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Timely Ocean Transit for Retailers

As seen in the February 2011 edition of World Trade 

When it comes to transportation choices, for retailers it’s all about speed-to-market with price a close second. If a transportation provider can offer both, that’s a home run.

Averitt Express is one of several prominent LTL providers that continue to look for new opportunities further up the supply chain. The company’s LCL (less-than-container) service from Asia is one example of integrating an LCL service with an LTL network.

According to Averitt, there is a tremendous lack of consistency in transit times for LCL shipments right now. This drives up shippers’ total supply chain costs by forcing them to either retain higher safety stock levels, which increases their inventory carrying costs; resort to airfreight to recover from delays, which balloons transportation costs; or use a combination of the two.

Small- and medium-sized retailers are at a real disadvantage because many aren’t typically shipping full containers. But, with services like Averitt’s Asia-Memphis Express, it’s easier to compete with mass retailers, wholesales, and mega-manufacturing entities.

It all starts at the port or origin, where Averitt works with its partners, Vanguard and China International Freight (CIF), to ship LCL containers on a fixed schedule, rather than waiting to “build” a shipment (sometimes with freight from multiple shippers) before the container is shipped. The wait time can be two or three days for popular destinations like Atlanta and Dallas and as much as two weeks for second-tier destinations like Knoxville or Birmingham.

From there, the LCL freight is expedited at the port of entry and moves in-bond to Averitt’s Memphis service center-a certified container freight station (CFS). In Memphis, the cargo is deconsolidated and placed into Averitt’s LTL network.

All told, the Asia-Memphis Express can cut out up to 10 days from the usual LCL transit time.

Con-way Freight and APL Logistics’ OceanGuaranteed service has been around since 2006 and has maintained a 96 percent on-time delivery service throughout that time. The service provides day-definite final delivery at an average cost of 75 percent less than traditional airfreight. In addition, the relationship between APL Logistics and ocean carrier APL allows the LCL shipments to be “hot-stowed,” or put on the vessel last and taken off first upon arrival in the U.S.

Several years ago, OD Global, a division of Old Dominion Freight Line, and Hanjin Logistics, a subsidiary of ocean carrier Hanjin Shipping, launched Pacific Promise. Similar to its competitors’ services, Pacific Promise offers guaranteed transit times for attractive rates for LCL freight from Asia to the U.S. Shippers also get 30 percent money back guarantee that they’re freight will arrive on time.

UPS’ offering, Trade Direct Ocean, not only serves Asia-U.S. freight, but extends into Europe and the Americas too.

According to the company, shippers can “bypass distribution centers to reduce inventory ownership time by up to 20 days, getting goods to your customers faster.” Shippers also have access to 24-hour online shipping information. wt