Manufacturers, retailers and others involved in buying global transport are asking for new services and products as part of their attempts to reduce costs.
"The description 'value-added' has been much abused," says Anna Warren, Supply Chain Solutions Manager, Virtualized Logistics, "but it is true that there are many potential savings – in reduced inventory and waste, as well as cutting time to market, that the extra services a sophisticated supply chain provide.
"Companies which have been happy to use the basic freight forwarding services to transport their goods are now demanding the cost savings and efficiencies that greater visibility and control can bring."
And it goes much further than just visibility, says Ms Warren. "Some companies are beginning to realise that working with supply chain partners who can, for instance, provide help with sourcing and monitoring the quality of raw materials or bespoke products, will also pay huge dividends."
The initial advantages of sourcing from countries with lower labour costs can be significantly enhanced through establishing distribution centres in those countries to facilitate shipments direct to destination, rather than using a central warehouse somewhere else in the world.
"We keep finding companies which have taken the huge step of outsourcing production to China and then they do not follow that up by re-assessing their supply chain and looking for improvements there as well," explains Ms Warren.
"Some commentators are predicting the demise of sourcing abroad as labour and transport costs rise, but we know that there are many ways we can take costs out of the supply chain to maintain the competitive advantage."