It’s a great time to be a consumer. We have so many options: go to a store or buy online, pick it up in the store or have it sent home, choose the right delivery schedule to work with our own.
Increasingly, the quality of our shopping experiences is shaped by the value we get from delivery promises. As final-mile logistics evolves, the emphasis on fast, free shipping continues to be important. But, there’s more to it—it’s also about convenience and choice.
Being able to offer shoppers a positive customer experience is critical to winning and retaining customers, and it comes down to:
- Ensuring your logistics and supply chain strategy can support your delivery promise
- Recognizing that shopping behaviors have changed and understanding where your brand fits
- Optimizing last mile logistics across multiple channels to support your shoppers and leveraging that strategy to boost your brand by adding value
The Supply Chain Is the Backbone of Customer Experience
We’ve all been conditioned to expect more—more personalization, information about our purchases, and on-time delivery. It’s no longer acceptable to miss the mark because your customers have options. The way we choose to shop should fit into our lives, not the other way around.
Consumers have a lot of power. We’ve seen this over the last few years through the “Retail Apocalypse” and the number of retailers that have lost customers and have had to close their doors.
Those that have chosen to innovate and adapt to increasing customer expectations have survived. For many, that has included rethinking fundamentals like the traditional supply chain.
The retailers, today, that are killing it, are leveraging data and new technologies to create exceptional customer experiences. It starts with marketing and ends with logistics. Improving last mile delivery—whether it’s making sure your shelves are stocked or that eCommerce orders are delivered on time—is the backbone of every great customer experience. If you don’t have the right fulfillment network in place to support the delivery promise you’ve made, you’ll lose customers.
The Way We Shop Has Changed
eCommerce has made last mile logistics incredibly complex. Customers used to go to stores to get what they needed; your customer base only extended so many miles from the location itself. Last mile logistics meant getting bulk inventory to a store and distributing items to shelves.
The way we choose to shop should fit into our lives, not the other way around.
Now, for many retailers, the inverse is true; demand is decentralized. The Internet makes it possible for your customers to be anywhere—browsing your products at any time of the day. And, your competition is only a click away.
Remember when five- to seven-day delivery was acceptable? Amazon has worked tirelessly to change that. It has standardized free, two-day delivery, and same-day delivery is quickly encroaching.
However, there’s another characteristic that’s quickly gaining traction in last mile delivery, and that’s visibility into how, when, and where our purchases are being delivered.
Last Mile Logistics across the eCommerce Landscape
Every year, eCommerce sales account for a larger portion of total retail sales. Today, they make up about 10% of total sales, which includes automotive sales, gas stations, and groceries. With those categories removed, eCommerce sales represent closer to 20%.
People are getting more comfortable ordering items online. Meanwhile, urban populations are increasing. Goods can come from anywhere, but most are headed to major metropolitan areas—furthering the complexity for last-mile delivery.
With 82% of the population in North America living in cities (worldwide average is 55%), and approximately 70% of Americans destined to make an online purchase in 2018, that’s a lot of volume moving shorter distances—it’s a lot of doorsteps to get right.
But, the average consumer doesn’t care about the complexities of last mile delivery; they just want their order. Today, buying something online and knowing when you can expect it to arrive, or being able to track it, is critical, especially as already-burgeoning cities continue to grow and people’s lives get busier.
Last Mile Logistics Presents a New Brand Opportunity
To get your customers to the point of decision—the moment when they actually buy your products—requires a lot of investment. The cost of acquisition is five times higher than the cost of customer retention. That can add up quickly.
Delighting first-time buyers, and turning them into loyal customers, has as much to do with your storefront or website, the products you sell, and ease of checkout as it does with your post-purchase logistics strategy. And, it creates a lot of opportunity to reinforce your brand as one they trust.
Your customers view the delivery experience as a part of your brand and reputation. In fact, 93% of shoppers want updates on their orders, and 52% of shoppers say delivery and ease of service are defining factors of brand loyalty.
How are you managing the post-purchase experience? Do your customers know what to expect once they buy something from you? Will their orders show up on time and in good condition? Is it easy to make returns?
During the post-purchase phase, you can further engage and communicate with your customers. The experience you provide drives loyalty and retention.
Adding Value to the Customer Experience
Today, because customers have so many options, loyalty comes down to the value you add to each purchase they make with you. Providing reliable, convenient delivery experiences gives your shoppers the confidence they need to keep coming back.
Your supply chain, and the technologies that support it, is the backbone of customer experience. If you want the last mile to be really good, you need visibility up the supply chain. It isn’t enough to just optimize for the last mile. It requires an integrated logistics infrastructure that gives you visibility and information from start to finish.
You don’t have to do it alone. Partnering with logistics technology providers can help you create the supply chain you need to make the post-purchase experience seamless—both for your customers and for your business.
Again, the average customer doesn’t think about the logistics required to get an order right—the processes behind inventory management, the number of warehouses in your network, picking and packing orders, carrier relationships, or technology integrations that make visibility possible. They just want their order.
At FLEXE, we believe there’s a better way to manage warehousing and fulfillment—one that doesn’t require going at it alone. Our team, along with Convey and other digital logistics providers, are using technology to transform the logistics and retail industries. Our goal is to empower you to create exceptional customer experiences through better data and dynamic solutions. Giving customers what they want requires a new approach to the logistics that support your business.
FLEXE is the leading provider of agile, scalable warehousing and fulfillment services. Backed by a team of technology and logistics experts in Seattle, FLEXE connects retailers and brands to a network of more than 1000 warehouses through a single software platform.