What Does It Mean to Have a Customer-Centric Supply Chain?
June 17, 2021
The Ever-Changing Approach to Fulfillment
The future of fulfillment looks drastically different than years past. Customer demands have increased significantly and they are no longer looking for businesses that are only pushing products. The idea of customer-centric fulfillment places the customer at the forefront of the business in every way, and fulfillment being “one-size-fits-all” has shifted to consider shoppers’ preferences. COVID-19 accelerated this evolution and fulfillment centers had to respond, given the immediate increase in online shopping and how dependent consumers were on supply chain success.
To truly be customer-centric means that everything is built around the needs of the customer. Their expectations, interaction and experience with your service and product are considered, and your organization evolves alongside shoppers. While trying to adapt to and meet this approach to business, consider the following to prevent or overcome natural challenges:
1. Customer Expectations: Supply chains must be able to understand customers deeply, anticipate and accommodate their short- and long-term needs, and engage each customer or customer segment with different service level options. Providing a more personalized approach to fulfillment requires the flexibility to pivot based on the changing demand for products across different geographies, channels and more. One way to do this is to adopt an “asset-light” approach to fulfillment, which enables a company to scale up or down quickly in conjunction with market conditions and customer demand.
2. Customer Experience: Every interaction with your customer is an opportunity to deliver excellence. This should be true across all channels: brick and mortar stores, your own website, a third-party reseller, etc. Executing a consistently strong customer experience requires an omni-channel fulfillment strategy that includes technology to track your inventory throughout the supply chain so that you know where your orders and inventory are at any given time and can communicate information to shoppers accordingly.
3. Continuous Improvement: Continuous improvement in a customer-centric business means that as expectations change, the company evolves to the preferences of its customers. When every aspect of the business is built around customers, the model allows for rapid changes. Artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and data are all vital creating the customer-centric business models we’ll see in the future, allowing for intelligent decision-making and the ultimate flexibility in your supply chain.
At Ingram Micro Commerce & Lifecycle Services, we are fully committed to supporting our customers on their customer-centric journey. We’re building a network of partners to help you get your products to customers quickly, no matter their location. We’re also investing in smart automations that help us flex with the changing demands of your business.
Your supply chain solution can’t be “one-size-fits-all.” You’ll under-serve some segments while over-serving others with this mindset. Changing customer and technology landscapes require an agile approach to business that will evolve over time, and you’ll be most successful if you embrace the mindset that your fulfillment processes will need to be flexible, too, in response.
Matt VanceMatt Vance is the Executive Director, Forward Logistics with Ingram Micro Commerce & Lifecycle Services. Using his 14 years of supply chain experience, Matt is responsible for all services and relationships with our Mobility Forward Logistics customers. With his background in finance, he provides strategic input and partnership with our customers to and gain efficiencies throughout the supply chain.
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Matt Vance 2021-06-17