Customer experience (CX) and eCommerce is revolutionizing the supply chain. Determining how to deliver an end-to-end experience for your customer smoothly will improve profits. Overall, the industry agrees that the customer's experience is a top priority - especially for retailers. The Internet of Things (IoT) and supply chain management tactics are making progress in these days of rapid change.
The purchasing process is vital in the customer's experience
Customers expect the same experience throughout the purchasing process. Let's face it; it doesn't matter to your customer where the items they ordered originate--physical store or distribution center; what they care about is the shipment's delivery arriving in accordance to the agreed upon terms. Where goods are sourced sometimes impacts the buyer's decision because it can be an indicator of your views on sustainable and responsible sourcing, but that's another blog.
For this journey the customers purchasing process might look like this:
- Begin searching for a product or service that fulfills a need or want
- Research into reputable retailers or providers
- User experience (UX) on the website
- Website time to load
- Product imagery
- Product descriptions
- Availability of product
- Shipment Process Time (From order submission, pick, pack, and fulfillment to departure from the facility)
- Shipping Speed (The time it takes from departure from facility to the customer's doorstep. Same-day; next-day, or two-day delivery is optimal).
- User experience (UX) on the website
- Adds to cart and completes the purchase process
What are some ways you can manage this boom?
- Be flexible and adaptable
- Be willing to meet the customer's needs
- Understand how omnichannel impacts the customer
- Identify strategies to improve the customer encounter at all touch points
- Develop strong relationships with your suppliers and service providers
Global trade is also expected to undergo exponential growth in the coming years because of the eCommerce boom. That growth is expected to climb more than 1 trillion dollars.
Cross-border e-commerce — defined as any online purchase made from a business located in another country — will grow to more than $1 trillion by 2021 under current global trade policies.
It also indicates that suppliers and manufacturing partners should ramp-up and update technologies to help facilitate their business objectives and maximize the customer's experience.
How are supply chain executives managing this expansion?
- Gaining buy-in from the CEO
- Implementing visibility strategies
- Developing strategic plans to achieve a reliable IT infrastructure making a company more versatile to change
- Sourcing with partners who share the same vision of customer experience
- Monitor your supply chain health
- Partnering with your customs broker, freight forwarder, and 3PL provider(s)
The government plays a role in supply chain management by ensuring safe goods reach the consumer when materials and finished products are imported into the United States. Depending on the type of product you import or export, you may be faced with various regulations and reporting requirements. Successful supplier relationships improve communication, as well as facilitate smooth, and seamless process through Customs. Your customs broker is another crucial resource that can help facilitate a seamless transaction.
A good Customs broker will help you identify missing information or products that are subject to duties or at an increased risk for issues.
The Customer Effect
Moving through another industrial and digital transformation, we consider the impact the customer has throughout the process. Buyers are seeking a perpetually evolving and improved experience throughout the purchasing process right through to the return of goods. For supply chain and logistics managers, this means that omnichannel strategies impact the customer. Your buyers are shopping 24/7 and assume retailers are available to complete their orders at all hours of the day. In the event of a product return, the buyer expects to receive their refund as quickly as the purchase transaction was processed. To meet this need, some retailers are using various automation services and the Internet of Things (IoT), such as:
- Chat and messaging services
- Automatic Emails
- Processing refunds as soon as the item is scanned for return shipping
All of these efforts continue to raise the bar for customer satisfaction.
Delight or Disappoint?
Executives who are optimizing for CX realize they can delight or disappoint the customer at every interaction. If a customer receives their shipment quickly or it's delayed, it will impact their experience as indicated in recent Gartner research.
The goal is to provide end-to-end customer satisfaction, which provides the directive that securing a positive customer journey means the success of the company.
Allowing the shoppers to submit reviews of your services and products online gives credibility to prospective customers simultaneously furnishing your team with areas of improvement. Realizing what can be learned from an interaction or transaction is vital to business growth.
Using technology such as to engage with the customer is only gaining more traction, which also means more people are posting both good and bad experiences online. Taking a customer-centered approach requires the use of innovative technology, and many of these are changing everything you ever knew about your products voyage. Keep in mind that customers are growing more aware of the journey of the things they buy.
Fourth Industrial Revolution and CX
Technologies like blockchain, drones, RFIDs, and data analytics are just a few ways to predict customer demand and ensure merchandise reaches the destination timely and in compliance with various import and export regulations. These technologies include the communications from your overseas supplier, through the U.S. port of entry, warehousing, and delivery to the final destination. With so many steps in between its easy to see how visibility improves the process. Industry experts agree that these things enhance the CX:
- Internet of Things
- Big Data and Analytics
- Social Media
- 3D printing
This revolution indicates that systems and technologies designed to optimize your practices and procedures can provide real-time inventory management, forecast customer demand, and behavior, manage risk, impact supplier relationships, and communication with key players to ensure your merchandise gets to where it needs to be.
It's a mixed bag of customer service, marketing, supply chain efficiency opportunities, process improvement initiatives, and strong collaboration between partners. A well-planned and synergistic strategy across operations teams will ensure better bottom-line performance.
Getting into the nitty-gritty details will help initiate conversation with your internal and external business partners to identify a seamless transaction for a customer-centric approach.
Of course, getting the sale right the first time around is the ultimate goal and a primary driver of consumer happiness.
So here we are, back at the beginning finding CX as the reason for the transformation of the supply chain. What steps are you taking to ensure your customers have the best experience?
Listen to Deringer's Matt Parrott, Director of Transportation talk with Global Trade Magazine about TFTEA and the impacts on the Supply Chain: