Everyone loves flexibility. In fact, flexibility is quickly becoming a key factor in businesses not only at the employee level but at the customer level as well. As we understand more about what customers are looking for in an ideal experience, flexibility is becoming increasingly important. Whether it be shipping times, locations, or mobility, customer expectations are rising in the marketplace. Logistics is an ideal place in the customer cycle to employ additional flexibility, increasing customer satisfaction and perceived value, leading to upsurges in customer loyalty.
What is Flexibility in Logistics?
Flexibility in logistics is “the scalability and adaptability within a given system to improve the effectiveness of shipping processes.” This can also be referred to as “Elastic Logistics.” While some may confuse this for the shift to Transportation Management Systems (TMS) and Software-as-a-service models, it’s actually more involved than simply adding technology to the mix. Flexibility involves delivery models, functionality, and services which can be improved with technology, but not solely by technology alone.
What’s Causing the Shift Toward Flexibility?
In all honesty, the shift started with Amazon Prime. Customers were thrilled they could get their orders in two days. Occasionally, they could get it in one day. Now customers can even get their orders same-day if they live in a warehouse city. But what happens when a customer doesn’t care about shipping speed; when two days or five days aren’t a deal maker or breaker with them?
Also, let’s take a minute to consider the downside. What is sacrificed when delivery times are this fast? First, the need for signatures is quickly omitted. When this happens, successful package delivery can’t be confirmed. This leads to things like package theft which creates a headache for customers and businesses alike. In order to retain the good qualities and remove the bad qualities, companies need to properly strategize flexibility.
How Can Companies Improve Their Flexibility and Delight Customers?
By focusing on the core elements of flexibility: delivery models, functionality, and services, companies can improve the customer experience, resulting in greater loyalty. Both TMS and SaaS systems will empower organizations to take their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and compare them to real data to identify quick wins in process improvement. Every hiccup in a shipment is an opportunity to improve and create new protocols, which will be exposed by the comparisons. Flexibility will naturally follow as best practices are identified and implemented. The Internet of Things will continue to bring greater transparency to logistics. It will provide the most relevant data in means of shipment tracking.
In response to customer demand, e-commerce and retailers are also broadening their delivery options. Many offer a wide range of shipping options including overnight, one, two, and five-to-seven business day options. Companies are also adding a ship-to-store option if they have a brick and mortar store for customers looking for more security or high-touch service.
With every passing year, customers are expecting increasingly heightened experiences. Companies are reacting quickly by offering greater flexibility in their business. By optimizing best practices, technology, and delivery transparency, companies are able to meet customer needs and grow customer loyalty.