Logistics is defined as the ‘detailed coordination of a complex operation involving many people, facilities, or supplies’. For a long time, this complexity has been a difficult, but unshakeable component of managing logistics or your supply chain – especially for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs). But by understanding your logistics needs and making use of the advances of technology and solutions, logistics no longer has to be so complicated.
So where do you start? In this article we have summarised some top tips from our recent webinar series in partnership with ITC SheTrades, so you can get a grip of your logistics needs and begin to see a road out of complexity and confusion.
1. Understanding your supply chain
Whatever the size or nature of your business is, you are focused on creating value through products and services, using logistics as a key enabler to deliver this value.
The sequence of processes involved in the production and distribution of a good/commodity is the supply chain. The supply chain will enable you to expand your business and get your raw materials to you, and finished goods to your customer.
Knowing what is involved in your supply chain will help you understand what is at your disposal and what changes you can make to increase the efficiency of your logistics. The key components of a supply chain include:
2. Getting the most for your money
In some businesses, up to 40% of costs are spent on logistics – which shows you how important it can be to your business’ success. There are some quick wins and approaches to your logistics that you can put into action today, that will have a positive effect:
Single point of contact – Try to bundle as many services as possible with a single supplier.
Look beyond the invoice – Always compare the price – cheaper is not always better.
Talk with specialists – Trade federations provide networks to connect to trusted partners.
If you want to know more about logistic costs, we provide you with additional information on transportation costs and freight prices.
3. See the problems before they occur
Companies that don’t check terms and conditions, or don’t agree on the right shipping terms (more on that later!) will run into added charges and delays and may even end up missing services they need. These are just some of the problems you can face during the logistics process. At Twill, our platform and services guide you through them to ensure this doesn’t happen. With us, you can ship ocean freight as well as transport your cargo via inland transportation. Additionally, you can always add Value Protect or make use of our financial services.
By understanding the components of your supply chain and taking action to reduce your points of contact through a single supplier, or get the best value for your money – you will reduce the number of issues your cargo might run into during the logistics process; and you’ll be in a better position to see other issues before they occur.
The positive impacts of understanding your supply chain and logistics are significant:
Spend on logistics will go down
More time available to focus on your core business
Less time spent on managing your cargo flow
Fewer delays and problems occurring
4. Know your Incoterms
A typical shipment will move through various facilities and change hands at least five times before arriving at its destination. That makes agreeing on the details for transporting goods across borders among the biggest challenges of international trade.
That’s where Incoterms come in. Established by the International Chamber of Commerce, Incoterms are a set of 11 trade terms used in contracts for the sale and purchase of goods – and can be legally binding.
Each Incoterm splits the responsibility and obligations of a cargo’s journey between the buyer (that’s usually you) and supplier – and each have their pros and cons. It is important to pick the right Incoterm to ensure you’re not taking on too much responsibility or risk, and not opening yourself up to additional costs or issues.
Check out our full Incoterms guide to find out what all the trade terms such as “FOB” or “CIF” mean, as well as tips for picking the right one.
5. Find a logistics partner
Having logistics specialists at your disposal can be invaluable to your business – whether they’re taking management of your logistics off your hands or providing advice and expertise to help you avoid costly delays or charges.
When choosing a logistics partner, there’s lots to consider – their area of expertise, credibility, network reliability, safety, price and more. Take your time and consult with a number of options to find the best fit for you.
6. Go digital – and how Twill can help
Logistics – particularly ocean freight – is a long-standing industry and in the past, it has struggled with creating a smooth customer experience and embracing technology.
But digital solutions, like ours at Twill, are emerging to signal a new digital era in logistics and supply chain management. Where traditional freight forwarders can be rigid and limiting in their scope and approach, digital logistics opens up a world of possibilities:
At Twill, supercharged by industry leader Maersk, we provide customers with a simple, intuitive digital platform. It lets you book freight shipments in minutes, get flexible and competitive prices on the spot or in advance, store and access crucial documentation online – as well as track your cargo on every step of its journey.
With the ability to collect and analyse data too, a solution like Twill gives you control over your logistics. So you get more time to focus on your business.