The choice of a logistics partner can make or break a business, especially when operating in a new territory for the first time. When it comes to finding the right one, it pays to avoid shortcuts. More than ever, compromising reliability and reputation for lower rates is a risk that is not worth taking.
To help companies find the right logistics partner, Gary Dodsworth, Road Director at Rhenus Logistics UK, outlines four crucial areas to explore before committing.
The two most important features for the relationship between the logistics provider and its customers are transparency and flexibility. These are both readily achieved if the logistics partner has a comprehensive technological infrastructure. Offering ‘real-time’ updates and the ability to predict seasonal trends are no longer ‘added value’ offered by few; instead, they are expected by all. Due to the logistics industry’s susceptibility to external factors, such as weather conditions, consistent communication ensures customer expectations can be effectively managed.
The right logistics provider should also be flexible in the scale of operations needed. Market fluctuations mean demand can rise and fall at any time. A logistics partner needs to be able to scale their operations to meet changing customer needs, so a supplier with experience supporting companies with a range of requirements would be a good choice.
Almost all providers will claim to offer excellent customer service, which is why you need to do your homework. Ask yourself three questions: what does their overall track record look like? Are they known in the industry for providing excellent service? Do they have long-standing clients? Speaking to existing customers and seeking references will be key when identifying if a potential supplier is as ‘customer-centric’ as they promise to be. It must also be noted that maintaining high customer service cannot be achieved without excelling in other areas, for example, health & safety.
Cost will inevitably play some part in the selection of a provider. However, it should not be the sole criterion. What you may be gaining through a cheaper deal may result in late deliveries, higher errors and subsequent cost reductions to compensate unhappy customers. A good provider may be more expensive upfront; however, it will ensure customer expectations are always met and exceeded, saving money in the long run.
Another factor that is crucial when searching for a logistics partner is its geographical coverage. If, like Rhenus, a provider has numerous operating hubs across the globe, or even a few operational gateways situated in strategic locations for your business, you will be able to benefit from a seamless international delivery service.
Choosing the right logistics partner requires an investment of time to ensure the right decision is made. Focusing on these key areas will help streamline decision-making and ensure you select the most suitable partner. For more information on Rhenus’ offering please visit: