Inbound Shipping: 4 Easy Ways to Keep Your Costs Down

With more freight being shipped than there are drivers on the road, taking steps to ensure your business is effectively managing its supply chain is as important as ever. And as you assess the overall health of your supply chain, keep these four money-saving tips in mind, courtesy the shipping pros at Ascent Global Logistics.

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    1. Understand shipping instructions and payment responsibility.

    Before you create a purchase order, ensure that all instructions and payment responsibility have been negotiated and submitted. This will help your company avoid any excess costs and inefficiencies that might crop up because of miscommunication.

    2. Take control of inbound freight charge.

    Generally speaking, you’ll want to have control over shipping, handling and processing fees because the party responsible for freight charges has control over your shipment’s route. Some vendors have identified freight control as an additional stream of revenue, which means you might pay above a fair market rate for that service. But if you partner with a 3PL—such as Ascent Global Logistics—you can take control of inbound freight by creating vendor compliance programs and providing technology to ensure the best rate, route and mode.

    3. Don’t use “Best Way” as a shipping instruction.

    Economy, delivery time, risk of damage: There are a lot of variables that go into shipping freight. The “best way” might be least expensive, but it doesn’t mean it is the best value when it comes to the delivery of your freight on time and intact.

    4. Plan ahead.

    Placing shipments with plenty of load time will you help save both time and money. High traffic, weather and breakdowns can create havoc on your shipments and prove costly, especially when everyone is trying to ship at the end of the month.

    How can I leverage these tips to improve my own supply chain?

    Ascent Global Logistics is happy to answer any further questions you might have about how to manage inbound freight costs. Contact Ascent Global Logistics to leverage these tips to improve your supply chain. 

    Check out Ascent Global Logistics’ 4 Tips for Controlling Your Inbound Freight Costs, and their eBook titled Inbound Shipping 101: The Secret to Saving Money for more on how a properly managed inbound shipping program can help you save.

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    Next up: Innovation, Security, Disruption Key Themes at CIO Symposium
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  • Innovation, Security, Disruption Key Themes at CIO Symposium

    Innovation, security and disruption took center stage during the opening session of the OHTec CIO Symposium last week, which brought together about 200 top tech leaders from around Northeast Ohio. The OHTec CIO Symposium was a full-day conference with four focused, intense breakout sessions and four, distinct, eclectic, strategic Tech Talks by regional and national IT thought leaders.

    Innovation, security and disruption took center stage during the opening session of the OHTec CIO Symposium last week, which brought together about 200 top tech leaders from around Northeast Ohio. The OHTec CIO Symposium was a full-day conference with four focused, intense breakout sessions and four, distinct, eclectic, strategic Tech Talks by regional and national IT thought leaders.

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    Innovation

    Innovation is a top-of-mind issue at the Cleveland Museum of Art, said Jane Alexander, the museum’s CIO. She told the crowd about the museum’s installation of technology that allows a visitor to draw an image on one of the museum’s walls, and then that image can be matched to an item in the collection. “It’s magical,” she said during the event, which was hosted by OHTec, COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

    Information about the museum’s collection can also be beamed directly to a user’s device. Why did the museum invest in such technology? Alexander said it’s a crucial part of creating an atmosphere at the museum and also a way to engage with guests at a deeper level.

    “We don’t want gadgets,” she said. “We want to create things that heighten the visitors’ experience.”

    The technology wall is continually updated so that it always has the freshest information for guests. “We’re in ongoing beta,” she said.

    Security

    Data security is an ongoing concern for many businesses. Sean Gallagher, CIO at NASA Glenn Research Center, said one way to take stock of a company’s tech defenses and also potentially foster innovation is through the advent of “hack-a-thons.”

    Such events can help businesses design custom solutions to any number of challenges they might be facing, he said.

    “We engage citizens across the globe in some of our innovation efforts,” he said.

    Disruption

    Greg Flanik, CIO at Baldwin Wallace University, said disruption has taken root in the education industry. He pointed to start-ups such as Packback that allow students to rent textbooks by the day.

    In an effort to protect their business model, Flanik said universities launched massively open online courses, which is a model that aims to deliver courses to anyone interested in taking them on the Web. While Flanik said the so-called MOOCs haven’t been as successful as universities might have wanted, technology borne out of the initiative could help universities take their space back from the disruptors.

    For example, he alluded to adaptive learning techniques that delivers more educational content as students grasp an idea or concept as a way university business models could potentially evolve.


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    Next up: Innovative Tech Companies Pitch at Tech Week
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  • Innovative Tech Companies Pitch at Tech Week

    We have a great Tech Week partnership with our friends at the Northeast Ohio chapter of the Society for Information Management (NEO-SIM).  Since 2012, we’ve partnered on Pitch Night, a unique event to bring together interesting, innovative local tech companies and IT execs from the region.

    We have a great Tech Week partnership with our friends at the Northeast Ohio chapter of the Society for Information Management (NEO-SIM).  Since 2012, we’ve partnered on Pitch Night, a unique event to bring together interesting, innovative local tech companies and IT execs from the region.

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    Together, we select a group of companies to make ten-minute business pitches to the audience.  It’s a great way for these companies, a mix of early stage and mature companies, to get tome exposure to an influential, important audience.  And just as important, it’s a great way for local IT execs to hear innovative tech stories from companies right in their own backyards.

    So, we’re excited to announce our 2015 Pitch Night companies:

    • WiTuners 
    • Crowdentials 
    • 360 Safe Solutions 
    • Digital Animations for Kids 
    • remesh 
    • e2b teknologies 
    • Big River 
    • 1 EDI Source 
    • Event38 

    Pitch Night will be held on Monday, April 13 as part of our 5th annual Tech Week.


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    Next up: Internet Security: 11 Tips to Keep Your Company Safe
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  • Internet Security: 11 Tips to Keep Your Company Safe

    In the wake of the WannaCry Ransomware attack, here are a few things companies should keep in mind when it comes to Internet security.

    Internet Security is becoming one of the top most important aspects of workplace security. You need look no further than the recent WannaCry Ransomware attack as proof. These issues can cost companies large of sums of money to incorporate and protect. The costs are even more devastation if and when you have an internet security problem or breach.

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    RELATED: Here’s how you can protect yourself from WannaCry

    There are many security issues related to your internet connections and use of email by all of your employees. The number of data records stolen almost doubled between 2015 and 2016 to 1.4 billion. This increased factor did take place due to several reasons; cyber hackers, accidental data breaches, employee mistakes and malicious insiders, according to Gemalto’s Breach Level Index Report.

    The statistics do not stop here and it is not just big business that is being breached. Nearly half of all cyber-attacks globally last year were committed against small business. Ransomware attacks rose more than an astonishing 300% in 2016. Lastly, every second 12 people online become a victim of cybercrime, according to System Care.

    So, what can the average day to day employee do to help protect the company and themselves from being breached while working with all their electronic gadgets? Remember that in the last two years, 60% of companies have had a security breach that can be traced back to poor email security practices by employees.

    11 Simple Employee Good Cyber Habits

    • NEVER click on a link in your email. Make a phone call to the source in the email or look up there “real” email and utilize more safely.

    • NEVER reply to a suspicious email. If you are even slightly not sure, don’t respond in any fashion. Once again verify by phone or researching who or what they are.

    • Avoid free Wi-Fi to protect against hackers. There are ways now to work around Free Wi-Fi or limit any work done to simple correspondences and do not engage in anything that needs protected such as bank accounts, charge cards, company confidential files, etc.

    • Spyware on your system will show signs; unwanted pop-up ads, sudden sluggishness, freezing, failure to boot, crashes or internet connection failures.

    • Be aware of “phishing” which are emails that appear to be legitimate and they request you to click on a link or fill out a form.

    • Spot “Generic Greetings” such as “Dear Customer”.

    • Don’t get caught up in “Alarming Statements” urging you to act immediately.

    • Beware of emails that ask for personal information.

    • Spot misspellings and grammar errors.

    • If you find a thumb drive laying on the floor or the ground outside do NOT plug it in and explore the contents.

    • Do not leave your passwords out in the open on sticky notes and change your passwords at least twice a year.

    Imagine 20 years ago, “cybercrime” was barely a thing and certainly was not a major concern, but current estimates are that now it is costing our country and businesses as much as a half trillion dollars per year in financial losses!

    The total security prevention solution starts with each person at each desk and the cybercriminals have found small businesses to be more and more lucrative to attack and breach. There is a strong need to educate our employees on the simple mistakes we are committing each day.

    Timothy Dimoff

    President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security Expert

    Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

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    Next up: Is My Business Too Small To Outsource IT Support and Services?
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  • Is My Business Too Small To Outsource IT Support and Services?

    IT support and services run the gamut from design and installation of new networks, advice on technology upgrades, onsite support for tech issues and remote troubleshooting , to more technically demanding services like virtualizations, security implementation, and data retention compliance. 

    “Many small business owners think outsourcing is just for bigger companies, but choosing to let professionals handle your IT support and services can be a wise decision for any small business owner. It is a great option if you are at that point in your business where you need to be focused on your goals rather than the day-to-day functions of your business.

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    IT support and services run the gamut from design and installation of new networks, advice on technology upgrades, onsite support for tech issues and remote troubleshooting , to more technically demanding services like virtualizations, security implementation, and data retention compliance. Some benefits of outsourcing IT include:

    Time Savings – As small business owners we wear many hats, but technology is advancing at such a rapid pace it can be extremely time consuming to stay knowledgeable.

    On Demand Services – Outsourcing is often more cost-effective than hiring. Many small- to medium-sized businesses don’t require full time IT support. Outsourcing allows you to call only when you need help; keeping salary, benefits and overhead costs down.

    Filling the Gaps – Even if you currently have in-house IT support, you may need supplemental help at times.  In-house support staff can’t be experts at everything and certain projects may be out of the realm of their expertise.  Outsourcing is a great way to fill the gaps or help complete large-scale projects.  

    Small businesses often feel that they are too small to outsource IT services, but the decision to do so should be based on the function and needs of the company, not the size. When choosing a technology consultant to partner with, referrals are always the best place to start your search; people do business with people they trust.  When you outsource IT services, you are giving someone the keys to the kingdom, so be sure you choose professionals that understand your technology and goals, and can be a true partner in helping you achieve success in your business.”

    Patty Zinn, CEO, Micro Systems Management

    Want more expert advice? Check out COSE Expert Network, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions to the tough questions they face every day.

    This article originally appeared in the March 23, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.

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    Next up: Ask the Expert: IT in the Sky: Is the Cloud Right for Your Business?
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  • Ask the Expert: IT in the Sky: Is the Cloud Right for Your Business?

    What is the “cloud” phenomenon all about? You hear it constantly, but what does it mean and how can it be used to help small business owners? The cloud has been a buzzword for several years, and with good reason. The cloud is rapidly reducing costs and improving efficiencies for businesses globally. In its simplest form, the cloud consists of services and software that are accessed through the Internet instead of your local network. Cloud environments are housed in highly available, fully redundant and compliant third-party audited data centers and are built on enterprise hardware. 

    What is the “cloud” phenomenon all about? You hear it constantly, but what does it mean and how can it be used to help small business owners?

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    The cloud has been a buzzword for several years, and with good reason. The cloud is rapidly reducing costs and improving efficiencies for businesses globally. In its simplest form, the cloud consists of services and software that are accessed through the Internet instead of your local network. Cloud environments are housed in highly available, fully redundant and compliant third-party audited data centers and are built on enterprise hardware. It’s safe to return to an old business axiom: When transformation occurs it brings new challenges; it also brings opportunity. Small and mid-size businesses must become comfortable understanding the cloud infrastructure and all they can gain from utilization. Careful due diligence will help businesses make confident decisions in finding the right providers to launch them into this space.

    Reasons to move to a cloud platform are many. Perhaps you are facing a hardware refresh, new levels of compliance requirements, security and /or law, or your company may wish to move toward applications that can drive and grow your business. You may want to beef up your disaster recovery and business continuity strategies or be prepared to scale your IT to meet varying customer demands. Connecting your mission critical apps into facilities that have faster performance and higher security than your own makes good business sense.

    The idea that the cloud is only for larger companies is inaccurate. There are many budget-friendly cloud options for small and medium-sized businesses. Find a cloud company that will work with you on a Proof of Concept (POC) and, in phases, fit you into the cloud. A POC will determine the feasibility of moving to the cloud; it can also be a useful tool to see how well you and the vendor work together.

    Look for a cloud provider capable of moving you to a global economy. An important business consideration in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing technology landscape is leveraging IT ecosystems. It’s important to partner with groups that can understand your business and collaborate to meet and exceed your objectives.

    By virtualizing your IT applications and infrastructure, your company can create opportunities to become more efficient and reduce your overall IT footprint. As you move toward the cloud, be sure to leverage the umbrella of your provider’s audits and compliance to laws and best practices. By entering the cloud layers, you will reduce and eliminate single points of failure, and bring your company to the outside world in a highly reliable and secure way. 


    Kevin Goodman is managing director and partner with Blue Bridge Networks, a cloud data center and managed services business headquartered in downtown Cleveland.

    This article originally appeared in the June 22, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.

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