Delighting customers starts from a company’s internal supply chain
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By Rebecca Langdon
We live in a world where many customers do not want to wait for goods to be delivered, and why
should they? Many organisations are utilizing their internal supply chain to delight their customers and
give themselves a competitive edge. The strength of the supply chain has always been a key
determinant of organizational success, but never has it had so much focus as it is now often a key
business differentiator and unique selling point.
First let us consider an organization spearheading the way. Amazon is a formidable competitor in this
space with fast and effective logistics driving their business forward. When Amazon began offering
‘Prime’ next day delivery it was an attractive proposition to customers, offered at a competitive price on
a wide range of goods. At the time this certainly delighted many customers who no longer had a long
wait for their internet deliveries. However they have now found a way to optimize their supply chain
further to offer Amazon Prime Now in many global cities, where you can get a range of items delivered
within two hours. It is extraordinary and at the core of this is exceptional supply chain management
which is motored by technology, logistics, and stock control.
Technology is an enabler not just for stock control and logistics management, but also as a way to
communicate with your customers. Customers expect real time access to order tracking, and in many
cases communications. Technology should be used to perform the following functions:
- Customer ordering via website and app (with backend to database for stock check)
- Management of delivery options and pricing
- Updates on order progress via text and email
- Confirmations once the item is delivered
- Feedback via text, email, or online survey
There are many off the shelf solutions to perform all functions above but organisations that are gaining
a competitive edge from their supply chain are typically building their own solutions, or outsourcing
build to integrate complex algorithms that are proprietary to them.
There are multiple ways to manage stock and you need to find the right one to fit your business.
Whether you are offering to deliver to customers within one day, or seven, the important thing is to
keep your promise to the agreed timescales. The questions to consider are;
- Will you hold stock in a warehouse?
- How much stock will you require?
- Will you have more than one warehouse in case of natural disaster?
- Could you operate just in time from the manufacturer into a distribution center?
- Would that distribution center be yours or could you push the stock straight from the
manufacturer to your logistics provider?
There are a number of options and considerations to ensure you optimize the stock control element of
the supply chain.
We will presume you are not performing your own logistics; although of course you might be. In our
presumed case, you need to find at least one trusted logistics partner and agree service levels which will
allow you to fulfil your obligations to your customers. You must remember that your logistics partner
may be the only person representing your organisation that the customer sees. Therefore you should
ensure you have a logistics partner who you can trust to represent your brand. You will also need to
consider technology integration between your systems and those of the logistics partner.
To fully understand supply chain management and how to use it as a business enabler, you may consider
undertaking a professional qualification such as the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP).