Logistics are a key part of the planning for any business – especially a small one. Any wrinkles in logistics planning can have huge knock on effects that a small business can really struggle to recover from.
On the other side of the coin, a well-managed logistics chain can provide serious advantages to small businesses. It can help your business to operate efficiently; it can minimize waste and maximize profits.
And you know what else? It can be wonderfully straightforward. Here is a brief guide to setting your business on the road to logistics heaven.
First of all, you need a logistics strategy that seamlessly meshes with your company’s overall delivery strategies (for more on this, see: http://www.ilslimited.co.uk/).
Bit of nonsense business speak there I know, so what does it actually mean in practical application? Well, to put it simply – if your business promotional materials brag about having the fastest delivery times in your industry or sector, then you better have a logistics plan that is going to match that pledge!
The same of course applies to the opposite – if you have promised to keep delivery costs lower than anyone else, you better have a way to deliver this. Fast delivery is expensive, cheap delivery is slow. Cut your cloth accordingly, and make sure your logistics plans match your delivery promises.
Next you need to look at your logistic chain from the point of view of your customers – by putting yourself into their shoes. I’m sure you’ve ordered something online or from a catalogue in the past, so what did you want?
I bet you wanted your item to be delivered as quickly as possible, but you didn’t want to spend an arm or a leg to get it, am I right?
The bad news is that your customers are going to be expecting the very same from you! The good news is that it is easier to achieve this then it may first seem – the key lies in managing expectations.
Go back to what we said earlier about tying your logistics plan to match your company strategy for deliveries. If you promise the fastest delivery times then be clear about how much it is going to cost. If you go the opposite way and promise to keep delivery costs under control then be up front that this is not going to result in lightning fast, next day delivery to the other side of the country.
So long as customers know what to expect up front, generally speaking they will be happy to pay more or to wait longer – just so long as it feels as if it is them who are making the decision.
Also, it is a great idea to keep in contact with your customers – especially if you are running a cheaper, slower delivery method. E-mail updates with the current status of the delivery costs you little if anything. But to the customer it gives the impression their delivery is being managed and that progress is being made – even if it is slow!
And that’s it! Know what you need to do, be up front about what you promise and keep the communication up.