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Answering Top Google-Searched Transportation and Logistics Questions

The transportation and logistics industry is full of industry terminology, acronyms, and jargon that can be confusing. We are breaking down some of the top-searched transportation and logistics questions. What questions did you have when you started in this industry? What questions do you still have?  

What does TMS stand for?

TMS stands for Transportation Management System. Transportation management systems import, manage and ship orders from multiple locations and make shipping hands free by directly integrating with dozens of marketplaces, e-commerce platforms, WMS, OMS, accounting, and custom order solutions. In essence, a TMS streamlines order management and makes processing and shipping large volumes of orders much easier.  

What is the difference between UPS and USPS?

UPS (United Parcel Service) and USPS (United States Postal Service) have unique functions in the transportation space. UPS is a publicly traded company while USPS is an independent agency of the Executive Branch of the United States Government. UPS also specializes in commercial and residential package delivery and can handle larger packages than USPS. USPS focuses on residential mail and small packages. USPS is unique in the sense that UPS and FedEx will both transfer packages to USPS for final delivery. Meaning that UPS may handle a package up until its destination city, and then that package is handed off to USPS for the actual delivery at the recipient's residence. This is done through the UPS Mail Innovations program.  

What is the supply chain?

Supply chain can mean many different things, but in an overarching context, it refers to the flow of products from their start as raw materials all the way to finished products in the end-consumers' hands. Supply chain incorporates everything from manufacturing to overseas shipping to warehousing to the end consumer. It is important to note that although supply chains largely rely on physical infrastructure to transport actual goods and products, technology is becoming more and more of a key player in the space. With online shopping and e-commerce demand continually increasing, technology plays a key role in streamlining processes....

Why are there supply chain issues?

This is a complex question, and although its answer is highly nuanced, it does give us insight into how consumers are becoming more aware of the supply chain. Prior to COVID-19, products simply appeared in retail stores and grocery stores rarely had empty shelves except in cases of natural disasters. Now, however, consumers are much more in tune to and aware of what happens in the lifecycle of a product before it is in their hands. Hence consumers head to Google to find out what is going on.  

In short, there are supply chain issues because of a supply and demand imbalance. There is a record high demand for products through e-commerce and direct-to-consumer channels, meaning that most of these products must be shipped to the consumer. However, there is a shortage of physical infrastructure, human capital, and overall capacity to facilitate the movement of this huge volume of goods. This situation can be thought of as a bottleneck where a much higher volume of products must pass through and be transported by the same infrastructure and systems that were in place before the volume surges. Thus, creating delays in the supply chain that were previously non-existent.  

What is fulfillment in logistics?

Fulfillment in logistics is the process of completing an order from the time the product is purchased to when it is in the hands of the end consumer. For e-commerce, this looks like pulling in orders from the marketplace(s), picking and packing the order, and handing the order off to a final mile carrier who then delivers the order to the consumer.  

What is the difference between a warehouse and a distribution center?

In its purest form, a warehouse is simply a long-term storage facility while a distribution center plays a more integral role in the movement of the goods inside of it. Part of the function of a distribution center is having the right inventory in the right location at the right time to speed up the order fulfillment process. You may hear of businesses having a multi-DC model, meaning that they have several distribution centers across the country that help get orders out faster. Often the terms ‘warehouse’ and ‘distribution center’ and ‘fulfillment center’ are used interchangeably, but there are slight differences, and they each play a unique role in the transportation and logistics industry.

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