E-commerce has levelled the playing field for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). With logistics providers now connecting SMEs to global supply chains, it’s possible to transform your business from a cottage industry into an international player.
However, to achieve this transformation, you need to understand what your logistics provider can offer beyond package delivery and how you can harness their expertise to create business opportunity. Here are three tips.
Step 1: Understand the role of logistics in your business
Logistics is about far more than transporting goods from A to B. Getting the right item to the right place at the right time is just one piece of the puzzle.
A good logistics provider can connect you to a solid integrated supply chain that will enable your SME to access new markets – and revenue streams – around the world.
“Logistics is about maximizing your business’ potential in the complex marketplace we live in,” says Eduardo Lopez, Director, System for Engineering and Business Planning, FedEx Express.
Step 2: Ask the right questions at the start
To reap those benefits, your relationship with your logistics provider needs to be built on a strong foundation. That means asking the right questions up front.
Many SMEs are not aware of the full range of options offered by their logistics provider, and often limit their questions to prices, terms and conditions, and transit times, explains Lopez.
“It’s only when I’ve broadened the conversation, discussing the possibilities of leveraging our knowledge and expertise to tap new markets, for example, that we have been able to provide much more valuable strategic advice.”
SMEs should consider asking these questions:
- How can you support my business objectives?
A good logistics provider should be able to help you launch into new markets, offer value-added suggestions and identify customer pain points you may have overlooked.
- How can I prepare for the unexpected?
Don’t let unforeseen events throw your plans off course. Grill your logistics provider about service and reliability levels, as well as recovery and contingency plans and how they will communicate with end-customers.
- How is your service offering different?
Push your logistics provider to spell out the reasons why you should choose them over their competitors. If they can’t clearly articulate their differentiator(s), it may be because they don’t have one.
Step 3: Harvest the knowledge of your logistics provider
The better you understand your supply chain, the stronger your business will be.
Your logistics provider should be able to offer you a host of information – from the physical movement of your goods to monitoring your inventories in multiple locations.
“Make sure you can see where your packages are at any time, what the costs of delays are and how quickly your goods will reach their destination,” says Lopez. “All of this ultimately equips you to better manage your inventories as well as your business.”
Invest some time in building a stronger relationship with your logistics provider to leverage their expertise and global networks. With their help, you’ll soon be able to take your SME to the next level.