Order fulfillment is a uniquely important spoke in the production and distribution wheel. Once customers go through the path to purchase, fulfillment — what makes it possible for them to actually receive their merchandise — is their eventual destination.

But whether due to a breakdown in communication, inventory listing errors or technological snafus, sometimes buyers wind up with the wrong item. Most studies on picking errors put the rate at between 1% and 3% of all orders. That may not seem like a lot of mistakes, but they add up over time if the rate is consistent from one day, week or month to the next.

With humans being what they are — naturally imperfect — fulfillment foibles will likely never be fully neutralized. But there are a variety of strategies manufacturers can deploy to lower the error rate.

Here are a few tips:

1. Consider a combination of automation solutions
Automation has revolutionized distribution warehouses in a litany of ways, but perhaps the biggest is in terms of minimizing errors. From collaborative mobile robots to pick-to-light technologies, warehouse automation specializes in performing several tasks at once, particularly the labor-intensive ones. Leveraging these and other AI technologies can not only reduce error rates, but make the fulfillment process as a whole much faster. IT also can free up your staff to perform functions that require more thought, deftness or dexterity that a machine cannot adequately replicate.

2.  Leverage labels
It may seem obvious, but many order fulfillment problems are resolved with the simplest of solutions. Whether it's through bar code scanners, unique SKUs or tags that are more easily discernible (i.e. bold font, placement, color contrasts, etc.), making sure all items are properly labeled can streamline the picking process for all involved. If the problems with your labeling system aren't readily discernible, picking the brains of your warehouse staff may provide clarity.

Barcodes help with product recognition and tracking.Barcodes help with product recognition and tracking.

3. Coordinate with other departments
Sometimes, errors in order fulfillment originate with an entirely different department. While the supply chain is increasingly interconnected, fulfillment stands on its own. As a result, if an order goes out that is damaged or defective, the problem may originate with receiving, which didn't recognize the flaw or failed to remove it from the assembly.

This is why it's important to maintain ongoing communication with other departments so problems are recognized before they arrive at fulfillment. Teams may need to flesh out what steps they take to enhance coordination and problem identification.

4. Codify inventory checks
Occasionally, fulfillment errors may stem from problems with inventory, where teams failed to account for items that needed to be replenished due to heavy buyer volume. Crucial to inventory management is consistency. Whether it's carried out once a week, every other week, monthly or some other appropriate interval, inventory management should be very systematic so the steps are easily repeatable and executable. It also ensures that the supply for hot-ticket items that sell quickly aligns with demand.

Whether through the air, by road or over the water, merchandise for eventual purchase flows through a variety of channels, but one of those channels is proving to be increasingly unreliable for those scheduled to receive shipments, according to the results of a new report.

In the month of October, schedule reliability among ocean freight carriers stayed below 40% for the sixth consecutive month. According to the Global Liner Performance report, a monthly analysis carried out by Sea-Intelligence that tracks 60 carriers and nearly three dozen trade lines, the schedule reliability index in October reached 34.4%. While that's a notch up from September, rising 0.4%, it's down 18 percentage points from the 52% seen a year ago.

Alan Murphy, chief executive officer for the analytics and advisory services firm, said there are some modest signs of optimism.

"The average delay for late vessel arrivals [has] improved marginally, dropping to 7.34 days, albeit still the highest figure for this month, which has been a theme throughout 2021," Murphy said in a press release.

Not too long ago, goods arriving on time by way of the sea was a veritable lock, with the measure reaching a high of 83.5% in June 2019, based on Sea-Intelligence data compiled by Supply Chain Dive. But the reliability of items reaching their destinations as originally forecast has tumbled fairly consistently since then, particularly in the second half of 2020.

This reality has contributed to the boatload of issues shippers are facing, said Sri Laxmana, vice president of global ocean product for the Minnesota-based logistics firm C.H. Robinson.

"Poor schedule reliability, coupled with high consumer demand, has handed shippers and forwarders a myriad of challenges," Laxmana told Supply Chain Dive.

Trucking is the dominant method of freight movement in the U.S.Trucking is the dominant method of freight movement in the U.S.

Trucks hauled over 80% of freight in 2020
Where possible, those on the receiving end of these deliveries aim to diversify the means by which items arrive. While the sea may be and remains a major thoroughfare, especially for big box retailers, trucking has long been the dominant method. It maintained that status in 2020. Trucking also brought in 80% of the revenue transportation companies were paid to move freight last year, according to the American Trucking Associations. In terms of weight, this equated to 10.23 billion tons, dropping from 11.84 billion in 2019. On a share basis, trucks typically account for around 72% of the tonnage that's carried.

Shippers also relied more heavily on air transport in 2020, with air cargo demand rising 3% on a year-over-year basis, according to Clive Data Services. Greater demand pressed air cargo rates higher as well, jumping 37% from 2020 and 155% versus October 2019.

The slowness and diminished reliability of shipments by way of the sea traces back to the congestion at the ports. From not enough truck drivers to an insufficient amount of containers drivers need to transport goods, bottlenecks at major shipping ports have created supply chain challenges that are rippling across the economy. The question is when the logjam will relent.

What is the smartest, most efficient way to get products into people's hands? This is a question business owners are constantly asking themselves. And that inquiry is more common than ever given the supply chain frustrations that remain ubiquitous. Historically, businesses have leveraged the road, as more than 70% of the tonnage carried is hauled by motor carriers providers, according to the American Trucking Associations.

But with many trucking entities helping out at at the ports, more companies are taking advantage of the friendly skies to get customers their purchases in a more timely manner, even though the costs are greater.

One such organization is the toy manufacturing giant Ty, Inc. In a recent press release, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based toy conglomerate announced that it had completed over 280 air shipments thus far, with the first one occurring in October.

Ty Warner, who serves as chairman and CEO for Ty, Inc., noted he's committed to ensuring families have their holiday gifts in hand and under the tree before the big day arrives.

"I'm doubling down on what I said two weeks ago: Christmas is not canceled," Warner explained. "I'm determined not to let the global supply chain issues interfere with the holidays, and I'm committed to supporting independent retailers."

More retailers are shipping by air than by sea or road.More retailers are shipping by air than by sea or road.

Gap also flying freight
Product delays have been felt by just about every retailer, largely fueled by massive delays at shipping ports. And likely because of this fact, Ty, Inc. isn't the only one utilizing the airways as a workaround. As Supply Chain Dive recently reported, clothing retailer Gap has already spent approximately $100 million to air ship products and deliverables, and the apparel chain expects to spend nearly $500 million on air freight in 2021 overall.

Another apparel giant — FIGS, which specializes in manufacturing work clothing for health care workers — is also spending millions of dollars on air freight. In an earnings call, FIGS Chief Financial Officer Jeff Lawrence noted the company is poised to top $8 million in air shipping in the fourth quarter alone, up from $1 million in the third quarter. He stressed, however, that this is a temporary measure.

"We don't think it's going to be air freight business ongoing," Lawrence said. "That was really just a reaction to the in-transit issues that everyone is having."

Shipping by air is fast, but expensive
This may be due to the costs involved. Just one cargo flight can cost between $1.5 million and $2 million, according to Ty, Inc. Similarly, the amount of money Gap has spent on aerial shipping needs will likely impact earnings expectations, the company announced in a third quarter sales update. However, Gap says it will continue to leverage air freight "to navigate ongoing delivery challenges for [the] holiday."

With more manufacturers relying on airlines and airports for cargo handling and distribution, it's pushing the associated rates up. In October, air cargo rates rose 37% compared to the same month last year and by 155% versus 2019, according to Cargo Airports & Airline Services.

Just as a combination of factors led to the existing supply chain challenges echoing across the economy, it will likely take a variety of solutions to get things back on track and moving as freely as they did pre-COVID. In any case, it may be a while yet before those improvements become more noticeable.

That was the general consensus of several chief executives who recently participated in a CEO summit held by The Wall Street Journal. While conditions do seem to be getting better for certain industries and businesses, it will take time for the bottlenecks to fully unclog.

Niraj Shah, CEO and co-founder of the e-commerce giant Wayfair, said he believes the biggest obstacles standing in the way appear to have been cleared, noting that June, July and August were likely the worst period for supply chain managers in recent memory.

"The bottom was this past summer, but it's recovering slowly," Shah said at the CEO Council Summit, which was held in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 7.

Dwell times starting to diminish
Those modest improvements are ongoing at several of the United States' largest shipping ports, where dozens of ships have been waiting for weeks on end to unload at unoccupied docking stations. For instance, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California, on the last day of November, there were 134 total ships in port at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, 77 of which were at anchor or loitering. As of Dec. 7, there were 122 total ships and 66 anchored or loitering, according to the organization's regularly updated Twitter account.

But for certain items that flow through the supply chain, such as computer chips, the current environment is likely the nadir, according to Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger.

"We think the period we are in now is the worst of it," Gelsinger said at the chief executive confab.

The nation's capital hosted The Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit in December.The nation's capital hosted The Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit in December.

Chip shortage expected to persist into 2023
Of all the core building blocks producers, distributors and supply chain stakeholders most rely upon to complete their processes, microchips may top them all. From toys to ATMs to smartphones to gaming consoles to automobiles, microprocessor chips shortages are having a domino-like effect for retailers and manufacturers.  And these components were hard to find well before the supply chain struggles as a whole became more evident.

Gelsinger added that in his view, the chip shortage could extend beyond next year and into 2023, The Wall Street Journal reported separately.

We have a long way to go yet, Gelsinger said. "It just takes a long time to build [manufacturing] capacity."

A number of other CEO with high name recognition spoke at the CEO Summit, including Tesla's Elon Musk, Bombardier's Eric Martel and Sysco's Kevin Hourican. All offered their views of the supply chain and what they anticipated heading into 2022. Growth in hiring may hasten the pace with which conditions improve and productivity enhances supply. In November, for the 18th consecutive month, manufacturing production edged higher, reaching 61.1% compared to October, according to the Institute for Supply Chain Management. A higher job participation rate should also help reduce product shortages.

Just as the supply chain is made up of many players and contributors, the bottlenecks that currently exist are a product of many factors. In an attempt to identify the root causes of the congestion, the Federal Trade Commission is getting involved.

As the agency announced in a prepared statement, the FTC has formally called upon several household-name retailers and suppliers to turn over all their internal documents and data that relate to supply chain management. These companies include Walmart — the world's largest employer — Proctor & Gamble, Amazon and Associated Wholesale Grocers Incorporated, among others. In a 4-0 vote, the commission that comprises the FTC was unanimous in its decision to issue the order to the aforementioned companies. 

Lina Khan, chairperson for the FTC, noted the inquiry is designed to get a better understanding of where the supply chain bottlenecks exist and how to best resolve them.

"The FTC has a long history of pursuing market studies to deepen our understanding of economic conditions and business conduct, and we should continue to make nimble and timely use of these information-gathering tools and authorities," Khan said.

The order is designed to inform a study that the FTC is currently putting together related to the ongoing supply chain challenges affecting the global economy. Khan noted that the 6(b) study — the title deriving from Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, which authorizes the agency to conduct such investigations — is meant to "shed light on market conditions and business practices" that may have exacerbated the disruptions or contributed to added instability.

The FTC has requested documents from nine retailers, suppliers and wholesalers.The FTC has requested documents from nine retailers, suppliers and wholesalers.

Other ways government is getting involved
The federal government has taken a number of steps toward improving the flow of the supply chain. This includes ordering the nation's two largest shipping ports — located in Long Beach and Los Angeles — to remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, in mid-November, President Joe Biden told reporters that he met privately with several CEOs of organizations like Target, Walmart, FedEx and UPS to see what strategies they were working on. Biden noted at the time that the CEOs provided assurances their shelves would be sufficiently stocked for shoppers during the holidays. 

The Federal Maritime Commission is also taking a lead role in the supply chain relief effort. According to a statement the FMC issued on Nov. 15, the focus of the effort will be on identifying what data constraints are contributing to supply chain inefficiencies pertaining to cargo shipped by sea. FMC Chairman Daniel Maffei noted in the release that information sharing and transparency should help to shed more light on this ongoing problem and thanked FMC Commissioner Carl Bentzel for launching the inquiry.

"I am confident his work will lead to beneficial and implementable recommendations," Maffei said. The phased effort is slated to begin in December when Bentzel will hold the first meeting.

After five consecutive months of declines, the cost of lumber appears to be back on the rise again as residential builders head into winter.

Softwood lumber prices rose more than 9% in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the most recent Producer Price Index released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This marks the first monthly increase in softwood lumber since May.

Lumber is one of numerous commodities experiencing dramatic price growth, largely due to limited quantities of said commodities. According to the Institute for Supply Chain Management, prices rose for over two dozen commodities in October, including adhesives, aluminum, copper, corrugate, diesel fuel and electrical components, as well as pallets and steel.

Building materials prices as a whole have also climbed, although not quite as substantially as softwood lumber, which is primarily used for interior moldings, framing and windows. As highlighted by the National Association of Home Builders, the cost for ready-mix concrete, gypsum and steel mill products all rose in October from August, up 0.6%, 2.1% and nearly 5%, respectively. And on a year-to-date basis, prices for those building products have soared — by nearly 117% for steel mill products.

Lumber prices are climbing ever higher.Lumber prices are increasing for a variety of reasons.

What is causing lumber prices to increase?
Several factors appear to be contributing to the price pressures. One is the elevated rate of home buying — and the speed with which newly listed properties are purchased. In October, existing-home sales totaled approximately 6.3 million on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the National Association of Realtors. More than 80% of the houses listed in October were sold within a month's time or less.

Another factor is the amount of lumber that builders wind up using with each construction project. For example, according to the National Association of Home Builders' analysis of quarterly home starts data released by the Census Bureau, the median square footage for a single-family house completed in the third quarter was 2,337 square feet. That's up from 2,299 in the second quarter and 2,273 in the third quarter of 2020. The average square footage also rose, totaling 2,541 square feet from 2,540 in the second quarter and 2,479 in the corresponding period from last year.

Tariffs are an additional inflationary pressure on wood. In November, the Department of Commerce nearly doubled tariffs on lumber originating from Canada to 17.9% from what was 9%. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the decision has been roundly condemned by several lawmakers as well as industry trade groups, including the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders.

Chuck Fowke, NAHB chairman, warned that this action will make a challenging situation for developers as well as home buyers that much worse.

"Doubling the tariffs will only exacerbate market volatility, put upward pressure on lumber prices and make housing more expensive," Fowke said.

Senators from New Hampshire and Kansas have since reached out to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, urging the department and the Biden administration to reconsider.

On the surface, the solution to the supply chain bottleneck at shipping ports seems straightforward enough: Get chassis to truckers for delivery before the next batch of imports arrives. But the massive backlog that crews are slowly whittling away at is preventing crews from making serious headway in the mishmash of idling containers.

In an attempt to speed up the process, relevant stakeholders are devising productivity inducements that can expedite the movement of freight.

From the Federal Maritime Commission to major ocean carriers, several organizations are offering certain incentives to work crews. The theory is if stakeholders reward hard work to make it more worth crew members' while, they'll be that much more likely to give it their all in terms of effort and execution.

Some traffic mitigation fees suspended until late January
For example, the aforementioned Federal Maritime Commission has decided to temporarily waive traffic mitigation fees on weekends so companies will take advantage of non-peak hours. Instead, the fees will only be in place from Monday through Friday and from 7 in the morning to just before 6 in the evening. The exemption is slated to sunset Jan. 31 and went into effect Dec. 1.

"Domestic and overseas ocean carriers are taking similar measures, providing financial incentives for jobs well done."

Meanwhile, domestic and overseas ocean carriers are taking similar measures, providing financial incentives for jobs well done. This includes CMA CGM. As Supply Chain Dive reported, the France-based carrier announced it will offer $100 per container for timely pickups that occur before sunset. And if those same punctual pickups take place on weekends, the credits will be doubled to $200.

"The CMA CGM Group is committed to doing everything we can to assist in improving overall supply chain velocity in southern California," said Ed Aldridge, president of CMA North America. "By incentivizing the movement of containers off the terminals and ensuring pickups can be made on nights and weekends at FMS, we will decrease truck turn times and expedite the flow of goods into the United States."

Aldridge added that this is one of the ways supply chain stakeholders need to step up and be a part of the solution to the current inventory crisis.

Backlogs are diminishing — slowly
The supply crunch has been illustrated in a number of different ways. From out-of-stock signs on retail shelves to steadily climbing prices for major foodstuffs like beef, pork and rice, virtually every aspect of the supply chain is feeling the effects of port bottlenecks. While there are various opinions as to the root cause of the snags — not to mention inflation — the amount of time containers are stuck in neutral is impossible to ignore. In July 2020, the percentage of shipments sitting for more than five days was less than 6%. Fourteen months later, nearly a third of shipments were experiencing such dwell times.

As of Dec. 6, 123 total ships were within 40 miles of the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to a Twitter post from the Marine Exchange of Southern California. Of these, 62 were container ships, 35 of which were anchored or loitering. That's down from 135 total ships as of Dec. 3, of which 71 were container ships and 40 anchored or loitering.

Many categories, especially those related to construction and transportation have recently been subject to volatile price fluctuations due to a wide array of unique market conditions.  As a result of this volatility many organizations have seen their cost of goods experience an unexpected and rather drastic rise in price.  While predicting these market fluctuations can be difficult, many strategies do exist to help protect your organization against this unpredictability.  The following section below will help identify a few tactics to help protect your organization against market volatility:

Market Index Protection via Contracting

When entering into an agreement with any supplier, from a best practice perspective a “core list” of commonly used items should be populated in the exhibits portion of the contract with a negotiated price list.  This core price list should have competitive unit costs locked in for the entirety of the agreement.  Historically, when pricing is locked in language is populated in the agreement to protect the supplier from unexpected market disruptions and material shortages.  

For example, if a product you are buying is made from stainless steel, and the market price of steel increases at such a drastic rate that it results in a cost increase outside of your current negotiated rate, the goal in this scenario is to protect yourself from additional increases outside of the market index percentage increase.  To achieve this, your supplier must be contractually responsible to provide documentation in writing direct from the manufacturer and/or source that illustrates this price increase as a passthrough to you the buyer, with specific information tied back to steel’s price index supporting the reason for this increase.  This will help protect you from any potential increases outside of market conditions established within each commodity’s pricing index.   

Negotiate Pricing Rebates

Another way to protect your organization against market unpredictability is by engaging in end of year rebate programs associated with spend volumes.  For instance, you can structure your agreement with your supplier in a way to capture a year end rebate based off total annual spend.  Creating a sliding scale of larger rebates associated with higher spend volumes will help protect your bottom line against some of these unexpected increases, while also establishing organizational rewards for program purchasing compliance.  For example, structuring a contract with a 1.5% rebate for $1 million in spend, a 2% rebate for $1.5 million spend, and so on will create protections for your organization in unpredictable market conditions.  

Forecasting & Planning

It’s also important to analyze historical spend data to help identify trends to help get ahead of potential future-state needs.  For instance, if you properly analyze supplier usage reports while also holding discussions with stakeholders regarding organizational goals and objectives, this will help establish a strong understanding of future needs.  It’s also important connect directly with your key suppliers to understand what their market expectations are.  For instance, are they anticipating an unexpected increase in any cost of materials, or perhaps they have potential cost saving opportunities through bulk purchases that could benefit your organization from an economies of scale perspective?

In short, it’s impossible to forecast market unpredictability, but you can implement protections from a contractual and forecasting perspective to help mitigate risk for your organization.  

Retailers are tired of saying it and customers are beyond frustrated with hearing it: "Sorry, but your purchase is on backorder." Backordered items come with the territory in just about any industry where products are bought and sold, but due to the ongoing supply chain challenges, backorders have surged, even for items that are traditionally well stocked. Whether it's hooded sweatshirts or backyard swing sets, a number of products remain held up at sea as ships wait to unload at overloaded docking stations.

Given the present environment, backorders may be impossible to avoid. But if you're affected by them as a business owner, how you handle these inconveniences and communicate the issues with your customers can make such pain points more tolerable for all involved.

Here are a few tips:

1. Don't complete the transaction until the order is completed
A major sticking point for customers is being charged for an item and not receiving it in a timely fashion. If customers are aware that an item is out of stock, they may assume that the funds won't be deducted from their debit or credit card until the item becomes available. All too often, though, the charge comes first, and the item arrives much later.

Instead, avoid processing the payment until you can confirm that their purchase has shipped. This has the dual benefit of allowing your customer to hold on to their money and helping you avoid the hassle and fees that may be associated with refunds if they decide to cancel. Bottom line, your customer wants to get what they paid for.

2. Carefully evaluate if backorder status is worth it
It may be that your best option is to not bother with backorders and to simply list the item as "out of stock" or "sold out." For example, as noted by Deliverr, if you have no idea as to when the product will be back in stock, backorder may not make sense because customers, in general, like to have a timeline. Additionally, backorders require you to fulfill the order when the time comes. So if you don't have a reliable method for keeping track of how many inquiries you've received for an item that's unavailable, backorders may be a bad business decision. Falling short in this area may also compromise your trustworthiness with that would-be buyer.

Inadequate supply is one cause of backorders.Inadequate supply is one cause of backorders.

3. Offer a discount
An effective strategy that can lead to repeat buyers is to reward them with discounts after their initial purchase. You may want to do the same thing with backorders. For instance, sometimes a customer will avoid moving forward with a purchase if they know it's unavailable. However, they may be willing to reconsider if they get 5%, 10% or 15% off as a thank you for patiently waiting.

4. Evaluate your processes
If backorders are happening routinely, it may not be related to the supply chain crisis. It could have something to do with your inventory system. As recommended by ShipWorks, taking a closer look at your existing procedures may uncover inefficiencies or weaknesses that explain why this issue is ongoing.

It isn't just the common products customers buy that are in short supply; so too are the plastic packages that hold those items, as the key material used to manufacture plastics is difficult to come by and is contributing to rising inflation. 

That material is resin. A synthetic polymer that is a byproduct of petroleum, resin is a uniquely important building block of many different plastics, varnishes and adhesives. But due to the freak ice storm that struck Texas in February — which led to massive blackouts and interrupted oil production at area refineries for several days — wild weather has led to severe supply chain disruptions. Plastics manufacturers have since stockpiled what resins they have to compensate for volatility in supply and pricing and to guard against the possibility of refineries going offline again during hurricane season. The Atlantic hurricane season just recently ended, running between June 1 and Nov. 30.

Given the fact that resin is in such short supply, prices have skyrocketed. Indeed, the Producer Price Index for plastics material and resins manufacturing reached nearly 381 in May, up from 249 a year earlier, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data put together by Supply Chain Dive.

PET is the type of plastic used in water bottles.PET is the type of plastic used in water bottles.

But it isn't just resins — and by extension, plastics — that are harder to find. So too are several other key commodities. These include adhesives and paints, corrugated packaging, electrical components, foam, steel and printed circuit board assemblies as well as semiconductors, according to the Institute for Supply Chain Management. And many of these commodities have been reported as scarce for a number of months, including eight now for resin and 13 months for electrical components. As a result, the prices for these materials have risen consistently on a month-over-month basis. Of the dozens of commodities the Institute for Supply Chain Management tracks, only wood experienced a price reduction in October.

PET prices are also higher 
As far as types of plastics are concerned, Polyethylene Terephthalate, or PET, is a major pain point for businesses that rely on the material, such as bottling companies. Not only have limited quantities driven up the cost of PET, but so have the duties that exporters charge. International Bottled Water Association President and CEO Joe Doss told Supply Chain Dive that the duties on PET originating from China are currently $1.80 for each dollar of imported goods.  

The challenging PET market traces back to the resin shortage and where the material is overwhelmingly manufactured. According to Ferriot, 85% of the nation's resin used to develop plastic comes from Texas, the state that has been on the receiving end of wild weather, including Hurricane Ida in August.

Sudeep Suman, director at Alix Partners, told Supply Chain Dive that he anticipates resin supplies level to remain slim for the foreseeable future, at the very least into 2022. He added that there do seem to be some modest improvements occurring, with supply and demand for the material starting to balance out, albeit slightly

Online shopping may be a highly convenient way to get just about any product that's sold, but given the somewhat impersonal nature of this purchasing channel, those same products are prone to being returned. As 2021 winds its way to a close, business owners are expecting to see more customers sending back their merchandise, further complicating an already highly unstable supply chain.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents in a recent Reverse Logistics Association survey anticipate an increase in product returns between September and December. Additionally, more than half of those same participants said they expect their costs stemming from those returns to rise as well.

Tony Sciarotta, executive director of the Reverse Logistics Association, noted that return activity has intensified throughout 2021, which has contributed to the supply chain crisis.

"The number of returns and costs associated with them continues to climb adding to an already tough environment of rising freight costs, capacity constraints and delays," Sciarrotta explained.

Return volume rose from the previous quarter as well, as 45% of respondents said as much, according to the RLA survey. The costs of those returns also increased during 2021's penultimate quarter for 56% of the poll's participants.

Most retailers are getting more returns  and they expect it to continue in the fourth quarter.Most retailers are getting more returns these days — and they expect it to continue in the fourth quarter.

Why returns can be costly
While the expenses related to shipping and handling may be viewed as unidirectional — from the seller to the buyer — business owners are forced to absorb a variety of costs when merchandise winds up returned to them. This includes those related to placing it back in inventory — a decision determined during the disposition process — transportation, packaging and the potential that the item may not resell. Since it costs money to make goods, anything that isn't sold is a loss.

Items bought online are particularly vulnerable to being returned. Indeed, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation, as a percentage of online sales, nearly 19% of merchandise was returned in 2020. This compares to 10% for goods bought in a brick and mortar environment. And for every $1 billion in sales, retailers absorb $106 million in return-related expenses.

American Eagle Chief Operating Officer Michael Rempell noted in an earnings call that as digital sales increase, so do returns. The goal is to identify how to position that merchandise so it can ultimately wind up in the right hands.

Returns often peak during the holidays, particularly after Christmas when everyone has received their presents. During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, approximately 180 million Americans shopped, according to a separate survey from the NRF. While that total was more than what the trade organization anticipated, online shopping fell from 2020 by 17.6 million people.

As for the items buyers gravitated toward — whether in store or online — much of what was bought was clothing and accessories. Aside from this, roughly 50% of the items purchased over the five-day Black Friday weekend consisted of toys, books, music, video games and electronics. Clothing and electronics are the most commonly returned items, according to a survey from Power Reviews.

 What is Supplier Relationship Management (SRM)?

Supplier relationship management is the discipline of strategically planning for, and managing, all interactions with third party organizations that supply goods and/or services to an organization in order to maximize the value of those interactions. In practice, SRM entails creating closer, more collaborative relationships with key suppliers to uncover and realize new value and reduce risk of failure.

Getting back to the initial goal of cost savings, the question becomes ‘when cost savings is a critical driver in supplier selection, how do you balance the collaborative relationship with low cost?

The major key is internal alignment between procurement and other business units. Supply Chain leaders must be able to explain why certain vendors are selected who may not be the low-cost option for reasons like customer service, on-time deliveries, payment terms, reporting, etc. while also stating how they are managing those vendors to get the best price possible. 

Category leaders must be able to explain how new suppliers versus incumbent suppliers will impact the company. There are too many cases where the grass appears to be greener on the other side and by selecting a low cost, new supplier, operational differences get lost in the shuffle and the transition becomes a disaster.

Why is Supplier Management Important?

In plain and simple terms, it creates a competitive advantage. Whether you are the procurement or the supply chain leader for your organization, having a strong supplier management system in place allows for maximin opportunities in cost reduction, value driven services, and over all systematic efficiencies which otherwise would be achieved.  

Supplier Relationships

A critical component to any company’s success is their ability to maintain strong working relationships with their suppliers and vendors. SRMs should always look to avoid complacency. You should never be satisfied with the idea of ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’. SRMs should always be looking for opportunities to improve the relationship, streamline processes or procedures, or change costing models. Relationship Managers should always be looking to challenge the status quo.

Another key to a strong supplier relationship is to open that line of communication and don’t be afraid to ask the question, ‘what we can be doing better?’ Here are some quick ideas as to how you, as a customer to your key suppliers, can help enhance your relationship and make those suppliers want to compete for your business. 

Trust and Loyalty (treat them as more than just vendors)

Improve technology and automation

Adhere to payment terms

Develop communication plans

Differentiate between price versus value

Have a dedicated Supplier Relationship Manager (SRM)

Internal alignment between Procurement and Supply Chain Category leaders

Retailers sell trillions of dollars worth of merchandise every year. Even in 2020, a period plagued by the coronavirus crisis, industry sales topped $4 trillion, according to the National Retail Federation.

But a substantial chunk of that merchandise winds up back with retailers, whether in inventory or on store shelves. Indeed, as a percentage of total sales last year, returns represented $428 billion, the NRF found.

And with the holiday season now here, easily the biggest shopping period of the year, return activity is virtually guaranteed to be swift, which will not only adversely affect a weak-kneed supply chain but raise costs. In the third quarter, more than half of retailers said their return costs rose compared to the second quarter, according to a survey from the Reverse Logistics Association. Whether the added expenses come from lower margins, shipping and handling, processing or overhead, the costs can be considerable

While returns can't be neutralized entirely, smart strategies can curb return activity. Here are a few best practices:

1.  Avoid silly mistakes
Every now and then, items will be returned purely because the buyer changed their mind. But more often than not, returns are related to items not meeting buyers' expectations. For example, according to Chain Store Age, nearly two-thirds of returns derive from errors that were made by the retailer or associate. Common complaints include the wrong item(s) being shipped and defects.

The easiest fix is for packers to be more cognizant of what they're preparing for shipment. This requires being more diligent about each product and double checking both the item itself as well as the original invoice. 

Smart customer service is central to reducing returns.Smart customer service is central to reducing returns.

2. Simplify your return policy
While it may seem counterintuitive, streamlining your return policies can actually wind up benefiting your company in the long run. From contacting customer support to preparing a product for shipment to paying for the shipment itself to bringing an item to the location where it can actually be returned, the return process can be highly involved and a major hassle. That's the last thing you want when your customers are already frustrated at having to return the item to begin with.

But as polling from SalesCycle reveals, retailers with straightforward return processes wind up getting more business in the long run. Nearly 75% of respondents said they were either somewhat likely (37%) or very likely (35%) to shop more often with a retailer knowing the return process was hassle-free.

Whether it's through prepaid, printable packing labels, store drop-off and pickup or partnering with a shipment organization, a seamless return policy can wind up paying off.

3. Provide accurate sizing charts
It may come as no surprise that clothing is the merchandise category that sees the most returns. And that's frequently due to shirts, pants, jackets and the like being too snug or roomy. Ideally, your website has a size chart that specifies the dimensions of a small, medium or large. Ensure that those dimensions are truly reflective of the products themselves. This may be difficult to do if you have more than one t-shirt supplier, as one company's medium may be another's large or vice versa. It's important to use the same measuring method for your whole line of products. For example, if online buyers are advised to measure the full circumference of their chest for t-shirt, that method should be mirrored for other shirt types (e.g. sweatshirts, sweaters, etc.) and fabricators. You may also encourage previous buyers to offer feedback on the fit in the customer review section of your website.

These and other measures can bring greater stability to your supply chain. 

You don't need to be a restaurateur to know that inflation is as hot as a pressure cooker at the moment. But since you do own a dining establishment, and food represents a substantial portion of what you spend your money on, you're keenly aware of the domino-like effect rising food costs can have on how you manage your cash flow. It leaves you with less discretionary spending and more room for error in regard to your various purchasing decisions. As it is, it's extraordinarily difficult to thrive as a restaurateur, as demonstrated by how many restaurants wind up shutting their doors shortly after opening them, often within a year or two. 

Adding insult to injury, the cost of food is expected to continue climbing into 2022, according to several economists, since inflation is poised to persist.

Bottom line: While you may be spending more, there are strategies you can implement that will help you offset rising business costs by adjusting to the current economic environment. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Streamline your menu
If you've owned a restaurant for a while, your menu has likely expanded — perhaps with each passing year. But it's highly likely that many of those dishes don't sell at quite the rate as the other more popular menu items. Take a look at your receipts to see what items sell the best month to month. In prioritizing these top sellers, you'll reduce your food costs and also diminish waste. As CNN Business has reported, several well known restaurant chains are making their menus leaner, including Dave & Buster's, McDonald's and IHOP. Not only are they spending less, they're also finding it to be a hit with customers by making it easier to decide. Mark Salebra, who chairs the McDonald's National Franchisee Leadership Alliance, noted in a statement that customer satisfaction scores have improved "significantly" since dialing back their dish offerings.

Smaller menus can yield substantial savings in terms of cost management.Smaller menus can yield substantial savings in terms of cost management.

2. Consider kiosks
For just about every business, restaurants included, the biggest ongoing cost is labor; it's the expense that takes up most of their budgets. But if you own the kind of dining establishment that's more quick-serve in nature, investing in a self-ordering kiosk can make a lot of sense. Kiosks allow customers to have more control over and customization of what they order and allow you to use staff more strategically. Subway, McDonald's and Chili's have all rolled out self-service kiosks and experienced better sales as a result, increasing figures by approximately 5% (McDonald's) and 20% among appetizers (Chili's), according to a report from Workstream.

3. Focus on retention
The restaurant sector experiences a high rate of turnover, particularly among certain segments such as fast food or fast casual. In fact, the annual turnover rate among fast-casual restaurants ranges between 130% and 150%, according to a report from CNBC. This compares to a national rate of 49% in the private sector overall. 

Having to train new employees is a major expense. Thus, retention is key. Speaking to your employees about what makes them satisfied in their jobs can help you determine what retention strategies to key in on.

With the overwhelming majority of toys purchased in the United States shipped from overseas, major retailers and manufacturers are preparing parents for an unfortunate fact this Christmas: Their intended purchases may not be available in stores. This is due to the supply chain logjams occurring at shipping ports all around the world.

But in an attempt to sidestep the port disorder and ensure children have plenty of toys waiting to be unwrapped come Christmas morning, one of the world's largest toy manufacturers has turned to nearshoring as a workaround. So far, it's proven to be a successful Plan B strategy.

In an October earnings call with reporters, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz indicated that the multinational toy manufacturer is nearshoring several of its production processes so the path to purchase is shorter and deliverables arrive on store shelves in a more timely fashion. Nearshoring is a supply chain strategy that involves transferring a particular business operation — such as packaging or parts and assembly — to a location that isn't as far away. Kreiz indicated that Mattel's early implementation of nearshoring enabled the company to reach its sales goals for the third quarter.

"We anticipated short supply and longer lead times, and factored that into our planning with mitigating actions," Kreiz explained. "For example, we expedited procurement of raw materials, pulled forward finished goods production to increase capacity, invested in additional tooling to dual source manufacturing of critical product lines, leveraged our diverse manufacturing footprint to optimize nearshoring of production, contracted ocean freight capacity and rates in advance and secured access to additional ports and shipping lanes."

Mattel says nearshoring will  help ensure more of its products will be available for purchase during the holidays.Mattel says nearshoring will help ensure more of its products will be available for purchase during the holidays.

Delivery times have risen more than 80%
This past September, The Toy Association issued a warning to retailers, informing them that ongoing supply chain disruptions would likely result in more empty shelves as buyer volume intensifies. That's because 85% of the toys bought in the United States are manufactured in Asia, according to the Toy Association. In that month, it was taking approximately 73 days for products shipped from China to arrive in the United States, according to estimates from the Port of Los Angeles. That's an increase of 83% compared to September 2019, Supply Chain Dive reported from Freightos figures.

Kreiz said that Mattel's early implementation of nearshoring will enable the company to be more nimble and respond to consumer demand as it intensifies. "We are ready for a strong holiday season," Kreiz added during the earnings call.

Meanwhile, other toy manufacturers haven't been as successful with their supply chain challenges. For instance, Hasbro CEO Rich Stoddart said that approximately $100 million worth of orders in the third quarter went unfilled because of supply chain bottlenecks and port congestion. However, Hasbro Chief Financial Officer Deborah Thomas said  the products which were in limbo have since arrived to their intended destinations, as Hasbro has "delivered much of what was delayed in the third quarter despite continued supply chain challenges."

Notwithstanding these troubles, revenues for Hasbro rose 11% in the third quarter, according to the press release.

While much has been said about the truck driver shortage, the industry doesn't lack for participation or size. In addition to employing nearly 2 million people (according to the Department of Labor), three of the 50 most common jobs in America are all related to trucking (i.e. industrial truck and tractor operators, light truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer drivers), as a report from Stacker found after reviewing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nevertheless, the American Trucking Associations says that if hiring doesn't pick up the pace, motor carriers and the industry as a whole could be at least 160,000 drivers shy of the number necessary to meet demand as soon as 2028.

But as Freight Waves recently reported, it isn't young people or those who are middle-aged who are seeking their commercial drivers licenses of late; it's seniors — or those who are on the cusp of senior citizen status. They may hold the key to resolving some of the supply chain issues affecting the nation's ports. 

'It was just time for me to do something else'
One of those people who may have a role to play is Ed Falls, a retired school band director. Speaking to Freight Waves, the 57-year-old noted that with his teaching days behind him, he was ready to pursue a different line of work, and the trucking lifestyle just so happened to be in line with his likes and interests.

"It was just time for me to do something else and I always like driving," Falls explained. "I like over-the-road stuff. I like the freedom."

Freedom — or more precisely, more free time — is part of what has inspired more seniors to pursue trucking as a post-retirement career. Being freed from traditional job responsibilities — as well as family responsibilities since their kids have left home — has made the transition to trucking fairly seamless.

John Albert, who has been driving a truck professionally for 14 years now after obtaining his CDL at 55, noted that he likely couldn't have gotten into trucking were it not for the fact that he had more free time in his mid-50s.

"If I was younger and I still had children at home, I would not do it," Albert told Freight Waves.

Seniors are increasingly taking up truck driving as a post-retirement career path.Seniors are increasingly taking up truck driving as a post-retirement career path.

Retirements a major contributor to driver shortage
That more seniors are becoming truck drivers is, in some ways, out of step with current employment trends in the trucking industry. In fact, as the American Trucking Associations has detailed, a big reason why the shortage of drivers is as large as it is is due to so many truckers exiting the workforce. Between 2021 and 2030, an estimated 400,000 drivers will be retiring, according to the trade association's estimates.

But now, it seems, many of the people who are replacing the more seasoned truck drivers are their senior contemporaries, just those who are brand new to the job.

That said, industry experts stress that more young people are needed in order for the sector to grow and develop. Since seniors are already in the latter half of their working years, they don't have as much time to extend their careers as those who are in their twenties and thirties. Currently, the median age for over-the-road drivers is 46 and for private fleet drivers, it's 57, based on a 2019 report from the American Trucking Associations. To grow the business, that median age will need to go down.

In the meantime, the supply chain stands to benefit from unclogging the existing bottlenecks. 

What kind of relationship do you have with your suppliers? Do you maintain an ongoing correspondence, or is it more or less a relationship that is exclusively transactional in nature?

In a post-COVID world, supplier relationships are more important than ever. While hundreds of thousands of businesses did not make it through the pandemic, forced to close due to mounting costs and a lack of cash flow, others survived, often through a combination of good fortune and strategic cost-cutting.

Still, many can't help but wonder: What if? What if the materials I need from my supplier were to suddenly not be available? What what would my company do if my supplier went out of business?

The key to ensuring ongoing supply — and being cognizant of supply chain bottlenecks — is by maintaining a relationship with your supplier(s).

Here are a few tips that supply chain management experts put together for Harvard Business Review. While the piece was written back in 2004, the tips they offer are every bit as applicable today as they were then:

1. Become more well acquainted with your suppliers' processes
Understanding the ins and outs of what goes into creating a microchip or crop cultivation gives you a better appreciation for the work that goes into it and why delivery takes the amount of time it does.

As Harvard Business Review contributors Jeffrey Liker and Thomas Choi point out, supplier relationships are founded on mutual understanding and becoming as intimately familiar with your suppliers' processes as they are. This entails research, study and being on site — on the factory floor — when production processes are underway.

Do you know how your suppliers create what they do?Do you know how your suppliers create what they do?

2. Diversify your suppliers
Among the biggest mistakes retailers, restaurans and other businesses that rely on suppliers made during the COVID-19 pandemic was putting all their supply eggs in one basket. So when their suppliers had to shut down, it compromised sales.

Supplier diversification not only lowers risk, but it also encourages competition. As Liker and Choi noted, supplier competition incentivizes producers to perform in a way that will result in a new contract or extend an existing one.

3. Supervise suppliers if you can
Being on the scene when producers are engaged in their work not only gives you a bird's eye view of their processes, it also allows for supervision. This supervision isn't necessarily done to ensure that they're doing their job but to offer feedback, advice or support. According to Choi and Liker, automakers are known to send report cards to their suppliers to communicate problems with delivery, performance history and words of encouragement or gratitude.  

4. Know the lingo or develop your own
Depending on your business, some of your suppliers may be overseas, and your points of contact may speak an entirely different language. Conversations that are lost in translation can lead to unnecessary confusion and unfulfilled orders. Liker and Choi recommend establishing a common lexicon or relying on verbiage that everyone understands, which allows key stakeholders to stay on the same page.

By implementing these suggestions in tandem with strategic information sharing and joint improvement activities, you can maintain a more reliable supply that is grounded in better communication.

The United States auto industry has been producing and creating more cost-efficient electric cars since the 1970’s. Companies such as Tesla and Nissan are the pioneers in this type of technology and now have competition from other world automakers. The demand continues to increase for more sustainable consumer products. However, one sector that is often overlooked is the electric truck freight automotive. Despite the lack of popularity and visibility compared to consumer automobiles, the fright and semi-truck business is quite crucial for the logistics of goods both in the U.S. and abroad. As governments and corporations find new ways to reduce carbon emissions, the supply chain infrastructure offers a perfect opportunity to reduce carbon emissions. 

Freight truck emissions are one of the more substantial carbon emitters in the world with an estimated 1.8 billion tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere in 2019* (62% of all cargo freight emissions). One of the easier ways that business could decarbonize their supply network distribution is to invest in electric trucks and freights.

The cost-effectiveness of Electric freight trucks.

One of the important aspects in the push for a greener supply chain is making ensure “greener” provides a cost-effective solution. The cost analysis of operating a transport truck is based on several factors: 

Electric Freight trucks are still more expensive to purchase upfront than their diesel counterparts due to the high battery costs. 

According to Forbes, A 375-mile range truck with the current battery price of $135/kWh is expected to cost as much as 75% more than a diesel counterpart. 

In terms of cost per mile efficiency the electric trucks already seem to be a substantial cost-effective option.

“A Class 8 electric truck—the heaviest long-haul trucks, weighing more than 33,000 pounds -traveling an average of 300 miles a day would cost 13% less to own per mile than a conventional diesel truck” (Forbes). 

Electric costs are based upon electricity demand; the cost of fueling can be substantially cheaper by charging during off demand hours. 

There is a lower maintenance cost because the electric engines have fewer moving parts and thus receive less wear and tear than a normal diesel engine. 

A study of the Argonne National Laboratory shows that maintenance costs are 40% cheaper for Electric Vehicles (EV’s) than Internal engine combustion (ICE) vehicles.  

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – some additional factors:


Tax benefits


The bottom line –This elevated initial investment makes most companies unwilling to switch their fleet, when considering that electric trucks do not have an efficient driving range compared to a diesel truck. For reference a normal diesel semi-truck can drive 2,100 miles before having to refuel the tank**, compare this to an electric truck that at 375-miles needs to recharge. 

How Sustainable are Electric Vehicles?

The three main factors to consider: 

Electricity power matrix

Freight production emissions 

Battery waste management

One big caveat in the sustainable potential of this technology is the electric grid of the country where the freight trucks is being used. If the local energy matrix used to charge truck relies mostly from fossil fuels, then the carbon emission reduction becomes less expressive. 

The EPA points out Electric Vehicles (EV’s) are comparably better than fossil fuel engines since they have a 100% rate of carbon emission compared to the more reliant fossil fuel matrixes that use a high percentage but generally not 100% carbon emitting sources. The energy matrix across every country in the world is decarbonizing which makes EV’s a better sustainable solution in the long run. 

In addition, there is the issue of production; electric freight trucks can produce more carbon emissions in its production than normal trucks due to the energy intensive process require to produce the batteries in the first place. Overall, the total Green House Gas (GHG) emissions per lifetime for electric vehicles is lower than fossil fuel engines so it is a better option in the long run despite the short-term trade-off in increased carbon emissions. 

An outlying issue, yet to be addressed is the recycling of the EV batteries and the fossil fuel cars that are going to be replaced. For the solution to work diesel and gas automobiles will have to be reused or recycled. The solution for lower carbon emissions should not come at the trade-off creating another negative environmental externality.


In 2021, electric trucks are still in proof of concept, that has yet to be fully implemented. Additional research is needed to reduce electric battery cost and increase the mileage range per electric charge. There is potential for success in this environmentally friendly solution but it’s yet to prove to be economically feasible.

Companies should be on the lookout for improved electric truck technology, which will down the road create a greener supply chain.

If you have any questions about this blog post please email me at ppeebles@corcentric.com for information about our fleet procurement, fleet financing  and the GPO please click https://www.corcentric.com/fleet-solutions/.


*According to our world in data

**According to Schneider National


TEAMS is chocked full of functionality, in fact so much so that it would take quite a bit of time to learn it all.  The pandemic sped up the use of TEAMS and Microsoft increased the functionality by leaps and bounds to keep pace.

Very few people use all the features.

I was introduced to TEAMS in January 2020.  I had no previous experience; the system, for the most part, is extremely user friendly and intuitive.  

The functions highlighted below are nifty ones used by many on a daily basis:

TEAMS communication options fall into 1 of 4 types

(no difference if scheduled or impromptu)

  • Chat only functionality - text conversation. 
  • An audio only call (all parties picture or initials appear) with or without screen sharing.  
  • Full video meeting (live faces) with or without screen sharing. 
  • Audio call with people outside of the company - a traditional phone call.

I recommend considering  the "traffic light” approach prior to reaching out to someone internal for any type of communication (this is the availability status circle by the internal employee’s name or initials in TEAMS:

  • Available - for calls and screen chat. 
  • Busy - will receive chat messages and will have functionality to answer back. 
  • Do Not Disturb with horizontal slash – no outside screen chat will appear until the has concluded. 
  • Be right back with a clock sign - The person is temporarily unavailable or is finishing a task. (Be right back can only be set manually if your computer is idle/ screen lock or “asleep”)  
  • Offline - It means the person is currently not using TEAMS, connected to the company, and until they log back into Corcentric they are not receiving messages. 

How to take and share notes in a team’s meeting

  • Selecting the “More Actions” icon
  • Select the “show meeting notes” option
  • A side pane will pop up select the “take notes”

I need all the organization help I can get; with the elimination of paper files and the growth of a “cloud filing system” I can easily loose items. TEAMS provides the ability to “Pin” – think of a bulletin board.

Pinning/organizing your teams

  • Open Microsoft Teams. 
  • Go to the team and channel you want to pin.
  • Find the post and click the more options button at top right.
  • Select Pin.
  • The post will be pinned to the top. The post is pinned for everyone, if part of a channel.


While in the document others that have access to the same document will be able to edit simultaneously and EVERYONE’s collaborative changes/updates will be AUTOSAVED!

FYI - changes can be made in the channel/non-desktop environment, however this is where (in my opinion) TEAMS is flawed; when multiple parties making changes, alignment and structure can become skewed.

 How to save a message/chat/or link to files

  • Find the message you want to save.
  • Hover over the message and click the bookmark icon to save the message.
  • Once the message is saved, the bookmark icon will appear red, and a message will pop up indicating that the message was saved.

How to find saved items

  • Just to the right of the text.
  • To see a list of your saved messages, select your profile picture at the top of the app and choose Saved.

How to copy and send a link

  • Select Format beneath the message box.
  • Select Insert link.
  • Add display text and the address.
  • Select Insert or copy and paste the link into the message box.
  • Select Send.

Emojis and Gif’s in Teams – Why & When 

According to the company hibox - (Paraphrased) "There are real, measurable benefits to the increasingly casual form of communication that has become the norm of the most innovative businesses. Without in-person interaction, there’s little emotional dimension to our messages at work which can tax employee engagement and relationships. Formal communication is being factored out in favor of informal methods which include emojis and GIFS because we simply work better this way. Using Emojis and Gif's in appropriate business communication produces better results!" 

TEAMS has over 800 Emojis, stickers and Gif’s incorporated into the platform.  On my team,  if a message is received with no action or reply required, the “thumbs up” is posted as a confirmation of being received/read by the recipient.  

Please know your audience prior to adding emojis, GIF or Stickers to group reads, channels – especially if clients are part of the communication/information stream. 

How to access the “Secret” Emoticons in TEAMS 

  • Open Microsoft Teams. Go to either a teams' channel or a chat thread. 
  • Click inside the text input field and enter the colon character: 
    • Follow this character up with a letter for example a and emoticons that start with the letter will appear in the list.  🚲🍱🧐

These quick how-to tips are are used frequently and offer effective interactions both internally to an organization and when engaging external resources. TEAMS offers extensive robust features and functionality; continuously helping to bridge the gap of face-to-face interactions that are still impacted by Covid. 

Corcentric is currently looking for qualified staff... www.corcentric.com/company/careers/

If an opening is of interest or if you have questions about the company please email me at twankoff@corcentric.com.