If your business model calls for the use of a third-party distributor, it is important to keep several facts in mind when you choose that important partner. The first of those facts is that use of the word “partner” – you aren’t simply selecting a shipping firm. The right distributor will work with you to understand your specific needs and expectations and work hard to meet or exceed them.

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The simply reality of today’s hyper-competitive marketplace is that your customers come to you with increasingly high expectations. Those expectations are another fact to keep in mind. With major players in the market investing billions in ultra-modern distribution centers and sophisticated software, the bar is increasingly raised to make distribution a competitive distinction.

Meeting the Expectations

While no small to medium-sized company can realistically make a hefty investment in the logistics and distribution technology of their business, they can take advantage of third-party distributors who do. The modern distribution business is nothing like the pick-and-ship world of a decade ago. Your customers expect efficient and accurate shipments, and they want to know you are using worker and environment-friendly distribution practices. All of this translates into spending the time to pick a distributor that can talk about far more than price.

Your customers at the end of your supply chain also have expectations. They don’t want and won’t accept excuses; they will simply take their business elsewhere. That means they see the distribution process as a seamless part of your business. If your customers’ shipments are late, damaged or otherwise off the mark, they will hold you accountable, not your distributor. Meeting those high expectations require you to eliminate the excuses up front by working with a partner who knows their success is dependent on yours.

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Adaptability and Flexibility

You already know how rapidly your markets change and react to everything from competition to regulatory issues. Those changes must be reflected in your distributor’s ability to get the job done, and responses to those changes must be proactive, not reactive. To achieve this, your distributor will have a range of capabilities, including:

  • Cross-docking
  • Kitting
  • Fulfillment
  • Light assembly
  • Sequencing

Of course, these are just the starting points in an efficient logistics solution, and you may need all or only one or two at different times with different products. The key, again, is to work with a distributor who understands and accepts this challenging environment.

The right partner will see the ability to meet this demand for flexibility and adaptability as a welcome competitive advantage, not a burdensome or overwhelming challenge.

Every company’s supply chain has its own needs and nuances. One of the reasons you turn to a professional distribution service is to ensure those needs are met without you making an unreasonable investment in logistics capabilities. However, this often calls for compromise if you rely on the wrong distributor. Those compromises are no long necessary when you choose a distributor committed to fitting your business model, and not making you fit theirs.

Making an Upfront Investment for Long-Term Success

All of these facts drive one final reality. If you take the time to carefully evaluate and select your distribution partner, you will avoid many potential problems over the short and long-term.

Conclusion

Carefully detail what you and your customers expect from the distribution process. Then, choose a distributor that is responsive to your specifications and is committed to delivering a personalized solution. When you find all of that, plus a firm that is also committed to diversity and green practices, you will have the win-win solution you want and deserve.