Customer experience, or CX as it’s also known, is generating a lot of buzz in the ecommerce world — and for good reason. Recent data shows that some 86% of customers say they are willing to pay more for a great experience. But with a whopping $1.6 trillion lost in the US every year due to poor customer service, many brands still struggle to get it right.
A fully optimized CX strategy will not only help you attract new visitors to your online store and get them hooked on your brand, it also ensures that your existing customers stay your customers for life.
And while it may not be as fun and flashy as a high-spec website or perk-packed customer loyalty program, a seamless supply chain is the backbone of your customer journey.
Get it right, and your supply chain will reinforce your CX efforts and help increase revenue. Get it wrong, and you’re looking at chronic stockouts, quality issues, and countless other problems that can send your customers to your competitors. Here’s how to assess and adjust your supply chain to make sure you ace the customer experience.
Table of contents
- How a seamless supply chain helps you win your customers’ hearts (and dollars)
- 3 first-class supply chain strategies to inspire your CX journey
- How to build a CX-boosting supply chain
Do your supply chain ops need a revamp? Find out how Flieber can help identify when and how much inventory to support the supply chain.
How a seamless supply chain helps you win your customers’ hearts (and dollars)
With bonuses, discounts and countless other “tips and tricks” to help you improve your customer experience, you might wonder why you should focus on sprucing up a backend process like your supply chain.
Though it may be a lot less sexy than other areas of the business, your supply chain is the backbone of your brand. Any interruptions in your supply chain are interruptions in the customer experience.
Here are a few of the reasons why taking the time to streamline your supply chain is an investment in customer experience.
- Get the latest to market, fast: Competition for acquiring and maintaining customer attention is fierce. Many times, winning a sale comes down to which site has the desired item in stock. An optimized supply chain will help you bring products to market quickly, so you get the lion’s share of sales.
- Stay in stock no matter what: Got a huge sale planned? Q4 on the way? Don’t sweat it. An efficient supply chain will ensure you maintain enough stock to keep your customers happy. Plus, when your store becomes known as a reliable source of the products customers want, you’ll also see an increase in loyalty, driving down your total acquisition costs.
- Impress your customers with lightning-fast delivery: In the Amazon era where one-day shipping is the norm, it’s vital to help visitors go from buying ideas to delivered goods quickly and painlessly. With an organized supply chain, you can meet customers’ delivery expectations to win their hearts (and wallets).
Make your brand more memorable with stress-free shopping: Shoppers lead busy lives. By helping them transact faster, your store will be top of mind next time they need to make a purchase, resulting in repeat business and steady revenue.
Looking for more ways to impress your customers? Learn how to create a better-than-Amazon post-purchase experience.
3 first-class supply chain strategies to inspire your CX journey
To help improve your supply chain for a better customer experience, here are examples of brands that have already nailed it.
Made-to-order meets agile at Cisco
There’s a lot to learn from telecommunications behemoth, Cisco. Unlike other tech giants, Cisco keeps its supply chain lean and its risks low by making most of their goods to order. With over 300 product families, Cisco also uses automation to simplify and accelerate its supply chain to consistently deliver on customer expectations. This lean, technology-first approach allows Cisco to stay agile, adapt to trends and keep in line with customer needs.
The takeaway: Ask yourself: Can any of your product lines support production on a custom-made basis? Could you use pre-sales to lessen your inventory on hand?
Johnson & Johnson’s super smart supply chain
This mega brand blends their data goldmine with AI, robotic process automation (RPA) and advanced planning. Johnson & Johnson makes calculated adjustments to ensure they always have what customers want and need. To boost your supply chain experience, consider how you can merge your frontend and backend systems to aid shoppers’ buying decisions.
For example, could you implement personal recommendations that integrate seamlessly with your supply chain system to ensure you only suggest products with enough units to fulfill potential demand?
The takeaway: Look at the data your site collects. Can you extract any key insights that will help improve the supply chain and customer experience?
Amazon’s super efficient supply chain
Amazon is not only the reigning customer experience titan, it also has its supply chain experience down to a science. From impressive same day shipping to issuing return refunds as soon as a customer posts back items, Amazon proves you can align the frontend with the backend systems to give customers what they want, when they want it.
The takeaway: Take a page out of Amazon’s book by optimizing your supply chain to offer one-click purchasing, faster delivery and speedy returns.
How to build a CX-boosting supply chain
Now that you know what a well-oiled supply chain can do for your customer experience (and your revenue), let’s take a closer look at how to build in a little more ‘wow’ factor from manufacturer to doorstep.
Offer top-notch delivery options
Fast shipping is now the standard.
While it can be tempting to go the cheaper route with 3-4 day shipping options (especially when shipping is at your expense), the small difference in speed can have a big impact on CX.
If possible, try offering 1-2 days shipping for a better delivery experience. You can also set up same day or next day shipping options at a subsidised rate for shoppers who want their goods sooner.
Depending on where you’re located and how you’re set up, these shipping options may not be available to your store overnight. Here are some actions you can take to improve delivery time for your customers:
- Invest in warehousing in key areas where you trade.
- Work with a multi-site 3PL to distribute your stock across your trading territories.
- Streamline dispatch processes and create standard operating procedures (SOPs) for each one.
- Work with carriers that specialize in speed and accuracy.
- Consider working with more than one carrier to avoid being caught up by delays and disasters.
Make returns as blissful as buying
As an online retailer, it’s easy to spend so much time creating click-worthy product pages and smooth payment processes that you overlook the inevitable — product returns.
While goods sent back to your warehouse won’t add extra digits to your bottom line now, how you handle them can be the difference between whether customers turn their backs for good or give your company another try.
To keep customers coming back after returns, here are some ways to improve your supply chain and elevate the experience:
- Create a dedicated person or team responsible for processing returned goods so customers get refunds faster.
- Price the cost of returns into your product so you can offer free return shipping.
- Provide all return documentation in customer packages and/or offer printer-less returns.
- Offer drop-off or collection services for returns.
- Consider writing off inexpensive items, rather than having the customer send them back to you.
Build personalization into your supply chain
In today’s noisy digital world, personalization goes a long way.
Even small personal touches can make customers feel seen and appreciated, driving loyalty in return. To boost customer happiness, look for ways to facilitate personal touches in your supply.
This could be as simple as writing the customer’s name on package inserts, or as detailed as offering tailor-made products. Whatever you do, map your personalization process from end-to-end and look for clear places where it overlaps with your supply chain so that you can keep the experience smooth and customer-driven on both sides.
Automate your inventory and supply chain ops
Managing all the nuts and bolts in your supply chain is demanding work. Throw in your other responsibilities like marketing, sales, and so many other things — and it’s easy to see how issues like stockouts can go undetected.
For a simple fix, use a smart inventory optimization solution to help forecast inventory with greater accuracy and track your supply chain in real time so customers get the service they deserve.
For best results, look for an AI-driven inventory optimization solution that can:
- Provide 360-degree supply chain visibility
- Align sales pace and inventory availability
- Give updates on your current stock status
- Offer advice on inventory purchases to help maintain optimal levels
At Flieber, our system streamlines data from each and every one of your supply chain touchpoints and uses smart AI to give you 40% more accuracy in your forecasts.
Streamline your supply chain, elevate the customer experience
As technology continues to change the face of the ecommerce industry, growing retailers will need to think bigger in order to make their mark with online shoppers.
A modern supply chain can help you achieve these goals by reinforcing your efforts to attract and retain customers for sustainable growth long-term.
But your supply chain is only as good as the tools and strategies you use to manage it. Take a long, objective look at your current data, results and processes. Invest in systems that support an agile, customer-centric strategy, and always be on the lookout for ways to keep improving your supply chain.
Because while it may not be the first thing your customers notice, even a small step in the right direction with your supply chain strategy, can result in a major improvement for your customer’s journey with your brand.
Ready to take your customer experience to the next level? Learn how Flieber can help ensure you always have products in stock to meet customer demand.