Multiple, Dynamic Supply Chains Require Responsiveness and Technical Flexibility
The nature of a logistics service provider’s business is diversity. Every client has different customers, products, suppliers, carriers and geographies. To be successful, a third-party logistics provider needs to bring facilities, capabilities and broad experience to the table for each new client.
But it’s not only operating talent and facilities that wins business. Transcending the very different technical challenges and variety of competencies found in every community of clients, customers, suppliers and carriers is perhaps the most challenging hurdle to clear. The challenge is compounded with omnichannel distribution where more diversity in shipping destinations and configuration of orders occurs.
Very few supply chain communities are made up entirely of companies with best-in-class supply chain applications. Most company’s technical capabilities are average or below. System integration between participants that facilitates electronic collaboration is a requirement for any community of manufacturers, suppliers, carriers, warehouses and retailers to be successful. It requires operators to operationally integrate a growing number of systems including warehouse management, shipping, visibility, electronic interfaces and many more.
Taking the Lead Role
This sets up to be a very attractive value-add for logistics service providers who are technically equipped and accomplished in managing diversity, complexity and change.
The strategic investment required to integrate diverse systems and scattered data resources, while developing the necessary technical expertise, can be significant. Given the continual pressure of everyday logistics operations and delivery deadlines, building this competency internally is not a priority for most third-party operators. That’s where leadership in technical adaptation comes in. If a 3PL can meet and exceed shippers’ and carriers’ expectations by assisting less capable members of a supply chain, success is all but certain.
Building a reputation for successful collaborative logistics is usually rewarded with more opportunities. Cadre’s suite of warehouse and visibility systems have positioned many 3PLs to grow their leadership role and build new opportunities.