Of the 12 years that we have been conducting our Best Practices Survey, this year by far was the most disheartening. The economy has taken its toll, and we see our readers taking pay cuts and freezes, taking on more responsibilities (doing more with less) and some even saying, "So long" as layoffs cut out management positions. We also saw the dissolution of DHL domestic service, narrowing the competitive landscape in the parcel transportation arena. Last year, only 22% of shippers projected they would be changing their carrier mixes this year, but a whopping 46% ended up having to deal with switching carriers. But it wasn't just because of DHL's exit. As a bad economy took hold, cost was an overriding reason why our survey respondents said they switched. However, they are optimistic, with only 22% once again saying they will be changing their carrier mixes in the next 12 months. And this time, they plan to spread out their parcels to not only the three remaining national carriers (FedEx, UPS and USPS) but more plan to use LTL and regionals for parcel shipments than in years past. It appears that shippers are a bit nervous about putting all of their eggs in one basket and anxious to start testing the alternative transportation providers.

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