May 17, 2020

Reinvigorating supplier relationships in 2017

Supply Chain
partnerships
supply strategy
auditing
Admin
3 min
Reinvigorating supplier relationships in 2017
For the majority of businesses, the start of the year is a time for looking forward as well as back; for evaluating past performance and setting company...

For the majority of businesses, the start of the year is a time for looking forward as well as back; for evaluating past performance and setting company aims and objectives. For businesses with existing supply partnerships, it can be tempting for logistics managers to adopt a laissez-faire attitude to procurement activities. However, with robust supply chains playing a key role in the realisation of commercial goals such as business growth, enhanced competitiveness, financial gains and risk management, investing time and resource in auditing and optimising supplier relationships is likely to deliver rewards.

Streamlining supply strategy

When developing a procurement strategy, it is important for logistics managers to consider the cost and service benefits of reducing the supply pool. In the unstable economic climate that has prevailed since the Brexit vote, engaging a single supplier for multiple products allows businesses to actively reduce risk along supply chains, minimising the number of deliveries needed. As well as helping firms to cut costs, consolidating orders and deliveries has obvious environmental benefits, helping logistics managers to reengage with the green agenda.

Not only can a wider supplier base compromise companies’ ability to maximise value within supplier relationships, it affords logistics managers less visibility across their network, threatening the operation of the business. Where suppliers feel that they are seen as a business’ first choice, logistics managers have a greater chance of forming long-term partnerships and will also benefit from increased economies of scale, resulting in lower costs over time.

Measuring performance

Setting clear and achievable goals at the start of a business partnership is key to the fulfilment of overall business objectives. When forming supplier agreements, specific service levels and metrics should be incorporated and agreed upon so that both parties know where they stand; a simple handshake is not enough. It is important that KPIs such as quality, financial projections, pricing, payment terms and customer care standards are chosen according to the specific needs and characteristics of the business. Service levels should also be monitored on an ongoing basis. This will allow limitations in supplier performance to be identified and addressed before they are able to impact upon client delivery. While imagining a worst case scenario may be a powerful motivator for suppliers to deliver on service targets, logistics managers should also consider the use of incentives, involving mutual gains for the achievement of procurement goals, to increase value across the supply chain.

Communicate effectively

Maintaining a dialogue with suppliers is another way that issues and opportunities can be identified promptly. By ensuring discussions are held early, businesses can scope out opportunities to increase profit margins and deliver efficiencies, as well as learning about potential issues that may not have been considered. Taking the time to personalise supply relationships and build trust, for example by ensuring that suppliers are included in strategy meetings, could prove invaluable further down the line, if the terms of the agreement need to be re-negotiated. In today’s digital age, advances in technology make the process of maintaining a two-way conversation with suppliers more straightforward than ever before. However, companies should make cyber-security a priority to avoid compromising confidential company information.

In competitive markets where businesses are operating within tight margins, a robust approach to supply chain management is essential. By taking the time to mitigate risk, monitor performance and maintain a constant dialogue with suppliers, firms can put themselves in a strong position to achieve their business goals in 2017.

Nigel Crunden is business specialist at business solutions provider Office Depot.

 

 

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Jul 29, 2021

DHL and UPS: How is 3PL Evolving in 2021?

UPS
DHL
ThirdPartyLogistics
Logistics
Elise Leise & Oliver James Fre...
6 min
Philippe Gilbert, President of UPS Supply Chain Solutions, and Phil Roe, CCO and Strategy Director at DHL, discuss the shifts in third-party logistics

To optimise their supply chains, many companies have turned to third-party logistics providers—3PLs—to outsource how they manage inventory, stock warehouses, fulfil customer orders, pack pallets, and handle returns. Especially in the midst of the pandemic, corporations have struggled to satisfy their customers, mitigate shipping delays, and react to rapid spikes in demand. In short: if logistics isn’t your core competency, rely on the experts.

To examine the current state of 3PL, we decided to have a quick roundtable with Philippe Gilbert, President of UPS Supply Chain Solutions, and Phil Roe, Chief Customer Officer and Strategy Director at DHL Supply Chain. Here’s what they have to say on the subject: 

What are the fundamental benefits of partnering with a third-party logistics provider? 


‘Proper supply chain visibility and planning is one of the key challenges facing modern supply chains’, says Phil. ‘Supply chains now cover multiple jurisdictions across significant distances. They’re also omnichannel, meaning that it’s now standard practice for there to be multiple routes to the customer’. Philippe adds that, ‘3PLs can deliver efficiencies and resources across the supply chain that are difficult for most businesses to replicate’. 

According to a study from UPS Global Logistics, five major challenges drive companies to outsource: 

  • Limited Space 
  • Increased Customer Expectations 
  • Faster Order Fulfilment 
  • Reduced Labour Costs 
  • Multiple Fulfilment Channels 

Now, the pandemic has accelerated 3PL adoption. In that same UPS survey, 29% of respondents indicated that they’d switch to outsourcing their logistics as a direct result of the past year. ‘One of the biggest issues impacting our current customers is the timing on inventory levels’, says Philippe. ‘Production delays out of APAC have pushed receipts and built back orders of products’. 


How are 3PLs helping businesses cope with broader disruptions, such as Brexit, transport logjams, and driver shortages? 


‘We can categorise supply chain disruptions into three broad areas’, explains Phil. ‘Demand-side, supply-side, and environmental. Some of these are easier to control than others, but all benefit from proper oversight and the ability to quickly adapt’. When the Brits finalised Brexit, for example, DHL scaled up areas that needed specialist support, such as customs processing. ‘We can leverage our network and redeploy on demand’, he explains. 

As for UPS, the company developed a post-Brexit SCS solution that enabled its clients to keep inventory closer to their UK customers. ‘We can maintain a broad portfolio of carriers and providers to quickly adapt to supply chain disruptions’, Philippe says. ‘This allows customers to avoid service delays, added costs, and administrative burdens associated with customs clearance’. 

Next, this conversation would be incomplete if we didn’t talk about how the boom in e-commerce has affected 3PL. 

Do you anticipate that e-commerce growth will continue? 


‘The growth of the past 18 months shows no sign of slowing down’, Phil says. ‘Consumer habits have altered, in some cases, permanently. Over the last eight months, DHL has seen a 150% increase in its fulfilment division—reflecting the soaring demand’. To keep up, the company has focused on data and automation, as well as deploying robotics solutions alongside its employees. ‘Whether that’s automated pallet systems or pick-and-pack robots’, Phil explains, ‘we’ve coupled technology and data to manage demand, meet customer expectations, and smooth out labour requirements’. 

Fundamentally, e-commerce is driving demand for additional labour and space. ‘This presents a unique opportunity for 3PL’, Philippe says. ‘New entrants in retail platforms, though currently small, will look to disrupt the giant retail players. They’ll be closer to their customers in the city. And they’ll try to unify and digitalise SME brick-and-mortar retailers’. 

How are shifting customer expectations - such as the next-day “Amazon Effect” - impacting 3PL? 


‘We see 3PLs expanding their networks to be closer to consumers and integrating fulfilment with last-mile delivery’, says Philippe. ‘They have to expand their reverse logistics, including investments in warehouse space’. He suggests that data analytics can enhance visibility and help 3PL companies address inefficiencies. ‘With the right technology’, he says, ‘businesses can access accurate, connected data and derive actionable insights’. 

Predictive and prescriptive analytics, when coupled with artificial intelligence and machine learning, can help companies understand when, why, and how supply chain disruptions occur. ‘This way’, Philippe adds, ‘they can prepare for them—or better yet, sidestep them completely’. 

In addition, customers now expect companies to follow through on their social commitments...

Can 3PLs help organisations deliver on their ESG objectives, such as reducing carbon emissions? 


Absolutely. Through UPS’s Eco-Responsible Packaging Programme, for instance, the company evaluates its clients’ packaging processes to determine the best way to protect their products and the planet. In addition, the corporation works with carriers on creative, lower-emissions solutions. ‘By 2025, we plan to source 40% of all ground fuel from sources other than conventional gasoline and diesel’, Philippe explains. ‘That’s nearly double what we used in 2016’. By then, 25% of UPS’s total electricity will come from renewable sources. 

As for DHL, the company offers a portfolio of GoGreen solutions, which offers its customers a range of ways to minimise their impact on the environment. ‘This includes everything from carbon reporting and analytics solutions to investments in internationally-recognised climate protection projects’, says Phil. ‘Sustainability provides us an opportunity to collaborate with our customers’. 


Yet, it’s often challenging to serve customers in highly regulated industries. How can companies overcome those hurdles?

 
‘Companies operating in highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals and life science face extra pressure on their supply chains’, Phil explains. ‘Dealing with rapidly growing changes then requires depth and breadth, which is something a global business such as DHL can offer’. To overcome regulatory challenges, DHL offers its clients dedicated sector specialists who understand niche industries but still have access to its global network. 

At the end of the day, Philippe comments, 3PLs must take responsibility for running compliant programmes and services. ‘Licensed or not’, he says, ‘they’ll need to work with their highly regulated customers to ensure that SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) and audit processes are in place’. 

What do the next 12 months hold for 3PL providers?

 
‘Providers will focus on mastering omnichannel e-commerce’, says Philippe. ‘You’ll see faster last-mile delivery, more sustainable logistics and packaging, and better forecasting for risk management’. Overall, he notes, 3PL providers will invest in data analytics and new warehouse technologies to provide greater visibility into their supply chains. 

For example, UPS is rolling out a new suite of digital engagement tools. According to Philippe, the company introduced a new UPS Forwarding Hub, UPS Customs Brokerage, and CoyoteGo portals to help their supply chain solution clients. In addition, its e-Fulfilment and Ware2Go products help small- and medium-sized businesses outsource with ease. ‘We’ve focused on adopting technologies to improve our operations’, Philippe says. 

Finally, UPS’s Advanced Technology Group (ATG) has implemented robotics, drones, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, new software platforms, and sensor technologies to increase its 2021 revenues and cut bottom-line costs. Says Philippe: ‘With these tools, we can meet customer expectations for real-time tracking, end-to-end visibility, and personalised service’. 

And there you have it: the future of 3PL. 
 

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