react. What transportation management can do in the future is leverage data and historic information in order to make calculated decisions and projections to allow us to appropriately align the business for the future.

Joining NFI in 2014, Jeff Kanterman oversees our transportation management division. Jeff and his team combine people, processes, and technology to help businesses enhance their supply chain networks.