In 2015 the supply chain is acknowledged as being as much a part of the consumer experience as product testing or store ambiance.

Partner comment

In association with Yodel

Just a few years ago the supply chain was the Cinderella of the internet shopping experience. Compared with shiny websites and glamorous advertising campaigns designed to lure the consumer in, the supply chain was a bit dull. An afterthought, kept behind the scenes and bolted on at the end of the experience – we knew our place. Overseen by logistics managers, who were focused on cutting costs, the supply chain was measured on service levels and value for money, but little else.

How things have changed. Today, the supply chain – and delivery in particular – is acknowledged as being as much a part of the consumer experience as product testing or store ambiance. For many shoppers the delivery is the only part of the whole transaction that involves human interaction and 96% of consumers say a positive experience will encourage them to return to that retailer.

So if delivery is so key to the consumer experience, and particularly to customer loyalty, are retailers taking it more seriously? In short yes. Cinderella shall go to the ball, or to the boardroom at least.

The tipping point was Black Friday 2014. The marketing was fantastic, consumers responded, but the supply chain couldn’t deliver the promises, or to be more precise the orders, and the end result was a lot of very disappointed customers and damaged reputations.

In 2015 the supply chain has been invited to the board table – to be part of the strategy development and linking the supply chain has made a big difference to the overall customer experience. Sharing insight and research, being open and honest, and being clear on what can and, even more importantly, what can’t be done, has been crucial in creating realistic campaigns and repairing the damage done in 2014. Collectively, we’re restoring shoppers’ faith in the process.

Retailers have understood the physical limitations of the supply chain and spread the parcel volumes over a manageable, but reasonable period, in order to keep their customers happy. Crucially they’ve been clear in their marketing, and kept the shopper informed of when their delivery will arrive, from the time the consumer places their order, to the moment it’s in their hands.

That’s certainly what Yodel has found. And it has paid off. According to a trade journalist, “a healthy Yodel is a healthy industry”, and our latest survey has shown that based on their experiences this year, 87% of consumers who bought online this Cyber weekend plan to do so again in 2016.

In fact, during the busiest week of our calendar, we’re very happy to report that we had record-breaking customer satisfaction levels of 86% and our customer contact to parcel ratio dropped to 1.03% – that’s 28,752 fewer customers contacting us about their deliveries compared with last year.

And on that note, retailers no longer measure us on service levels and pounds and pence alone. The days when managers could be satisfied that the targets set out in the service level agreement had been hit are gone. Our clients recognise the importance of the delivery experience and measure us on their customers’ opinions too. To date we’ve had 2 million reviews, which we share with our retail partners. This new and transparent way of working is one that we embrace. It’s all part of linking the chain.

If you are interested in discovering the value of listening directly to customers about their experiences you can find out more here.

  • Dick Stead is Executive Chairman of Yodel