Logistics/distribution manager: job description
Logistics managers or distribution managers are responsible for coordinating the storage, transportation and delivery of goods.
Logistics managers oversee and liaise with colleagues to ensure stock is maintained and moved efficiently.
A logistics or distribution manager’s key task is to organise the safe and efficient storage and distribution of goods, and to ensure that orders are fulfilled (carried out) correctly. There's some overlap with the position of warehouse manager, although logistics managers' work is at a more macro level – they analyse logistical problems and plan transportation routes for vehicles carrying goods, for example.
Other responsibilities include:
- organising shipments
- coordinating drivers, vehicles, loads and journeys
- operating IT systems to manage timings, costs and stock levels
- analysing data to assess performance, discover logistical problems and devise plans for improvements
- negotiating and agreeing contracts
- planning for and negotiating technical difficulties
- preparing paperwork for regulatory bodies
- liaising with and managing staff and shifts
- monitoring stock and managing waste
- ensuring health and safety standards are met.
Working hours can vary depending on the industry and the type of employer. Some jobs require working evenings and weekends, while some involve shift work and on-call duties.
- specialist distribution companies
- the armed forces
- major commercial organisations
Vacancies are advertised by TARGETjobs, careers services and occasionally recruitment agencies, or in national newspapers and specialist publications such as the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s (CILT) Focus magazine and Logistics and Supply Chain (as well as their respective websites). Professional bodies, such as CILT, often have jobs boards on their websites too.
Both graduates and school leavers can become logistics or distribution managers. Various large organisations such as Royal Mail, Unilever and DHL run graduate schemes with a logistics or supply chain stream. These roles are likely to involve a heavy element of management, whether that’s managing a warehouse shift or a fleet of vehicles, or stock taking. Often graduates of any subject can apply but sometimes business- or logistics-related degrees are preferred by recruiters.
Graduates will not be expected to hold any professional qualifications but are likely to be expected to obtain them as their career progresses. You might be required to work towards a certificate, diploma or advanced diploma in logistics and transport as part of your graduate scheme, for example. As well as management, qualifications could cover health and safety, forklift driving or construction site skills.
You can also enter this profession through an apprenticeship, although this route is unlikely to give you the opportunity to gain positions of management as early on as you would in a graduate scheme. Many employers advertise apprenticeships in logistics and supply chain on their websites.
- interpersonal skills – the ability to work well in a team, as well as to manage and motivate others
- logical reasoning and problem-solving skills
- the ability to think creatively
- interpersonal skills
- skills in data analysis, including working with electronic data
- logical reasoning
- time-management ability
- the ability to plan ahead and deal with unexpected changes.