The modus operandi of the ‘sales process’ has changed over the years in both the B2B and B2C spheres; it has moved from being a largely offline to an online process and this transformation has also changed customer expectations vis-à-vis product delivery.
According to a UPS survey, 35% of customers want packages to be delivered at a location other than their home, and a mammoth 40% of customers want to reschedule their deliveries after these are on their way. This requires a robust supply chain with a high degree of agility and flexibility. To cater to changing customer requirements, supply chains are becoming out of necessity quite complex, as businesses scramble to meet high demand and new pressures on IT systems and multiple vendors.
Is your supply chain configured to keep the new-age customer in mind? Here are five ways you can go about it:
1. Establish Granular, Real-Time Inventory Control
$1.1 Trillion -- that’s how much money retailers lose because of inventory distortion. What you must aim for is getting complete control of your internal inventory and your network too, which includes your warehouses, suppliers, 3PLs and in-transit stock. The key here is agile planning that uses supply chain orchestration (SCO) to give you drill-down clarity on the whereabouts of your stock, its location, and quantity. This ensures you are able to deliver orders quickly and from different locations and more importantly redirect in-transit stock, if needed. What you are doing is setting the tone for a supply chain masterpiece.
2. Offer a ‘Delivery Experience’
According to Accenture's research, 64% of customers took their business elsewhere because of poor customer service. Also, a huge $62 billion worth of business is lost due to poor customer service. These statistics are enough to keep you awake at night, more so if you aren’t doing enough to deliver a consistently satisfying customer experience. One way you can guarantee customer loyalty is by ensuring a seamless ordering and supply process that drives repeat orders. Make your supply chain a keystone of your efforts to deliver extremely satisfying customer experiences.
3. Enable Holistic Supply Chain Visibility
Partial visibility of the order process can lead to problems as you won’t have all the information needed to optimally manage orders. Out of the 101 execs from Fortune 1000 companies interviewed by Gatepoint, only 19% said they had end-to-end supply chain visibility. That’s an extraordinarily small number of firms who have granular visibility of their supply chains and who are using this visibility to improve the order processing and making sure they are able to maximize the number of on-time, in-full orders (OTIF).
This is a huge opportunity for businesses to establish end-to-end supply chain visibility and maximize ROI from improved deliverability.
4. Make the Most of Micro Supply Chains
Rather than having a macro outlook for your supply chain, start micro-managing it. This will help you develop a purely customer-oriented approach driven by the ability to optimize specific customer orders. The idea here is to consider each and every element of the supply process minutely, including stock availability, delivery time and more, to ensure you are delivering a fantastic customer experience every single time.
It’s super important that your micro-supply chains are configured to inspire customer loyalty and bring in repeat business.
5. Develop a Proactive Ecosystem
As mentioned earlier, supply chains are becoming complex beasts. Layer upon layer or new entities are added to the chain in order to improve them, but the reverse happens. Mismanaged integration and lack of alignment means the complexity of the supply chain is a hindrance rather than a catalyst for delivering new and improved customer experiences. The objective must be to use supply chain orchestration as an umbrella that covers all other layers and empowers the overall process to add much- needed efficiency to the order fulfilment process.
Customer experience is fast becoming a tool for differentiation, and the domain of supply chain management is no exception. It is therefore critical to avoid delivering an iffy customer experience; the goal must be to use all the actionable data at your disposal to deliver a positive and memorable customer experience. There’s never been a time when great customer service mattered more than it does now.