Over the past couple of years, parcel shippers have watched delivery costs proliferate, forcing them to consider the benefits of diversifying parcel carriers and “take some of their eggs out of FedEx and UPS baskets,” as FreightWaves’ Mark Solomon pointed out in December. However, as demand intensifies in the parcel carrier space, shippers are struggling to find clarity as they evaluate their options.
“There’s some smoke and mirrors out there, meaning there are carrier options that truly aren’t viable, fully baked or right for the shippers’ needs,” said Jaris Briski, SVP at ACI Logistix. “A critical priority at ACI Logistix is to help direct-to-consumer shippers sort through these options. We don’t want any shipper to waste their or their consumers’ time.”
While major parcel carriers offer a one-size-fits-all service under the guise of simplification, ACI Logistix applies a consultative approach for its mid- to high-volume retail, e-commerce and third-party logistics customers. For those clients seeking speed, savings and an enhanced overall consumer experience, ACI encourages the idea of work sharing.
“Work sharing is not just for heavy-volume shippers. Advancements in technology and operational sophistication level the playing field and unlock a myriad of ways to benefit from deeper levels of integration,” said Kevin Collins, president of ACI Logistix. “Whether from one distribution or fulfillment center or 20, we work closely with our clients to find ways to streamline.”
This approach allows ACI to understand what motivates customers beyond the lowest price. Presented with a menu of options, customers can determine to what degree they would like to participate in the cost and speed equation. Now that carrier diversification is the new normal, parcel shippers are constantly seeking new ways to innovate.
“Most carriers dissuade work sharing, viewing it as both difficult to support and a path to margin erosion,” said Briski. “We view it differently; offering our clients an array of collaboration options means achieving the ultimate goal: a better consumer experience.”
In fact, ACI has a work-sharing partnership with the U.S. Postal Service and is one of its largest sources of parcel volume. This provides ACI an advantageous price combined with the fastest and most comprehensive final-mile delivery option in the U.S. today. ACI is applying that same concept upstream with great results.
ACI injects parcels only at the deepest level of the Postal Service network — the most local post office to the consumer or the delivery destination unit — which bypasses upstream infrastructure and potential clogging in the postal network. ACI’s proprietary process creates an end-to-end service that competes with UPS, FedEx and top-tier regional carriers in speed, expense and consumer visibility.
“Not only are we inserting at the point where we get the lowest landed rate from the USPS, we optimize the injection process to ensure the fastest final-mile transit possible,” said Briski. “So that drives our whole economic model back to the customer, allowing us to give them the dual benefit of the lowest cost and fastest final-mile delivery.”
ACI’s business continues to surge. To ensure ample, long-term capacity, it recently invested in four new large-scale hub facilities, sortation automation and a variety of infrastructure enhancements.
“It is possible to be both fast and economical. We have proven that,” said Collins. “Brands want an edge to maximize consumer loyalty and we find they are blown away once they realize how easy it is and how far a little up-front effort can go in gaining that edge.”