Top skills you need to succeed in the logistics and supply chain sector

The logistics and supply chain sector

Logistics and supply chain management is a critical business function for retail organisations and a vital part of the customer experience. Getting goods to consumers at the right time has never been more important as online retail soars and customer expectations evolve – we expect to have access to things more conveniently and faster than ever before. That means companies are working hard to create efficient supply chains and satisfy customer demands. As the industry grows and more job opportunities become available, we’re sharing the most important skills you need to excel within this thriving industry.

Strategic thinking: seeing the bigger picture

Above all else, the most important skill you need to succeed in logistics and supply chain is strategic thinking – this means keeping the ultimate goal of getting goods to consumers in mind and working backwards to map out what steps need to be put in place to achieve that goal.

It also entails assessing where the company is right now and making decisions that better position it for the future, giving consideration to how other departments will be affected by those decisions. Your ability to see the bigger picture will help you to anticipate what could go wrong along the way and form contingency plans, so that the goods flow through the supply chain continuously, without any disruption.

Being organised: creating a plan and seeing things through

Organisational and planning skills are essential too, so that you can successfully coordinate how goods will be stored and transported, whether that’s by sea, air, rail or road, as well as keeping on top of new transportation requests while overseeing the ones already in transit. This goes hand-in-hand with being able to juggle multiple tasks at once. If you’re working as a Freight Agent, acting on behalf of importers and exporters to organise transportation of goods, on a typical day you’ll be in contact with people moving the goods, building up a pipeline of new clients, processing invoices and contacting vendors, all of which requires a strong degree of organisation.

Communication skills: successfully getting the job done

Within this industry you’ll be liaising with a variety of people, so knowing how to communicate and build connections with colleagues, customers and vendors is an important part of the job. Some aspects of supply chains are highly technical, so you’ll be expected to communicate this information in an understandable and succinct way. Whether the communication is carried out by phone or in writing, you’ll need to do so clearly, as any inaccuracies or misunderstandings could lead to problems that affect the entire supply chain and prevent the goods from reaching customers when expected. Ultimately, using your strong communication skills will help to successfully get the job done.

Problem-solving ability: anything is possible

Despite careful planning at each stage of the supply chain and putting contingency plans in place in case of potential problems, inevitably challenges will come along that couldn’t be foreseen in advance. When these unexpected factors arise, drawing on your problem-solving skills will take you far. To reach a positive outcome for the company and the customer, you’ll need to make quick decisions, taking into account how they’ll impact the rest of the supply chain and at what cost.

Keeping calm under pressure: a cool head will serve you well

Working in logistics and supply chain management is typically very fast-paced. Each step of the process works in sequence; the next one can’t be started before the previous one has been completed. That creates a lot of pressure on the smooth-running operations and fosters a high-intensity environment, but supply chains don’t always function accordingly to plan. When a hiccup comes along, you’ll need to think clearly and rationally under pressure, so that you can respond to unexpected changes in a calm and considered way.

As the industry continues to grow, employing 2.5 million people and counting, the demand for logistics and supply chain workers grows too. And employers are increasingly open to candidates without a logistics background, who can bring transferable skills and experience from other industries. Whether you’re already working in the industry and are looking for a new role, or you want to transition into this thriving area, help is available.

At Manpower, we’re here to support the next step in your career. As a global leader in the recruitment industry, we pave the way in the world of work. With offices spread throughout the country, we have hundreds of temporary and permanent job opportunities available across a range of industries, including supply chain and logistics. Our experienced consultants will work with you to understand your experience and skillset, then use their specialist knowledge to match you with suitable roles.

Browse all our job opportunities in the freight and logistics sector and apply for a role today.

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