Jul 9, 2020

Blue Yonder: digital transformation in retail supply chains

Digital Transformation
Retail
supply chains
Technology
Georgia Wilson
3 min
Retail Supply Chains
Blue Yonder and WMG University of Warwick Study, reports retail supply chains are over reliant on legacy systems...

According to the latest research report conducted by Blue Yonder and WMG University of Warwick, many global retailers are still at the early stage of digitally transforming their supply chains. 

The benchmark for digital supply chain readiness of 104 global retailers surveyed by the two organisations revealed that only 15% currently have prescriptive or autonomous supply chains. However, while many retailers may be over reliant on legacy systems currently the report also revealed that retailers do have ambitions to digitally transform their supply chain operations with 61% wanting to achieve prescriptive or autonomous supply chains by 2025.

The challenges for retail supply chains

The report highlighted that manual demand and replenishment planning processes are slowing retailers down, with many not able to react to changes in demand in real time. Currently only 8% of retailers are harnessing real time planning processes, while 22% are still using spreadsheets. However, 74% do want to switch to prescriptive or autonomous technology in the next five years.

Other key finding include:

  • 61% of retailers manage omnichannel inventory as separate channels, however, 75% wish to achieve full omni channel capability in the next five year
  • 41% aim to use AI to evaluate optimum inventory locations 
  • 25% currently still use spreadsheets to manage replenishment analytics, however 46% are planning a fully autonomous approach in five years’ time

The report also revealed that in relation to pricing, most retailers work from a static promotional calendar, with only 13% optimising prices dynamically. Currently 11% of retailers assess multiple factors - such as inventory, margin, and waste - for promotions, however, 46% expect to achieve this in the next five years. In addition the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for markdowns and promotions is expected to increase from 11% to 43% in the next five years.

The final challenge highlighted by the report included the need for financial planning and strategies to become more cross functional and real-time. While retailers know they need to include stock and margin for financial planning and strategies, only 11% are doing this, while 40% wish to be implementing this by 2025. In addition retailers want to move away from static planning and strategy to a real time approach, Currently only 7% have this capability, however, 36% have set targets to have this capability in the next five years. 

“The retail industry never stands still for long, and the impact of COVID-19 means it is currently going through a particularly disruptive period. At this time, it’s crucial for retailers to be able to manage multiple factors and complications across their supply chain in real-time. At the moment, however, an over-reliance on manual processes means too many retailers are taking time to adapt in line with this unique set of challenges,” commented Jan Godsell, Professor of Operations and Supply Chain Strategy at WMG, University of Warwick. 

“As the research reveals, retailers know they need to get their supply chains digital-ready. This will enable them to evolve and make adjustments, both in line with internal factors, such as changing organisational goals, and external ones, such as changing customer desires,” added Godsell.

“Retailers recognise now is the time to significantly step up their supply chains, as many of the tools and processes currently used are no longer fit for purpose. They need to jump the digital gap, recognising that managing their supply chains ineffectively is costing them and not meeting their customers’ needs. By introducing greater analytics and automation capabilities, retailers will be able to connect across their organization to create optimized processes and be able to more accurately sense, predict and plan than ever before,” concluded Wayne Snyder, vice president of retail strategy EMEA at Blue Yonder.

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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Jun 12, 2021

Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey

CX
customerjourney
Limitless
gigeconomy
Roger Beadle, Co-founder & CEO...
6 min
Roger Beadle, CEO of Limitless looks at how CX can directly Influence revenue generation in streaming services

There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.

There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.

There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.

In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.

Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.

So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?

Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney

While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.

For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.

For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.

Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.

It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.

How do companies support the new customer journey?

More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.

These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.

The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?

For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.

It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.

And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.

It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.

At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.

About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.

About Limitless
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.

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