Group of multi-ethnical people celebrating their new start-up business.

5 BENEFITS OF WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH A 3PL

Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) are reaping the rewards of the boom in e-commerce and the growing interest and passion for independent brands.

At the same time consumer attitudes to service and delivery are rapidly changing. Customers are more demanding and expect delivery on their terms. They want to receive their order quickly and at a time and place of their choosing. E-commerce logistics is becoming delivery led not delivery last.

These changes provide real challenges for SMEs. Without the budget or logistics expertise of the big brands they have to work hard to deliver a customer experience that allows them to compete with their larger competitors.

The answer for SMEs is to partner with a 3PL who can become an extension of their business and provide best in class logistics solutions.

3PLs provide the following benefits:

Cutting edge delivery expertise                                                           

3PLs are delivery experts. It’s their job to know, understand and access the best delivery solutions available. Whether its same day, next day, timed, tracked or international 3PLs will have a range of services to suit all. This combined with excellent rates and experience handling paperwork, customs, taxes and duties means an SME working with a 3PL can expect to save time and money while offering their customers a first class service.

Industry know-how                                                                                      

Many 3PLs specialise in a specific sectors such as toys, healthcare, beauty or chilled & frozen foods for example. Their specialism allows them to amass huge amounts of industry specific expertise and knowledge. Utilising this knowledge 3PLs apply the best industry practices and processes. By tapping into this an SME can focus on growing their brand confident in the knowledge their logistics partner will be able to handle any opportunity and challenge.

Safe, secure, suitable storage

Long or short term secure storage, bulk movements, pallets, cartons or unit pick. Retail, wholesale or e-commerce direct to consumer, there is a 3PL to suit every business and budget.

Technology                                                                                                                                             Exciting developments in IT mean companies can access and track their stock and orders through on-line portals. Batch code traceability, inventory levels, order progress and inventory tracking throughout the supply chain. Most of this technology is available on mobile devices and tablets giving customers instant access anywhere at anytime. All this is are now available at the touch of a button reducing the complicated and time consuming record keeping and administration management that businesses used to have to complete.

Peak season capability                                                                                                                                              3PLs have access to flexible space, resources and manpower. This enables them to react and ramp up quickly to meet seasonal peaks and promotions. 3PLs provide businesses with the ability to fulfill increased volumes at short notice while maintaining delivery excellence.

In a crowded market place 3PLs level the playing field between big brands and SMEs providing smaller businesses with the opportunity to offer cost effective industry leading logistics solutions that deliver exceptional customer service.

Woman signs parcel in post office

ARE YOU READY FOR BLACK FIVEDAY?

It doesn’t stop with Black Friday though. We now have Black Fiveday which starts on the Thursday before Black Friday and culminates in Cyber Monday.

I just did some research and the facts and figures are mind boggling. Did you know?

  • Consumers are expected to spend 5 billion over the 5 day period.
  • Black Friday 2016 will be the biggest day of online spending the world has ever seen.
  • 1.1 billion is predicted in sales on Black Friday alone.
  • 3.3 billion is predicted for the 3 day weekend.

As a 3PL, especially if you offer internet fulfillment services, you’re at the sharp end of this annual event. The statistics speak for themselves, we need to take this event seriously and have a clear strategy in place to maintain our service.

If you haven’t started your Black Fiveday planning yet, here’s a checklist to get you on track.

  1. Identify which of your customers are hosting Black Fiveday deals.
  2. Ascertain whether their deals are on specific stock lines or across their whole stock offering.
  3. Request details on the volume of orders your customers are expecting.
  4. If order volumes are expected to rise significantly speak to your customer about increasing the number of order files you receive from them during the day and the following days. You may need one an hour!
  5. Determine the exact length of Black Fiveday promotions. Is it the full 5 days or just the Friday or Monday?
  6. Clarify the delivery promises your customers are making to their customers, (next day delivery, within 3 days etc.)
  7. In order to maximise productivity, output and service levels decide if and when to run night and weekend shifts.
  8. Check you have enough packaging, boxes and labels available.
  9. Liaise with your IT support company or department to ensure you have access to their assistance should it be required.
  10. Notify your parcel carriers and Royal Mail about the increased volume and arrange additional collections or larger collection vehicles if required.
  11. Pre-print Royal Mail franking labels if applicable.
  12. Calculate staff numbers, devise shift plans and organise additional training.
  13. Arrange for products on offer to be retrieved from bulk storage and placed in an accessible area.
  14. If a customer’s deal is just on one or two items, arrange to pre-pack a certain volume of these so they simply need mailing labels and despatch paperwork adding when the orders start flooding in.
  15. Make customers aware of any additional charges for night or weekend opening.

And most importantly

16. Have FUN and ENJOY IT! Fast paced, logistics and warehousing  challenges are what get us up in the morning. This is an opportunity for your business to excel. This is what we do best!

young business team putting their hands on top of each other at conference and smiling

OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE – DELIGHTING CUSTOMERS

Today’s rapid advances in mobile technology mean customers are better informed, more demanding and have greater expectations for a faster and more accurate service.

To a business this means new challenges in the form of greater visibility and reduced order lead times.

Operational Excellence is the key to meeting these challenges.

It can

  • deliver great customer service
  • enable business growth
  • improve financial performance
  • enhance employee satisfaction and retention

Successful implementation relies on

  • strong leadership
  • high performing teams
  • well-designed processes
  • robust review mechanisms

Operational Excellence does not have to be complicated and it can be applied to any size business, division or department.

Strong leadership

To succeed the leader of the business must communicate a clear vision, be committed to making change happen, be engaged with the work force and determined to continually improve the business.

High performing teams 

High performing teams are well informed, fully understand the direction and needs of the business, are aware of customer requirements and challenges, and understand, value and take pride in their part of the business process.

The leadership of the business needs to be fully engaged with employees and all stakeholders in order to deliver the required results.

Well-designed processes

The key business and support processes must be well defined, simplified, documented and trained to all staff involved in the process.  Appropriate process measures should be in place to monitor performance and identify efficiencies.

Robust review mechanisms

Continuous improvement is achieved by reviewing appropriate KPI measures, undertaking internal and external benchmarking and regularly reviewing key processes.

Process performance needs to be measured in terms of time, quantity and quality. In turn these measurements should be used to monitor progress, identify improvements and used to feedback to teams.

Feedback from employees, customers and other key stakeholders is also vitally important in order to adapt, change, improve and perform better. This feedback must be used in a regular review process resulting in appropriate action plans.

To be successful your business needs to adapt to change or it will be changed.

Standing still is not an option.