Bespoke logistics solutions: what are they, and how do you choose the right logistics provider?
In recent years the logistics industry has seen a steady increase in demand for bespoke logistics solutions. But what constitutes a bespoke service and what must a provider take into account when setting up such solutions?
What are bespoke logistics services?
Bespoke logistics services are specific or unusual solutions designed to meet a customer’s unique request – which do not fit the normal A to B offer. The need for tailor-made solutions can arise because something unexpected happens (like an emergency due to a problem with the usual supply chain), because a consignment requires particular attention and care, or because the requirement doesn’t fit into standard transport parameters.
A skilled logistics team, experienced in devising solutions to even the most complex logistics needs, is therefore key. Teams need to get to the crux of all requirements in order to meet the time constraints, identify the ramifications of any delay, and plan every stage of the solution.
Bespoke services are most frequently required by automotive, aerospace and energy clients. Although no two clients are the same – each will have different cargo, destination and deadline – an experienced operations team will work through any solution end-to-end, and predict possible challenges in order to plan for every eventuality.
When are bespoke services needed?
To maintain an unbreakable supply chain
In an ideal world, your regular supply chain would operate seamlessly, all the time. The reality is that unforeseen problems and delays can break the most carefully monitored chain, and you may need urgent and critical bespoke services to bridge the gap and meet supply deadlines to avoid downtime or unfulfilled orders.
Transporting an unusual consignment
Your consignment may fall outside of standard parameters, perhaps because of the number of pallets, size of the consignment, specific handling needs, required transit time, need for temperature control, or a combination of different types of freight required to reach its destination. For example, aircraft engines always require bespoke solutions due to their size and the need for them to be transported safely.
Meeting challenging deadlines
When time is short, or your consignment needs to take a complex journey between remote locations, an off-the-shelf solution is unlikely to meet your needs. An operations team will therefore use their extensive knowledge and close relationships with customs in order to build a unique solution which enables delivery within your timeframe.
How do bespoke services benefit the customer?
When time is of the essence, bespoke services provide the fastest and most economical door-to-door freight shipping service, minimising the impact of disruption to their supply chain, both physically and financially.
Rather than relying on a standard offer, customers with time critical consignments or consignments with specialist needs can reap the benefits of an efficient, knowledgeable and flexible network. They have the confidence and reassurance that comes with knowing a solution has been designed around their deadline/cargo rather than having to fit their needs around off the shelf logistics packages.
What sort of customer relationship is required do deliver a bespoke service?
In periods of crisis, where stress levels are high, interactions between customer and logistics provider can become emotionally intense. So the quality of the relationship is vital, as trust and transparency become essential.
When delivering bespoke services, providers need to ensure they work with the customer to fully understand what they need, in order to devise and guide them towards the best possible solution. It’s important to explain the requirements at every stage of the journey to the client and ensure they understand any hurdles and possible impacts if any elements don’t go to plan.
Each and every service is different from the one before. The product could be a special one, or a premium one, where the chance of something going wrong is very high. So the interaction with the client is very direct, close and intense.
What do logistics companies need to do in order to successfully provide bespoke services?
Any logistics company providing bespoke services needs extensive market experience, with in-depth knowledge of various freight options and customs requirements on the required route. Their network must be efficient, flexible and widespread, with their superior know-how including reliable partners with extensive local knowledge. Their experienced team (of full-time staff and sub-contractors) must maintain good working relationships in order to be able to call on added value, service or expertise. This knowledgeable network predicts every possible eventuality and allows them to plan accordingly.
A successful provider of bespoke services will constantly be thinking about how to expand their supply chain in order to provide the best solutions. High attention to detail allows them to predict possible failure points/elements en-route, with their extensive knowledge of vehicle sizes, travel time, documentation and customs requirements providing them, and their customers, confidence in the solutions.
The experience of providing bespoke solutions, as well as the knowledge and understanding of their customer’s business, allows them to devise the best solution, and exemplary customer service will result in speedy and efficient acknowledgement and actioning of the client’s request, as well as the flexibility to change plans at the last minute if necessary.
What does the future hold for bespoke services?
The need for bespoke services will increase, as in a faster moving world the need to keep up a seamless supply chain becomes ever more important. Each client and their needs are different, and a number of external issues can cause disruptions at any point. And with globalisation constantly extending the trading area and making it easier to transfer goods between countries, bespoke shipments will be required to cover these wider distances.
Logistics companies will need to constantly consider how to expand but keep control of their supply chain in order to provide their customers with the best solutions.