Real-Time Freight Visibility Is the Key to Customer Satisfaction

Using the Descartes MacroPoint real-time freight visibility solution, Steelcase reduced the time spent tracking fleet status by 50%.

A leading supplier of architecture, furniture and technology products and services, Steelcase implemented Descartes MacroPoint™ to enhance shipment visibility across its U.S. distribution network. Fully integrated with SAP Transportation Management (TM), Descartes MacroPoint increased critical tracking efficiency, heightened productivity, and strengthened customer service with real-time updates and faster response times. 

The Challenge: Customer Care Impeded by Transportation Disruptions

With a complex distribution and logistics network across the U.S. and Mexico, Steelcase was experiencing issues with transportation disruptions with its logistics network. The company’s homegrown manual processes and reliance on carriers for status updates were leading to inefficiencies, late shipments, costly chargebacks, and compromised customer service. Driven by the goal of accelerating response time to improve the customer experience, Steelcase sought a real-time freight visibility solution to increase the efficiency, speed, and ease of communications between the multiple participants in its logistics network.

Descartes MacroPoint has been a massive time saver for us. Prior to implementing the solution, we spent in the neighborhood of four to five hours per day tracking and receiving updates on loads. Now that most of the information is pushed from Descartes MacroPoint, we’re down to the two-hour mark for tracking loads—and we can always stay steps ahead of any shipment issue.

-- Keegan McCready, Sr. Project Manager, Steelcase Inc.

The Solution: Freight Visibility Boosts Customer Service

With five manufacturing facilities, five factory distribution centers (FDCs) and six regional distribution centers (RDCs) across the U.S. and Mexico—plus dedicated fleet capacity and more than 60 specialized common carrier partners managed in-house via SAP TM—Steelcase has a complex distribution network.

The company has a number of logistics analysts on its Transportation Execution team, working directly with carriers for coverage of loads across RDCs, FDCs and dealers to avoid disruption throughout the delivery process. Seamlessly integrated with SAP TM, Descartes MacroPoint allows Steelcase to track loads in real-time to improve on-time deliveries, hasten response times and strengthen customer service by keeping customers up-to-date on any changes in shipment status.

“RDCs are responsible for the execution of loading and shipping all shipments to the final customer and dealer. With Descartes MacroPoint, RDCs have better and earlier visibility into which shipments they are expecting, and which ones are on-time or potentially late—and that information is used in escalation to the Execution Team for feedback,” said Keegan McCready, Sr. Project Manager at Steelcase.

McCready added, “Job sites are notoriously the most important deliveries for Steelcase, as they typically hinge on installation teams, contractors, etc. waiting on the delivery. With early notification of shipment status via Descartes MacroPoint, we have the ability to alter delivery schedules based on truck locations and ETAs. If one delivery is running late and another is ahead of schedule, we have the option to swap delivery times and keep the job site running smoothly, without any disruptions to the customer.”

The Results  

Critical Tracking Efficiency
By replacing manual driver check calls and cumbersome tracking tools with real-time freight visibility and automated updates, Steelcase increased communication speed and agility across the network, reducing time spent tracking fleet status by 50%.

Increased Customer Satisfaction
With real-time load status data, Steelcase can provide faster response times to any transportation issues (e.g., delays due to weather or traffic congestion). The Descartes MacroPoint solution helps minimize disruptions to customers and improve service performance.

Reduced Costs
With the goal of reducing internal track-and-trace costs, Steelcase leveraged Descartes MacroPoint to cut time spent tracking load updates by more than half. With up-to-the-minute visibility into shipments, Steelcase can avoid customer penalties and chargebacks.

Enterprise-wide Visibility
Descartes MacroPoint extends real-time visibility across all inbound and outbound shipment types. With the aim of enterprise-wide visibility, Steelcase also rolled out the solution to its distribution centers to optimize labor and capacity planning.