In some industries (maybe most), competing organizations are so closely similar in design that it makes me think of stock cars. They all look pretty similar moving down the track, they all want to win, and they all have skilled people behind the wheel and behind the scenes.
To the world at large, providers of supply chain services must look as similar as stock cars bunched on a track. There is not a great deal of differentiation. Nobody is breaking glass. No one is doing things radically different than their competitor down the block. As a result, the industry gets pegged as being commoditized. Manufacturers and retailers sometimes express that they cannot tell supply chain services providers apart. Just pick one and plug them in.
So, how do you separate top 3PLs from the pack?
One answer is being unique in a focused, targeted space. Knowing exactly what your company exceeds at and which customers are best served by that execution. Being committed to that segment by providing proactive, thoughtful insight to solve problems and help people.
If we're all the same, thought leadership provides that edge. Sure, you can try to be a thought leader in any and all things supply chain, but that's not realistic. Having focus allows you to become that top 3PL specialist – the one shippers confidently rely on for a steady flow of ideas.
Businesses are desperately looking for answers to help them compete better, whether it's reducing drag on a stock car or reducing cycle time on a retail order. Specialists help by suggesting smarter approaches based on their focused experience and success in a niche.