Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

How the supply chain became a consumer concern

By Rupert Cross, Chief digital officer, 5874 Commerce 

Gone are the days of simply walking into a shop and picking something up off the shelf, with no thought for where it came from or how it got there. In May of this year, 33% of sales happened online – an all-time high. And with this is coming better visibility of order fulfilment. Through digitisation of the supply chain, customers can see and control in real-time, when, where and how their orders reach them.

From order confirmations to delivery updates, shoppers expect to be kept informed and even entertained, while their order is on its way. Hermes messages you on the day, often across multiple platforms, to give a precise two-hour delivery slot. Food delivery apps have taken this to a whole new level of detail – telling you in real time when toppings are being added to your pizza and when the driver is on your road. 

Seamless end-to-end ecommerce experience 

The secret to the success of a visible fulfilment process is ensuring a seamless customer experience. Customers don’t care how a text notification is triggered. They just need to know when to listen out for the delivery driver. A good ecommerce offering will bring all of the elements together, from an attractively presented product range, to easy ordering, to accurate delivery timings. Understanding customer need is a vital first step. From this, ecommerce developers must build the backend to support.

Modern supply chains have got more complicated than ever, with the option of fulfilling orders either from a store or warehouse. This does however allow brands to supply more efficiently, in terms of both geographic proximity to the customer and clearing stock across sites.

One example is of how businesses are building websites to create new supply routes for branches which have built up high amounts of “deadstock” – unsold goods. With many stores having been shut for several months over lockdown, this can provide a viable new revenue stream and offer bargains for customers.

The importance of personalisation in communications 

Consumers are gravitating towards the personalisation of goods and services and in the future this will be integral to the ecommerce experience. Research from a Deloitte 2019 consumer review, showed that 36% of consumers expressed an interest in purchasing personalised products or services. 

According to McKinzey, personalisation will be the prime driver of marketing success within the next five years. Advances in technology will soon allow for marketers to create more empathetic and human interactions through non-human channels. From websites recognising a consumer’s buying habits, to Amazon’s patented features which will enable its Echo device to detect when someone is ill, brands are going to great lengths to replicate the human experience in a digital space.

WhatsApp is a good example of personalised communication. Shoppers can now opt into being contacted by businesses, via the platform, for marketing purposes. Over the last decade, WhatsApp has grown to become one of the largest communication platforms with more than 1.5 billion monthly active users. This networking app enables businesses to provide communication convenience and a personalised experience by addressing customers on a first-name basis and offering quick replies to FAQs.

Steps to optimising the fulfilment process 

To reach the purpose-driven, Generation Z, brands need to make sure they are creating an all-encompassing and feel-good purchasing experience. Examples include driving brand loyalty, by creating exclusive offers or loyalty programs to committed customers. In 2019, 87% of shoppers surveyed by Google/Ipsos say “knowing they got a good deal” is important to them when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from.

Social media product placement and influencers are driving a trend in more spontaneous shopping habits. According to research from social commerce company, Curalate, 62 percent of shoppers surveyed said their main aim when shopping on social sites is to stumble on new items they didn’t know existed.

However lengthy check out processes, including needing to fill in addresses and card details from scratch, play a huge factor in a customer’s likelihood to complete the purchase. Offering a range of payment options, including “cardless” technologies like Apple Pay, PayPal and Google Wallet make a significant difference to cart abandonment and shopper satisfaction.

Embedding learnings

Without knowing it, increased digitisation has propelled the supply chain into the awareness of many shoppers. Advances in technology are allowing brands to provide greater transparency and they can turn this understanding of the inner workings of their systems, into a positive customer benefit.

Now is the time to consider how optimising the buying process, from end-to-end, can ensure both more efficient fulfilment and provide better customer service.  


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