Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD Jan-Feb 2017 Contents Those who think trucks, trains, ships and
planes define the 3PL market may be
in for a surprise. Marketing myopia may
have been defined more than 50 years ago,
but it still ails many a logistics organisation.
Third-party logistics providers that consider their
activity to be rooted in traditional transport and
the physical carriage of goods may go the way
of the American railroads, which failed to see
how aircraft and the private motor car would
so drastically affect their transportation market
and rob them of so much of their market share.
Confusing the need with the means has been
the undoing of many companies. The 3PL
sector has at least three levels of change to
consider and a possible makeover, sooner than
some may think.
What market are 3PL really in?
Marketing buffs will probably already know
where the term 'marketing myopia' originated.
It was the title Theodore Levitt gave to the
marketing paper he published in 1960 in the
Harvard Business Review. Like other valuable
contributions to marketing or other fields,
Levitt's premise was simple. He suggested that
businesses are more likely to prosper if they
focus on meeting the needs of customers,
instead of selling products. When Levitt made his
insight public, manufacturers often dictated what
the market would receive, leaving customers
with little other choice than 'take it or leave it'.
Today, customer-driven business might seem
self-evident, but there is still room for marketing
myopia. Any enterprise runs the risk of falling
in love with a 'solution' and failing to notice that
the market and customer demand moves on,
eventually making the solution obsolete and
leaving the enterprise without clients.
The first thing for any 3PL to do is to
understand the nature of its market and the
need it meets. As a general definition, a 3PL
helps a company get its offering, conceived
in place A, into the hands of its customers in
place B. A 3PL can also help bring a company
the resources it needs to make its products
in the first place. It is tempting to immediately
map these ideas onto physical warehousing,
kitting and localisation services, truck fleets,
railroad wagons, and the like, with their armies
of operators, drivers and maintenance staff.
The trap is to assume that because this is often
true today, it is the only solution for meeting
customer needs, and that it will continue to be
as valid tomorrow. The solution is to back up,
figuratively speaking, to the general definition
of the need and see how overall trends and
developments in the world could make this
need map onto other, different methods.
In addition, companies may also have to
contend with a new form of marketing myopia.
While concentrating on customer needs is
essential, it is no longer sufficient. Other
stakeholders have come to the fore since
the original marketing myopia burst onto the
business scene. Ecologists, workers' rights
groups, and other activists now exert pressure
on companies to change practices deemed
irresponsible, immoral, or unwholesome (watch
out for those diesel fumes!). Enterprises are
increasingly wary of suppliers that fall foul of
these other stakeholders, because they know
they risk being tarred with the same brush.
Changes in how goods
are moved around
Let us ease into the possible transformations
facing a 3PL with this first level of change,
the change in the way goods are transported.
Assuming we are dealing with physical goods
(anything from machine parts to dogfood), we
can examine the following axes of change.
Ecology. Even if the high-performance,
long-distance electric truck is not yet among
us, the all-electric passenger car is already
actively marketed. Companies like Tesla have
shown how their ecologically friendly vehicles
can perform as well or even better than their
combustion-engine rivals. There is even talk of
electric passenger aircraft. Why should trucks
be left out? 3PL who are currently vested in
diesel-engined fleets may want to take notice.
Labour costs. The workforce is the biggest
operational expense for many businesses, with
social and insurance charges in addition to
employee salaries. Reducing the number of
human operators in transport and warehousing
is constantly on companies' minds. Truck
manufacturers have been experimenting with
multiple radio controlled trailers so that one
driver can handle greater transport volumes.
Daimler AG even has a truck with driverless
operation, a logical extension of the automated,
lights-out warehouses already in existence today.
Labour availability. Cost is not the only factor.
In a number of regions, the logistics workforce
is also getting older, without new, young recruits
to bring the average age back down. If 3PL
cannot find people to replace those who retire,
automated and operator-less solutions may be
the only option left.
THE 3PL MARKET
AND A FORTHCOMING
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS --- JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2017
Links Archive MHD Nov-Dec 2016 MHD Mar-Apl 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page