Con-Way Retail going the ‘final mile’

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Con-Way Transportation Services announced the launch of a new service designed specifically for distribution-critical industrial and retail businesses.

The new “final-mile” service, Con-Way Retail, offers local cross-docking, warehousing and final delivery of freight to customers with multiple selling locations within a single geographic area. The company said each step of the Con-Way Retail process will be confirmed electronically using software that provides a retail industry-standard interface. The new company will operate as a part of Con-Way NOW, the expedite unit of Con-Way Transportation Services.

“Historically the final mile of freight delivery to the point of sale has been the most difficult for resellers,” said J. Edwin Conaway, president and chief executive officer of Con-Way NOW. “The demands of just-in-time inventory, time-specific promotions and new product releases put significant pressure on a company’s supply chain to get product on the shelves as soon as possible. The resellers are dependent upon several critical factors that determine success or failure. They must receive the right product, in the right quantity, at the right time, and be able to identify and manage that inventory quickly and accurately. A delivery time variance of only a few hours can make a big difference. That’s where Con-Way Retail, with its systems and capabilities, will play an important role.”

According to the company, truckload shipments from a manufacturer’s plant or distribution center will be received at a cross-dock facility where barcodes will be scanned immediately. The scanned data will confirm delivery, quantity and product type; and identify any shipment shortages, overages or damages.

After the products are sorted and segregated into smaller individual shipments for final local delivery, the scanned data is matched to the shipper’s paperwork and sent electronically to the shipper for confirmation or adjustments. “This is our first quality control step,” said Conaway.

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Final delivery will be made by Con-Way Retail personnel using straight trucks with roller conveyors, liftgates and hand trucks to facilitate inside deliveries. Deliveries will be made within predetermined delivery-time windows. “At the time of delivery, we will again scan all the individual cartons to ensure complete shipment accuracy before delivery,” Conaway added.

All scanned information then is sent by Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to a website that streams the information directly into the store’s inventory system. This provides the store with instant inventory visibility, faster auditing and reordering capabilities and access to signed proof-of-delivery documents. The scanning procedure also provides shipment-tracking capabilities from arrival at Con-Way’s facility to final delivery.

In April, Con-Way Retail began serving customers in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Each operation is based at a Con-Way less-than-truckload service center and has its own separate, secured area with 24-hour closed-circuit television surveillance. “We have the ability to use existing Con-Way resources within the network of 400-plus facilities throughout the United States and Canada. This gives us the unique ability to respond quickly when a customer needs us to open a new market,” added Conaway. “The depth of the Con-Way organization also offers customers a nationwide, one-stop, multimode option for transport services if needed.”

The new service also will offer customers warehousing and reverse logistics services for product returns.