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Outsourcing—Far From Taboo
By: Elizabeth Abrams
Posted: June 3, 2010, from the June 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
Your company’s job is to ensure your product appeals to the consumer, but in the transportation, shipping or logistics aspect of the company, you are tasked with making sure your product gets to the retailer in the quickest and safest way possible. And maybe up to now, the relationships you’ve worked hard to establish with your carriers have brought you some pretty competitive rates. But as of late, you might be noticing an increased order volume and a greater emphasis on speed by your retailers.
If you’ve come to the realization that it might be time to begin looking for a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, you may have concerns centered around what an implementation of this plan could entail. However, think of it this way: The goal of this endeavor is to increase efficiency and profit, and if you approach the issue from these angles, you may quickly find yourself beginning the 3PL provider search, because who doesn’t want to save time and money?
Efficiency: Code for Green
So your company has pitched an all-natural, 100% pure compact powder packaged in nothing but recycled material. Everyone loves the idea because research shows one in two consumers prefer sustainable products. But going green doesn’t have to live solely in sales and business development. Corporate sustainability is more about efficiency and waste reduction, and finding the right 3PL provider is bound to save your company time and money.
Begin by assessing your performance objectives. Are your needs growing to new markets or shifting to include new retailers? Either way, the ideal logistics provider will have a transportation and warehousing network with locations and carrier relationships that sync with your distribution needs. The provider you choose should be experienced in handling your product, both in the warehouse and on the road, and knows the unique needs each case can bring with it.
Efficiency also comes in the form of advanced technology and a forward-thinking logistics programs. Leading 3PL providers offer a technology platform to their customers, allowing them to obtain quotes, book freight, track shipments and file claims with one simple online login. Imagine being able to determine the exact location of your shipments, know when they left the loading dock and when they arrived at the distribution center, all the while having a customer service team from your 3PL provider doubling up on these efforts to help keep you in the loop.