25 March 2014 | Paul Doble
A recent report by Spectrum Insight used social media to analyse the “winners and losers” of the festive season according to social media feedback. The results demonstrated that getting logistics – the ‘home stretch’ of the retail buying process – wrong, can prove even more disastrous for retail brands than errors at the beginning of the process.
Retailers that outsource their logistics seemingly have little control over the treatment of their parcels once they leave the warehouse, yet it is the retailer’s brand that bears the brunt of the damage resulting from late, lost or damaged goods. It is of utmost importance that retailers take care when selecting their logistics partner to ensure the partner is closely tailored to the retailer’s needs, and that both sides can manage this relationship effectively.
Retailers need to consider carefully when choosing a logistics partner their own brand values and the level of service that their individual customers expect – this will be different based on both the retailer’s brand and the goods that it sells. For example, if a retailer sells highly-sought after technology such as a tablet, then naturally its customers will expect a very high quality of service, while if a retailer sells second-hand DVDs then service expectations will be much lower. The retailer selling high-end technology will need to ensure their logistics partner has the necessary security measures in place – such as secure, unmarked vans, tracked delivery and proof of delivery – to give customers peace of mind their expensive goods are being handled appropriately, whereas the second-hand DVD retailer will not have the same concerns.
One of the key challenges when choosing a logistics partner is to know which company will perform best in times of crisis, something that can only really be tested when the pressure is on. Because logistics is so susceptible to outside influences such as adverse weather conditions, advanced planning between both parties is essential. Questions such as “how much will this delay us?” and “what steps can we take to work around the problem?” should always be tied to the question: “how can we communicate this to the end-customer?”. An email explaining weather-related road closures, along with a revised a delivery schedule is likely to result in a lasting positive impression, whereas parcels that simply fail to arrive will have a severe negative impact on a brand’s reputation.
The quality of the relationship between retailers and their logistics partners directly influences the quality of the relationship between retailers and their customers, and therefore has a significant bearing on the reputation of the brand itself. Communicating, planning and working together with logistics partners is key for retailers wanting to safeguard the relationship with their customers.
☛ Paul Doble is a director at DX