September 09, 2017
We started our seven blog series on Logistics, Tech in Logistics, beginning with a blog on Managing the Dynamic Environment.
This blog is the second in the series (see below) and covers another important aspect in the logistics space.
With most logistic influencers clamoring for attention - from globalization to competitive markets - one unlikely contender suddenly rose to prominence as being one of the most significant performance indicators and a key differentiator of every logistics provider.
This interesting influencer is the customer!
The position of end customer and customer-centric organizations has been steadily rising in the list of top 10 priorities for every logistics provider.
Managing customer expectations and nurturing lasting relationships with their customer base is fast becoming a core focus of this landscape ensuring a distinct competitive advantage.
Interestingly, with the customer rising in prominence, the complexities of the relationship are also becoming exceedingly complex and demanding.
Customers have smartly realized their power, as is evident from their ever-increasing expectations and demands from the logistics ecosystem. What are these demands?
Let's take a look.
The Ever-Growing List of Customer Expectations
Transparency and visibility across the ecosystem: The ability to track consignments from the placement of the order right up to delivery in real time is a common request. Track-and-trace involves having real-time information at your fingertips of the current status of consignments to the immediate intimation of unanticipated delays.
Time is money: This phrase has incredible relevance in the logistics ecosystem, with timeliness becoming a primary indicator of Perfect Order and a strong logistic differentiator. Logistics service providers are hence looking for solutions that will help them work in a time-bound manner.
Seamless, end-to-end process: The expectation of a smooth process from order to delivery and invoicing has become the norm. Customers comprehend the complexities of the landscape, yet expect the provider to manage these intricacies in the background. The emphasis on seamless logistics is hence challenging the entire network.
Managing disruptions in real time: Customers expect a foolproof plan with zero deviation in implementation, but in reality, logistics providers have to constantly battle to stay on plan. The possibility of things going wrong is quite high - from poor weather and vehicle breakdown to poor road conditions and change in route plan. Handling such sudden disruptions is one of the toughest challenges of the landscape.
On-the-go: Mobility-first approaches across verticals have placed a lot of importance on anytime anywhere access. From access to information to carrying out simple to complex tasks seamlessly across multiple channels - from mobiles to desktops - has highlighted hurdles in terms of efficient integration, version control, and other challenges.
Logistics companies are hence forced to look at options that will help them deliver a top-notch performance and unmatched customer experience, without compromising on cost.
The Magic of Technology
Yes, the customer wish list is long, but with the magic lamp of technology at their service, logistics providers are effectively meeting most the customer expectations.
Let's look at a few examples.
Mobile-first access to the logistics network: Comprehensive mobile strategies go a long way in enabling a transparent logistics network and providing simple app-based interfaces to interact easily with the system for any type of information anytime from anywhere. This advantage certainly makes a huge difference in a world where ease of multi channel access and security are critical in ensuring customer satisfaction. The advent of Bots in Logistics Industry has raised the bar even higher.
Visibility and real-time track-and-trace: Knowing the exact status of their consignments in real time with minimal effort is crucial in building the customer's confidence. If this feature includes the option to drill down extensively to dig out further information (such as projected time of arrival, consignment and transit information) through simple user interfaces, then it further cements a strong customer-provider relationship.
Robust systems to manage issues before or as they occur: An ideal system is so well oiled that there would never be any disruptions. But the reality is far from desirable. The entire route from point of origin to the very last mile has innumerable chances of unexpected delays and deviations. A technology-enabled, intuitive, and cognitive system can integrate embedded intelligence and data analytics to overcome this hurdle. This system automatically highlights possibilities of deviations and delivers data-based insights that will help the providers take well-informed decisions to overcome the disruption.
End-to-end platforms enabling a seamlessly integrated process: A smoothly flowing process that integrates not only multiple stages but also all stakeholders of the landscape is a key demand of customers. This demand can only be achieved by a process that delivers an easy process from request for quote to delivery. Such a well-orchestrated system closes all possible loopholes within the system and delivers accurate, consistent, and version-free information to every stakeholder - especially the customer.
Simplifying invoicing process: What scares most customers is not just the transit complications but also the painfully long order placement and billing process. Technology solutions such as sign-on-glass and combined invoices go a long way in generating POD with zero delays and immediately triggering the invoicing process.
Feeding the on-demand requests: It's the fast food generation - where every aspect of living must be completed in a snap. This burden on the logistics world can be overcome by "Uberization" of the logistics landscape. Customized, on-demand sharing of transportation options are the most trending approaches logistics providers use to meet such sudden customer demands.
These indicators are a clear reflection of the power of the customer in today's logistics landscape. The robust weapon of technology is the only solution for logistics providers to meet the ever-changing demand of the customers. But technology has a crucial buddy that simplifies all the complexities of the landscape - Data!
In our blog post "The Value of Real-Time Data Collection" we look at the importance of data - especially real-time data for the logistics network - and the options available to logistics providers to leverage data and solve the pain points of the system.
Tech in Logistics Blog Series
- Managing the Dynamic Environment
- Exceeding Customer Expectations
- The Value of Real-Time Data Collection
- Predictive Analytics for Decision Making in Logistics Management
- Importance of Data Enabled Visibility in Logistics
- Where's Your Shipment Right Now?
- Automation in Logistics: Ideal or Attainable?