Bodenheimer continues: “Customers want a business partner who can help them become better, faster, and more efficient. They look to us for the solutions. We’re driven to provide initial and on-going value to our customers and in order to do that we always have to be vigilant for new services that we can add, and new technologies. There truly is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution out there, and that’s what makes us valuable to our customers.”
As for staying ahead of customer demands, he adds that, “We can’t wait for our customers to tell us what they want. We need to anticipate what they’re going to need tomorrow so that we’re prepared to support them, or even lead them if they haven’t realized what they will need yet.”
Bodenheimer also praises the food and beverage industry groups, such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, for helping to educate the industry and speed up the adoption of technology.
“I’ve been involved in the industry for over 20 years and on one hand I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished, but on the other hand, I’m frustrated that we’re not further along. I want to see more happen before I hang up my cleats,” he remarks.
The current economy also has some bearing on customers’ willingness to seek closer partnerships with their logistics providers, says Inmar’s Pepperworth.
“We see our clients making spending decisions based on priority,” and in the reverse logistics space, there’s very little budget, he suggests. “That’s what makes a company like Inmar a very good trading partner. We’ve made those investments already and we can spread those costs out among all of our customers.” He adds, “When times get tight, we see more of our clients migrating to and inquiring about our capabilities because they can put that in their cost of transaction rather than it being a capital expenditure.”
Pepperworth has also noticed an uptick in the company’s consulting services. “Customers are really hitting us with an array of different projects that tend to be retail store focused or DC focused. In that way, we’ve been acting more as an audit arm for our customers. We have the ability to go into stores all around the country and conduct audits in an extremely expeditious manner. And, when you think of a typical company’s audit division, it’s usually not that big. So, it would take most companies a very long time to conduct the types of audits that we’re able to provide.” d