Customer Experience a Key Aspect of Retail Supply Chain Operations

Retailers are having a hard time updating their supply chain systems and technologies to keep up with the new reality of heightened customer expectations in an era of digital disruption but are feeling increased pressure to do so quickly, according to a new survey from Convey.

The survey, which polled supply chain executives from 200 retailers, found the convergence of customer experience (CX) and supply chain is forcing companies to rethink legacy technologies and processes as they adapt to the new anytime, anywhere, anyhow shopping paradigm.

“Based on what we’ve heard from clients and others, the future of delivery is less likely to look like flying drones and more like the service you’d expect from a great concierge,” said Rob Taylor, CEO of Convey in a release. “Making this a reality means thinking from the outside-in about what customers want and building that into your business processes. So the more transparent, proactive and flexible your supply chain is, the better the experience will be.”

In terms of the impact of CX on the supply chain, most logistics professionals in retail are seeing CX improvement as part of their operational marching orders. Eighty-three percent of respondents said CX is now a company-wide goal, and they’re feeling the pressure to improve it.

According to the survey, conducted by eft Supply Chain & Logistics Business Intelligence, over 83% of respondents said customer experience is a company-wide goal, with nearly 56% reporting CX measurement is key to their operational decisions. Two-thirds of respondents said gaining greater control of CX is crucial or very important to their approach to delivery.

The survey also found that current technologies are not addressing CX needs in retail supply chains. Only 3% said their current systems fully support efforts to improve CX, while more than 66% report said existing systems do nothing to improve it.

Willis Weirich, Vice President of Logistics at Neiman Marcus, said in the report that ecommerce has completely disrupted the traditional supply chain. While making delivery far more flexible, it allows retailers to control the experience from the warehouse to the customer’s door.

“The biggest change in the supply chain is the growing prominence of omnichannel customers wanting to buy from any channel and using fulfillment and therefore logistics to do that across those different channels,” Weirich said.

Other findings from the survey:

  • 71% of retailers said improving access to clear order, consumer and carrier data for in-transit shipments across consumer service, operations and logistics teams was crucial or very important
  • 70% of them said it was either crucial or very important to improve bi-directional communication with consumers regarding their delivery expectations, package tracking and resolution of delivery options
  • 69% said the ability to take dynamic and proactive action on in-transit issues (i.e., re-routing or expediting shipments, communicating efficiently with carriers) was crucial or very important

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