Supply Chain Expertise and Technology Blog by TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson

Three Reasons Why Presetting Delivery Appointments Can Deliver Big Efficiencies


It may not seem like an important link in your supply chain, but an ineffective freight delivery appointment process – or lack thereof – causes problems on multiple fronts. That’s why it deserves your attention.

More specifically, by developing an effective solution you can increase visibility, improve load planning, raise service standards, and make the carrier’s job a little easier.

Not a bad return for fixing what is widely regarded as a relatively mundane process.

The reality is that this process has a lot of moving parts including shippers, receivers, carriers, and customer service representatives. Moreover, these parties may or may not be in touch with each other. As a result, the failure of one or more of them to engage properly can throw your whole delivery process out of synch.

It’s not difficult to imagine the potential consequences. In the absence of a reliable, clearly defined process for presetting exact times and dates for receiving freight at the customer’s site, late or missed deliveries can quickly accumulate and undermine the performance of your freight network.

Here are three reasons why you should invest in efficient appointments management.

1.  How can you set a solid baseline without concrete on-time data? It is almost impossible to establish an accurate baseline for on-time performance without full visibility into the appointment process. Relying only on self-reporting by carriers to measure on time performance and compliance rates has obvious downsides.

2.  Analyzing costs is hit-and-miss when you are working in the dark. In order to understand the sources of cost in the delivery process, you must know the dates and times of deliveries and how often these appointments are being re-scheduled. Without this information it can be difficult to pinpoint the reasons for incurring accessorial charges and late fees associated with particular destinations, for example.

3. Service standards slip when the causes of unreliable deliveries are not identified and tackled. Appointment problems are part of the logistics terrain; perhaps a carrier is unable to meet certain times or there are flaws in the way a shipper is communicating the information. Issues like these need to be addressed, but coming up with solutions is not easy if an effective preset delivery appointment process is not in place. The net result is that service standards fall.

A preset delivery appointment process both clarifies and rationalizes the communications between shippers, carriers and consignees, and defines what information needs to be relayed to which parties. (See Figure 1).

Preset Appointment Process

Importantly, such a process yields a number of significant logistics benefits:

  • improved on-time performance
  • more meaningful analyses of the root causes of cost
  • better reporting that facilitates continuous improvement
  • increased satisfaction across the supply chain.

Managing freight delivery appointments is not one of those cutting edge processes that command a lot of attention within freight circles. But this low profile makes it easy to underestimate the importance of the process – and to leave valuable benefits on the table.