It’s very hard to make third-party logistics sound sexy, but it’s an increasingly important part of the channel.
If you boil it right down to the essential parts, it’s about looking after a company’s wares and then getting them to the right people, at the right time, from retailers through to end-users.
Yes, there’s a lot of cross-over with distribution, but the interesting thing about third-party logistics is that you use it when you want to use it, depending on your changing needs. Distribution offers fantastic support and help with sales, but if you have your own sales force you may not always need it.
One big logistics provider in the technology space is Gem Logistics, so PCR spoke to the firm to find out where it shines.
SPEED AND FLEXIBILITY
Every company is different, so if you’re looking for a logistics provider, it’s important to find a firm that doesn’t have a ‘one fits all’ approach.
“One of our major USPs is definitely our flexibility,” says Gem Logistics’ Frank Ring, business development manager. “I think that supply chain in general has become a lot tighter, so stock is going to manufacture later, therefore you only have a short period of time to get it out.”
Similarly, if you have a hit with a new piece of software and want to replenish stock at retail before the weekend, that shouldn’t be a problem if you’re working with the right logistics firm.
“Our philosophy is ‘don’t say no’,” Ring adds. “We’ll try and find a solution until we’ve exhausted every possibility.”
Gem Logistics offers a wide variety of services that you can pick and mix, such as product bundling. “Should a partner wish to put two pieces of software together as a one-off promotion,” says Ring, “we’re able to bundle them in an overwrap, or help design a sleeve through Gem Creative, which is another one of our divisions.”
If you’re a vendor, you need to have faith that the company you’re working with is reliable, because ultimately, your reputation will be on the line.
At Gem Logistics, the firm does a full stock take of inventory every four weeks, with high-value and strategic SKUs counted daily. Furthermore, it was able to dispatch in excess of 74 million units in FY 2010-2011, with a current accuracy achievement of 99.99 per cent.
It helps to have access to information too. Ring says: “We give our clients the ability to have real-time data so they can call up a stock report and it will show their holding at that time. Being able to have that kind of data gives them more tools when they’re out there selling.”
SPACE FOR GROWTH; LOCATED FOR CONVENIENCE
Gem Logistics’ main warehouse facility in Raunds, Northamptonshire, is a modern £15m, 250,000 square foot building, with a state-of-the-art security system to protect it all.
“We have 35,000 pallet positions,” Ring comments, “which means we have the ability to work with lots of different types of clients.”
When your products are being sent all around the country, or even the globe, location is vitally important.
Raunds’ central location means that the company has quick and easy access to the UK’s distribution centres, including Thamesport, Felixstowe and Southampton. Gem Logistics can ship stock to most areas in the UK within two-to-four hours.
Might it be your stock one day?
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