Companies utilise a range of products and services to support and grow their business. At first glance, this might seem straight forward but each one will have specific features and characteristics. When resources are limited it is not always possible to have the time or expertise to be aware of them all.
This is the first in a series of insights into different products and services (Commodities), to help you understand them in a little more detail, to obtain good value for money and the level of quality you require.
- Obtain good data. You should have 12 months of historical itemised data. This should have the detail of each shipment, including the number of pallets, weight, destination, service level, and a breakdown of all costs
- Understand if you are using Euro or Standard UK pallets. They have different dimensions and can incur different rates
- Compare and contrast transit times especially to European destinations. Ensure they meet your requirements and that all suppliers are quoting the same.
- Make yourself aware of all potential surcharges and how to avoid them
- Can the supplier deliver to specific time slots and do they charge for any waiting time that they might incur?
- Determine if your product allows you to stack one pallet on top of another. This allows the supplier to carry more per load and should be reflected in the rates you incur
- Know the time when you need your freight to be collected by and make sure the supplier can provide this and still meet your service level requirements.
- Make sure that return shipments are provided at the same rate as outbound shipments. Some suppliers will charge extra for shipments back to your premises.
- Do you require a trailer to be left on-site for you to load and if so can the supplier provide this for you?
- Are there any vehicle restrictions not only at your site but also at your customer’s location? Make sure the correct vehicle is used and delivery can take place.
- Insist that the rates take provide discounts for multi-pallet shipments to the same destination.
- Ask for details of the supplier’s contingency plans if they use the Channel Tunnel for European destinations. How will then ensure delivery if the Tunnel is closed?
- Are you going to be able to track your shipments and how quickly will you be able to access proof of delivery?
- Ensure the supplier provides the contact details for their customer services, including any out of hours.
- Be aware of the insurance cover that is part of the standard terms and conditions. Does the supplier provide the option to purchase extra cover?
- Please understand if you are going to require any computer hardware and if the supplier is going to provide it. In most cases, the management system is web-based but just make sure.
- Will the management system be able to provide the level of information and reports that you are going to require?
- Be clear in what you require in terms of service level. What criteria is going to be used and how it is going to be measured? Obtain written confirmation the supplier can meet your requirements and agree on a compensation package should they fail to achieve it.
- Obtain details of your supplier’s internal structure together with an agreed escalation procedure to ensure any problems are resolved quickly and effectively.
While this has covered the usual points, every company’s requirements are different so while we hope these prove to be helpful it’s obviously not possible to cover all contingencies.