U.S. Logistics Entry Guide for UK Retailers
You’re successful in the UK with strong sales both online and at your stores. But where do you go from here? UK companies are jumping into the U.S. market as they look for rapid growth. The rewards for successful expansion into the U.S. are considerable with the opportunity to achieve larger profits than the domestic business. Once the decision is made to enter the U.S., one of the first operational questions is going to be — how do we get our products to our customers?
UK retailers are banking on a love of all things British to grow their business in the world’s largest apparel market. In recent years, a growing number of UK companies have entered the U.S. Some have fared better than others (Topshop, ASOS, Boden, and Karen Millen), while other UK companies have retreated from the USA (Tesco, Marks & Spencer, and Sainsbury’s).
While there are many challenges to be faced by UK retailers entering the U.S., one of the biggest will be your supply chain. The sheer size of the USA will probably mean that your logistics operations will be more complicated than what you’re used to.
So contract a 3PL that has experience helping foreign companies establish themselves in the U.S. Your supply chain is one thing that you won’t be able to manage on your own and a logistics provider can handle everything for you. The sooner you make contact, the better.
Contract a 3PL (Third Party Logistics) Provider
Sometimes customers come to us with strategies that won’t work in the U.S. That’s where we step in and provide the best solutions that will work in the local U.S. markets. The way it’s done at home, simply may not be possible in the U.S.
There are many intricacies involved with doing business in the USA that require local knowledge. One example is the role of trade unions. Many of our foreign customers have been surprised by their level of involvement. Improper handling of unions can cripple your supply chain. Your chosen 3PL should be able to guide you to avoid any issues during start-up.
Acquiring a 3PL is one of many ways that a start up UK retailer can mitigate their risk and lower their costs. Much like it is in the UK, everything from distribution to trucking can be handled by a 3PL. Whether your strategy involves opening hundreds of stores or an ecommerce store, a 3PL can provide all the resources you need to be successful.
3PL’s can provide retailers with all the services they need to prepare and get their products to the final destination: container drayage from the Ports; warehousing; distribution; ecommerce; wholesale customer compliance; LTL; truckload; and store delivery.
An established 3PL can have your supply chain operating in a matter of days at a fraction of the cost of buying your own assets. There are very little drawbacks to using a 3PL; their expertise become an extension of your company and good ones will bend over backwards to meet your requirements.
Here’s some advice when choosing your logistics provider:
Choosing a 3PL
- Don’t always pick the cheapest provider. There’s probably a reason they’re cheaper than everyone else. You can’t afford any problems when starting up.
- Does the 3PL have good experience? Generally more is better. Have they worked with similar companies before?
- Is the provider able to carry out the scope of work? Are you confident they are able to cope with the work you’re giving them?
- Is the provider going to use their own assets? If not, are you comfortable with them outsourcing your supply chain to another provider?
- Consider using a 3PL that can handle both your transportation and distribution to leverage a better deal.
- What visibility can the provider offer you? Is their information systems advanced enough?
- Involve your 3PL at the planning phase for an optimized solution.
- If you’re a wholesaler, look for a 3PL that has relationships with the customers that you’re selling to. Often 3PL’s are already familiar with store vendor requirements and can ensure you get everything right from the first order. By doing so you establish a good reputation with your customers from the start.
The Ultimate 3PL
National Retail Systems, Inc. (NRS) includes Keystone Freight Corp. & National Retail Transportation, Inc. (NRT). NRS is an asset based 3PL that has been providing logistics services for the World’s leading retail companies for 60+ years. Our hub locations include: New York & New Jersey; Los Angeles, CA; Inland Empire, CA; Savannah, GA; Columbus, OH; Greensboro, NC; and Baltimore, MD.