From the Amazons and Alibabas of the world, to B2B suppliers like Grainger and Readerlink, to other niche and specialty suppliers and retailers, delivery is a crucial component of any ecommerce company’s success.
On Black Friday alone, retailers chalked up a record $7.4 billion in ecommerce sales this year, eclipsing last year’s number. And as we begin a new decade, ecommerce companies that hope to stay ahead of the competition need to be up to the challenge of ever-intensifying customer demands in the Delivery Economy – low cost, fast and highly transparent.
Whether it’s a direct to consumer operation or a B2B venture, these companies need to optimize their supply chain processes at every opportunity or risk falling behind customers’ increasing expectations.
In a recent series of reports, project44 surveyed 300 supply chain professionals to explore the impact of the Delivery Economy. In the latest one, Aligning the Supply Chain in the Age of the Delivery Economy, 73% of respondents said they’re experiencing pressure to improve and expand their delivery capabilities as a result of the Delivery Economy.
Here are three steps ecommerce companies can take to ensure they don’t crack under the pressure to deliver in 2020.
Update Inadequate Legacy Processes
Consumer delivery apps like Grubhub and Uber offer users real-time tracking and visibility that’s accurate down to the minute. How are other ecommerce companies expected to deliver experiences like this when 79% of respondents say they’re using a combination of suboptimal methods to manage processes around production, logistics and delivery?
Many companies lack access to vital real-time transportation and logistics visibility information by clinging to outdated, labor-intensive methods to track shipments and manage their supply chains:
- 52% say they use email
- 42% say they use manual processes like spreadsheets and PDFs
- 39% say they still use paper documents in their process
- 40% say they use disparate software systems for different parts of the supply chain
Legacy systems also lack cutting-edge features like predictive analytics that provide more accurate shipment ETAs. In addition, they fragment supply chain data, resulting in no single source of truth for a company and its partners to work from. Worse yet, relying on manual processes can hamper a company’s ability to gather vital data and insights when it matters most, leaving them ill equipped to address delays or solve other problems based on access to data after the fact.
There are a number of technology tools on the market that can provide advanced, real-time insight into supply chain processes while also automating and streamlining previously labor-intensive manual processes.
Open Lines of Communication
Whether it’s managers interacting with C-level executives, or marketing departments working with logistics teams, there are plenty of opportunities for managers of complex modern supply chains to miscommunicate expectations or fall out of alignment.
While all parties agree an optimized supply chain is crucial to their success, there are many cases where stakeholders are failing to see eye to eye. For example, 82% of managers who live with supply chain challenges every day say they’re experiencing pressure to improve and expand their capabilities. Concurrently, only 57% of their executive counterparts share the same concern. With day-to-day managers reporting feeling pressure greater pressure to improve their processes than executives, how can supply chain investment and operations be prioritized when the two parties are seeing two very different pictures?
The discrepancies are just as stark when it comes to how often the two groups report working with one of the most customer-facing departments in the company: Marketing. Fifty-five percent of managers say their team works with marketing on a continual basis, compared to 78% of executives.
This is a disconnect that cannot be ignored if companies hope to survive in the Delivery Economy. All stakeholders need to be in sync with supply chain challenges if they hope to make progress to address them in 2020.
Step into the Customer’s Shoes
In the Delivery Economy, customers have little patience for brands that fail to deliver in line with expectations. According to project44’s previous report, The Delivery Economy and the New Customer Experience, 74% of customers said when a package isn’t delivered when expected, it hurts their impression of the company as a whole. Meeting high delivery expectations is no longer just a logistics challenge, it’s a brand-wide imperative.
When things do go wrong, who do customers hold specifically accountable when a package isn’t delivered when or as expected?
- 49% of customers say they hold the retailer or ecommerce site responsible for the delay
- 42% say they hold the delivery company responsible
Customers are holding everyone in the supply chain accountable when things go wrong regardless of where the fault actually lies. Companies need to keep their customers’ rising expectations top of mind if they are to succeed.
No Weak Links in the Supply Chain
The status quo delivery experience won’t sustain ecommerce companies into the new decade, and adopting organization-wide strategies to meet the needs of the Delivery Economy are a must for firms to remain competitive.
As recent history has shown, customer demand for better delivery experiences will only intensify as time goes on. The risks of not evolving and adapting to these new expectations far outweigh the pains of instituting the needed changes.
Following these steps can help companies meet the standards their customers now expect. By replacing outdated technology that’s holding their supply chains back, improving the lines of communication across departments and keeping the customer’s perspective top of mind, ecommerce companies will rise to the occasion.
Tommy Barnes is President of project44