Logistics, it might not be the sexiest topic but when it comes to growing your business, it is a necessary piece of the puzzle. Why is logistics so important? Simply put it is used to manage how your products and services are delivered to customers. That’s right even service companies need to understand logistics and as such this article will give you some tips on how logistics can help you grow your business.
Start with the End in Mind
This might sound simple enough, after all, you just want to deliver whatever you are selling to your customers. However, supply chain optimization is something which even the largest companies struggle to do consistently. As such, the goal isn’t so much to deliver your product or service, it is to get it into the hands of your customers as quickly as possible and for the lowest cost.
This is where things get complicated. But it doesn’t need to be like this and this starts by developing a logistics strategy which fits the needs of your customers while helping your business remain profitable. It’s through the balancing of these seemingly contradictory goals that one can build out a logistics plan which makes the most sense for their competitive environment.
Focus on Your Customers
It’s unfortunate but all too often the voice of the customer gets lost in logistics planning discussions. While the reasons behind such outcomes are understandable, the resulting disconnect can make it difficult to grow any business.
As such, a conscious effort needs to be taken to involve customers in planning discussion. Sure, you don’t want them to be making the decisions per se, but you do want to know how the decisions you make will impact customers’ perception – especially those anchor customers who are helping you to keep the lights on.
By the way, this is a massive opportunity. According to the research and consulting firm, Supply Chain Insights, less than five percent of business owners rated the ability of their logistics solutions to respond quickly to customer needs as excellent. As such, any improvements, even marginal service and experience enhancements, can have an outsized impact in the eyes of your customers.
This is where you can win, focus on giving your customers want and do it better than your competition and your business will grow.
Don’t be as Quite as a Church Mouse
You’ve built a great logistics network and the execution blows the pants off your competition. What do you do next? Do you keep your head down and trundle on or do you proclaim your advantage to the world?
The correct answer is that you need to highlight this advantage. Sure, this might cause your competitors to up their game; but the reality is that if you standstill in business, you will die.
As such, you need to find a way to let the world know about your success and this is where logistics and marketing meet. Beyond this continually look for ways to improve your performance. This could include collaboration with your suppliers to better manage inventory levels and order fulfillment times, or it could be asking your key customers to get testimonials stating how good your business is.
Don’t Forget the Costs
It costs money to run a great logistics network, but what many businesses do is assume that order fulfillment will cost what it costs and there is nothing that can be done. This could not be further from the truth and you should manage your logistics costs just as thoroughly as you do other parts of your business.
While this doesn’t mean that you should cut corners, but it does mean that you will need to balance the return on your investments. This again is where listening to the voice of your customer is important as you might be spending money on perks that your customers don’t care about.
Another item to focus on, especially as your business grows, is whether your business can take advantage of better rates from your shippers. Don’t assume that you are too small as you might be surprised if there might be some options to get a better rate. This could even include checking with industry associations to see if that have any agreements with a delivery service.
Plan for Growth
One of the worst things that a company can do is not have a plan on how to tackle the challenges you will face in growth mode. Sure, it can feel like you are drinking from a firehouse but having a plan will help you to navigate the challenges.
Even if the plan is nothing more than identifying certain triggers and then having a plan for what to do next, this will put you in a position to succeed. Remember, you can’t grow if you can’t deliver, and therefore you need to have your logistics in place if you want to grow your business.