Brands operating online strive to create high-quality, personalized customer experiences. The quality of those experiences effectively represents the brand: low-friction, pleasant, reliable, and informative experiences make customers enjoy interacting with the vendor and keep them coming back for more of the same.
The first is the purchase experience, the quality of which gets defined in settings like an e-commerce website or a dedicated app; the second is the fulfillment of orders and their delivery.
Companies spend millions on creating and iterating on the purchase experience. Then there are the additional resources on mapping user journeys, A/B testing of proposed changes, data mining and analysis, and gathering end-user feedback. The ease and general pleasure of the online shopping experience is an important differentiator from any competition.
The delivery and fulfillment aspect of the customer experience is where many companies can find their carefully crafted brand values take damage. Last-mile delivery snafus, damaged goods, incorrect warehouse picking, customs delays, variations in real and projected stock figures — there are literally hundreds of elements and an exponential amount of missteps in logistics that can make a mess of customers’ orders, damaging brands where it hurts most: reputation and repeat business.
The quickest solution is for a brand to opt to go in with one or more of the reputable marketplace platforms that can handle the minutiae of day-to-day order fulfillment. That comes with a significant financial price (around 15%-30% of ticket price is typical) and the risk that the marketplace’s performance will reflect poorly on the brand. Companies hand over control of their brand’s values to a third party — along with a significant wedge of cash — and hope for the best.
The larger vendors especially can opt for a more hands-on approach to logistics and fulfillment, and piece together their own chain of logistics partnerships, making sure that each element shares its real-time progress data via some form of API. These data feeds can then be drawn together to give the brand granular oversight of its third-party, piecemeal logistics service.
It’s a solution that costs dedicated development time initially. In terms of ongoing maintenance there are more costs and stumbling blocks: a single point upgrade from one partner’s internal systems and at least part of the data picture goes into blackout, while developers reverse engineer to try and find out what hit them. Customers are similarly left in the dark, or more accurately, left waiting for a delivery that never happens.
Anyone with some professional knowledge of operational logistics will know of GEODIS, the multinational owned by SNCF (France’s national state-owned railway company) that offers a logistic network across the globe. It operates air & sea freight, distribution, warehousing, freight movement, and last-mile delivery: in short, end-to-end fulfillment and transport logistics.
For those unfamiliar with the company and its services, GEODIS eLogistics is the first readymade, worldwide logistics platform that’s built on the premise that 100% of your fulfillment and transportation data is available to you in real-time via open, extensible APIs.
GEODIS know how distribution, warehousing, and transport works and has built its own data systems that has been supporting a roster of clients for years. All GEODIS’s experience and information are available right across the board via the e-Logistics platform. From a single, manageable and powerful platform, brands can at last use their own systems and technology investments alongside GEODIS’s real-time data and fulfilment management solution.
We’ll be taking a more in-depth look at how this works in a more detail — some of it possibly technical — in a future article, but for now, some examples of the e-Logistics platform’s use can yield the following results:
– Growth in logistics coverage at markedly lower cost.
– Faster delivery times with closer proximity to your customers.
– Pre-integrated warehousing & transport systems ready to plug into your merchandising platforms.
– Use your own data for your own purposes, like to show live stock levels, communicate delivery progress, and feed CRM/ERP or Marcomms databases.
– Keep control of customer experience quality from e-Commerce portfolio to delivery
– Activate features such as “save the sale” & “availability to promise”.
Users of these unique capabilities have reported an 18% to 24% drop in the cost of fulfillment and a 30% growth in sales year on year thanks to the strategic advantages e-Logistics presents to reputation-sensitive brands.
Companies that carefully nurture their customers’ experiences are either throwing resources at the maintenance of distribution and storage systems, or they’re handing off control of their brand values to marketplace suppliers that only care for their own profits. With GEODIS eLogistics, the customer experience can entirely managed, in ways that change one-time customers into brand advocates.
Come back in a few weeks to look at the GEODIS offering in more detail, or if you are intrigued by what you’ve seen here, download this whitepaper from GEODIS to read more.