Supply chain and logistics are two terms widely used to the point of often being confused or used as synonyms: they actually have very different meanings and refer to distinct business processes.

While logistics focuses on the operational aspects of transportation and materials management, supply chain encompasses a broader scope, involving the strategic planning and integration of all production activities. According to a study conducted by Precedence Research, the global size of the supply chain management market will reach a value of approximately $72 billion by 2032, with a growth rate of 10.9%.

In this article we will examine the differences between these two disciplines, exploring how each influences business operations and the flow of goods destined for the global market. With an increasing emphasis on efficiency, sustainability and cost reduction, understanding the differences in supply chain and logistics is not just a question of etymology, but an essential step towards optimizing business processes.

The use of IT solutions supports and improves the entire supply chain.

Supply Chain Management (SCM) tools and new technologies are the driving factors of supply chain management.

What is meant by logistics and supply chain

The supply chain and logistics represent two sides of the same coin, which together allow you to manage the movement of raw materials and goods with the aim of getting the purchased product to the end customer.

Logistics is the operational process that manages the physical flow of goods, resources and information, ensuring that products arrive at the right place and time and in optimal condition. This includes activities such as transportation, warehousing of products, inventory management, picking, packing activities and shipping. 

Logistics is therefore a fundamental element in guaranteeing the efficiency of the entire production process and plays an important role in controlling operating costs. In a historical context where consumers demand speed, flexibility and precision in shipments, optimizing the distribution process allows companies to have a significant competitive advantage in the market.

On the other hand, the supply chain refers to a broader and more complex network of processes that includes not only logistics, but also the interaction and collaboration between the different entities involved in the delivery of the product or service to the final customer. Therefore, unlike logistics, the supply chain covers the entire production process, from the choice of raw materials to production, from marketing to sales and after-sales services.

Supply chain management allows you to coordinate and synchronize operations to maximize efficiency and reduce costs, while ensuring a high level of product quality and customer satisfaction. An organized supply chain is therefore based on strategic planning and efficient resource management, which allow companies to anticipate market demands, better manage risks and optimize available resources.

What is logistics?

Logistics requires careful management of multiple activities which aim to guarantee maximum efficiency of the goods distribution processes and customer satisfaction. This scope therefore extends beyond the simple transport of goods, embracing a series of technical and strategic operations fundamental for any commercial activity. Let us look at them together.

Order management. Effective order management is a fundamental element of logistics. This process begins with order fulfillment, where each item is selected, checked and prepared for shipment: errors must be kept to a minimum to ensure customers receive exactly what they ordered. Furthermore, in this phase it is essential to track and manage orders in real time, also thanks to the use of advanced technologies and the connection of the shipping management system with the company management system and the main e-Commerce platforms. This continuous monitoring guarantees not only the punctuality of deliveries, but also the accuracy and quality of the service offered.

Storage and inventory management. These activities involve not only monitoring the quantities of available stock, but also constantly checking the quality of the stored goods. Effective inventory management must ensure the availability of stocks capable of satisfying market demand, avoiding excess (overstock) which could lead to waste or obsolescence. One of the most important aspects is regular inventory control: a careful evaluation of inventory levels to ensure they are in line with sales forecasts. This allows companies to respond agilely to unexpected changes in demand, avoiding both product shortages and the excessive accumulation of unsold goods. Furthermore, to ensure that every item in the warehouse is in tip-top condition, companies must conduct regular inspections to check for any damage and impending expiration, taking preventative measures to ensure the quality of the goods.

Picking and Packing. Picking activities, i.e. the careful selection of goods from warehouse shelves, guarantee that the correct items are collected in compliance with what is reported in customer orders. It is essential that picking is carried out efficiently and without making errors, to avoid delays in managing the entire supply chain: modern systems for picking goods from the warehouse use fully automated mechanisms, which also allow you to optimize the inventory supply cycle. On the other hand, the packaging of the goods has the objective of protecting the products during transport, ensuring that they arrive at their destination in the best possible condition. However, packaging goes beyond mere protective function and also represents an opportunity to improve the customer's shopping experience. The use of personalized information and promotional materials, such as flyers, thank you cards or gadgets, can transform a simple unboxing into an opportunity to enhance the brand and encourage customers to share their positive experience.

Shipment management. Effectively managing the shipping process requires in-depth knowledge of the regulations in force, which can vary considerably depending on the countries of origin and destination of the goods. At this stage it is therefore necessary to prepare all the necessary documentation, including the preparation of the waybills and the compilation of the customs documents. The correctness and completeness of these documents are essential to avoid delays, fines or legal problems during the transport of goods, both nationally and internationally. Furthermore, the shipping process also extends to efficient management of returns and after-sales customer service. Companies must therefore equip themselves with technological tools and internal processes to control all the activities necessary for the management of returns: from the collection of the goods to the control, up to the preparation of refunds or replacements for the customer.

Choosing an efficient and reliable logistics system is a fundamental element for any company that aims to excel in the e-commerce sector. Mail Boxes Etc. offers a range of advanced solutions that optimize order management, storage, picking, packaging and shipping processes, helping to significantly improve logistics operations and guaranteeing an excellent purchasing experience for customers.

MBE Fulfillment allows you to delegate the management of orders and all logistics processes, allowing companies to concentrate on their business. MBE solutions allows you to effectively manage both domestic and international shipments, ensuring precise documentation, an efficient returns process and high-quality customer service. Furthermore, with MBE's advanced tracking system, companies can monitor the status of their shipments in real time, improving transparency and trust with their customers.

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Logistics focuses on operational aspects such as transportation, storage and distribution of goods. Instead, the supply chain covers a broader scope that includes the strategic planning and integration of all manufacturing activities.
The adoption of advanced technological solutions is leading to greater automation, better shipment tracking, efficient inventory management and optimization of delivery processes, contributing to greater operational efficiency.
Logistics directly affects on-time deliveries, the quality of products upon delivery and the company's ability to manage returns and complaints: all these factors contribute significantly to ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.
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