The Startup Phenomenon: How 3PL’s Can Use it to Increase Value & Capture Market

startup-phenomenon

It’s true that necessity is the mother of invention. Creativity, though, is the father, and knowledge is the midwife.

As people, we are wired for survival. When we are in tough times, our creativity and persistent shine through. By staying focused and thinking creatively, we can come up with solutions and take advantage of each opportunity as it arises. I know that from experience. When I graduated from college as a mechanical engineer, I was hired to do software development because I had math and public speaking skills. I wanted to succeed and thrive in that job, and I kept pushing even though software development wasn’t my forte when I started.  Later, I wanted new challenges, so I leverage my grit, persistence and necessity to reinvent myself as a solutions architect and a leader of consulting, technical, operations and integrator teams.

The challenging world of third party logistics (3PL) is ripe for a similar approach. Margins are thin. It’s hard to make money. Inventiveness becomes a critical skill.

When I worked for a supply chain software vendor, we courted luxury retailers and left 3PL service providers alone, knowing that these logistics providers would fight tooth and nail about our rates. I can think of examples when a 3PL would pass us over, though we were known for great execution, to take the lowest priced vendor. Often, that attempt would fail and they would end up back on our doorstep.

Now, I deal with 3PL executives nearly every day, to help them understand how to enable their supply chains with mobile devices.  I have found many of them to be great long-term partners to their customers. Another shift: some of these companies have started thinking in really smart ways about how to leverage their customer base and add value by transforming themselves into a full-fledged service provider at every possible level.

They are proving that there are plenty of opportunities for organizations that know what their customers need and who are willing to find startup companies who have developed innovative business technologies. Well-chosen technology has the potential to turn a vendor’s businesses upside down.

It’s something that has been true throughout history. India, for example, was a great maker of textiles since 1600.  We were taught poetry in our native language written passionate poets that said the weavers from the Bengal region in India made a special Muslin cloth that was woven of uncommonly delicate hand spun yarn. It was so wide and long that a lady could drape it nicely and so thin that it could be folded into a tiny ball and held inside a locket or a ring.

marie-antoinette

Marie Antoinette in her famous “muslin” portrait, 1783


Puga Sankara is the co-founder of Smart Gladiator LLC. Smart Gladiator designs, builds, and delivers market-leading mobile technology for retailers, distributors, and 3PL service providers. So far, Smart Gladiator Wearables have been used to ship, receive, and scan more than 50 million boxes. Users love them for the lightweight, easy-to-use soft overlay keyboard and video chatting ability, data collection ability etc. Puga is a supply chain technology professional with more than 17 years of experience in deploying capabilities in the logistics and supply chain domain. His prior roles involved managing complicated mission-critical programs driving revenue numbers, rolling out a multitude of capabilities involving more than a dozen systems, and managing a team of 30 to 50 personnel across multiple disciplines and departments in large corporations such as Hewlett Packard. He has deployed WMS for more than 30 distribution centers in his role as a senior manager with Manhattan Associates. He has also performed process analysis walk-throughs for more than 50 distribution centers for WMS process design and performance analysis review, optimizing processes for better productivity and visibility through the supply chain. Size of these DCs varied from 150,000 to 1.2 million SQFT. Puga Sankara has an MBA from Georgia Tech. He can be reached at [email protected] or visit the company at www.smartgladiator.com. Also follow him at www.pugasankara.com.

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