Supply Chain Logistics: Balance Cost and Customer Experience

Enhance your supply chain logistics management strategies.

Supply chain logistics:
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

The effort involved with getting the COVID-19 vaccine to the public should not be underestimated, but some hurdles have been exaggerated. 

Separate fact from fiction: Gartner interviewed several of the largest third-party logistics players around the globe to get clarity on how vaccine distribution may impact operations. 

Fill out the form to download the supply chain brief.

  • Five myths about COVID-19 vaccine distribution 
  • Supply chain capacity constraints stemming from COVID-19 vaccine distribution
  • Three recommendations for managing COVID-19 vaccine distribution

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Understand the capacity constraints associated with COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

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    The path to logistics excellence is partly defined by an organization’s current level of logistics maturity.

    James Lisica

    Director, Gartner Research & Advisory

    Enhance your supply chain logistics capabilities

    Supply chain logistics leaders must design and manage a logistics organization that offers consistent and reliable delivery services, yet can adapt to provide segmented customer requirements. Customers are more connected, informed, mobile — and demanding — than ever before. To compete effectively, you need to enhance your supply chain logistics capabilities and extend your networks. 

    A bar graph outlining insourced versus outsourced logistics services in 2019. 63% shippers are increasing use of outsourced logistics services, while 28% of shippers are returning to insourced operations.

    Supply chain logistics insights you can use

    Gartner’s research and advice helps supply chain logistics leaders address these challenges as they strive to build world-class, sustainable logistics organizations and capabilities.

    30 essential activities for logistics management

    Don’t waste time on logistics activities that won’t move the needle. Download the logistics activity map to learn what leaders say are the key logistics activities to building a world-class organization.

    Use the Gartner Magic Quadrant for logistics insight into a post-COVID world

    Watch the on-demand webinar to explore what supply chain logistics service providers must do to stand out in the new marketplace.

    Build a Cold Chain Distribution Strategy

    Explore the Gartner five-step supply chain framework for building a cold chain distribution strategy. 

    Future of supply chain: 5 trends to act on now

    Discover the supply chain leader’s new imperatives and get specific recommendations to reset supply chain strategy and operations. 

    Questions about becoming a Gartner client?

    Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo™

    Join the world's most important gathering of CSCOs, supply chain executives virtually along with Gartner experts to transform and innovate your supply chain strategy.

    Resulted in savings of $2.1 million.
    Client Success Story

    Reducing 3PL contract renewal costs

    A large enterprise manufacturing firm’s contract with their third-party logistics (3PL) was coming to term. With Gartner’s support, the client was able to review their existing contract, the proposed renewal contract, and find efficiencies helping the client negotiate their renewal contract, which resulted in cost savings of $2.1 million.

    Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2021

    See the 17th annual ranking of the world’s superior supply chains to learn the standard for supply chain excellence.

    Supply chain logistics questions Gartner can help answer

    Logistics is the management of a complex set of tasks that encompasses the physical flow of materials and products from source to final destination. This can include processes such as inbound and outbound transport management, warehousing, fulfillment, value-added services and the management of international cross-border logistics — for example, import, export and customs.

    The supply chain of a business encompasses the businesses and manufacturers involved in developing and delivering its product to its retail or business dispatch facility. A key part of managing this process — often through multiple international or nationwide transportation steps — is logistics management. 

    Supply chain logistics management is more than just the management of the supply chain. It aligns the intricate functionality of transportation, shipping and receiving, import and export operations, warehousing, inventory management, product purchasing, production planning and customer service.

    Managing the supply chain is imperative to ensuring that your business operations run smoothly, from manufacturing all the way through to delivery at your retail outlet/business operations facility.

    Gartner defines a third-party logistics (3PL) provider as a commercial firm that provides one or more logistics functions on behalf of its customers on an outsourced basis for a fee. To be a 3PL, the logistics service provider (LSP) must predominantly operate a business that moves, stores or manages products or materials on behalf of its customer, in some manner, without taking ownership of such products or materials. A 3PL offers many traditional services, such as: transportation management and brokerage; warehousing, consolidation, distribution and fulfillment (contract logistics); and international logistics management (such as air and ocean freight forwarding and customs brokerage).

    Outsourcing is the transfer of services that would otherwise be performed internally to a third-party service provider to drive cost optimization and efficiencies.

    Having a world-class supply chain management system is rapidly becoming the key differentiator factor between the success or failure of businesses. With so many variables at any given phase of the supply chain, logistics management must ensure the smooth and successful completion of each phase. 

    Besides the challenge of managing multiple moving parts, logistics management leaders have the challenge of making their processes more customer-centric to ensure the viability of their products. 

    Instability in global trade, trends toward localizing and personalizing logistics, the ongoing challenge of attracting and retaining the best logistics talent, and businesses not committing adequate budgets for expanding supply chain logistics are all contributing factors to the growing challenges being placed on the shoulders of logistics leaders.

    Organizations can optimize their logistics strategy in a number of ways: 

    • Focus on long-term business strategy: This includes campaigning or influencing investment decisions from the organization’s decision makers. 
    • Focus on value: How is your function delivering value to the organization? Communicate this clearly to C-suite executives and deliver demonstrable evidence where possible. 
    • Maintain and drive agility: Ensure your processes are adaptable to changing landscapes at all phases of the supply chain. Have priority lists of projects that need immediate attention and ensure that all functions of the supply chain are able to pivot when necessary. 
    • Hire disruptors: Talent is integral in supply chain management. Hiring out-of-the-box thinkers and those who are constantly looking for a better way of doing things is imperative to success.

    Logistics network planning (LNP) refers to the class of tools required to analyze the trade-offs among inventory quantities, number and location of warehouses, and transportation costs to most profitably support a desired level of customer service. LNP is a proven scientific method for analyzing the required cost and service levels that warehouses need to meet specified customer service objectives.

    The market for in-store logistics systems is emerging and growing. Increasingly, retailers are using store inventory to support online order fulfillment. The key benefits of in-store logistics systems are to manage the fulfillment (picking, packing and dispatch) of online orders at scale within a store environment so that consumers experience an optimal level of on-time and complete fulfillment of their orders, whether being collected in-store or shipped to them from the store. Gartner defines the scope of in-store logistics processes as consisting of seven key functional capabilities which are product receipt, product put-away, inventory management, sales floor replenishment, picking optimization, packing optimization and dispatch process.

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