Logistics Professionals – The Rock Stars Of Home Delivery!
Delegates at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Annual Conference for 2014 – Logistics for an Omni-Channel World – were told they are the ‘rock stars’ of the rapid growth in online shopping. The fabulous delivery options now offered by online retailers and fulfilled by their delivery partners mean that the supply chain is ‘the new rock and roll’!
Conference chairman Neil Ashworth , the Chief Executive of Collect+, said that the revolution in omni-channel retailing represented the new normality of how retailing operates in a multi-channel environment. The consumer expects a vast range of purchasing choice from online ordering to click and collect and they are fickle – they will walk away and find an alternative supplier if the choice is not quickly satisfied.
Neil revealed that significant developments are continuing to take place in the online revolution, the latest being that 50% of purchases are now made from mobile devices, rather than laptops and PCs.
Conference speakers included Dr Phil Streatfield, Partner, LCP Consulting; Neil Chandler, Group Operating Officer, Shop Direct, Joe Tarragano, Retail Director, Transform UK; Tim Robinson, Chief Executive, Doddle; and Dick Stead, Executive Chairman, Yodel.
The increasing power of the consumer was a theme echoed by every speaker. The conference summarised customers’ attitude towards modern shopping as needing to be ‘easy, fun and in-control’ – retailers and delivery operators must recognise, understand and satisfy these aspirations. Increasingly, delivery is the only point of personal contact between retailer and customer, and this means supply chain professionals are effectively becoming brand ambassadors.
The conference was told that the most common reason for checkout abandonment is cost of delivery. Customers expect a range of delivery options – in-store collection, free or paid delivery charge, same day delivery, defined delivery times, agreed pickup points, and Sunday deliveries, together with a practical and customer friendly means of dealing with returns. Although some goods might be wanted as quickly as possible, others can wait a day or two. Housewives purchasing a high value dress were found to be willing to wait for a delivery – but a broken down washing machine needs replacement as quickly as possible.
Customers want to track the progress of their deliveries at any time. It is increasingly common for customers waking in the middle of the night to use the opportunity to check the progress of their orders!
A high profile panel debate saw John Boulter, MD DHL Supply Chain; Steve Smith, Manhattan Associates, Professor Richard Wilding OBE, Cranfield School of Management and Mark Hewitt, former CEO of iForce, debate the sustainability of the omni-channel revolution. Discussing whether free home delivery is really viable they agreed that Pandora’s box has already been opened, and it will be difficult to put the lid back on it. The panel felt customers would also agree that it’s worth paying a little more to get a better service, but recognised it is a truth that ‘the customer owns us now’.