As we draw nearer to the holiday season, shop owners have begun to hire artists to paint or stencil their stalls in Christmas colors or characters. ‘Tis the season of giving, and we couldn’t be happier to help you keep in touch with far off relatives, or give yourself a treat by shopping online. The holidays can be hectic, especially when you’re searching for the perfect company to ship the sweaters you’ve been knitting all year to your extended family across the border. How then does one select a logistics firm suited to their needs?
One factor that greatly influences consumers’ choice of supply chain management firm is, true to human nature, reputation. A potential client’s perception of a company is shaped by a variety of sources, starting as broadly as media coverage and news articles to more localized word of mouth “testimony” from a friend or family member.
Public relations and advertising firms will always make a killing from shaping the public’s opinion of a company according to what owners would like to portray: companies constantly in the spotlight for equipment malfunctions, warehouse fires, fraud and other such negative associations are likely to be understandably avoided simply out of caution for your package.
I would advise you to do some digging into what the companies you hope to work with are known for: survey your friends for horror stories, find online articles or reviews and scan traditional media for any mentions that may be red flags that should deter you from putting your precious cargo in their hands.
Equally important a consideration is pricing of services by the logistics firm. The maximum acceptable cost of freighting will of course be determined by your own budgets; the concern arises with the minimum acceptable price. Proving the value of timeless clichés, “If it’s too good to be true, it isn’t” makes an appearance to punctuate our point: where services are suspiciously cheap and far below market rates, you are likely to get what you paid for – mediocre services.
Companies capable of making profits off rates that are too far removed from market standards are usually able to do this due to reduced operating costs, generally as a result of cutting corners, such as by having less efficient or obsolete machinery, outsourcing work to questionable partners, and other unscrupulous practices. It is therefore best to avoid “discount” companies in your search, for the safety of your goods and for prompt delivery of services.
Customer service and support remains the key concern that should guide you in making your decision. This multi-faceted concept determines your peace of mind during the freighting process, by covering a wide range of areas that would add on to an overall pleasant experience. Logistics firms with multiple avenues for customer care earn extra points as it will be easy to vocalize your discomfort and find assistance through a number of different channels: hot-lines, social media responses, instant messaging, etc.
Also deserving of a gold star are companies that offer the option of tracking your cargo in transit, a practical and fun innovation that allows you to plan your delivery times around the expected time of arrival indicated by the tracker. You might also consider showing an interest in companies that offer transit insurance for cargo that is lost or damaged in transit, allowing you, the sender to claim compensation in the event that those trusted with freighting have not delivered the package in the same condition as it was when delivered to the logistics firm’s hands. Insurance protects your precious goods and in some cases, guarantees refunds in the event that something terrible did happen.
Customer support also encompasses the machinery utilized by a given company: high tech, quality technology increases efficiency of processing orders where slow or obsolete machinery merely hinder the process, denying access to customer care emails or complaints while overall delaying delivery.
With several similar logistics firms available in the market, the decision rests squarely in the hands of the client, finding the company that best fits the needs of the individual customer. Just remember: this choice could mean the difference between lovely holiday memories of packages delivered on time and online purchases received before corporate companies close up shop for the season, and a holiday scarred by memories of presents that failed to reach their intended owners, and flippant customer care agents. No pressure.