Companies spend considerable effort building and refining a supply chain that will efficiently get their products to market. Smart companies realize the job doesn’t end there -- sustained success hinges on keeping customers happy before -- and after -- the initial sale. If you’re not putting enough emphasis on your post sales supply chain, you may be losing valuable repeat business.

Regardless of quality, some of your products will require repair or replacement. Without a quick, dependable post sales supply chain to service or replace them, you probably just lost that customer’s next order. This is especially true for companies offering warranties as a competitive advantage – if customers have to wait days or weeks to get a product warranty fulfilled, they may turn to a competitor next time.

Companies of all sizes – and in particular, small and medium-sized businesses that service products as part of their business -- can benefit from synchronizing and strengthening their post sales supply chains. Many of these businesses are wisely looking to the global marketplace to remain competitive, but going global may be impossible without the ability to quickly service products and fulfill warranties. This is especially true for industries where rapid product obsolescence necessitates fast post sales service and logistics, and for those with high value products that also carry a high cost to service (think high tech, consumer electronics, automotive, medical devices, and industrial manufacturing, to name a few).

Misconceptions May Stand Between You and a Better Post Sales Solution

Unfortunately, misconceptions about post sales supply chains keep too many companies on the sidelines. Many haven’t worked with their providers to streamline their post sales supply chain because they think it will be too expensive, or that post sales solutions are strictly for very large companies. Others think a post sales solution will take too long to implement, or view it as a cost-center rather than a profit-driver. 

In fact, post sales revenues are becoming a profit engine for many companies, contributing as much as 50 percent of some companies’ annual profits. A good provider or 3PL will work with you to develop a post sales supply chain solution that fits your needs, timeline and budget, whether you’re a Fortune 500 company, or much smaller. 

Synchronization is Key

Fragmented post sales supply chain solutions have major pitfalls, i.e. miscommunication, excess inventory, slow fulfillment times and lack of visibility. A synchronized solution from a trusted provider can be the best approach to satisfying your customers with quick, dependable and cost-effective post sales service. A synchronized post sales supply chain helps you do more with less by optimizing inventory levels across networks, replenishing field inventory faster, expediting returns and repairs to reduce the need for new inventory, maximizing field engineers’ productivity and reducing obsolete inventory.

For example, we worked with one of our customers, Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, to establish an end-of-runway facility at our Worldport global air hub in Louisville with a complete stock of repairable, expendable and structural parts for Embraer’s Phenom jets. Among results was a substantial improvement in the cutoff time for customer orders, with the capability for next-day delivery of parts on orders received as late as 1 a.m. 

You should work with your provider or 3 PL to develop a synchronized, bundled solution that fits your needs. As you evaluate your options for a post sales supply chain solution, work with your provider to develop a synchronized solution that will provide the following benefits:

Cuts costs associated with managing post sales service and parts inventory. Unless it’s a core competency of your business – and it rarely is – in-house management of your post sales service and parts inventory is a costly way to allocate resources. Trusting an experienced and expert provider to manage this aspect of your business frees up labor and other resources for more productive use elsewhere in the business. And bundling services into one solution from a single provider usually leads to cost savings and higher service levels. 

Provides your customers with quick post sales service. If your post sales service response time is lagging, customer satisfaction – and your bottom line -- probably are, too. When post sales service on a product is offered, consumers trust that they’ll receive quick service or a replacement if it breaks. Breaking that trust with a slow response time can cost your business valuable future sales. 

It leaves your customers happy and coming back for more. Providing customers with a quick, dependable and positive post sales service experience should be the driving force behind any solution. 

As president of UPS Global Logistics and Distribution, Brad Mitchell directs UPS distribution services and post sales services worldwide, including warehousing, order fulfillment, and delivery and returns processing for mission-critical parts. He also leads UPS Mail Innovations, offering customers postal services through the USPS work share program.