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3PLs must make adjustments in China

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
May 15, 2014

Beyond just export and freight forwarding services, third-party logistics providers (3PLs) in China are now offering pick-and-pack services for direct-to-customer shipments in the U.S. and Europe, observes Rosemary Coates, president of Blue Silk Consulting and author of Rules for Sourcing and Manufacturing in China.

“3PLs will prepare individual shipments for end customers, then overpack and consolidate to take advantage of bulk shipping to a US or European distribution hub,” she says. “For example, Nike has a web store (Nike ID) where you can design your own shoes (colors, style, personalization).  The shoes are then manufactured in Shenzhen, China and shipped to U.S. customers via UPS consolidation to the UPS Louisville hub.”

Incoming containers are broken down and individual pairs of shoes are sent on their final route to customers via UPS domestic delivery.  No inventory is kept in any part of the supply chain.  These shoes are manufactured on demand.

“Smaller 3PLs and freight forwarders without global networks, processes and IT systems cannot compete with the larger, more sophisticated global companies,” says Coates. “This is key…without global IT systems, the ability to serve customers in China or any region of the world is limited.”

According to Coates, as supply chains become more global and more complicated, IT systems become the backbone to supplying critical supply chain information. Other key observations:

*Operations people need to know where supplies are and how they are moving to support production
*Customers want to know where their orders are and when they will arrive
*Customs authorities are getting more sophisticated and require advance electronic information for clearance and collection of duty

“3PLs that are investing in more automation and IT will attract more and larger customers,” says Coates. “In addition, 3PLs that have process engineers to design new services for customers will also win new business through the creation of innovative solutions.”

About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Article Topics

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