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Mobile Tech Causing Major Shifts in Logistics Operations Around the World

Mobile technology has been causing major shifts in logistics operations around the world due to the widespread adoption of mobile technologies across the globe.  The effects have been dramatic in both our daily lives and in the world of business. With every individual now constantly connected and accessible 24/7, the impacts of mobile technology have been profound in how companies operate and engage with their customers.

Here, we will explore some of the many ways that the proliferation of mobile devices has affected the logistics industry. Mobile tech touches virtually all aspects of logistics, including warehousing and inventory management, transportation, fulfilment, customer service, and the retail experience, both in-store and online. These trends are critical for businesses to understand in order to maintain their competitive edge in rapidly evolving markets.

The affordability of mobile technology and apps that integrate and connect directly to business systems has drastically improved. What used to be a massive capital investment is now simply the cost of doing business. In addition, since mobile technology can now do more than ever before, more and more companies are realizing the value that it can bring in shorter payback times through improved consistency, accuracy, time savings and customer satisfaction, amongst other factors.

Improved Data Flow & Accuracy

Mobile devices have replaced traditional manual methods of tracking just about everything that a business would want to track. Virtually anything that used to be jotted down on paper or kept in files or on clipboards is now entered directly in to the business’ software systems with mobile apps.

In many cases, the possibility for human error has been all but eliminated with the implementation of mobile systems that integrate with existing bar code and scanning technology, making data entry of shipment or product information automatic, saving time and ensuring accuracy throughout the entire supply chain.

Precise Location Tracking

Virtually every modern mobile device includes an integrated GPS, which means the precise location of each and every truck and shipment can be accurately tracked at any moment. This level of accuracy and transparency is invaluable to maintaining an efficient supply chain. Transportation delays can be easily avoided, customer expectations can be better managed, and contingency plans can be developed more effectively.

Inventory Management & Order Fulfilment

With mobile technology accessible to every member of your warehousing and fulfilment teams, you can realize many benefits in inventory management and order processing operations. Apps can be used to track quantity and location of parts and products to make order picking and packing faster and more accurate.

In addition, stock levels can be continually updated in real time to ensure that replenishment is always done at the best time to help optimize inventory and purchasing processes. With mobile devices and apps always connected to business information systems, these types of data will flow seamlessly directly to the people that need it most.

Accessibility of Transportation Resources

One of the more intriguing ways that mobile technology has disrupted the world of logistics is the way it enables small business and even individuals to provide valuable services to large corporations in terms of local coverage, LTL shipments, and enhanced last-mile delivery.

Companies such as Amazon and Uber are two of the driving forces in this area of mobile-enhanced logistics, recruiting a diverse range of transportation resources and independent drivers to offer nimble and rapid movement of products in a wide array of markets across the globe.

Customer Service & Retail Experience

While the majority of the effects we’ve discussed so far relate primarily to the business-to-business side of logistics, it’s important to recognize how these technologies have impacted the consumer retail experience, both in-store and online.

Mobile-optimized e-commerce sites are processing more and more transactions each and every day. These sites offer a “shop anywhere, anytime” experience and the ability to compare prices between online and physical retail stores instantly. In many cases, customers will browse a physical retail location to evaluate or compare products, and then conduct their purchase directly from their mobile device based on pricing, availability, and convenience.

Mobile devices in the hands of retail store employees can be equally powerful, enabling them to check inventory levels at multiple locations instantaneously, compare products and pricing from competitors, and even complete the purchase for customers from anywhere in the store. These added capabilities help deliver a smoother customer experience and less time spent in lines or waiting for service. Retail and customer service employees become more informed and better equipped to handle a wider range of tasks.

Moving Forward with Mobile Technology

The benefits that mobile technology can bring to the logistics operations of a business are clear, as many companies have already realized. Through mobile technology, your business can obtain greater visibility in to the performance of your supply chain and identify opportunities to gain efficiencies and reduce costs.

You’ll have up-to-date insight on all aspects of inventory management, stock levels, parts supply, and movement of product throughout your warehousing and transportation systems. This type of accurate data helps to enable smarter decisions in terms of resource allocation and investment for future growth.

Mobile technology helps improve the customer experience, making their interactions with your business smoother and more seamless, with fewer obstacles to overcome. As studies have shown time and time again, the easier a company is to do business with, the more satisfied customers will be with their experience and the more likely they are to come back and repeat.

If your company has not yet deployed mobile technology in your logistics and supply chain operations, the time for action is now. Through mobile-enhanced warehousing and transportation, your business can gain a substantial competitive advantage that will help you achieve your growth objectives, reduce costs, and deliver a better customer experience.

To learn more about how mobile technology can be integrated in to your supply chain, contact the team at SCI today. 

Our logistics professionals will be glad to answer any of your questions and help you leverage mobile technology in your logistics operations. If you’re not familiar with who SCI is, learn more about who we are in this short video.

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The Right Time to Outsource to a 3PL

When do Companies Start Thinking About Outsourcing?

As all companies grow, they must continue to evolve their business processes in order to stay successful. For many, this means focusing on manufacturing efficiency, for others it means improving the customer experience, and others may need to invest heavily in product development. Each company faces a unique set of challenges that are determined by many factors:

  • Company size
  • Market conditions
  • Technology
  • Customer needs.  

Because of this, each company will also reach different goals and achieve different benefits through outsourcing their supply chain or distribution services to a 3PL.

Understanding how your company stands to benefit from outsourcing, as well as identifying which specific tasks or functions make the most sense to outsource, will determine whether now is the right time or not.

Let’s now take a quick look at the different benefits that companies can achieve through outsourcing to a 3PL.

Benefits of Outsourcing to a 3PL

Of the numerous benefits that companies aim to achieve through outsourcing to a 3PL, the most common is cost savings. Outsourcing can allow companies to significantly reduce many types of costs, including labour, materials, overhead, transportation, and more. The scale of these savings varies depending on many aspects of the business, but for many companies that engage internationally, the savings from outsourcing to a 3pPLcan have a big impact on the bottom line.

Other companies obtain benefits from the ability to refocus efforts and resources on core values and activities. This is done by shifting internal resources away from functions that can easily be outsourced, such as warehousing or transportation, and reinvesting these resources in areas of the business that can have a much more significant impact on customer experience, product development, and other aspects that directly drive the growth of the business.

Seasonal industries that see dramatic surges in business are able to achieve much greater flexibility in meeting the demands of these cycles by bringing in additional resources through outsourcing to help manage the peaks. Once the surges have subsided, the temporary additional resources can then be released until the next surge when they are needed again.

Key Signs It’s Time to Outsource to a 3PL

While each company will have a different set of circumstances that prompts them to consider outsourcing, there are many common factors that these companies will see as outsourcing becomes an increasingly viable option for them.

Maintaining profit margins is a challenge for any business, but even more critical for businesses in fiercely competitive markets, or products that have notoriously thin margins. A common sign that a company may benefit from outsourcing to a 3PL is the continual erosion of profit margins and increasing costs. For companies that have tight budgets, outsourcing could be the right way to manage profit margins, as supply chain processes and distribution, when done in-house, contribute to a large portion of the overhead.

In markets where the workforce is not as plentiful as the company requires, outsourcing may be the only way to acquire the talent needed to drive the company forward. If a company is struggling to attract talent from the local area, it may be time to consider expansion through outsourcing to a 3PL that has established relationships with employment agencies and a greater volume of talent available to draw from.

Another potential sign that outsourcing could be a good move is if overtime is increasing in your facility beyond what should reasonably be expected. Outsourcing could provide a fast and effective way to reduce the load without adding excessive overhead or additional labour costs.

While this is not an exhaustive list of the factors that cause companies to consider outsourcing to a 3PL, it should give you a general idea of the typical warning signs to look for.

What can be Outsourced to a 3PL?

One of the most common ways that companies choose to improve their supply chain or distribution efficiency, and one of the easiest for many companies to implement, is outsourcing a variety of logistics services and tasks to a third-party logistics provider (3PL).

Shipping, warehousing, order fulfilment, packaging, and return logistics are all functions that can be managed through outsourcing. In addition, since many third-party logistics providers have resources in locations across the country or even globally, they can open up new markets that may have previously been unattainable.  Leveraging the resources of a third-party logistics provider can be a major benefit to companies that are struggling to achieve growth.

Decision to Outsource to a 3PL

The decision to outsource is not one that should be taken lightly, but at the same time it should not be shunned or discounted. If your company recognizes one, or several, of the warning signs we described then it may very well be time to consider outsourcing. It’s best to look at the trends your company has been experiencing, both internally and externally, in order to determine if now is the right time to make a shift.

By looking internally at factors such as profit margins and worker capacity, and overlaying these with trends in the market and competitive environment, it often becomes clear how things will keep going if nothing changes. Integrating some level of outsourcing can help companies reverse downward trends and improve their market position by helping to alleviate the pain points that are causing problems.

If your company recognizes these warning signs and pain points, contact SCI today and let our logistics experts help you with an in-depth analysis of whether outsourcing is the right move.

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