Defining Logistics, How It Relates to Your Supply Chain--and Why It's Crucial for Your Company

What is Logistics?

We do more than deliver packages in big, brown trucks; we also have over a hundred years of experience in logistcs. But what exactly is logistics--and what does it mean for you?

The simplest definition of logistics is the handling of the details of an operation, but it's not always that simple. David Andries, Vice President of UPS Customer Solutions, explains that it's also "implementing efficiencies across a business's entire supply chain that help them achieve their strategic goals."

Not sure your business has a supply chain? It does. And it needs logistics to run smoothly.

Logistics and Your Supply Chain

"Every business has some type of supply chain," says Alan Amling, Vice President of Contract Logistics Marketing for UPS.
 
Take, for example, one of the simplest businesses of all--a lemonade stand, he describes. Think of all the little pieces that go into setting it up. Lemons, sugar, and plastic cups may all be on hand at home, but they had to get from their different sources to the grocery store first--then into your cart and your car, and driven home. Water is a must, to mix the lemonade and make the ice. A home improvement store has the materials to build the stand itself. And don't forget to pick up poster board to make the sign out front--attracting customers is key.

Altogether, this is the lemonade stand supply chain: getting all the different supplies from points A, B, C, and so on to the stand and then into the customers' hands. You don't want to pick up lemons, only to realize you have to go back out to the same store for sugar. Well-orchestrated coordination of each step--that's logistics.

Regardless of the scale of your business, logistics is intertwined with your supply chain.

"Think of the supply chain as everything encompassing end to end, while logistics includes all the different functions that connect source to customers," says Amling. "Logistics is the blood, and the supply chain is the body. So if the logistics doesn't flow--or one part of logistics, whether it's the transportation, or distribution, or brokerage--if that doesn't flow, then the supply chain is damaged."

Logistics and supply chains are nothing new. But they are becoming more complex, and presenting companies with new challenges. Neighborhood lemonade stands still have local supply chains, but many businesses are expanding to other cities, states, countries--even continents. Customers want things faster than ever but on their own terms. Some buy everything from their smartphones. Others prefer shopping in brick and mortar stores.

Keeping pace can be tough. So how do you overcome logistical pain points to gain a competitive advantage in your marketplace?

Logistics Expertise

We'll be your consultant. We can look at your processes from an engineering perspective so we can help you configure your business processes to keep things efficient so you can continue to grow.

With our global transportation network already in place, including storage and distribution facilities around the world, we have the infrastructure to help you expand to new markets and move products quickly, while meeting compliance regulations.

Beyond our global footprint, our Customer Solutions team offers companies logistical expertise in:

  • Process Engineering: Redesigning your business processes to increase efficiencies so you can continue to grow.
  • Information Technology: Creating customized systems for shipping, tracking, and reporting, giving you the control and visibility you need.
  • Supply Chain Optimization: Analyzing your company's transportation and distribution plan, making recommendations on how it can be most effective, and continuously looking for improvement opportunities--while mitigating risk.

We sit down with our customers and really listen to their needs. We get to know their company, and their industry. And we develop logistics solutions accordingly.

"This world always has these large dreamers that come up with great concepts," says Andries. "Where we come in, is we can take those big concepts, and we can break it down with our skillset from a logistical standpoint, and...help our customers figure out the most cost-efficient and effective way to support their business strategies."

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"When you look at what we're doing, whether we're moving fabric from Italy, moving it to my custom-make shops, or bringing my product to the United States, that's all UPS."


--Larry Hagenbuch Chief Operating Officer, J.Hilburn

Gain Insight

Common logistical pain points include:



  • Excessive costs
  • Limited visibility
  • Poor processes, resulting in poor service
  • Too many hand-offs
  • Returns and reverse logistics

Experiencing these pain points in your business? Explore how we can help with:

Real Stories

  • Meet: J. Hilburn
    Meet: J. Hilburn
    Fashion, forward: watch how we help this growing apparel company tackle complexities--and deadlines--on a global scale.