Research Reveals More Collaboration Needed to Support Last-Mile Customer Experience
U.S. retail sales soared 1.6 percent in March, posting the largest gain in a year-and-a-half and outpacing economists’ expectations. While growing sales numbers are undoubtedly good news for retailers, consumer expectations around the delivery process are also surging, making it more difficult than ever for retailers to meet customers’ demands.
This might not be welcome news for retailers that haven't yet invested in gaining control of last-mile delivery. In the Amazon Era, when 84 percent of consumers won't buy again from a brand after a single bad delivery experience, no one better understands the opportunity at the nexus of growing sales and consumer expectations like retail supply chain leaders.
From Behind the Scenes to the Front Door
New eft and Convey survey data of retail supply chain leaders confirms the growing importance supply chain roles play in the overall success of a retail business, especially as e-commerce soars. The evolution of supply chain leaders from a position of managing cost and risk to driving top-line revenue for the business through customer satisfaction rates stands out.
An overwhelming 96.3 percent of retail supply chain leaders consider the customer experience to be important when measuring last-mile supply chain performance, and 66 percent are held personally accountable for customer experience, up from 56 percent in 2017.
The last mile has become a more critical piece of customer experience than when today’s supply chain leaders were starting out in their careers, and both supply chain and technology leaders must work together to pave the way to create a happier, more efficient customer journey. Optimizing a process for efficiency is no longer enough. Reacting to a dissatisfied customer who didn’t get their shipment as expected is too late.
Responsibility Outpacing Resourcing in Delivery
Despite being held accountable for revenue-impacting metrics like customer experience, only 5 percent of supply chain leaders report their current systems allow them to improve that experience, compared with 3 percent two years ago. Moreover, 61 percent report their existing systems do nothing to improve customer experience, only a 5 percent decrease since 2017.
Add to this the outside influences on the supply chain — weather, politics/tariffs, supplier shortfalls, holiday peaks, fluctuations in fuel price — and you get a sense for how supply chain management (SCM) can have an enormous impact on the bottom line of a brand. So how do supply chain leaders operationalize and thrive in a world in which customers want it faster and cheaper?
Improving Collaboration Key to SCM Success With Customer Experience
While roles and responsibilities are evolving for SCM, research reveals there's room for improving data sharing, visibility and collaboration across the organization to better support retail SCM leaders. The eft and Convey survey data highlights gaps in how integrated and collaborative the supply chain function needs to become with other key teams in the organization, like customer service and marketing.
- Almost two-thirds (65.6 percent) of supply chain leaders said that connecting disparate data quickly was among their top three challenges in improving the customer experience.
- Eight percent of supply chain leaders don't make delivery data accessible to their marketing teams to provide tracking information.
- Only four out of 10 customer service teams and logistics teams share data on customer delivery feedback and distressed package shipments while they're in transit.
Clearly there's more room for improving processes and supporting retail supply chain leaders for the rising customer expectations they now face. Retailers that recognize delivery data gaps within their organization and take steps to close them have an opportunity for competitive advantage.
Implementing new processes and tools to streamline visibility and collaboration across disparate groups within the organization to support retail supply chain leaders will ultimately win more satisfied customers. After all, retailers and brands that want to thrive in this want-it-now era cannot leave the critical last mile to chance.
Kirsten Newbold-Knipp is vice president and chief marketing officer at Convey, Inc., a supply chain management solution.
Kirsten Newbold-Knipp is the CMO of FullStory, a powerful digital experience intelligence platform that helps e-commerce, SaaS and digitally-powered brands create better online experiences for their customers.
Newbold-Knipp previously served as Convey’s Chief Marketing Officer/VP. Passionate about building successful teams from the ground-up, she has worked at companies ranging from the Ritz Carlton and Intel to Hubspot and Gartner. Kirsten is an animal lover, a wine enthusiast, and a polyglot. In her spare time, she volunteers as a Marketing Advisor to Austin Pets Alive, mentors students at MIT Sloan, and co-owns two companies.