To any observer, it is abundantly evident that consumer behavior today is changing at a faster pace than ever before. We can easily see and relate to these changes since our own shopping habits mirror those of the larger market. We’re all consumers living in a fast-paced world of instant gratification who have become accustomed to the easy and frictionless shopping experience provided by Amazon.
Many of us know first-hand how easy it is to pull up the Amazon app on our phones, or better yet, ask Alexa to order something for us on an impulse. From basic household items like dish soap, to expensive gadgets, or even a chicken coop, a quick search instantly reveals pages of options to consider. To make the buying decision easier, Amazon conveniently labels specific options as 'Amazon's Choice' or ‘Best Seller’, to give us the confidence to make a quick decision. Click: “Buy Now with One Click”, and in two short days, that dish soap will be delivered right to your doorstep.
This is the “Amazon effect” that is changing consumer behavior and setting new expectations in e-commerce logistics that all retailers must now attempt to satisfy.
The Rapidly Changing Landscape of Retail and eCommerce
Today, we all have high expectations when we shop online. Recent studies have shown that consumer patience is declining rapidly and buyers are willing to wait a maximum of just 4.5 days for their order to be fulfilled and delivered to their home and no longer view free shipping as a benefit, but a requirement from retailers. Additionally, 78% of consumers at a minimum expect daily status and ETA notifications for their shipments. Providing this level of customer service requires innovation and further resources by retailers into e-commerce supply chain management while simultaneously maintaining operating margins to reduce additional costs to the organization.
Does this sound like a daunting task? It certainly is, and it’s the reason for the massive disruption occurring in the more traditional retail models of the past century.
Today's Top Retail Strategies for eCommerce Supply Chain Management
Even in this rapidly changing landscape many retailers have become increasingly successful by implementing strategies that help them successfully compete and win back customers. Some of the best e-commerce logistics strategies that retailers have implemented include:
Investing In and Building Out Robust Supply Chain Operations
A recent article in Fortune stated “Tomorrow’s CEO will come from an unlikely place: the supply chain.” This is because logistics and transportation leaders are constantly overcoming potential supply chain risks like product shortages, inclement weather and unreliable distribution networks to ensure the company can continue to satisfy customers. .
Today’s savviest retailers see the opportunities in supply chain operations and its leaders. They recognize that a company’s success is directly correlated to providing fast and consistent service to their customers. Therefore, they are investing in their supply chain leadership to build a strategic and competitive advantage in today’s frictionless retail environment.
Invest in Retail and eCommerce Supply Chain Management Technology
Certain retailers are thriving because they’re choosing to invest in technology that supports their operations, improves the customer experience and streamlines their supply chain. However, supply chain technology is currently experiencing what we would like to call a data and information gold rush. Companies have access to vast amounts of data, not just about consumers, but also about their own internal operations.
So how are savvy retailers making sense of all this data? They’re building strategic partnerships with top supply chain visibility technology companies. These partners help their teams to navigate this complex landscape by aggregating their data and filtering it to show real actionable steps that their teams can take to solve operational inefficiencies and reduce overall costs in their supply chain.
Always Put Your Customers First
Consumers today are loyal to the brands and companies that have values and stories that resonate with them. However, all of these upstream marketing efforts can be fruitless if the delivery process and experience of opening your company’s package doesn’t live up to the standards you’ve marketed to your customers.
Successful retailers like ThirdLove and Zappos use an omnichannel strategy to ensure that their marketing efforts are dedicated to understanding the needs of their customers and keeping an ongoing dialogue open. They recognize that today’s customers not only want a frictionless and personalized shopping experience but also desire a free return policy that makes exchanging or returning a product nearly effortless.
Overall, strategic investments in e-commerce logistics and the final mile experience are quickly becoming the key difference between just a one-time purchase and building a lifetime customer base that helps retailers stay competitive in the age of Amazon.
Embrace Change and Be Successful in eCommerce Supply Chain Management
The retailers that ignore the “Amazon Effect” and its impact on consumer expectations are quickly going to grow obsolete like Blockbuster, Radio Shack and Toys “R” Us. While it can be discouraging and sometimes overwhelming going up against the Amazonian Empire, there are companies doing this successfully every day.
Like these companies, you too can flourish in today’s retail environment by taking a holistic approach to enhancing the customer experience from the first engagement all the way to the final product delivery. Pragmatic retail leaders are recognizing the importance of supply chain operations and are investing in technologies to help their teams increase efficiencies, reduce risks and meet customer demands through actionable data insights.
What are some of the strategies that your company has implemented to stay competitive in today’s retail environment? Please share your success stories with us in the comments below!