Throughout its 20 year successful history, Acuitive Solutions has taken the road less traveled by not trying to be everything to every client. Acuitive has instead focused on the underserved niches within the shipping industry, namely areas where there is a lot of pain and low availability of solutions for international shippers.
Acuitive has two fundamental strengths which are the common pillars of all its international logistics solutions. One is the cost per unit, both on the predictive side – what it should cost a shipper to do something – and on the “retrospective” side – what it actually costs the shipper to do the To do.
The second commonality is process automation. Manual processes are error-prone and not scalable. In the last two years of the pandemic, when there was no office to go to, the manual processes really broke down.
An example of how Acuitive solves this problem is helping shippers decide whether or not to use air freight based on what it’s going to cost them, not just on a shipping basis, but on cost per part basis. Shipping by air freight may cost $200. It does not mean anything. However, if the sender knows it will cost them 15 cents per piece, then they can say, “Whoa! That’s all my margin. I can not do that.
Acuitive breaks it down into the sender’s language according to their business terms so they can make the best decision. To this end, Acuitive also applies the sender’s internal control rules. For example, who should make the decision? What budget does he touch? Is there money in the budget? What are the back-end processes involved? What are the shipping alternatives? Should I use another air, small package or ocean carrier? Can the carrier deliver on time?
Acuitive provides a shipper-bound carrier portal to support these kinds of dynamic routing decisions. Most shippers still use a static routing guide that says if you’re going from Shanghai to Chicago, for example, use this forwarder or forwarder. But it doesn’t tell them which provider the sender should use if it’s super urgent or which one if it’s not so urgent. As a result, shippers often spend far more than necessary.
Acuitive has extended this dynamic routing capability to sample management – a completely underserved niche in the retail apparel industry. Acuitive uniquely provides global, centralized sample routing and visibility. For example, Ralph Lauren handles over 60,000 inbound samples per year from around the world. From a single point of contact, they can implement rules and change preferences and routing instructions for everything their suppliers do with samples, worldwide. Most TMSs work on the outbound issue; that is, “Here is what I have.” What should I do?” Acuitive offers Ralph Lauren the opposite – in the inbound market where, “Someone else has the samples, but I’m footing the bill. How can I control what they do? Acuitive gives Ralph Lauren control of the routing so they can make the decisions on all sample shipments – carrier selection, service level, consolidation and/or repackaging for lower rates, and more. Additionally, with Acuitive, Ralph Lauren has end-to-end visibility of all sample shipments – not only to track but also to validate that shipments are moving correctly.
Acuitive also applies its unit costing expertise and patented process automation for prepayment auditing of ocean, air, drayage, 3PL origin-consolidation and destination-deconsolidation and transshipment invoices. Acuitive stands out as a leader in these underserved modes because there is a big difference between auditing international and domestic freight. The national audit is systematically focused on shipments. Once you know who sends the product and who receives it, you can easily determine the rates and fees to apply. There aren’t many moving parts. When we talk about the ocean, however, it’s very different.
For example, suppose you are a shipper importing containers from Bangladesh to Chicago. You may want to route those containers through the west coast, or you may want to go through Suez and route the shipment through the east coast, depending on the total cost or the cost of lost sales due to congestion delays. So to audit international shipments like this, you need to know and manage the process based on the entire tracking chain: Bill of Lading (BoL) origin (where carrier takes responsibility), port of loading (where it gets on the ship), the port of discharge (where it gets off the ship) and the BoL destination (where the carrier’s liability ends). Automatic cross-checking of invoices with agreed rates, ancillary charges, surcharges and equipment types based on a given international shipping location string is very foreign to domestic freight bill auditors (e.g. LTL , package). They are stuck in manual mode and, if faced with a real volume of invoices, they simply “buffer” the invoices and pass them on. Worse still, national auditors will manually review a shipping invoice and think it is correct. But the fact is that it may seem right and still wrong. For example, based on the containers and quantities on the invoice, he can assess correctly, but what if this set of data on the invoice is wrong? What if it’s for the wrong number of containers, wrong size containers? What if the location string is wrong or represents the wrong service that was actually provided? These types of discrepancies occur on 27% of all invoices, on average, and Acuitive has automated invoice matching and validation at the BoL. to flush out discrepancies before the audit even begins.
National auditors also don’t think about things at the container level. For example, a shipper may, for customs reasons, wish to have different purchase orders (POs) on different bills of lading. They do this so that if a PO gets caught in customs review, they don’t lose all freight availability. This scenario forces carriers to pro-rate charges across bills of lading. So you can have multiple bills of lading in the same container. Similarly, if you orient the process based on the BoL, you can have multiple containers per shipment. And these containers can be of different sizes. The point is, for ocean freight, the auditor needs to understand bills of lading and containers and their relationships. JOANN stores, for example, may have 14 to 15 bills of lading in five containers, and everything is mixed together. For a domestic listener, it’s a bowl of spaghetti. For Acuitive, this is not a problem.
As an extension of the audit and as part of its unit costing capability, Acuitive also provides an accurate breakdown of General Ledger (GL) costs audited freight and origin-destination charges, as well as all other charges down to SKU, PO, container or BoL level. Cost allocation can be a manual, time-consuming, and error-prone process for international shippers; however, Acuitive’s GL cost allocation automation eliminates all inefficiencies for a shipper. In fact, a sender never needs to get involved other than providing Acuitive updates to their rules or GL. By neatly capturing all expenses from freight bills – shipping, customs and import duties, customs examination fees, insurance, excise taxes, freight forwarder processing fees, loading/unloading fees, tolls , port charges, demurrage, detention, etc. – and by automatically attributing these expenses at the PO level, Acuitive enables a cleaner and more accurate landed cost calculation for shippers. The definition of landed cost, also known as landed price, is the total cost of getting a product from a supplier to its destination. Landed cost is very important to most shippers as it gives them a more complete picture of the cost of goods, which has a crucial impact on how to price imported products, manage budgets and reduce expenses. The landed cost calculation requires the cost allocation of freight charges down to the purchase order level. When there is only one item on a purchase order, the allocation of landed costs is clear; but, if there is more, it must be distributed. And in these cases, Acuitive’s ability to allocate costs down to the SKU level of a given shipment becomes invaluable.
In conclusion, partnering with a specialist partner like Acuitive offers international shippers the best bet to navigate today’s complex shipping environment without sacrificing quality or expertise.
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