We live in a consumer-driven era of personalization and customization. Shoppers are no longer satisfied with products that are delivered the same way for every person. Instead, they are looking for and purchasing products that are tailored to fit their individual wants and needs.1 They are also patronizing businesses that help create that experience for them.
These preferences are changing the logistics landscape for shippers. It is essential for businesses to have adaptable models built on customer data and systems for communicating in order to survive now and in the future. Read on to learn more about the seamless experience customers crave and the tips that can lead you to success in a post-one-size-fits-all market.
The Customer-driven Ecosystem
Personalization and customization goes beyond monograms. Customers want businesses to anticipate their needs and create a smooth and rewarding experience.
Here’s an example:
A shopper adds something to her digital cart on a store’s website but doesn’t complete the purchase. The abandonment triggers a direct mail piece that is personalized with the item that was in her cart and offers a free-shipping discount. The mail piece arrives within 48 hours and the shopper then completes her purchase using the unique discount code to get free shipping. Her order is processed and shipped from a nearby location, arriving at her door as quickly as possible. This rounds out a tailored experience with a brand she showed interest in.
For customers, this experience can feel magical. But it only works if the business providing it has a flexible network that is rich in data and uses clear communication to maximize the efficiency of the supply chain.
Here are three tips for adapting your shipping and logistics processes to better capture your target audience:
Focus on your customers
The first step toward updating your processes is understanding who your customers are. Study the data they have provided you, from demographic basics to shopping habits. Do older shoppers prefer ordering online and picking up in store? Are male shoppers more influenced by promotions on social media?
Starting with customer data, you should be able to redefine your goals as a supplier. Maybe you’ll use this data to home in on customer satisfaction and build up your customer base instead of focusing solely on product sales. With a strong grasp of who your customers are, you can begin to see the path toward end-to-end visibility in your supply chain.
Build an integrated network
Many businesses see their platforms and tools as independent structures: a CRM tool doesn’t necessarily need to connect with a warehouse inventory system. However, both of those tools interact with customer data.
A CRM tool tracks how and when a customer buys something from your business. When an item is bought, the warehouse inventory system makes a note to replenish that item. Letting these two systems, among many others, talk to each other can greatly reduce downtime. This will help your shipping business run more efficiently.
In the same vein, it’s important that the different people within your business also communicate with one another. Let those in marketing communicate more regularly with those in shipping and logistics. Connecting different departments can lead to better ideas about how to optimize communications between systems.
Strengthen your supply chain
As you gather more data on your customers and allow your systems to communicate with each other, you’ll begin to see efficiency gaps in your supply chain. For example, if you see that many of your orders are coming from a location far from the nearest distribution center, you can find a more sustainable solution, such as shipping from a local store or adding another new fulfillment center closer to that area.
As your business expands internationally, you can also streamline supply-chain processes by partnering with global suppliers. Save time and money by sending orders through an outsourced fulfillment center closer to your global destinations.
Using valuable data and systems communications, you can adapt your current shipping and logistics process to curate a better direct-to-consumer experience. Take the time to learn who your customers are and what keeps them coming back to your business. Then, integrate your systems for better internal communications and reform your supply chain. Small changes along the way will help you emerge as a top player in this customer-experience-focused landscape.