Imagine, if you would for a moment, that your business is a new car. You put premium gasoline in it and wash it every week, but you never check or change the oil. For the first few months that you are driving it, the car runs beautifully. But over time, as your oil will get dirtier and dirtier until it becomes so thick and sluggish that it begins to cause damage that can eventually break the engine block.
Periodically examining and adjusting your logistics solutions is like changing the oil in that car. It helps the "Commerce Engine" run more smoothly and prevents wear and tear on the moving parts that comprise it.
But few companies ever conduct serious examinations and overhauls unless they’re in prelude to a restructuring or company-wide event like a stock buyout. It's little wonder, then, that even 'big names' suffer from costly inefficiency in their logistics.
Consider the following ways you may be able to streamline your operations.
1. Scrutinize Your Processing Procedures
Whatever products your company offers consumers, it would behoove you to follow the journey of every package from initial order placement through fulfillment.
Ask yourself whether you’re using a system that allows you to easily keep tabs on progression.
If your fulfillment must devote work hours to making manual status updates, you need to revisit your processing procedures as those are hours that could be better used in streamlining other operational areas that are lagging.
2. Revisit Vendor Agreements
From product creation to warehousing to packaging fulfillment, each link in your supply chain likely represents a different business. Periodic talks with these companies, armed with offers from their rivals, can help keep your required costs on track and help your bottom line stay competitive in a fluctuating marketplace. Complacency could be costing you directly via overpriced components or indirectly as your competitors gain better pricing and threaten your market share with more tempting end consumer price points.
3. Listen to Your Own Employees
No one knows your logistics better than the people who work with them every day.
Institute or support an "open door" policy for flow improvement suggestions and consider offering a financial incentive for any employee logistics-based suggestion that positively impacts success and profit.
While the decision to change or alter your current logistics solutions is ultimately your choice, or that of your management team, soliciting ideas from you employees ensures that everyone is thinking ahead.
4. Don't Take Radical Changes off the Table
As the saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you hesitate and sidestep the idea of overhauls within your logistic processes, you're only limiting how much you can adapt.
Naturally, big changes like switching fulfillment providers is not something to be undertaken lightly, but neither should you put of investigating the viability and benefits of other options. You can court your vendor’s current competitors without making any commitments, so don't be afraid to ask for quotes and information, even if you can't use them immediately.
Though you may meet some internal resistance, but the effort will be worth it in the end if do your homework. Investigate pricing and long-term benefits of every major change you’re considering and you'll have the tools you need to win over even the most reluctant decision-maker.
Logistics solutions are the invisible backbone of your business.
You need to keep your motor humming along.
If you commit to examining, adjusting and reevaluating them at regular intervals instead of only during major events, you'll become aware of potential problems before they impact your bottom line. You'll also enjoy a more well-tuned business system that's ready for you to put the pedal to the metal.