If Covid-19 and our highly-stressed supply chain in North America has taught us anything, it is that we must continuously adapt and change. When so many factors are out of our control, the best we can do is focus on what we can control. What worked to move goods from Point A to Point B pre-COVID-19 may simply not work today. Or best case, it may not work nearly as well as we would like.

It is bad enough that transportation costs are through the roof and showing no signs of near-term abatement. Couple that with a real scarcity of drivers and trucks, and those who ship freight are facing the perfect storm. OK, the perfectly bad storm may be a more-appropriate description!

One effective strategy to deal with surging costs and tight capacity is forward-deployed inventory using one or more regional warehouses. Rather than shipping goods from your large distribution center in Los Angeles to your customers in the Southeast, for example, stage the freight at a conveniently-located forward-based warehouse in Atlanta. Do likewise for your customers in the Northeast, Midwest, etc. We see Amazon.com and other major retailers aggressively turning to this strategy to ensure they can provide same-say, next-day, and 2-day service to as many customers as possible.

This strategy works well with a multitude of inventory types, from palletized freight destined for retail sales that readily moves on vans to building supplies on over-sized skids that may require flatbeds for delivery and specialized loading equipment. The key is finding a regional warehouse and fulfillment provider with the capacity and expertise to handle your needs.


Benefits of Forward-Deployed Inventory:

· Reduce transit times upwards of 1-3 days to your customers
· Provide your customers multiple channels for fulfillment
· Provide more of your customers with next-day delivery
· Reduce transportation costs by pooling smaller orders into truckloads
· Provide local and regional customers with a will-call option
· Place your fastest-moving goods closer to your customers
· Place difficult-to-move goods closer to your customers
· Improve returns management
· Improve management of regional customer differences