The pallet industry has never been so competitive, with increasing volumes and the challenge to maintain high levels of service. It is a pattern that mirrors that of the parcels sector. However, as pallet networks strive to emulate the service levels that are expected in the parcels industry, there is one constant they would do well to remember: they are custodians of their members' reputations.
The very essence of a pallet network is to add value to members' businesses and it can do this in many ways - through reliable IT systems, greater geographic reach, managing volumes and providing quicker services.
What is often overlooked is that in a well-run network there is a cascade effect. The reputations of its members' customers increase because they can offer their customers better service through timely and reliable deliveries.
Pallet network delivery has become a favoured option resulting in increased volumes. This, against a backdrop of heightened customer demands, has made it increasingly challenging for networks to deliver the exemplary levels of service that are expected. As such, pallet delivery networks are under greater pressure to ensure they maintain a consistent level of service. It's a challenge and for this to be achieved it is essential to ensure the service offering is underpinned by a robust operation that is able to support and, importantly, retain its member network.
It is a simple proposition. A successful delivery reflects on many parties: the network, the member who took the original order and the member who made the last-mile delivery.
However, from the customer's point of view, it will only be the member in the front line who will be at the forefront of the customer's mind.
The network will be almost invisible - even though the part it plays is pivotal in the delivery process. A business sending out goods will obviously remember which haulier it employed, and the end customer may possibly recall which carrier carried out the delivery. To the member, however, it is the pallet network that is key- it serves as an extension of its business.
It is a challenging marketplace and it needs to be recognised that if a network is to be successful it is vital that its members' interests are at the very core of everything they do.