White Glove Logistics and How to Engage Them

‘White glove treatment’ is the term traditionally used to describe a process where a person or thing is handled with extreme care and consideration. White glove logistics has risen rapidly to become a complex area of the supply chain, so what is it and who needs it?

What is white glove logistics?

White glove logistics is often seen as a ‘last mile’ area, but in fact there are nearly as many white glove services focusing on first mile logistics as on last mile and many dedicated specialists offering product handling for delicate or high value items. The proliferation in white glove services can be bewildering, particularly to small organisations which can struggle to identify their specific needs and to manage the process of putting out Requests For Proposals (RFP) and responding to the received information. This can lead to a failure to engage with the white glove process which, over time, may erode the ability of an organisation to reach clients effectively.

Recognising your white glove needs

It’s important to understand your own white glove needs – and to explore whether your logistics and supply chain management partners are equipped to meet those needs. Forwarders need to have not just the equipment but the control and the management systems necessary to handle the project. It’s vital to know whether they are going to outsource elements of the white glove process and what come-back you have if outsourced elements don’t deliver on the stated agreement. Are you business to business (B2B), home delivery or delivery and pickup? Do you need inside delivery, removal of old product, installation?

Exploring the white glove market

An increasing number of general freight companies are getting into white glove services but do you want to be their test case? Considering adding a request for case studies or background information on similar completed projects to your RFP if you want to be sure that you’re not helping your supply chain partners build their skills at your expense.

Establishing your white glove metrics

For supply chain logistics partners to be able to support you, they require metrics they can work with. For example, list handling characteristics such as risk of damage, complete weight ranges for all products and packaging characteristics such as the requirement to pad, vacuum seal or pallet pack. If you have customer delivery requirements such as one hour delivery windows or free collection of returned items, state those clearly and make sure that if there is a liability implication it’s important to be clear about that too. Don’t get too hung up on price either – the cheapest may not be the best, but it’s important to test the market and explore a few options before finally settling on a white glove provider who can meet your needs without requiring too much oversight.

Case study 1 – Amazon moves into two man delivery

Amazon has been a leader in many forms of logistics solutions from robotic warehouses through to self-sealing boxes and it’s currently trialling a two-man delivery service in Munich – if the test is successful it’s likely the service could be expanded throughout Europe. Currently mainly used for white goods and furniture, two man delivery often includes packaging removal, disposal of supplanted items and product assembly and testing before the delivery team leaves. What makes Amazon’s service innovative is the way that it’s working with a specialist in recycling to remove unwanted white goods and dispose of them in an environmentally friendly fashion.

Case study 2 – Brooks Brothers and the need to maintain supply chain integrity

Brooks Brothers, the American clothes retailer, has moved strongly into white glove logistics with a focus on ensuring that both ends of the customer experience are coherent – what they describe as having a strong ‘digital core’. What does Brooks Brothers mean by this? It’s a way of managing the omnichannel business environment where customers want to have the same feeling at every point in the process when they engage with the brand. For Brooks Brothers this is something that goes beyond meeting customer expectations to breaking down the silos that can develop in the outsourced supply chain. For example, their systems mean they have a 360-degree view of their inventory which allows them to balance their e-commerce orders with supplying their bricks and mortar stores stoat the customer experience is identically swift and personalised regardless of the shopping channel they use.

Case study 3 – converting low value customers to high value ones

40% of global deliveries take place in China. Everything from noodles for lunch to clothing, from knockoff designer watches to grooming supplies for your pet arrives by courier, often on a three-wheeler bicycle and frequently flung at the customer before the courier heads off for their next delivery slot. But the new white glove logistics being offered to Chinese consumers are literally white glove – delivery personnel wearing suits, shirts and white gloves, conveying packages wrapped in ‘lucky’ red paper and offering a customer service experience that includes a respectful bow and an enquiry as to whether the courier can do anything else for the customer before they leave. It’s an attempt to turn around China’s low value, high volume delivery industry by bringing luxury brands whose sales are declining elsewhere to Chinese consumers. Companies like Alibaba and JD.com are using white glove logistics to entice world-leading brands to China by giving them access to a delivery experience that is completely coherent with each brand’s image.

Getting started in white glove logistics

Your organisation may require movement and delivery of delicate/valuable items, for example antiques, medical equipment or living things like plants or animals. Alternatively it may be that climate control, specialist packing or high value delivery processes are essential for you to achieve the results you wish. Regardless of your needs, there will be a white glove service provider who can help, and by working through our checklist on recognising needs, exploring the market and establishing your metrics you’ll find it easy to establish the relationships that allow your business to thrive.

We specialise in sourcing professional warehouse space and warehouse services across the UK. We therefore work closely with many reliable logistics companies, delivering order fulfilment solutions to improve businesses efficiency. If you require our assistance in locating the best facilities and logistics services, simply contact us today.

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