If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking for a second or third party logistics provider. Regardless of the ‘PL’, logistics companies are optimizing their operations to keep up with the industry’s latest and greatest innovations. But you don’t need to be an expert on technological innovations to find the right logistics provider for your business. You know your business’s needs more than anybody. If you want to find out if a company’s supply management is a good match, ask these optimization-related questions:

Ask about their technology

You don’t need to be a software engineer to make a judgment about the reliability of a company’s technology. Unless you really want to, don’t research all the different software programs any given logistics company uses. Instead, just know that supply chain management optimization is basically about minimizing costs and maximizing efficiency by automating their operations. ‘Optimization’ is a hot logistics buzz word, a reference to all of the recent innovations in the industry. But don’t take it lightly. Optimization in the logistics industry isn’t a trend, it’s a necessity. Procurement teams should keep this buzz word in mind in their search for a logistics provider.

Your prospective supplier might have the most robust, power software on the market. Bells and whistles are great. But don’t stop asking questions here. Find out how these bells and whistles work for you.

Click here for a refresher on what supply chain management is.

Does their software optimize last mile delivery?

What kind of supply chain management software is your prospective logistics provider using that guarantees smarter, faster operations than other providers? Different software offer varying features. If you value real time tracking and transparency, keep your eye out for a logistics provider offering self service tools. Self service portals offer an array of features to manage your account. There’s an online customer portal out there somewhere for you!

When it comes to supply chain management – set the bar high. Other than direct-to-customer delivery, maybe you have complex routes. Software exists to help companies optimize route planning. Ask your prospective provider if their technology can save you time and money.

 

 

You need warehousing, so how have they optimized their inventory management?

Transparency transparency transparency. Remember, you don’t need to be a logistician to choose the perfect supplier. Your materials and goods are the focus here. Surely, you want the transparency into quantities and other warehouse happening. Lay out what warehousing needs are and simply ask if they have the kind of inventory and order fulfillment management that meets your newfound optimized standard? Accuracy and transparency are crucial in the warehouse. That’s why providers have optimized supply chain management to ensure your goods are available and accounted for. This kind of automation has changed the warehousing game.  It’s a great (and efficient) time to be alive.

But don’t stop there. Consider the strategy in trucking and cross docking services. Money and time are sacrificed when the supplier’s logistics plan doesn’t include truck loading strategies. Worry not – there is technology that creates this kind of strategy to get trucks loaded faster, more efficiently. It’s another good question to ask a prospective logistics provider.

Do they use real-time data to optimize their logistics planning?

How is the prospective supplier making planning decisions? Are they using data? How is that company building routes efficiently and cost effectively? Look for commitment to optimization here. Again… don’t worry about the complexities of data and planning strategies. Find out if they’ve optimized their operations with software that uses real-time data. Logistics plans need adjusting- often. Automated data should outline your supply chain management strategy. Decisions are often made overlooking details that matter, like traffic or gas prices. Optimized decision making works out those costly details.

What data is important to your business’s operations?

Okay, they’ve optimized their technology. But what about their customer service?

All of this supply chain management optimization means nothing without a reliable, robust customer service team. These software programs don’t run themselves. They also don’t deliver the packages or load the trucks. Odds are, you’ll have some snags in your supply chain. It happens. When it does, it should be easy to call your logistics supplier up and talk to somebody who is familiar with your account and your needs..

Supply chain management isn’t done using pen and paper anymore (right?). Logisticians are optimizing supply chain management with automation. But automation isn’t the whole game. More than anything, a logistics provider’s customer service should be optimized.

Just know your needs and ask the right questions

It’s not the newest, fanciest technology that should decide your logistics provider. A company that prioritizes optimization will also likely prioritize optimizing your logistics plan.