This week I want to pose a question: what would happen if the growing ranks of regional parcel shipping carriers worked more closely? How would your life as a shipper be changed?
There has been a lot of information in the press recently around the topic of collaboration between both regional carriers and their peers and those same carriers and forward-thinking shippers. The goals are pretty obvious: greater reach means greater leverage, and if each component of the network is optimized then it stands to reason that the whole will be as well. With optimization comes cost advantage, and suddenly you’ve got a winning parcel shipping formula.
This topic keeps popping back up: when does competition not benefit the purchaser of needed services? History is filled with examples of smaller, more agile providers coming into a market to challenge established leaders, sometimes banding together, almost always changing the future model for the better.
As a provider of parcel shipping and transportation management software we, ourselves, have had a hand in that sort of model, but here I’m talking about something more fundamental to the life blood of the supply chain, the movement of goods from vendor to warehouse to customer or consumer. We know and love our major parcel carriers. We enjoy keeping up with their programs and policy changes, we look forward with anticipation the new year’s pricing model changes, and for those of us in the software biz, the compliance changes that send us all scrambling to keep you shipping.
But I’m not tossing stones here. Parcel shipping carriers do a good job and we’d be sunk without them — but I do wonder about whether there are alternate models that can provide more flexibility and quicker responsiveness to economic, trade compliance, and market changes. Models that can offer more creative solutions, models that encourage innovation.
Many regional carriers are bent on making and keeping their own niches, and more interestingly, growing those niches to include more geographies, more services, more customer benefits. It’s hard to imagine that in an free market, the buying public wouldn’t be fans of seeing these worthy but limited competitors coming together to create a more flexible model. That would drive innovation everywhere, don’t you think?