Consumer behaviour is an interesting field of study, and one that is in a constant state of evolution. Thanks to the introduction of new technologies, new retail and e-commerce models, and global social communications, the way we shop and evaluate our options as consumers is vastly different than it was even a few years ago.
Traditional marketing thinking often focuses on the benefits and advantages of the product itself, taking in to consideration factors like price, features, functions, and style. Indeed, while these are all extremely important elements, modern consumers are looking at the entire experience from end to end in-depth and with greater scrutiny than ever before. This is especially true in commodity-based items like consumer electronics, where 10 other retailers all carry the same models.
This means that all of the other elements that impact their shopping experience need to be carefully evaluated and optimized, and this includes your supply chain and logistics operations. When you take a step back and look at the whole customer experience that your company offers, you’ll realize just how critical your supply chain is, and how drastically it can influence the experience your customers have.
Let’s explore some of the key factors that are tied directly to your supply chain and logistics processes, and how you can leverage them as added value to your customers.
Retail & E-commerce Experience
The first point of direct contact that your customers have with your business is generally either your website or a retail location, and this is where set the tone for their experience. As your customer browses your retail showroom or navigates the various sections of your website, inventory management plays a critical role in determining if they can find what they’re looking for – if it’s available in their local store, and if they can order online and pickup in store, a popular option these days.
Inventory needs to be well-organized, appropriately stocked, and accessible to the customers. If your supply chain falls behind in maintaining stock volumes or hits delays in shipment times, the impact on your customer experience is significant. However, by enabling transparency in stock volumes and providing an easy way to navigate through all the available options, you are able to manage expectations and provide alternatives in the event that a particular item may not be immediately available.
In addition, the retail experience can be enhanced with e-commerce tools. Allowing customers to place their order for the desired products, having it either shipped directly to their home or notifying them when the products come in to stock at their preferred retail location, provides a lot of added value and convenience. 3PL logistics services can help reduce friction in these areas by integrating retail and e-commerce systems that simplify the customer shopping experience.
Picking, Packing, and Shipping
The speed of order fulfilment is also an important element of the customer experience. Once they’ve placed their order with you, how fast will it get picked, packed, and shipped out the door? By equipping your supply chain with efficient methods and tools like automation, you can reduce the time between order placement and delivery.
Leveraging 3PL services will help you refine your warehousing and distribution operations by increasing efficiency of fulfilment, as well as greater accuracy and consistency in picking and packing processes. Furthermore, 3PL logistics can improve your packaging to help prevent damage during shipping and make for a more pleasant customer experience during the unboxing and setup steps once they receive their items.
Flexible and on-demand transportation resources from 3PL logistics providers allow your company to reduce delivery times, as well as serve distant or remote markets more effectively. This means that customers that were previously inaccessible to you due to geographic limitations are now able to place their orders and receive them quickly.
Transparency & Communication
Another potential point of friction in the customer experience is the ability for customers to obtain information on the status of their orders and the availability of products. Enhanced e-commerce tools available from 3PL service providers allow up-to-date inventory volumes to be displayed directly on your product pages on your website and allow customers to track their orders in real-time directly from their account.
Communication of status updates can also be automated using 3PL services. This way your customers can be automatically notified regarding a wide range of topics that can help add value to their experience. They can receive stock level notifications, order updates, shipping times, returns processing details, and more. By providing greater transparency about the information that matters to customers, 3PL services help to further enhance their overall experience.
Customers are also placing a great deal of importance on the returns policy and processes that a company offers in the event that there is some type of mistake with their order. While this can occur for a variety of reasons, such as ordering the wrong size or colour, or perhaps due to a missing part or component, the ability for the customer to have the issue corrected is of critical importance.
You can offer a simpler and easier returns experience for your customers by utilizing 3PL services to handle your reverse logistics. Tools can be implemented that allow your customers to easily submit returns requests online and get the information they need. Alternatively, phone systems and support can be put in place that provides personal service directly to customers and assists them with their needs.
Whatever the best method for managing returns and reverse logistics tasks will be for your customers, the most important aspect is to make sure that the process is smooth and easy from their perspective. By making it simple for customers to have their problems corrected, you can provide a lot of value and help improve customer retention and satisfaction.
Add Value in Everything You Do
If you’re sensing a theme throughout this article, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that providing value in the customer experience wherever you can is the ultimate goal, and your logistics and supply chain processes are no exception. Your business thrives when you offer the best combination of value and experience to your customers, and so it’s important to look for every opportunity you can in order to achieve that goal.
For companies looking to gain a competitive advantage through value-added 3PL logistics services, you can get started by contacting the team here at SCI today.
We are ready to help your business provide a better consumer experience, improve customer acquisition, and boost loyalty with efficient and effective logistics solutions. Contact us today and get the conversation started.