What are Customer Logistics?

T. Webster
T. Webster
How a product is shipped is a consideration of customer logistics.
How a product is shipped is a consideration of customer logistics.

The term "customer logistics" refers to a company’s relationship to its customers during the delivery of goods or services. This process involves shipping, information, warehousing, repackaging and any other services that are a part of the delivery process. It covers a much wider range than simply the mechanisms of shipping and receiving, however. Logistics balances the costs and services in ways that are cost effective, reflect company goals and provide good customer service.

Customer service representatives who can answer questions is part of customer logistics.
Customer service representatives who can answer questions is part of customer logistics.

How products are shipped is a consideration in customer logistics. Product shipment should reflect the goals of the company, whether it is controlling costs or keeping product inventories at a certain level. This process also should move smoothly while also meeting all of the goals.

For the movement to be smooth, it must take into account business fluctuations that include busy or slow times. It also must be organized so that shipments that vary in size are coordinated with the same efficiency. Each department of a business might handle a different aspect of the shipping process, but all of the departments must coordinate smoothly. Obviously, large companies can have very complex logistics.

Customer logistics also includes information on how an item is moving to customers. This is becoming increasingly technical. One example is computer tracking systems that can tell exactly when an item was shipped and where it is in the shipping process. Similar programs also are needed to track inventory.

Time is one of the most important factors in customer logistics. Customers expect their orders to be filled quickly and accurately. Businesses that fail to do this might not be able to keep place in a global economy where speed often is everything. If a company cannot deliver what it promises, the customer will go elsewhere.

Costs also are extremely important. A key objective in customer logistics is to find a system that provides acceptable service to customers while keeping costs low for the business. All of this must be done within reason. The most costly process does not necessarily equal the best service, nor does lowest cost save much if the needs and expectations of customers are not met.

The final step in customer logistics is making it all work together smoothly. Each individual or department must do its part in and understand its role. A written chart can help outline this process. This chart works as a road map for how the process works and can help pinpoint areas that are working properly, along with those that need improvement.

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I like how online customer logistics systems are set up to automatically provide customers with information. Every time I place an order, I get a confirmation email with the details. Once the order has shipped, I get another email stating when it will probably arrive.

There is always a link in the email or on the company's website to connect me with customer service. I can write to them and get a response rather quickly. I don't have to call anyone, and I don't have to wait for something to come in the mail.

If I have to return an item, the company sends me an email stating that they have received it and are processing my refund. It's all done automatically, and this makes it efficient.


My cousin is a customer logistics manager for a big corporation in Texas. He makes good money, but his job can be quite stressful at times.

He oversees every department, from shipping to warehousing. He often has to talk to unhappy customers whose orders have either not arrived on time or have arrived damaged.

When he gets a report of an order with a problem, he has to backtrack it through all the departments to find out what happened. Sometimes, it just remains a mystery, and he has to refund the customer their money.

He has to make the employees feel accountable. They need to be able to show written proof of what was shipped, packaged, or taken off the shelves, and if they can't do that, he has to discipline them.


Customer logistics have improved a lot in the past decade. I remember back when I had to wait six to eight weeks for something that I ordered to arrive, and this was normal then. Now, my order usually arrives within a week.

Timing is something I consider when ordering from a company. If I order something, it means that I need it soon. So, if it is going to be more than a month before it is delivered, I will order from somewhere else.

The only exception would be for out of stock items. If I want something that will really be unavailable until a certain date in the future, I will go ahead and place an order, so I will be one of the first customers to get the product once it becomes available.


@truman12 – That is so true! I have found excellent deals on products online, only to find that the shipping and handling costs more than the actual product itself!

Of course, a lot of this has to do with the weight of a product. I understand that if I am ordering something heavy, it is going to cost more, simply because the postal service charges more for handling these things.

However, last month when I bought a set of lightweight coasters online and found that the shipping would be fifteen dollars, I canceled my order. This was just the company jacking up the price to make a profit.


There is a big difference in the importance some companies place on customer logistics than others.

I know if I have a bad shipping experience and don't feel like I get much help from the company, I will not order from them again.

I realize when a product leaves their business, it is out of their hands, but how they handle the situation makes all the difference.

I also feel more confident ordering from a company or business where you can track your order. This is especially helpful if time is short and you must have the item by a particular date.

Whenever I order a product and get good customer service and fast shipping, I will keep ordering from them.

Most of the major companies have good customer logistic policies, and maybe this is one reason they are successful in the first place.


It seems like I order more things online all the time. When I do this I always take in to consideration the shipping costs.

Since I live quite a few miles from the nearest shopping center, paying shipping is usually cheaper than making a drive - especially if I am ordering more than one item.

Many companies offer free shipping and I really like to take advantage of those offers.

When I think of what ecommerce logistics must be like on a worldwide scale, that seems overwhelming. Even when you think about how busy this is for just one company during the Christmas holidays, I wonder how they keep all of it organized.


One area of customer logistics that had always fascinated is thinking about the luggage that airline travelers have to shuffle around the country. Airports and airlines are responsible for tens of thousands of bulky, heavy and often nondescript pieces of luggage that can get lost in a hundred different places.

This is on my mind because I recently lost a bag on a flight from Phoenix to St. Louis. I waited and waited at the baggage terminal but it never showed up. I was pretty frustrated and I filed a report with the airline not expecting to see my bag ever again, or anytime soon. But just two days later a courier came to my hotel and they had my bag, undamaged. I was kind of amazed at how fast it was. This is an example of customer logistics working to maximum efficiency.


As a consumer shipping has always kind of confused and frustrated me. It seems like you never know what to expect when you go to pay your shipping and handling fees. Some companies are reasonable and consistent while other seem to inflate the prices wildly.

This is so frustrating because a lot of times you can get great deals by buying stuff online but all those savings go out the window when your have to pay for shipping. Its a double edged sword. You would think that in this economy and with so much competition in the retail market companies would try a little harder to provide good customer logistics.

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