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Seasoned third-party logistics providers know that the future of supply chain management lies in a more customer-centric approach. This trend to shift focus away from the supply base and more of it downstream to the customer is nothing new, yet it is a strategy that, especially in these post-COVID times, is now more important than ever. In a world full of cutting-edge technology, a competitive market, and customers who know how to adapt to both, company goals are increasingly driven by customer requirements.
Far too often, there is a sort of disconnect between the traditional supply chain management approach and the customer-centric approach because the goal of inbound and outbound logistics is to consistently achieve cost savings from suppliers, ensure continuity, improve the supplier performance, improve the efficiency of the supply management function and acquire new value-adding technologies and innovations from supply markets. Anything outside of that, many times, gets treated as secondary concerns.
But the landscape has changed drastically and customers are more empowered than ever before and have tons of choices at their fingertips...
So in order for businesses to continue running efficient supply chains that are aligned with company goals, they can only get there by meeting increased customer expectations. The future of supply chain management within 3PL companies must become increasingly customer-focused.
Customers now play the role of the active consumer more than ever. With information readily available to them through the internet, customers are better equipped when making their purchasing decisions.
There are three main components of a customer-centric supply chain...
Customers have many different ways in which they can order goods, one of the most preferred in modern times being e-commerce.
However, while some consumers prefer to order through an online platform, others prefer to place their orders through email or catalog. Yet still, there are others that may want to speak to a live person to place their order.
A business supply chain needs to fulfill orders that come in through many different channels which can mean providing a live customer service team that handles orders and questions.
The customer wants to get their orders safely and on time. Both inbound and outbound logistics teams must be the most reliable business partners you have in order to keep your customers happy and your fulfillment rates at one hundred percent.
A good third-party logistics provider will be able to provide you with greater visibility into your supply chain including incoming and outbound orders, inventory on hand and in transit, supplies, and materials, and shipping times. Your 3PL company will increase your reliability scores with your customers by getting their orders to their doorsteps on time and safely.
Being customer-centric means being able to forecast an increase in demand. While you cannot be a mind reader, the future of supply chain management is all about analyzing the data, looking at and charting trends in the industry, warehouse and shipment data, evaluating reports from retailers, returned merchandise, and freight claims, can all help you predict your customers needs ahead of time.
3PL providers that can forecast demand and manage supply fluctuations will always be more customer-centric than providers that cannot.
One of the major forces behind a great third-party logistics company is the technology they use to manage your supply chain. Some of these technologies are already well underway, and most will continue to be developed into the next decade.
Artificial Intelligence, AI, is being used across the supply chain management industry to make better business decisions and change the way customers experience the supply chain. Artificial intelligence is being examined by many different supply chain management teams in modes such as self-driving vehicles, machine-learning solutions and tasks, and forecasting.
Intelligent apps are also proving to be useful in creating an intermediary layer between software and people that can change the structure of the workplace. Many businesses are utilizing Chatbots for website customer service that can assist consumers in placing orders, answer basic questions, and more.
The evolution of technology and the use of smart apps and artificial intelligence will shape the future of supply chain management allowing for better relationships between employees and employers, carriers and coordinators, shipping and receiving, and vendors. The supply chain is already seeing advances in real-time traffic data analytics, "smart road" technologies, cloud servers, robotized warehouses, drone delivery, autopilot vehicles, and administrative work regarding the supply chain.
The best way to stay on top of the newest trends and technology related to supply chain management is to partner with a third-party logistics company that is committed to evolving with the industry. Redwood Logistics is dedicated to personalized supply chain management and utilizes the best practice for increasing your profits and efficiency.
Contact Redwood Logistics and let us show you why leveraging the power of a 3PL may be just what you need.