The Effect of Growing Customer Expectations on Supply Chain Trends

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Gina Payton - ShipNetwork
Gina Payton
Director of Client Services
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In recent years, there has been a steady rise in the number of packages shipped in the United States. Estimates show that Amazon shipped more than 5 billion items via its Prime system in 2017 alone.

With the advent of higher consumer expectations, an increase in the number of online stores offering fast delivery and more and more shoppers ordering products online, the number of packages being shipped will continue to rise, and supply chain management trends will continue to evolve in response.

The Amazon Effect

Online shoppers are coming to expect fast shipping of all their online purchases as most e-commerce and retail giants offer same day delivery or two-day delivery options. Amazon offers free two-day shipping (and even one-day delivery of 10 million eligible items) to its Prime members, while Walmart offers free two-day shipping and is gradually rolling out free next-day delivery. Companies such as Jet, CVS, Best Buy and Apple also offer similar shipping options.

Amazon counts more than 100 million Amazon Prime members in the United States. Those kinds of memberships are becoming more popular because of the rise in consumer demand for near-instant delivery of online purchases. To help navigate that increasingly competitive market and remain relevant, retailers may be wise to partner with innovative logistics providers to optimize last-mile delivery.

New Supply Chain Management Trends

Nowadays, demanding consumers are causing changes in how shippers and supply chain providers work together. In fact, satisfying such demanding consumer expectations will require a redesign of supply chain activities.

The pervasiveness of digital transformation initiatives is making it possible for organizations to shift from traditional or legacy supply chains to digital versions. The networks incorporate individual components of the supply chain into an interconnected digital web that enables seamless information transfer and support, thus providing opportunities to improve bottom lines and provide exceptional experiences to consumers.

Evolving Technology

Along with a redesign, distributors and suppliers must innovate and optimize every step of the shipping process to meet consumer expectations. Retailers may want to partner with shippers taking advantage of warehouse robotics, autonomy and digital supply networks.

The networks help increase business efficiency and eliminate customer pain points by integrating new supply chain technologies such as blockchain, machine learning and the internet of things to form an interconnected system that ensures easy collection and dissemination of information across the supply chain.

Advanced Tracking

The evolution of package tracking is another factor shaping the online consumer experience and mindset. Today’s online consumers begin checking their package-tracking status almost as soon as they order the product. The use of emerging technologies can help shippers improve customer experience by facilitating advanced tracking capabilities.

Retailers can partner with third-party logistics providers that integrate transportation management services into the shipping process. Such services make use of software systems and innovative tools that enable real-time tracking. The information is made available to shippers, which can then provide customers with the ability to track the status of their package throughout the delivery process.

Final-Mile Delivery

The logistics industry must evolve to meet increasing customer expectations and demands, particularly with regards to near-instant product delivery. Achieving that will require logistics firms to focus on emerging technologies. They already play a major role in fulfillment activities and are poised to reshape supply chain activities and optimize final mile delivery solutions for retailers.

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