The global logistics industry is one of the world’s trillion-dollar industry. In the US alone, companies and customers pay over $1.1 trillion just having stuff moved around. And in new markets, like China, the numbers are truly mind-boggling. In 2013, the country had more than 20 million trucks on its roads.
The logistics industry is clearly a huge business with plenty of opportunities. So what does it take to get ahead in this exciting sector?
Segment The Market
The most successful logistics companies don’t try to be a Jack of all trades. They do the sensible thing and try to specialise in particular areas. For instance, the needs of the food industry are different from consumer electronics. Food requires refrigerated lorries. Consumer electronics needs higher security.
If you can, try to find a niche for your business. Perhaps your business could try to be the only logistics company specialising in transporting seafood in your area. Also, find out what types of services are most in demand in your location. If you live in an agricultural area, focus on transporting animals and produce. If you’re based in an urban area, find out what are the dominant industries and cater to their needs.
Buy Second Hand Where Possible
Starting up a new logistics business is very capital intensive. That’s why it’s so important to find savings wherever possible. One place to save big is in the market for trailers. Brand new trailers can cost up to £20,000. But used trailers are often a lot less, typically around the £3000-5000 mark.
What’s more, buying a used trailer is not as much of a risk as the purchase of a used lorry. Used trailers are much simpler pieces of equipment. And should anything go wrong, they are easier and cheaper to fix.
Vast swathes of the logistics industry are stuck in the past. Many companies don’t want to innovate because they’re very happy with the way things are right now. After all, they’re making money and doing business.
But for startups, this inertia represents a massive opportunity. Advances in machine learning, robotics, and software mean that the market is ripe for disruption. Right now companies like Amazon are trialing robots in their warehouses. And there’s scope for things like drone deliveries in the near future. Beat out the competition by investing now in high tech solutions.
Research The Competition
Before you launch your business, it’s important to be clear on the value that your logistics company offers. Right now there are a whole host of businesses that take goods from A to B, and they do it rather well. If you’re going to stand out, you’re going to need a unique selling point that sets you apart. This doesn’t mean that you have to do something that’s fundamentally different to what other companies are doing. But it does need to be something that buyers of your service find persuasive. One way to compete could be through the use of better technology, like drones. Another way to compete would be to offer prospective clients lower prices over the long term.