My naive assumption is that logistics was just another word for shipping. The actual definition from Merriam-Webster is as follows:
1 : the aspect of military science dealing with the procurement, maintenance, and transportation of military materiel, facilities, and personnel
2 : the handling of the details of an operation
So clearly, not shipping per se, just dealing with handling of details in a military sense.
Who cares! Something you may be telling yourself right about now. The above is a long winded and relatively interesting ( at least for me, because I was unaware ) way of getting to something I have thought about company wise for some time.
The reality, or non-reality of shipping our products around the country, the logistics if you will are completely foreign to me. Obviously, I understand that packages are shipped, but as far as making it viable for business is surely something new.
To date, we have shipped one, count them, one order to somewhere in the lower 50. That place was Kansas and the whole transaction was a great experience. The customer was willing to be patient with our maiden shipment and the headaches which could undermine the whole project.
I had the fabricated fittings strapped flat to be packed at the nearest UPS store, communication was good with the customer and the shipment went off without a hitch. I didn't want to deal with any complications of securing and packing, so I left it to professionals.
A few days later the package arrived to a thankful customer and a giant sigh of relief from the shipper.
Could this be a viable option for our business going forward, especially with new (expensive) equipment about to be up and running? Are the costs of shipping and time needed for packing worth the trouble? Would only advertising local shipping to a mile radius work better for a smaller company like ours? These are just a few of the questions I have been asking myself over the last few weeks.
To be perfectly honest, the shipping costs alone are something that could sink the whole idea. In order to ship a small supply air plenum and two small transitions, flat packed to Kansas, the total shipping cost was roughly $44 for packing, materials and shipping. That's a tough pill to swallow for customers that are used to free shipping from the likes of Amazon. Not to mention the fact that this was a small order of minimal size fabricated fittings. What would that shipping cost ring up on something a bit larger? Would we be looking at freight costs instead?
The UPS and FedEx commercials make the whole process seem so easy with their no nonsense marketing of packages flying all over the world with seemingly minimal problems. However, when you go to the websites of either the process can be very confusing. It's not just as simple as zip code and weight.
We are moving toward a non-localized world which depresses me as a very local business. Nevertheless, these are things we need to take into account as a business that builds items for customers. If we can find an economical way to get our products into the hands of people that need them, why shouldn't we try? The trick is not to inflate your greedy little head and understand the limitations of the business. There is one thing I have learned over the years in our very niche micro business. Getting too far ahead of the game can be disastrous in the long run, bogging you down and making everything seem insurmountable.
This doesn't mean stunt ambition, goals or growth of the company. These are the reasons we invested in our new CNC plasma table and why we have struggled with the possibility of adding shipping to our normal business repertoire.
The last few years have been a challenging time for our company, more positive then negative however in regards to understanding the business from multiple angles. Ideas like the one I have briefly outlined in this post are something that never happened for our company, keeping us stuck in neutral. The goals have changed, the attitude has changed and ideas are bandied about frequently around the shop.
Whether or not we decide shipping is viable for us is still up in the air. However, we have run a successful test and know it's something that can be done.