A career in third party logistics
While on the search for a position in procurement or supply chain management, coming into contact with companies that provide third party logistics (3PL) services is inevitable. Such firms provide clients with multiple logistics services such as transportation, warehousing, inventory management, freight-forwarding, cross-docking and packaging.
These are external logistics services that manage or control the movement of products for their clients. An excellent example is one who offers efficient overnight deliveries which help companies save on warehouse space and shipment sizing.
Here are the four categories of 3PL providers
- Standard 3PL: Provides the most basic functions of logistics such as picking, packing, warehousing and distribution
- Service Developer: Offers value-added services like tracking, tracing, specific packaging, cross-docking or security system. Such services typically function best with backup from a strong IT infrastructure
- The Customer Adapter: Takes complete control of a company's logistics activities at its request but does not create a new service and improves prevailing functions
- The Customer Developer: Integrates their business with their client’s and takes over their entire logistics function with comprehensive solutions or changes to existing processes if necessary
You will be expected to analyse existing information such as basic cost structures and then find out how you can help your client stretch their expenses in a more effective manner.
Regardless of the nature of the 3PL discipline, professionals are required to interact on a daily basis with customers from every background and industry. Hence, customer management is very important as your job would be to assist clients in gaining a rational and comprehensive understanding of their logistics processes in addition to fine-tuning them.
You will be expected to analyse existing information such as basic cost structures and then find out how you can help your client stretch their expenses in a more effective manner. Above all the other services that you provide as a representative of the 3PL company, you are also expected to ensure that all fulfillment services are carried out expeditiously.
As an extension of the company’s logistics arm, a 3PL company contributes significantly to the company's image and reputation. Should there be any error in shipping or distribution, it could adversely impact the client's ability to deliver on their own promises to their customers. This would in turn harm and damage the credibility of the parent company.
At the end of the day, building a career in third party logistics requires one very crucial skill: the ability to connect with customers on a personal level, and to thoroughly understand their needs. This ensures that interests are aligned and integrated on both sides so that you can provide the best possible logistics service to help them become even more efficient.