Whether you are new to the business of selling products or even services to your end-users or have been in business for some time, there are two important aspects that you should give some consideration to – shipping and logistics services. Whereas shipping is straightforward enough to understand – that is getting the items ordered by a customer to them from your premises or whoever you keep them.
What then are logistics services? To understand that you need to understand why you might need it. You see, when you are just beginning or running a small-scale business, handling all the orders and deliveries yourself or through a small team, will be easy enough. However, if you are a bigger company or are expanding, you will find that eventually, the whole process of fulfilling customer orders and shipping out a large volume of products is a lot harder.
Now that we’ve explained that, we will look at the role of logistics services and the different types of logistics services that are most used.
What is the Role of Logistics in a Business?
As you are probably aware, there are many stages (depending on, again, the scale of your business) between the design and manufacture stage of your products to the shipment stage. After your stock has been designed and produced, it is generally sent to a storage facility, such as a warehouse or something similar. Even if this is in the same business premises as the manufacturing area, this adds additional complexity to your operations.
Logistics is involved in every key stage from that first point through to deliver, including when it is stored in a warehouse setting waiting to be shipped out. Before it can be shipped out, once it has been ordered, the right kind of transportation for shipping needs to be decided upon. On top of all that, delivery times need to be considered, as do outside elements such as weather conditions and traffic.
A company that offers logistics services is generally involved in some, or in many cases, all these parts of your business.
Different Kinds of Logistics Services
Now that you understand the role of logistics a bit better, you need to understand the different kinds of logistics services offered by companies. This will help you to choose the right company and service to meet the unique needs and requirements of your business. Before we discuss that though, it’s important to highlight that you may come across the terms 3PL and 4PL. These initials stand for Third-Party Logistics and Fourth Party Logistics.
As noted earlier, once a product has been made, it is normally held in a warehouse until it is ordered. Though in some cases, it may be held at several warehouses during its journey from the factory or production plant to the end-user. While many companies prefer to use their own warehouses, others rely on the services of logistics companies. If a company offers to warehouse it usually means they will not only ship out the goods but keep them stored safely until they have been ordered too.
When your company is responsible for the manufacturing of larger items and bigger orders, in terms of volume size, you may need more than just standard transportation. It may be that you need freight shipping. This involves a combination of different transportation vehicles such as trucks, cargo, trains, ships and in some cases, planes. Included in the freight shipping offered as part of logistics services is aspects like drayage that allows product orders to be shipped from ports to the warehouses where they can be stored.
Freight shipping has its own complexities and involves constantly fluctuating shipping times, demands, shortages in labor and much more. Companies that offer logistics services are responsible for ensuring products are delivered on time regardless of what problems come along.
One of the most widely recognized and popular forms of logistics services is courier shipping. Compared to freight shipping these tend to deal with smaller items and smaller volumes of orders.