Guest entry by Catherine White

I received an email from Zappos, the online shoe company, the other day less than 12 hours after I had placed my original order. The text read, “Whoa, Nellie! Have we got a surprise for you! Although you originally ordered standard shipping, we're upgrading the shipping time frame for your order. It will ship out today, so you'll get it even faster than we originally promised! It's kind of like we waved our magic wand! Please note that this is being done at no additional cost to you. It's our way of saying thanks for being our customer.”

Aside from the extreme overuse of the exclamation points, I was thrilled. Perhaps they purposefully under-promise and over-deliver so that they can always “surprise” their customers, but being a new customer this was informative, helpful and made me feel special. I also received constant updates after this initial message as to the whereabouts of my kid’s shoes and when exactly I would receive them that afternoon.

What if communication and fulfillment like this was possible at an international supply chain level?

TMC, a division of C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., is trying to make it so. The company has opened a global control tower in Shanghai, China to provide Managed TMS and control tower services to international clients. General Manager Adam Davis stated in the recent press release, “By providing on the ground supply chain expertise in multiple countries along with a single web portal for real-time visibility we are able to share best practices across carriers and locations on a global, regional and national level. Our clients will be able to leverage the information and consulting that we provide to make strategic decisions in order lower costs and gain a true competitive advantage.

The newest control tower will help organizations have a single view into shipments, business intelligence and freight payments all along the integrated, international supply chain. Whether you have a single supplier you’re trying to track or an international freight network, improved levels of visibility and communication are always welcome, particularly as customer/consumer expectations continue to rise. What are your current TMS needs? Does this announcement from TMC/C.H. Robinson affect you? We welcome your comments and feedback below or visit the IDC Manufacturing Insights blog.