More Fragmented Transportation Networks May Mean Less Secure Cargo

secure cargo

Recent cargo theft data shows some good news: it looks like the overall number of thefts has been decreasing over the past few years. Fewer retailers are reporting stolen cargo. But theft isn’t the only source of loss in the supply chain, and the e-commerce environment’s increasingly splintered transportation network is causing issues with more far-reaching consequences than revenue loss.

Brand protection and customer loyalty are on the line, too. Loss prevention may be able to protect distribution centers against theft, but teams are now finding it more challenging to secure cargo once it leaves the retailer’s facility.

LPM Senior Writer Garett Seivold takes on the topic of these new supply chain challenges for loss prevention teams in a feature article for the January-February 2019 issue of LP Magazine. From the article:

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The bigger risk for theft today comes as a package leaves the control of a retailer and is placed in the hands of third-party logistics providers (3PLs), say experts. While subcontractors and small carriers may pose more risk, experts say that even the big carriers like UPS and FedEx have issues inside their buildings and operations that result in loss. Problems are likely to worsen under today’s labor shortage, particularly the acute issue of too few drivers for too many packages. “I think the 3PLs are suffering like everyone else under the labor shortage,” said one LP supply chain professional. “They’re having to take what they can get to move boxes.”

America is short about 50,000 truck drivers, according to the American Trucking Association. If the current trajectory continues, that number could exceed 174,000 by 2026, says the group. Fewer drivers can cause trailers to be staged loaded for long periods of time, putting shipments at added risk. It also puts shipments in the hands of drivers that may not have passed a rigorous background screening a few years ago. Realistically, retailers will likely have to come to terms with paying more to transport shipments and that drivers they probably wouldn’t want will be in control of their packages, experts believe.

Seivold also takes a look at the downward trend of cargo theft and asks experts what tools and measures are being used to secure cargo against criminals. He then zooms out for a more comprehensive examination of the bigger picture and next steps in protecting goods within the e-commerce supply chain. Check out “Bumps in the Road” to read the full article.

For more great LP content, visit the Table of Contents for the January–February 2019 issue or register for a FREE print or digital subscription to the magazine. [Note: if you’re already a logged-in subscriber, the previous link will take you to the current issue instead.]

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