The conventional wisdom in retailing is that there are two ways to gain and hold customers: compete on price, or compete on service.
For those retailers who choose the latter, logistics can make the difference between a growing, successful business and a stagnant or failing one. Getting the goods to the store - or directly to the customer - in time and in good condition will keep customers satisfied and profits flowing.
That was the message Romaine Seguin, president of UPS Americas, delivered to attendees at the National Retail Federation's Global Supply Chain Summit in April 2011. Whether it is handled in-house, as many large retailers do, or through a third-party logistics provider like UPS, logistics is a crucial component in running a successful retail enterprise.
For online merchants, it is the foundation of their operation. Seguin cited Internet shoe retailer Zappos.com as a case in point. The company contacted UPS as it was getting off the ground for advice on how it could distinguish itself from its competitors. Following the advice it got, Zappos located its distribution center 15 minutes from a UPS hub, which allowed it to offer free shipping to its customers. From that competitive advantage arose the largest online retailer of shoes, employing more than 3,100 people.
Technology and logistics can also allow retailers to enter global markets at much lower cost than in brick-and-mortar days. Using online storefronts and third-party providers, retailers can go after the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the United States, Seguin said - and many of the markets where retail sales are growing fastest are now abroad.
Of course, what's good for retailers is also good for the logistics industry. As more retailers follow Seguin's recommendations and take their businesses directly to the customers, wherever they may be, companies like UPS will expand their operations to grab a share of the growing traffic. And with that expansion will come new jobs in logistics. By advising retailers to take advantage of modern logistics to expand both at home and abroad, Seguin was helping not only her company's present and future customers but her company itself - and by extension the logistics industry as a whole.
By Sandy Smith
Sandy Smith is a veteran freelance writer, editor and public relations professional who lives in Philadelphia. Besides blogging for LogisticsJobSite.com, he has written for numerous publications and websites, would be happy to do your resume, and is himself actively seeking career opportunities on Nexxt. Check out his LinkedIn profile and read his other posts on LogisticsJobSiteBlog.com.
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