Retailers are some of the toughest customers. Consider Rite Aid: It owns thousands of retail stores — many in urban areas with small parking lots. None have loading docks or shipping/receiving personnel.
In that environment, AAI Foster Grant promised to deliver 200-pound eyeglass displays on a freight-paid basis to 2,500 Rite Aid stores from Maine to Florida and west to the Mississippi.
That kind of deal isn't unusual for the company, says Chester Luperchio, transportation and operations manager at AAI Foster Grant. But the size of the challenge was — which is why Luperchio says he sought help from Roadway Express.
Challenge: The right equipment His biggest concern was that each display needed to be delivered in a liftgate trailer.
"It was a heavy display; it could not be dropped off the back of the trailer. It had to come down safely and slowly to ground level," Luperchio says. "We had to have 10 to 15 trailers with liftgates available to us daily in multiple cities...."
That requirement would make it impossible for most carriers to handle the project, he says. "Roadway has more liftgate trailers than other carriers I've used in the past," says Luperchio, who had worked with Roadway Express previously, but never in his position at Foster Grant.
Complex planning "We had to have a carrier that could service everywhere east of the Mississippi," he adds. After that, he sought to minimize freight transfers to manage cost, time and risk.
Bill Mitchell, manager of engineering services at Roadway Express, says his team ran what-ifs through the carrier's distribution modeling system to accomplish those goals. "When you can reduce the handlings, you reduce the chance for breakage," Mitchell says. "And by running direct shipments over shorter miles, we have more flexibility and better driver utilization."
In an extra effort to trim cost, Foster Grant took responsibility for loading the trailers, simply referring to Roadway's load plan for directions. "We put together shipments that would go directly to terminals from our manufacturing site on Rhode Island," Luperchio says. "We supplied the Rite Aid delivery points and Roadway told us which stores would receive deliveries from which of their terminals. Say we had orders going to 25 stores in Chattanooga and they had one liftgate truck per terminal; Roadway would know what day the liftgate trailer was available for each store and how many deliveries they could make each day."
"It was a heavy display; it could not be dropped off the back of the trailer. It had to come down safely and slowly to ground level."
The plan involved 200 terminals, with direct loads being organized to trim breakbulk transfer costs. The plan also allowed for trailers to run outside of regular routes - reducing miles and linehaul costs. A shipment from Roadway's Providence, RI, terminal, for example, went directly to Portland, ME, instead of the normal route through a Pennsylvania consolidation terminal.
In the end, 82% of shipments went directly from Foster Grant to the end-oftheline terminal with no intermediate transfers; 16% moved with one transfer and only 2% required two transfers.
Challenge: By appointment only
Before a truck could pull up, it needed an appointment so the store manager could staff-up appropriately. The displays were then assembled by Foster Grant customer service reps - who also needed to be in on the scheduling process.
Luperchio had Roadway Express handle the scheduling process, and generate bills of lading from spreadsheets provided by Foster Grant.
"We could monitor shipments through Roadway's web service," Luperchio says. "We could find out exactly where a delivery was and get proof of delivery. A store might think they didn't receive an order, but we could tell them what day, the time and who signed for it.
"Roadway offered us the network coverage, liftgate service and the best price," Luperchio says. "In the end, our customer was very happy. We were happy."