With consumer expectations travelling ever more rapidly towards a same-day delivery culture, Rodney Steel, CEO of the BCMPA, believes outsourcing has become the sensible option for many businesses. The BCMPA is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. This proud milestone brings with it some large degree of personal reflection on how much the world has changed in two decades. The rebranding of the BCMPA last year – as the Association for Contract Manufacturing, Packing, Fulfilment & Logistics – is a good illustration of how our own industry focus has evolved since 2000.
Fast-paced technological advances, increasing demands for sustainability, a vastly altered retail landscape and rising customer expectations mean businesses can survive only if they are prepared to adapt and be flexible. Outsourcing – from design and manufacture right through to fulfilment and logistics – can provide the very support that ensures change becomes a business opportunity rather than a threat.
The rapid growth in e-commerce is possibly the clearest example of where change has put pressure on sectors represented by BCMPA members. Online businesses have fundamentally altered the way we shop. Consumers now have 24/7 access to goods that are increasingly fulfilled, despatched and delivered next day to their homes. Retailers no longer need a physical presence on the high street, which encourages many new operators into the market. This, in turn, creates a more competitive arena, where only the fittest survive.
Start-ups are particularly vulnerable. Although their new brand or product may appear to be the best thing since sliced bread, this new generation of entrepreneurs is often unaware of the complex and cutthroat journey to market – not least because they could soon be competing with logistics technologies like drones and driverless vehicles.
This is where outsourcing really provides the benefits – and can actually mean the difference between success and failure. From contract manufacturers and packers to fulfilment and logistics providers, all have the experience and knowledge that could make a real difference to most start-up enterprises.
Whether it’s formulation or manufacture, new product development, collation or contract packing, to a comprehensive offer that might cover design, development and delivery, there are multiple ways that businesses can extract value from outsourcing. Some brand owners in fact never even see their own products, as their end-to-end needs are met completely through outsourcing.
The support lent to these new brands is not limited simply to the production and despatch of their physical products. Outsourcing companies will also typically have in-depth, specialist knowledge and experience of their relevant sectors, enabling them to offer very valuable advice. For example, they could help ensure that correct product compliance, labelling regulations or legislation requirements are met.
But this industry shift towards increased outsourcing is not exclusive to start-ups. Many established companies are also utilising outsource support for various reasons, perhaps relating to cost, compliance, over-capacity or efficiency. Some will outsource their design and development process to help accelerate product launches. Some might outsource the manufacture and packing of niche or temporary product lines, and some may outsource to cope with seasonal demand.
The growing focus on sustainability has affected everybody – established and start-up companies alike – in terms of the manufacturing and transportation of products, and particularly in terms of packaging. Consumers are rightly questioning how environmental improvements can be made. It is here where BCMPA members can work with clients to devise appropriate solutions, with new pack formats, more recyclable packaging and energy-efficient supply chains becoming increasingly important.
In the past 20 years, we’ve witnessed a major transformation of the BCMPA – not least in seeing our membership numbers build to more than 150 members. In the same period, we’ve also seen enormous changes in the way businesses need to operate.
Our goal at this year’s Contract Pack & Fulfilment show at the Birmingham NEC is to begin to understand what the next 20 years is likely to bring. While we can’t see into the future, we try to keep ahead of the trends in order to advise our members accordingly. The BCMPA, along with 20 of its member companies, will be exhibiting at the show, so we look forward to celebrating both our 20 years as an Association and sharing our thoughts and advice with as many visitors as we can.
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