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Global Payments partners with BitPay to accept Bitcoin payments

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta – Global Payments Inc. has signed a referral agreement with BitPay, a provider of business solutions for the Bitcoin digital currency. This relationship allows Global Payments to incorporate the cryptocurrency into its product suite and to offer Bitcoin payment acceptance to its worldwide merchants.

“This relationship provides us the ability to offer our merchants an integrated digital currency payment choice,” said David Mangum, president and COO for Global Payments. “We are pleased to partner with BitPay to provide next-generation payment solutions to our customers.”

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Eight Steps to Reduce “Hidden” Transportation Costs and Increase Profits

BY CSA STAFF

Nicholas Isasi, Executive Vice President, DM Transportation

As the economy continues to slowly recover, retailers, more than ever, are looking to maximize revenues while controlling costs. Increasingly, many company CFOs and logistics managers are examining an often-overlooked expense that is costing them, in many cases, tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year: inbound transportation costs.

As much as one third of a company’s total logistics expenses can be tied up in inbound transportation. Unfortunately, dealing with these costs is problematic, as they typically comprise “hidden costs” that are controlled by the vendor. When the vendor arranges and pays for the transportation – called prepaid or “delivered” transportation – the vendor sets the rates, chooses the carriers to be used and assigns the classification codes. When you, the purchaser, have little control over the delivery timing and transportation charges related to your goods, stock shortages and late deliveries can result. Additionally the cost for your transported goods can be marked up as much as 40% when vendors don’t pass on to you reduced transportation rates they have negotiated.

So – how can you reduce inbound transportation costs and achieve significant operational savings? The following eight steps will make a significant difference:

1. Audit your inbound transportation process.

Review your vendors and their shipping points of origin. Then, determine the lanes (the delivery route taken), the volume in each lane and the merchandise class being shipped.

Discuss the visibility your company requires regarding shipments and transit times in each lane with your purchasing and receiving departments. You can identify poor carrier service, inefficient routing and inbound shipment rates that are too high by conducting a lane-by-lane benchmark analysis.

Determine total annual costs for inbound transportation and calculate it as a percentage of gross sales. If possible identify accessorial charges such as fuel and additional services like lift gate and inside delivery.

2. Utilize appropriate transportation classifications for the items you ship

Every item that is shipped domestically has a National Motor Freight Classification number that directly correlates to the rate charged. The higher the classification number, the higher the transportation rate. – and these rates can vary by hundreds of dollars per shipment. Items shipped internationally have a Harmonized Tariff Code that serves a similar function. Many retailers can realize significant savings in transportation costs simply by utilizing the most appropriate transportation classifications.

3. Implement and enforce a vendor routing guide.

Routing guides are used to enforce vendor compliance. The guide itself should be short and simple – no longer than one page – and it should be included as a separate item with the purchase order. It should include proper routing instructions telling your vendors exactly which carriers to use in priority order. Clearly state the rewards for strict adherence and the consequences, such as chargebacks, when routing instructions aren’t followed. When consistently used, the guides help control costs and improve receiving efficiency.

4. Insist that transportation be clearly identified on each vendor’s invoice.

Don’t accept prepaid or added transportation. Transportation is often buried in the price you pay. This is called free freight. (Breaking out transportation costs from the cost of goods takes some work and requires honest conversations with suppliers.)

5. Track your shipments.

In-transit transportation tracking reduces the time buyers spend confirming shipments with vendors. It also helps to monitor individual carrier performance. Look for carriers that can supply such tracking methods. Also, utilize these reports to file for service failures with carriers that do not perform up to their guarantees.

6. Create a preferred carrier program that identifies strong carriers in your busiest lanes.

Such a program helps you ascertain carriers’ pick-up coverage, transit times, service facility locations, systems and technology prowess in addition to their financial stability. Preferred carrier programs help prevent the confusion of having several carriers backing up to your receiving dock.

7. Negotiate lower transportation rates.

In most cases, the fewer providers you utilize the more leverage you have to receive better transportation discounts. Negotiate with your carriers to eliminate or modify accessorial charges identified during step #1.

8. Utilize consortium rates

Many retailers benefit from consortium transportation rates – combining the purchasing power of several companies. Some of the most cost-effective consortia are among companies in a single industry – such as retailing. Single-industry-specific consortia can be more effective than other multi-company arrangements because the pricing is geared toward a single industry’s commodities (see #2 above); routing guides are easier to enforce because more companies are shipping from common vendors (#3); and core carriers are more productive and competitively priced when more freight pickups occur at common vendors (#6).
Additionally, carriers’ pricing tends to be more aggressive when bidding for multiple accounts.

One way to engage in consortium rates is through an independent third party that can gather the data, negotiate pricing with a limited number of carriers and supply the software to manage those shipments.

Taking these eight steps can help you reduce costs and improve your supply chain. Proactively managing your inbound transportation takes some effort, but with potential savings of tens of thousands of dollars or more on the line, it is worth it.

Nicholas Isasi is executive VP for DM Transportation based in Boyertown, Pa. (www.dmtrans.com). The company provides vendor inbound, drop shipment and supply-chain management services to companies in a number of industries including retail, resorts and direct marketing. Isasi has more than 20 years’ experience in carrier negotiations, supply chain management and corporate level logistics planning.


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It’s time to get personal

BY CSA STAFF

The shopping habits of today’s consumers have changed; retailers must be able to provide the product information they want through one or more of the marketing channels they may frequent — and all of those communications must be consistent with the physical in-store experience. That means new merchandising tactics are being embraced by industry leaders who are turning to digital signage to enhance the shopper experience and achieve competitive differentiation.

For many brands and retailers, the way to do this is through increased use of digital signage. Simply put, it allows retailers to create a sense of relevance and personal connection within physical retail environments by leveraging online, mobile and social capabilities, while providing a flexible format for messaging, which can be changed to showcase promotional or seasonal specials. Digital signage, literally digital communications networks employed throughout the physical store, enable retailers to create more personalized experiences, transcend physical store design limitations and connect shoppers’ channel journey.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the United Kingdom where several brand and retailer initiatives stand out as examples of digital signage done right.

Create a more personalize experience

Topman, which has 175 stores worldwide, and as a subsidiary of Topshop, offers men’s clothing exclusively, recently collaborated with YrStore to create an innovative approach to designing your own T-shirt. Within Topman’s Oxford Street store customers can design their own one-off t-shirt and have it digitally printed in-store. Located in the store are a series of interactive “touch-pods” that provide the customer with tools allowing them to select from a variety of artistic elements to create a unique shirt in only a few minutes.

Transcend physical store design limitations

There are limitations to the physical environment and those restraints tend to stifle the imagination of most retail designers. How do you create the illusion of a larger store or at the very least deliver a dynamic visual experience? Recently Adidas launched a new store concept inside the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent, U.K., that features a dynamic digital experience. The sights and sounds of a sports stadium inspired the design behind the retail store. As customers enter the store through a stadium like tunnel they are greeted by an array of football jerseys from around the world and surround sound audio of fans cheering. One of the key features of the store is the Adidas Shoebase, which is designed to help the customers find the right fit and design of a sports shoe for them. Within the space are a series of interactive display tables integrated within a bar, which allows the visitor to quickly browse Adidas apparel. The store combines the attributes of using digital signage to emphasize the visual of a sports arena and helps to deliver the ability to showcase product that the store may not have in inventory at the moment.

Connect the “channel” journey

Retailers tend to either be great at delivering an innovative on-line shopping or an unforgettable in-store experience but never both. It has always been a challenge amongst retailers to create a seamless shopping experience that leads the consumer to the store. In late 2013 Argos, a U.K.-based home and general merchandise retailer unveiled their first of six digital concept stores at Old Street in London. The store includes a 60-second Fast Track collection service for items ordered and paid for online or via mobile, a series of self-service iPads for shoppers to browse products and a series of dynamic digital displays which are used to replace static point of purchase merchandising. The store concept reinforces the premise of using digital signage to create a fast and digitally enabled shopping journey as well as creating a universally appealing environment.

Temporally mind the gap between digital experience and physical design, as it will be only a matter of time before the two are commonly combined in future stores. According to a recent study (published online via I Am OmniChannel) 73% of customers prefer personalized shopping experiences and interestingly enough most store associate have two minutes to engage a customer or half of them will leave the store. As new generations of shoppers emerge and retailers learn more about digital signage and it’s limitless impact on the store experience you will start to see more digital experiences emerge to satisfy the personal attention many consumers ask for.

Digital engagement should be memorable

Thomson, a U.K.-based holiday services agency developed a next generation store that provides a memorable customer experience by fusing together technology and design. The concept store, located in the Bluewater Shopping center in Kent welcomes their customer via an interactive map at the entrance as well as a series of interactive tables to help them research their plans. The new concept is helping to enhance the store by allowing the customer to control the planning behind their next holiday and delivering rich imagery that plays on their senses to make a decision.


Bryan Meszaros will be a panel participant at the full-day DSE ONE New York Event on October 21st during Digital Signage Week. For more information or to register for DSE ONE visit: http://www.digitalsignageexpo.net/dse-one

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