The pandemic unleashed seismic shifts in customer demands. When these changes hit, two of our customer’s largest national clients required a new way to deliver customer satisfaction. Forward was up to the challenge.
A large National Strategic Account (NSA) was asked to increase its value, speed, and visibility by its largest customers, two of the nation’s largest retailers. When COVID-19 hit the U.S., everything changed. But the demands didn’t. Instead, demands were heightened and accelerated.
With the two retailers housing essential goods in stores, the model shifted to higher velocity home deliveries. Shipment velocity exponentially increased overnight as families across America prepared for the unknown. More shipments, new purchasing trends, altered freight-flow patterns, new commodities, and amplified demands from consumers ensued.
Our NSA reacted quickly and partnered with us right from the beginning. We strategically brainstormed goals before creating our solution. The goals were to:
- Limit all exposure to transit delays.
- Eliminate any visibility gaps in the chain of custody.
- Minimize any unforeseen costs.
- Provide two of the biggest retailers in the world with the ‘easy button’.
- Do it flawlessly. Limit touchpoints in the supply chain to maintain consistent quality handling through SOP’s.
The solution needed to be collaborative and was inherently risky because the evolved ‘ecommerce giant’ could change flow patterns at a moment’s notice—based on what consumers thought were essential to their homes.
It significantly impacted Forward’s patterns as many non-essential businesses were closed. This uncertainty meant additional shipping costs could pop up at any time and certain commodities arriving in one region of the U.S. might have to be redirected to another region with little notice due to state COVID reaction plans.
We continued to follow our transit and put them steps ahead of top ecommerce competitors. By sending us dimensions, freight characteristics, and weights through API, we could load-plan throughout the day knowing what’s coming. Furthermore, we developed a shared label barcode that our scanners recognized, but also was unique for each customer. Once scanned, it communicated a variety of details about the shipment pertinent to that party.
This also meant if flow patterns halted or exploded, we could read labels with our scanner at the shippers’ location, our customer's location, or our location. Our cross-dock model could take many loads of freight at any given time and load them out immediately for shipping. With a universal barcode label, we could also quickly establish POD communication and send it to all parties simultaneously. As a safety and security measure, once accepted on our dock, it was tied directly to our security surveillance system at all locations networkwide. It was important since orders for personal electronics and higher-value goods were also rising among consumers.
We enhanced our API connectivity to final mile home deliveries. We were able to quickly turn on no-signature-required service for deliveries and automate appointment updates and promotions for our customer. This data is fed directly to them instantaneously. Our shared label, rapid-tender loading process, and automated appointment notification really catapulted our customer to the top.
To strengthen and support our fluid delivery service, we were able to virtually consolidate shipments promoted with a delivery so our customer could gain the benefit of higher volume weight discounts without physically consolidating freight on their dock space throughout the day. When dock space and labor were being curtailed during COVID, our solution saved on costs by creating labor efficiencies.
Forward’s ecommerce solution delivered expedited service to homes, damage-free goods delivered, accurate status updates, and efficiencies. When most were scaling back on real estate, labor, and headcount, we were scaling up for our customer virtually.
Year over year this customer grew over 30% and we enabled delivery service on more than 70% of their total linehaul business this year—an increase of over 40% on their delivery service with Forward. This NSA moved from number 4 to our number 2 customer within months of deploying our mutual solution.
They were able to scale resources to effectively bring a positive customer experience to the two retailers while our gained efficiencies gave them time back to focus on their customer. Focusing on the customer and not the chaos is invaluable.
The appointment promotions created significant back-office savings and the shared label eliminated their labor from the equation by removing the need for additional labels to be applied.
With an increased demand for delivery services, we mitigated costs by using our drivers and building efficient routes days before the arrival of freight. From acceptance to final delivery, our quality protocols never wavered. Known for precision execution service, Forward delivered on that expectation—one provider, fast service, superior handling, and seamless visibility.
It was true cost savings. The single-source carrier was scalable, flexible, and cost-effective for our NSA. Forward continues to manage a high velocity of shipments across our docks. We’re now taking strategic steps to enable more growth with Intermodal and Truckload services with this customer. We will also ‘rinse and repeat’ the ecommerce solution and retrofit much of what we learned for more success stories.