What does an Agile Approach to After-sales Mean for Industrial Manufacturing?

After-sales in the industrial manufacturing sector is becoming more important than ever.

In a recent UPS study, 78% of industrial manufacturers providing field engineer support reported that after-sales service expectations are rising.

(Source: Industrial Machinery Manufacturing: Trends, Insights and Opportunities).

This comes at a time when the sector has become a victim of its own success. Industrial manufacturers’ and distributors’ sales are now limited by the increased lifespan of the products themselves. According to our recent study, 61% of machines and equipment are still functioning after 10-19 years, with another 18% lasting 20-29 years.

Of course, there is a huge upside to this: the opportunity to provide after-sales service over the long lifecycle of the machinery.

However, providing the level of service that customers have come to expect will, for most companies, require a rethink of the way after-sales is managed.

An agile approach is key, with every part of the supply chain focused on providing the customer with the very best service.

Many businesses still use ad hoc solutions to ship spare parts to field engineers and to retrieve returned parts, which leaves technicians spending more time collecting and shipping parts than they spend with customers.

An agile supply chain providing visibility and efficiency can cut costs, improve customer satisfaction and make a real difference to your bottom line.


How can your business benefit from agile after-sales

The specific benefits of an agile supply chain depend on your particular challenges, but agility usually comes from combining different solutions to provide real flexibility and efficiency. And it invariably involves a customer-centric approach.

For Sealed Air, the global company that produces Bubble Wrap®, as well as state-of-the-art machinery for packaging, growth across Europe was creating problems. The company was forced to carry overly high levels of stocks in nineteen warehouses and their engineers were wasting valuable time collecting spare parts.

After a comprehensive assessment of their supply chain, we suggested combining our services UPS Express Shipping with the UPS Access Point™ network and assigning warehousing, inventory management and order fulfilment to UPS Contract Logistics. This meant that engineers could order parts one evening and have them in their hands before 9am the next morning. Response times for repairs were cut. Warehousing and distribution costs came down. Customer satisfaction went up.

Whatever your challenges, many customers share the same concerns:

  • 58% of customers felt free returns was key to satisfaction
  • Customers increasingly expected help to make returns easier

(Source: Rethinking Online Returns Executive Summary, UPS, 2015)

An agile supply chain can take care of all these concerns and more. Companies that make the effort to reconfigure their supply chains to offer an improved after-sales service are reaping the rewards.

So how do you go about setting up an agile after-sales strategy?

Initially, you will discuss your needs with one of our Industrial Manufacturing experts to identify pain points and work to understand your after-sales challenges. You may also benefit from an audit of your existing reverse logistics for efficiency and profitability.

Conversation and close collaboration are key to making agility work. Your UPS account manager will continue to work with you, so that we can meet changing needs as your business grows, and help you respond to market changes and opportunities efficiently and effectively.

Solutions to help ensure agility in after-sales

We offer a variety of useful solutions that can be used by themselves or combined to offer all the after-sales agility you need.

Our solutions to make you more agile include:

A global integrated transport network:

  • UPS Standard® and Express®: Whether you want fast or faster we have a suite of services to ensure your package arrives on a specific date or time.
  • UPS Access PointTM Locations A network of over 24,000 drop-off and collection point locations worldwide to facilitate exceptional returns.
  • UPS Returns Can give your after-sales offering flexible options to impress your customers and win their repeat business
  • UPS Access PointTM Label-less Returns Your customers simply drop off at one of our locations.

Visibility and control technology:

  • UPS My Choice Alerts customers to incoming shipments and gives them control, allowing them to reschedule the delivery time and location.
  • UPS Quantum View Allows you to manage outbound and inbound shipments with ease, and provides delivery notifications.

For manufacturing companies, exporting brings global opportunities – and global competition. See how agility throughout your supply chain can drive success.


Carrie Royle

Carrie Royle

Industry Marketing Manager, UPS

I am responsible for ensuring we offer our customers solutions that really make a difference for their business today and into the future. I'm passionate about staying on the pulse of global trade and the evolving opportunities for businesses of all sizes and sectors. Carrie Royle LinkedIn Profile

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