There’s not a lot of forward planning in the wine and beer distribution industries, where 11th-hour phone calls to “deliver glass bottles to a location in Los Angeles tomorrow morning” is a commonly-heard request at Glass Bottles and Co. A maker of glass bottle and packaging, the company knows that storage space is at a premium for its customers, who simply can’t afford to hold large product inventories.
That puts a lot of pressure on Glass Bottles and Co., which used to rely on Excel spreadsheets to tender freight. “We’d just insert some information into the spreadsheet, send it out to the carriers, cross our fingers, and hope that they’d accept the load,” says their logistics manager. Ready for a change, the company decided to test out the Convoy digital freight marketplace platform about two months ago and it hasn’t looked back since.
“Using a digital freight marketplace has really made our lives super easy where we can kind of set it, forget it, and move onto other things,” says the logistics manager, who initially explored this option as a way to save transportation costs. For example, because no one was checking invoices to make sure the “actuals” matched with the “negotiated rates,” the company would often find itself paying more than it intended for specific loads.
“No one was minding the gate,” says the logistics manager. “When our new VP of operations saw this glaring hole, we saw a digital freight marketplace as a good solution.” The platform has also helped Glass Bottles and Co. whittle down the number of carriers that it has to contact to get its loads tendered. Previously, it worked with four main asset-based carriers plus a selection of broker-based options that it used on an as-needed basis.
If a customer needed product shipped to Arkansas, for example, the logistics manager would shop around and try to find the best carrier—a task that’s not always easy to do in a market characterized by capacity crunches, driver shortages, and weather-related obstacles. “It was kind of a free-for-all,” says the logistics manager, who today can simply fill in a template and then let Convoy’s platform take over and do the work of securing carriers. “It seeks out trucks that fit our needs specifically,” he says, “and that are in our area, thus reducing the amount of travel of deadhead miles that the carrier is logging.”
This, in turn, helps to reduce the miles that truck drivers travel across the country (40% of which are deadhead miles). For every 1% improvement in truck routes and utilization, digital freight matching is helping to save nearly 400 million gallons of fuel from being consumed, 100 million hours from being wasted, and 3 billion miles from being driven each year.
In terms of its targeted cost reductions, Glass Bottles and Co. has been able to save money while also improving its customer service levels, and all without having to add headcount or invest in any high-end technology systems. “It takes a lot of weight off my shoulders as a logistics coordinator, and my customer service team doesn’t have to worry about whether a shipment is going to arrive on time,” says the logistics manager. “That’s a great thing to have on our side.”
“Using a digital freight marketplace, my CSRs are actually pumping out more orders. So far this year (January, February, and March), our company has had record-setting sales months, and that’s due to a number of different factors. However, the fact that my customer service team can service our customers and our sales reps with more time and in a less frantic, “I’ve got to keep an eyeball on the truck,” approach has allowed us to be a little more versatile and provide a level of service that our competitors can’t.” – Logistics Manager, Glass Bottles and Co.
We partnered with a customer to develop this story for publication to share insights and ideas with the industry but the names of the company and people have been changed to respect their privacy.