Everybody knows Steve Jobs, the iconic innovator, who transformed five different industries: computers, phones, music, digital publishing and movies (Pixar). He even left his mark in brick and mortar with the Apple Stores, which have been wildly successful.

But what if Steve Jobs had unleased his crazed intensity and business mastery on the 3PL industry? What would Steve’s 3PL look like?

Below are 5 things that I think would characterize Steve Job’s 3PL:

1. Understanding Customer Wants

Steve Job’s companies were known for delivering unbelievable products. Steve wasn’t a mind reader; he was obsessed with learning about his customer. If Steve owned a 3PL, he would understand his customer, forward and backwards and better than any of his competitors. Steve recognized that designing great products and great customer experiences begins with a deep understanding of the customer.

2. Play Your Own Game – Not Your Competition’s

Steve famously said “You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it differently.” This sentence sums up Steve’s philosophy about competition. Steve’s companies won, by not competing head on with his competition. You can’t get more agents than C.H. Robinson or more ships Maersk Line – find your own game. Dominate your niche.

3. The Best Customer Experience

Steve’s 3PL would have the very best customer experience. Steve and his team would manage every aspect of the experience from prospect all the way through the fulfillment process. Since Steve’s team would know the customer better than the customer knows themselves, they would be able to design the perfect customer experience. Since they avoid head to head competition, Steve’s 3PL would be selling a differentiated product something that few 3PLs currently do. When you sell the same services and engage the same way, you compete on price (sound familiar?).

4. Focused

At Apple, Steve developed a culture of innovation and product development. Apple is filled with brilliant technologists and innovators – truly a new product development juggernaut. The company was full of great new ideas, but Jobs and his management team kept their teams extremely focused. They would rather develop one game changing product than a half dozen good products. Steve’s 3PL would have a laser focus and most likely develop a killer solution for their ideal customer(s).

5. Great Brand

With Apple and its products, Steve created some of the most well-known brands in history so I think he would create a great brand if he owned a 3PL. Apple customers are fiercely loyal to the company and have a deep emotional connection to the brand. How many companies have customers who will sleep in the street to get their new product? A great brand isn’t created in the marketing department – it is created in the design of the customer experience and product design. Every decision is a brand decision. Remember, phones, computers and technology were just as boring as logistics when Steve started out. He made those industries sexy and cool.

Learning from Steve Jobs

Let’s face it, none of us are going to be able to match Steve Job’s accomplishments, but we can still learn from his unbelievable achievements. We can gain a better understanding of our customers, develop better customer experiences, stay focused and create great 3PLs.

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