For retail shippers, there was a time when “meeting customer expectations” meant supplying the right quantities of product to the right location on the agreed-upon shipment schedule. Transportation modes, load sizes and distances traveled were known and consistent. Product deliveries were received by back-office shipping and receiving professionals well versed in handling bulk product.
Those days are gone. With the emergence of e-commerce alongside traditional channels, making the grade is now far more challenging.
Continuing growth of online-driven business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales demand has magnified the criticality of meeting customer expectations. Shippers will directly improve win probability by reformulating e-commerce transportation strategy and executing operational practices that enable delivery speed and certainty – along with dependable and flexible service – to yield a better customer experience. Consider the following:
- By any mode or means: Shippers can no longer rely on expertise in a single mode of transportation. E-commerce fulfillment parameters are much more inconsistent than those for bulk shipments, so shippers must ”automate” the mode that best accommodates each shipment’s weight, dimensions, distance to destination, delivery requirements, special handling needs and other direct-to-customer variables.
- First and Last: Shippers with the capabilities to execute first-mile and last-mile transportation are better positioned to control costs, ensure delivery speed and accuracy and enrich the customer service experience.
- Clear Line-of-Sight: An e-commerce transportation solution must enable comprehensive visibility yielding end-to-end transparency across your entire network. You must be able to see at a macro-level and manage at a micro-level to operate effectively and deliver sustainable competitive services at profitable margins.
Transportation organizations that structure flat-line decision making, integrate multi-modal technology and processes and utilize dynamic reporting tools for forward decision-making will be in a superior position to navigate the new e-commerce environment. They will also be well-positioned to capitalize on the e-commerce evolution and its associated customer service expectations.