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Opinion: does your logistics supplier's location matter?

Opinion: does your logistics supplier's location matter?

William Walker, sales director of multi-award winning Walker Logistics, considers whether or not geographical concerns should matter when it comes to selecting a supply chain services partner.

When it comes to choosing somewhere to live, location, location, location is the estate agents’ mantra.

But should geographical concerns matter when it comes to selecting a third party logistics (3PL) services partner?

Some companies have historically drawn comfort from having their 3PL close by and this is quite understandable. After all, having your goods in a warehouse that’s a short drive from your office means less time spent travelling to and from meetings at your 3PL’s facility and allows you to check on your stock – should you wish to do so – without spending a full day away from your desk.

But, in reality, as processes across the supply chain become more automated and real time reporting enables up-to-the-minute data on inventory and product movement to be directly accessed, face-to-face meetings are becoming less frequent. And, as a consequence, one of the key arguments traditionally cited for keeping your 3PL close by, is diminished.

For retailers, a 3PL’s proximity to the target market or, if you import or export large volumes, closeness to a port or airport, are perhaps far more relevant location-related considerations.

And, of course, if your distribution area is heavily focused in one particular region, it makes sense to choose a provider that is local to that area, while for those that are operating on a national scale, access to all the major road networks is highly desirable.

It is also the case that, by not restricting your 3PL search to companies within, say, an hour’s drive of your business, you are far more likely to find a logistics partner with a track record of success within your industry that is capable of providing the range of services that you need. This, in turn, means less warehouse visits and meetings are required.

Furthermore, if price per pallet stored is a primary consideration, a warehouse in a location where other overheads are lower than in other places, might make an attractive proposition.

There are many things to consider when selecting a logistics partner, but in the information age when so much of what a 3PL does can be viewed or sent online throughout the day, the amount of time it takes to travel from your office to the warehouse where your goods are being stored, picked, packed and dispatched, doesn’t necessarily have be your number one priority.

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