Understanding Customer Experience

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Singapore, Aug 2: E-commerce has grown exponentially over the years and is fast becoming a way of life for everyone.  Advancements in technology, digitalisation and the massive growth of available marketplaces have made it easier than ever to buy and sell online, and this trend is set to continue in the post-pandemic world.
Global eCommerce sales are expected to reach $5 trillion in 2022 while the e-commerce industry is set to grow by almost $11 trillion between 2021 and 2025.  
It has never been more important for businesses that sell online to adopt an effective e-commerce strategy, one which not only has good supply chain design and execution but which also offers great visibility and information. This powerful combination creates and delivers better Customer Experiences for their customers, allowing businesses to compete more effectively. 
Fundamental to achieving this, is good omnichannel supply chain management and logistics which are designed to provide consumers with a seamless and positive shopping experience in situations where a company runs both physical stores and an e-commerce distribution centre. Partnering with the right logistics provider and taking advantage of their services in technology, speed and convenience are vital to meeting the demands of today’s modern-day customers.
In this exclusive interview with DailyStraits.com, Kuehne+Nagel Asia Pacific Vice President, Consumer Bertrand Juvigny tell us why sellers should concentrate on building a superior customer experience which in return can help grow their e-commerce businesses exponentially. Without further ado, let’s read his responses here:

 Bertrand Juvigny. Image supplied.

Building a superior customer experience is seen as vital for businesses to thrive and compete online. But it’s not enough to have a good supply chain strategy, retailers now need a good omnichannel supply chain strategy. How has omnichannel transformed supply chains and logistics processes for retailers and manufacturers? 

E-commerce has rapidly become a prominent part of our world. Advancements in technology, digitalisation and the massive growth of available marketplaces have changed the way e-commerce businesses deliver their products and interact with their customers. Today’s buyers expect increased convenience driven by high mobile adoption, higher cost competitiveness, and fast delivery to complement their purchasing journey. As a response to these changes in buying patterns and customer expectations, retailers have had to implement omnichannel strategies in order to deliver a consistent brand experience.
One of the keys to delivering a seamless omnichannel experience is a modern supply chain – one that extends delivery across mobile apps, websites, social media and stores. To get there, companies have to break down silos between online and physical stores. Phygital strategies which bring the best parts of a physical customer experience into the digital realm and vice versa are now a top priority. Integrating new technologies is essential, in which traditional inventory management systems are replaced by a platform IT solution. Such platforms must be able to receive input from multiple ordering sources, real-time inventory availability, and support multiple options of delivering products while providing continuous real-time visibility.
The e-commerce supply chain ecosystem should be an end-to-end collaboration involving all stakeholders from suppliers to consumers. Companies are only able to deliver on ever-changing consumer requirements if the information is shared along the entire value chain and if all network assets are fully leveraged. 

What are the challenges and complexities that businesses encounter when it comes to adopting an omnichannel approach? 
Creating a consistent, positive and personalised omnichannel customer experience is demanding. Specific challenges arise around four key topics:

Managing customer experience: How do businesses make sure they successfully serve their customers online? Having poor customer experience is detrimental, and surveys have shown that nearly two-thirds of customers will stop doing business with a company because of poor customer experience. It is challenging for e-commerce companies to win new customers, but it is easy for them to lose them.  Supply chain capabilities, fulfilment and technology are key enablers for delivering a superior customer experience.
Managing growth: It is not uncommon for smaller e-commerce businesses to experience rapid growth in the early years. Too much growth over a short period can be operationally challenging. If customers have the right tools, resources, and supply chain partners, they will be less constrained, thus freeing them up to focus on growth opportunities.
Managing supply chains end-to-end:  An effective supply chain ensures that all parts are connected. From suppliers and vendors to fulfilment and the final mile, information across these segments must be well-managed.  Visibility is a key driver in this but according to most studies, it is also the biggest challenge faced by supply chain executives, especially when it comes to inventory availability.  We have seen in recent times just how pivotal inbound supply chains are for product availability which has a massive impact on customer satisfaction.  Therefore, the more optimised the supply chain is, the better the customer experience, and the greater the likelihood they will return to a store or brand.
Technology: It is the backbone of e-commerce and the primary fuel for shaping this sector. It enables businesses to establish omnichannel retailing, provides the necessary software tools for monitoring supply chains, managing inventories and delivery of goods, as well as increases productivity and efficiency through automation. However, it can be overwhelming and confusing to understand the latest leading technology trends, and whether it is needed.

How do logistics companies like Kuehne+Nagel support businesses which are looking for omnichannel retail solutions? 

We continuously strive to improve our customer experience and enhance supply chain operations by offering a complete range of omnichannel fulfilment solutions. Kuehne+Nagel’s global network allows us to support our clients throughout every phase of their e-commerce growth, anywhere in the world: from managing purchase orders, optimising orders, and deliveries, and realising cost-efficiencies through scaling and leveraging industry best practices.  We remove barriers to business by integrating the latest technology into our products and services to streamline supply chains. We can manage a single aspect of a customer’s supply chain, but we recognised we can add more value for our customers if we are to manage their supply-chains end-to-end, including returns management.

How can e-commerce logistics help smaller companies grow their online business? 

Positive customer experiences are crucial for the success of any e-commerce business, and setting up a solid fulfilment capability is critical to achieving this. To tick this box, small businesses can benefit from a good outsourcing strategy, and partnering with a third-party logistics provider would allow them to scale logistics up and down as needed. Flexibility is pivotal to success. Outsourcing to a 3PL can also help minimise large investments for these businesses, drive cost savings, enable business growth and focus on core competencies.  These benefits will lead to improved customer service and response time, timing deliveries and greater brand reliability, all of which translate to a positive customer experience. 

How will supply chains look like three to five years from now to support e-commerce initiatives?

The next 3-5 years will see more businesses adopt digital supply chain technologies as operations continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers.  Following the series of disruptions over the past few years, there is a realisation that supply chains must become more flexible and agile, and digitalisation is one way to secure that. Technology such as artificial intelligence augmented reality, and Blockchain will be more commonly used in supply chains of the future. The result of leveraging these emerging technologies will be a massive increase in automation, as well as trust and transparency across the entire supply chain. Sustainable supply chain management has now become a strategic priority across the board, as pressure grows from consumers, regulators and investors. As part of our corporate identity, Kuehne+Nagel is committed to offering environmentally friendly and sustainable supply chain solutions. We are committed to the Science-Based Target Initiative, which aims to achieve a zero-carbon transition by setting emissions reduction targets grounded in climate science. We also aim to facilitate a zero carbon future for our customers’ supply chains.  We have made major efforts in investing in Sustainable Aviation Fuel and joined alliances to drive the deployment of alternative fuels. 

Why should customers pick Kuehne+Nagel instead of the competitors?  

With over 78,000 employees at almost 1,300 sites, the Kuehne+Nagel Group is one of the world’s leading logistics companies and the global leader in sea and air freight. As a logistics partner, we see ourselves as part of the bigger picture, bringing people and communities together, and dedicate our time to ensuring that people all over the world have access to what powers their businesses and lives.
Specific to e-commerce, our presence in over 100 countries gives us the ability to support our customers in all the world’s major markets.   We provide effective logistics solutions at every stage of their e-commerce growth and expansion journey and help businesses scale their e-commerce channel. This includes fast growth and reaching out to new market segments.  At Kuehne+Nagel, we are active in all parts of the e-commerce supply chains for our customers. Regardless of a business’s e-commerce strategy, we offer a flexible solution. We also strive to have a positive impact on the world around us by working towards sustainable logistics. We collaborate closely with industries and companies and use the latest technologies to develop new and tailored solutions for our customers. Our end-to-end logistics supply chain solutions are driven by vertical industry experts who bring to life concrete answers geared towards very specific industry needs. Kuehne+Nagel is proud to be recognised as the worldwide leader for third-party logistics for the second consecutive year in Gartner’s 2022 Magic Quadrant, which also saw us improve our strong position as the most visionary leader. 

Can you give us an explanation of what omnichannel means?

Omnichannel refers to the concept of providing customers with a seamless, integrated experience across all channels from the first touchpoint to the last, be it online, mobile or in-store.  It connects all the different channels used by a business to support a continuous customer journey. At the heart of omnichannel is a convenience for the consumer. Buying an item through an online channel with the possibility of returning it to a different channel, to a store for example; or choosing an item in-store and having it delivered, are good examples of how businesses are attempting to remove logistical buying objections. Logistics and supply chains are key enablers to consistently delivering personalised service and flexible fulfilment in a cost-effective way. They also enable retailers to achieve cross-channel visibility across their inventory and meet customer expectations, which in turn generates higher satisfaction and loyalty. 

Finally, what are your charges like?

We are servicing multiple industries and customers of very different sizes. Therefore, based on the level of integration, existing infrastructure, needs and reach, we observe that their requirements are very different with regard to cost. In view of this, we remain flexible in terms of service offerings, and most importantly always mindful that one size does not always fit all. Kuehne+Nagel’s focus is to provide our clients with the operational flexibility to grow their business with ease and peace of mind. Hence, we remain equally flexible in accompanying them with a cost-competitive value-driven offering. 

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