Wireless communication and the widespread use of smartphones and tablets have launched an online marketplace where people can shop at all times. The Internet provides a way to inexpensively market goods around the world and reach the palm of a customer's hand. At the same time, public offices depend on local sales tax revenue from area merchants. Healthy communities and quality public schools rely on local merchants to have what they want, when they want it, and at a price they are willing to pay.
There are many forces at work in delivering goods to wholesalers and consumers. Ports, rail, air, and interstate highways each play a role in bringing products from country of origin to final destination. Choosing the appropriate combination of intermodal transport involves balancing speed, cost, and frequency. In most businesses, effective transportation management makes a significant difference on the bottom line. Competitiveness depends on being able to find the fastest and cheapest way to move products.
As connectivity spreads to more parts of the world, current logistic patterns and transportation systems will adapt to new markets as they are created. During times like these, access to these new markets depends directly on expertise in transportation. For most businesses, this means partnering with a company that specializes in moving certain kinds of products and working in specific markets. Companies who undertake international trade without the appropriate level of expertise typically suffer lost revenues and productivity as they are presented with unanticipated challenges and additional costs.
Transportation management and logistic coordination are integral to success, and each mode of transport may be considered its own subfield with unique strengths and associated experts. Produce needs to move fast, but online retailers can offer a variety of shipping options at different profit margins. Aside from profits, transportation management can also contribute to competitiveness, both socially and environmentally. Socially conscious businesses want to demonstrate to customers that their processes are minimally impactful. Businesses concerned with long-term sustainability might view robust transport management as an integral part of their responsible action model.
Each business must carefully research transportation systems in its current and target markets to determine which modes of transport will be appropriate, as well as what policies are in place. A competent of universities have high quality transportation research centers that seek to explore policy, commercial transport, and comprehensive land use planning. These centers may have outreach programs to assist in local economic development by advising small businesses with endeavors that lack in-house logistical capacity. Ultimately, establishing the best transportation management system for any organization requires developing a relationship with the partner and outstanding clear goals and plans.