Are there any Leftovers

We are in peak season, and the logistics provider can attest – Late nights, chasing down the few questions from customers, and ensuring they are providing the best customer service. According to NRF, an estimated 166.3 million people in the US will shop between Thanksgiving and Monday (Cyber Monday). That is across all channels and considering the US population is about 331 million people, that is an impressive number over 4 days. This means we are at prime peak season.

Many of the retailers had discounts deeper than last year to ensure to pull folks into the Thanksgiving weekend shopping window. As of Sunday 11/27, online spending reached $9.12 billion this year which is up 2.3% increase over last year and sops the $9 billion spent in 2020. While many are bracing for a recession based on the deep discounts it seems the holiday shopping season has started phenomenally. Online buying has been further enhanced by the buy now pay over time option that almost all online retailers are now utilizing. 

In-person, shopping has been affected. The deep discounts in the stores are not driving traffic. Many believed that there would be a new vigor for in-person Black Friday antics. However, it is not the case, analysts stated there was brisk traffic and that may be the ongoing trend this year with online activity being more the norm – especially with cyber-Monday still to come. I think there has been a permeant shift in US buying behaviors and the person will continue to be the loser with the trends in place. 

All this online purchasing will mean impacts on small parcel delivery. In many areas of the country, the last mile is coming under increased pressure. Today last mile is about 53% of the delivery costs. And customers are becoming increasingly worried about their packages and getting them into their hands. UPS and FedEx are allowing, buying, or partnering with Gig workers to help alleviate the costs and customer issues of the last mile delivery. These issues range from deliveries being stolen to their items just not showing up. In many ways the customer journey can be most impacted by a poor delivery experience – we will need to see how 2022 stacks up to the issues in 2021. 

The Christmas season seems to be off to a good start. But we have a lot of headwinds with inflation, a possible recession, China’s covid impacts, and the war in Ukraine. As of this blog being written, I am confident that e-commerce will be beating expectations let’s make sure your customer’s packages get there on time.

Remember to be Thankful

It is Thanksgiving here in the US, and in my opinion, the best holiday in the US. I love it because it is the truest American holiday. After all, it is celebrated regardless of where you are from, your religion, or even your political affiliation. It is about your family and friends looking backward and giving thanks for what has transpired this year. We at SmartKargo have a lot to be thankful for in 2022.

My first thought is around our culture – We are a global company with clients on five continents. We speak over a dozen languages with the best teams. This mix of customers’ languages and geographic distribution helps unpin the key parts of our culture which quite simply is you need to be “nice.” In today’s world being nice may not often be considered a “positive” attribute. However, our founders believe it is paramount to our success. Our empathy for our customers, our respect for our teammates, and our reverence for our local communities feed our culture. In my two years here, I am amazed at how nice we are, every day, from the CEO to the newest hired college teammate – it is how we operate.

We are thankful for the amazing customers. We have several customers coming on board this year, whether it’s for a better cargo platform or e-commerce and small package delivery. We know our customers are looking to transform their companies, innovate to drive better margins, and create new revenue streams. We have had many customers extend their relationship with us and that is the greatest vote of confidence in our culture and expertise. Moreover, we have worked with a customer to create a new product that extends global e-commerce shipping internationally.

I am very thankful for my teammates. We have a global team that is always there to help and make sure we have shared success. Our technology team is innovative and always pushing to build their skills and wow our customers. Our support functions like Finance, HR, and Operations are dedicated experts making sure we operate at the highest efficiency level.

Finally, we are thankful for our partners. From our technology partners to our delivery partners, we have solid integrations into the commerce ecosystem. We are so glad to work with so many companies dedicated to innovation and transforming the Air Cargo and Logistics market, numerous of who share many of our cultural attributes.

We should always take a break and look at what we need to be thankful for, and I am thankful for my two years here at SmartKargo. I am a foodie & as an American, I look forward to my turkey, mashed potatoes, and mushroom but being of Polish descent I also enjoy my Kielbasa, Czernina, and Gołąbki for dinner. I hope all of you enjoy a day of thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

All I want for Christmas is Assessorial fees

When I was young this is about the time of year, I created my Christmas list and like most kids made sure I was being a very good boy to ensure I optimized my gift count! I did not want coal in my stockings. But coal is exactly what many small package shippers are getting this year.

Now I am grown up and working in the logistics field – this changed my Christmas list-making. Today, I give more gifts than receive and after approximately 20 years at UPS, I know what it takes to get packages from one city to another. During my time at UPS, there were consistent but unwritten rules. One was the 4.9% rule – This meant every year General Rate Increase (GRI) was 4.9%. I knew it, my customers knew it, and believe it or not the competitors knew this as well. The other was fees. There are fees for fuel surcharges, residential and so many others.

I knew my customers needed a different approach that was focused on ensuring fast 2-day time and transit while providing customer service and ensuring small package shippers are focused on their customers not the rates from the large established delivery partners. It was amazing to me that customers just accepted the 4.9% yearly increase. But that changed; in 2022 it went to 5.9% and in 2023 it will be an increase in GRI of 6.9%. I guess some rules were meant to be broken.  

Breaking the rules or the status quo is why I am here at SmartKargo. I believe that there should be an agreement on a price that price. All the assessorial fees mean that a price is not really, the final price. Many of the main delivery partners let the assessorial fees drive their margins and to add additional complexities, they may spring the changes on a customer with only a few days before they are life. It is impossible to plan and ensure SVPs, VPs, and Directors of logistics can be within their budget. Moreover, if you pass these fees onto your customers, it impacts sales or at least margins. I know all these logistics leaders are focused on cost but also on being the strategic last part of the customer journey.

I work at SmartKargo because it is an ‘Alternative Delivery Network.’ What is that? Well, it means we do everything the big guys do but with advantageous pricing and 2-day time and transit across the United States. We do not have a list of assessorial fees that we publish or use as “Levers” to drive more revenue. We want to help you meet your SLAs. Be within budget and make 2-day delivery a reality across the US. A bonus for me is we are also sustainable. Because we use an airline partner we are using “belly space” on passenger airlines. With over 800 flights a day, these passenger planes fly no matter what, and using this space does not increase fuel consumption and optimizes the flight for its carbon impact. 

When you look at Uber, Airbnb, and other innovative companies they saw an opportunity to upset the status quo. That is exactly what we are doing here. Let’s disrupt the status quo together.

The Right Choices make the Best Foundations

What makes SmartKargo unique is it was born in the cloud using Microsoft Azure and all the Microsoft capabilities. This may sound like an easy decision today but when SmartKargo initially began there were still client server and legacy systems with a thin veneer of front-end usability for the Air Cargo industry. However, there was no flexibility nor speed for development and deployment. So, the founders of SmartKargo decided to build from the ground up as a cloud solution by leveraging Microsoft Azure. Our product was envisioned, designed, and built on the cloud and inherently leverage all aspects of the modern-day holistic, seamless, and secure cloud infrastructure provided by Microsoft.

We have seen tremendous growth over the last few years and there are two main factors to our success in the Air cargo and small package delivery market. First, we have expertise in all facets of Air Cargo and Small Package Delivery, ranging from Sales, Marketing, Operations, International shipping, and Technology. Technology leads us to the second factor which is our platform. It is flexible enough to wrapper around existing systems and extends all the new products and revenue-enhancing solutions we have in the cloud like eCommerce and Portal.

Microsoft Azure provides SmartKargo and our customers with an ever-expanding set of cloud computing services to meet their business challenges, including the freedom to build, manage, and deploy applications on a massive, global network using select tools and frameworks. The platform empowers our customers to operate hybrid, with an EDI-enabled solution providing seamless visibility between partners—managing environments with tools, apps, and services.

Continuous innovation from Microsoft supports our vision and our customers’ requirements for development today—and supports our product visions for tomorrow by enabling innovation anywhere, across on-premises, multi-cloud, and edge environments, On-premises, in the cloud, and at the edge. We can go anywhere we need around the globe to support global commerce through the air.

We can connect, communicate, and evolve our solutions constantly. We easily connect to the Air Cargo and Small Parcel ecosystem with the Microsoft Azure stack. And this is not a technical proof point but a solution that drives revenue for airlines.