Joni Sundelin, CEO of a Finnish HUB logistics-group, sees a bright future for domestic logistics companies despite globalization and worldwide competition. Finnish companies can compete against big, global giants if they take care of five elements that affect their competitivity.
Finnish logistics companies will keep fighting against global ones even though production and supply chains are localizing. HUB’s CEO Joni Sundelin thinks that local operators have a bright future when they keep in mind their strengths and take care of their competitivity.
– Digitalization and innovations, networking, scalability and ability to serve customers, agile operations and understanding customers are in top focus when considering ways to keep up in competition, lists Joni Sundelin.
All starts from scalability and ability to serve customers
According to Joni Sundelin one of the most important factors in competitivity is capability to serve customers and their business.
– Service ability is most important. It is nearly taken for granted to be able to meet customer’s needs as their business requires. At the same time, we need to remember that service ability consists of several things. First, it is understanding customer’s business and requirements related to it from response times to integrations. Second, it is producing individually tailored services efficiently.
As logistics is more bursty nowadays, ability to adjust to changes in volymes is inextricably related to service ability.
– Another thing is scalability. We need to be flexible and be able to respond to sudden, seasonal changes which cause peak seasons and daily variations in production, Joni Sundelin speculates.
Winners are those who are agile
Changes in volumes have increased, and at the same time business cycles have become faster. For example, companies operating in retail need to react to orders within the same day, even within hours, which sets a great demand for logistics companies to be incredibly adaptable.
– Customer needs change constantly, and changes outcome significantly faster than what we have used to. Therefore, agility is a crucial feature in future warehousing and logistics. One of the secrets behind domestic logistics operator’s competitiveness is agility. We are capable to react quicker, within short notice. We are more flexible and adjust easier in varying situations, Joni Sundelin points out.
Networking is a modern way of acting
Being agile is closely connected to the ability to create networks. One cannot – and it is not cost-efficient to – be an expert in everything and within every branch. Competitiveness consists more and more of creating partnerships, especially when future supply chains not just one-dimensional chains, but vast networks.
– We can’t predict that all knowledge is in us. To be able to meet our customer’s and further their customers’ needs, we need to create a network of partners with which we can produce various service entities. What it comes to the issue of the last mile, we have constantly focused on building partnerships that make us more competent to produce high quality service, tells Joni Sundelin.
Innovations and digitalization play a big role
Logistics is in many parts price and efficiency competition. To be one of the top players, one has to invest in digitalization, data and automation.
– Digitalization has to be acknowledged. Even though local companies might not be able to make as massive investments as big, global companies, it is not an obstacle for digitalization. It is essential to make right choices what it comes to structures and technologies. Furthermore, these technologies need to be integrated to be organic part of your, your client’s and your partner’s supply chain. Entity is more than it’s parts.
– I want to emphasize that technologies and structures are tools. To develop these tools and make the best out of them, you have to innovate diligently. You have to innovate new services and new business units to make an ongoing cycle of digitalization, Joni continues.
From customer oriented approach to customer experience
Last but not least, Joni Sundelin mentions profound customer comprehension being requirement for competitiveness. He actually sees it as the most important thing.
– If we do not understand our customers and their needs, we cannot produce value to them. Digitalization for instance is a tool with which we produce services that our customers truly need. Actually, we need to produce services that our customers did not even know they needed.
Understanding customers is natural for domestic logistic operators, as they have capability to understand local perspectives and local needs and act accordingly. Joni Sundelin reminds that things always need to be seen from the right – which is customer’s – perspective.
– Customer oriented approach is much talked about, but I want to turn it more toward customer experience. We should not consider things just internally and from we-point of view. All processes, management and development projects should be from they-point of view meaning that all actions are driven by customer’s needs, sums Joni Sundelin.