Fashion, lifestyle or electronics brand? Read on and discover how you can optimise your IT implementation strategy to increase efficiency and enhance customer experience.
Implement more effective logistics IT systems
Hundreds of billions of parcels are delivered worldwide every year. And none of it would be possible without every good logistics provider's 'secret weapon': a well-planned IT implementation strategy.
"IT is the backbone of any successful logistics operation. When you have the right platforms and the right solutions in place, it gives you a clear oversight of the entire supply chain - offering peace of mind and enhanced control over how customers experience your clients' brands."
- Sebastien Verhoeven, IT Application Manager at Bleckmann
And with the myriad challenges facing the logistics industry - from rising consumer expectations to supply chain disruptions - this kind of optimisation has never been more important. But implementing your perfect logistics IT infrastructure is far from simple. Issues like compatibility, scaling, and security can prove to be major obstacles. And the huge array of platforms and solutions available can make it difficult to know where to start.
This blog aims to point you in the right direction as you explore the intricacies of logistics IT implementation. Read on to hear from Bleckmann's IT implementation experts about the essentials to look out for, and the mistakes to avoid, when it comes to building a winning IT architecture for logistics operations.
Ready to supercharge your logistics IT strategy for targeted and agile growth? Here's our first tip:
Build your logistics IT solution around your brand's customer journey
The most important part of optimising a client's logistics IT strategy is undoubtedly finding out what they want their customer experience to look like. "Most clients know exactly what they need their logistics IT infrastructure to do, but they're not aware of which pathways will lead them there," explains Sebastien Verhoeven, IT Application Manager at Bleckmann. "A detailed discovery and onboarding process helps a logistics provider understand the client's exact needs - so they can propose the perfect IT solution that will truly enhance the client's customer service."
Of course, what the IT implementation looks like will depend greatly on the scale of the brand's operations, its product range and any existing platforms they use. "Your goal as an IT implementation expert is to develop an IT infrastructure configured precisely to each client, whether it's a big fashion brand or a startup," explains Jan Minheere, IT Application Manager at Bleckmann. "Logistics IT solutions can be crucial in facilitating a seamless and engaging customer experience."
IT underpins every aspect of the logistics process, from receiving stock to tracking the package as it makes its way to the customer's doorstep. "Once we've determined the exact level of service that is required, our job becomes a lot easier," confirms Jan. "The solution that's right for a growing startup may look very different to the one that suits an established brand. And our years of experience have shown us that, the more flexible the IT solution that we build, the more cost-effective it is in the long run."
Plan scaling into your logistics IT architecture
A well-planned IT implementation strategy needs to consider both the client's current needs and future requirements. And this involves an in-depth understanding of how brands develop throughout their growth journeys. Taking this broader view ensures that your IT solution offers the capacity to grow with your brand over the long term.
"A specialist 3PL provider knows what brands' growth trajectories tend to look like, so we can build on that knowledge to advise on the kind of solutions they may need as they scale up operations," says Sebastien. "Rather than just looking one or two years ahead, it's much more beneficial to plan five or ten years in the future."
Leveraging experience is therefore key when preparing proactively for potential logistics IT requirements. For instance, Bleckmann started working with an online discount fashion retailer when it was still in the startup phase. "Thanks to our years of experience in helping optimise companies'logistics IT strategies, the solution we built catered to the brand's immediate needs while offering them space to expand in the future," explains Jan. "So, as their volumes and ambitions grew, our solution was robust and flexible enough to accommodate this, introducing further integrations and economies of scale." And while the brand has now grown significantly, the basic IT architecture used to power its logistics operations remains the same.
Alternatively, brands at a later stage on their growth journey may simply require a new perspective, giving them a refreshed approach to their IT systems. This might include helping them to make better use of their existing tools, unlocking new features and connecting them with services such as returns portals. "Sometimes, all it takes is a little exploration to uncover a whole new world of value for a client," adds Jan.
Communication is key to successful logistics IT implementation
Understandably, many logistics managers want to move fast when it comes to launching an IT system. But there is one essential condition for making this work: communication. "It's no good just giving your client a 500-page IT manual and hoping they understand," explains Sebastien. "What they need are clear explanations and regular updates on the whole implementation process."
So, be sure that you're happy with the level of communication that you're receiving from your 3PL provider on IT solutions. "Pay attention to the questions they ask during the discovery phase," advises Sebastien. "Do they want to know about your brand's challenges and objectives? Or are they offering you more features than you really need?"
But effective communication is not just essential during the set-up phase. It is also vital to continue to communicate openly throughout your logistics partnership. This will allow you to operate more efficiently and adapt to future needs as they arise. And it also reduces testing and development time.
As a brand, you want to know that your logistics provider has your back 24/7. Because no matter how impressive a software solution is, tailored and consistent support will unlock a whole new layer of value - making it work consistently better for you. So, don't be afraid to ask how a potential provider will deal with IT queries, especially during peak periods such as Black Friday. Dedicated support is essential to help you stay in control of your logistics IT processes.
Efficient communication and knowledge-sharing within and between teams on the logistics provider's side are also essential for producing the most appropriate IT solutions. "Streamlined communication within in-house development teams enables you to reduce development times and increase the utility of your solutions," confirms Jan. "At Bleckmann, for example, we ensure that all team members have experience across as many clients as possible so they can offer better all-round support."
Cross-departmental cooperation is also crucial. "You need to make links outside the IT department so you can equip teams with the insights they need to optimise clients' IT solutions," says Jan. "You should also coordinate with the client's logistics department to share learnings and discuss optimisation opportunities. Because day-to-day proactive improvement is key to long-term value creation."
Effective IT implementation for logistics
When handled intelligently, IT can become a huge catalyst for strategic growth. As a third-party logistics (3PL) provider, Bleckmann has had years of experience driving digital change for hundreds of fashion, lifestyle and electronics brands with our road-tested implementation methodology and advanced technology offering.
"Bleckmann offers the unique combination of a large international footprint and a trusted name, along with the speed and agility typical of a much smaller player," concludes Sebastien. "Clients value us for our fast and efficient implementation and holistic support." Want to find out more about the nuts and bolts of Bleckmann's logistics IT solutions? Get in contact with one of our dedicated IT experts today!