Getting Up Close and Personal: Why it’s Time to Treat Customers as Individuals
The ongoing tough economic climate is seeing retailers constantly seeking ways to control costs while protecting the experience their customers expect. One interesting trend is the emergence of "nearshoring" — i.e., locating key operations closer to the final point of sale.
Rather than having large, centralized warehouses, paying duty and customs charges, dealing with lengthy and expensive "goods in transit" times and associated fuel costs, bearing the additional salary/contractor costs of cross-border delays, and having less control or guarantee of delivery times, why not simply bring the products closer to the customer? Key benefits of nearshoring include more efficient communication, quicker in-transit times, and often a more sustainable journey and less environmental impact.
The pandemic created a massive increase in the demand for home delivery — and it arguably made the customer far more aware of the difference in quality of the various delivery options and organizations. As the final stage of a purchase, customers remember the quality of delivery and may hesitate to buy from the same retailer again if the delivery experience is poor.
Nearshoring in fulfilment is a terrific opportunity to truly put the customer first. In general, reducing the length of the delivery route has the potential to eliminate any cultural or language differences, and also puts dispatch and delivery in the same time zone, which makes communication much quicker. It also creates a local workforce who will be invested in the communities that they're serving.
But the real beauty of nearshoring is that it allows for far greater personalization of the last-mile delivery, enabling businesses to design customer service experiences targeted at an individual level. Businesses can really get to know their customers’ exact delivery preferences, build profiles, and ensure that those preferences are respected. Locating goods closer to the customer opens up a greater range of delivery options. Customers could choose "on demand" delivery, same-day delivery, next-day delivery, specific timed delivery, or dispatch to a different convenient pickup location — e.g., a locker, a workplace or a pickup point with extended operating hours. Deliveries cancelled by the customer could have less impact on the business as the goods may not already be in transit.
Ubiquitous connectivity means accurate tracking data, with real-time updates that can be sent to a customer's mobile number or email address. If a delivery is going to be delayed, the customer can be informed immediately, with an apology and, if necessary, an offer of compensation. This is important to prevent frustration and wasted waiting time. Furthermore, it's critical to ensuring the customer has full trust in the company’s services. The less time products are in transit also means less opportunity for damage to occur, so returns due to damage should decrease and brand image be better protected.
Customers are becoming far more discerning too in looking at a company’s "green" credentials. Adopting a nearshoring policy means deliveries of smaller items can be made by more sustainable means such as autonomous robots and drones or electric self-driving vehicles — quieter, cleaner and more efficient.
Getting product closer to the customer can lead to more efficient, optimized fulfilment models, designed with the customer in mind. Moving to a nearshoring model creates more flexibility for businesses and gives them the agility to adapt quickly to changing customer requirements. Customers are individuals; it’s time to treat them as such. The days of a wholesale approach are numbered.
Ken Doyle is the founder of Luzern eCommerce, a leading European managed e-commerce platform provider that optimizes sales, margins and inventory across channels and geographies for brands across the globe.
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Ken Doyle is the founder of Luzern eCommerce, a leading European Managed eCommerce Platform Provider that optimizes sales, margins and inventory across channels and geographies for brands across the globe. Ken is responsible for the strategic direction, vision, growth and performance of Luzern eCommerce.
A successful entrepreneur and leader, Ken is known for delivering financial performance, demonstrated by Luzern’s steady growth and the evolution of the company with economic and consumer trends. He has adapted the business to what it is today, a leading eCommerce partner to some of the world’s leading Brands. Luzern is proven to dramatically grow online revenues for brands and is trusted by household names such as Philips, Fossil, JDE coffee, Panasonic, Petsafe, HTC and Nestle.
Prior to Luzern eCommerce, Ken held various executive positions in technology, both software and hardware, and lead senior teams for U.S multinationals and across Europe. Ken holds an MBA from Open Business School and completed a program of Executive Leadership at Stanford Graduate University School of Business. Ken is based at Luzern’s headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.