SMEs need to avoid festive season delivery bottlenecks

Shane de Beer, Sales and Marketing Director at express courier company TNT

Shane de Beer
Small and medium businesses would do well to plan their logistics requirements in good time to avoid getting caught up in the bottleneck of last minute deliveries as the festive season gets into full swing.

This is particularly relevant given the escalating volumes of deliveries for online fulfillment as an increasing number of companies sell their products online. With the increasing focus on customer service excellence it is important to maintain a business as usual status and ensure deliveries arrive on time over this period.

The most important measures smaller businesses can take to ensure this happens are providing the correct information on the delivery documents. It is recommended that electronic interfaces be used where possible as this will ensure that the information is collected correctly from source and timeous delivery will take place. Further should the package need to be cleared by customs, it is advised that all customs information is correct and declared according to regulations. 

Looking forward to the year ahead with the prospect of escalating costs, fiercer competition, increasing customer demands, road tolls, and the growing requirement to be more environmentally responsible, it will become increasingly important for smaller businesses to optimise their logistics processes.

On time delivery is becoming increasingly challenging in a globalised market where the need to source and deliver products anywhere in the world is becoming the norm for businesses of all sizes. Logistics has become a propelling force in driving global trade.

Smaller businesses are also faced with the need to optimise their supply chain and logistics activities to provide the same level of service as their corporate competitors.

This is not easy to achieve in a fast changing global environment driven by fluctuating demand, volatile exchange rates, changing trade routes and growing customer expectations of instant gratification.

Export opportunities also come with greater exposure to risk in relation to disruptive influences like changing trade routes, interruption of supply due to man-made and natural disasters, infrastructure issues, diverse and complex cross-border processes, and delays with goods passing through customs.

The more agile a smaller business is and the more innovative its approach to achieving transparency throughout its supply chain, the better it will be positioned to compete in global markets.Streamlining the logistics process is key to international competitiveness. A smaller company’s global competitiveness may also depend on its ability to develop collaborative strategies with other supply chain entities, in some cases even with competitors.

In these uncertain times, forming a close relationship with a logistics partner that is qualified to assist with optimising sourcing and delivery processes is becoming increasingly desirable for smaller businesses.

A company should be able to view its logistics partner as an extension of its business. It is important to ensure such a partner has an extensive national and international reach and expertise, and the physical and technological infrastructure and flexibility to support future business growth and changing market dynamics.

Forming a close relationship with the right global logistics provider will also open up opportunities to be more innovative with sourcing raw materials from multiple sources anywhere in the world.

The growing complexity of supply chains is also driving the trend towards outsourcing all or part of the logistics function to a specialised and trusted third party. One of the drivers of complexity is the increasing demand for customised deliveries to suit specific requirements.

This makes it even more crucial for the logistics provider to have the supporting systems in place to provide a transparent view of the movement of goods across the supply chain, online, from anywhere, on any device.