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Don’t Wait for Disruption — Be the Disruptor

by Aristides Smith  1/22/2019

There’s a big difference between a speed boat and a cruise ship. Sure, they’re both boats, but one offers speed, swift handling, and much easier maneuverability. The difference is similar when choosing a third-party logistics provider (3PL). Would you rather work with a large, encumbering provider that’s slow to change course or a small, agile player that’s quick to adapt and flexible in the solutions it provides?

Many businesses trick themselves into working with huge 3PLs because they associate size with capability. However, the relationship may actually be inversely proportional. Today’s legacy 3PLs are losing ground to smaller, more agile players — companies that are adapting more quickly, providing tailored solutions, and doing it all at a lower cost.

Smaller is better when you demand agility

Smaller logistical partners are agile. These ”bamboo organizations” adapt on the fly and rely on state-of-the-art technologies to do so. This also allows them to be more proactive and turnkey in their abilities. A smaller, more agile 3PL can mold its services to the values and demands of a client, leading to innovation for both companies.

Larger logistics providers are stuck. They’re slower to adapt to or embrace change because they are bogged down by entrenched processes and products. Large conglomerates have many more moving parts, and it takes a more concerted effort to adapt processes that weren’t meant to be pliable. As a result, larger 3PLs can’t always meet your individual needs — instead, they work hard to conform clients to their systems, which often means working against the grain and goals of a company.

Disrupt or fall behind

Working with an agile 3PL is more complicated than ever. Change is sweeping the supply chain logistics industry. Agile logistics companies are dictating the next wave of change, while inflexible giants are facing the demand to adapt or evolve. Some of the drivers of change agile companies are set up to embrace include:

  • Customer service — Last-mile delivery and other granular logistics are becoming the chief focus of innovative 3PLs. Being able to solve complex logistical problems with agile solutions will win disruptors new business.
  • Cost control — Logistics costs are rising. Logistics providers utilizing precision technologies and turnkey solutions to mitigate cost will find themselves aligned with success, with the ability to pass savings on to customers.
  • Talent — Agile 3PLs are a welcome home for innovators. Those who want to solve problems and forge meaningful relationships with customers instead of purely selling them services will enjoy working for disruptors.
  • Risk management — Through turnkey services and flexible thinking, smaller, more disruptive 3PLs will recognize and understand modern risks better than their legacy counterparts. Then, they’ll use modern technology to address these risks on a per-customer basis.

The “see a problem, solve a problem” mentality of modern disruptors positions them uniquely to deliver better service than larger, more traditional 3PLs. Whether it’s navigating the shifting transportation logistics landscape, anticipating new technological barriers, or embracing leaner, greener supply chains, small players are defining the future of logistics.

Brace for change, because it’s coming!

If you saw an iceberg on the high seas, would you rather be behind the wheel of a cruise ship or a speedboat? Today, more companies are partnering with speedboat captains as they (metaphorically) navigate the unknown waters of the changing supply chain industry. With the ability to change direction, throttle down, and maneuver around problems, smaller, agile disruptors are the smartest, safest bet for picking a 3PL.

Unprecedented changes are on the horizon for supply chain. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a 3PL that can’t adjust quickly enough — or worse, one that fails to see a devastating obstacle until it’s too late.