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Taming the Animal Known as the Economy

Posted 10-08-2010 at 11:41 AM by Albert Fong

The economy is a strange animal these days full of uncertainty and prone to dramatic mood swings. Ask any number of financial and industry experts, and you're likely to hear a wide range of different perspectives (or guesses as I like to call them). For example, the retail area is full of cautious optimism with some retailers seeing growth as small as it may be, while others are still in a holding pattern. Retailers such as Macy's and Best Buy reported positive quarters while others such as the Gap aren't. The same mixed bag also applies to 3PLs who are trying to find a balance between inventory and consumer demand. Just last week, Armstrong & Associates estimated that the 3PL industry will see a 13.4% increase from last year (a gross revenue of $121 billion).

One thing that experts agree on is that businesses can't remain on the sidelines indefinitely. While the financial numbers provide a potpourri of good and bad, they do show that the economy is stabilizing, albeit not as fast or significantly as we would like. Shaky economy or not, increasing competition coupled with growing customer demands will run its Darwinian course. In my book, customer expectations and whether they're being met is the true gauge of success.

ARC Advisory Group recently released a report showing that logistics providers are more tech savvy than you think. The problem, however, is that many rely on older technology or legacy systems that aren't scalable nor provide the upfront customer facing to compete. It's a common issue that I often come across. Whether they're relying on Excel spreadsheets or an older database system, businesses are using technology, just not the best available. The reason is often due to costs or reducing it, but short-term savings usually mean foregoing long-term ones.

Companies should be reassessing their needs and capabilities more than ever. What most will find is that having the right tools can better prepare them for future growth opportunities, and build a competitive advantage. That may sound cliché, but successful companies have followed that formula for eons no uncertainty there.

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