How Will Digital Transformation in Supply Chain Improve the Customer Journey?
Countless organizations spanning multiple industries have adopted digital transformation. From marketing to sales to customer experience, each department has developed and implemented its own version of digitization. The supply chain industry is no different, having been pushed by the pandemic and omnichannel buying behaviors to accelerate digitization plans. According to a Gartner estimate, 50% of supply chain companies will invest in applications that support and apply digitization tools such as artificial intelligence and data analytics through 2023.
Here's a closer look at how digital transformation affects supply chain management strategies and the customer journey.
The State of Digital Transformation in Supply Chain Management
Organizations have much to gain by digitizing their supply chain operations. Aggressively digitizing your supply chain can boost your annual earning growth by 3.2%, which is one of the largest increases from digitizing any business area.
Digitization is a crucial part of any brand's supply chain. More business leaders are using digital transformation to scale growth and increase revenue, spending more on services and technologies that digitize business products, organizations, and practices.
With the adoption of digitizing supply chain processes comes the need for a new and improved digital omnichannel in supply chain management, especially when managing the customer experience.
Improving the Customer Journey with a Digital Omnichannel Strategy
Because of the proliferation of sales channels, both digital and in-person, most brands today lack complete control of the customer journey. As a result, many brands are instead focused on influencing the customer experience across channels, using the processes they do control. This is critical, especially since over 85% of buyers are willing to pay more for a product or service if it means getting a better customer experience.
Digital omnichannel selling is an approach that uses multiple channels to create a seamless shopping experience, regardless of where or when the customer is shopping. An omnichannel retail strategy is a significant advancement and can help brands significantly improve the customer journey. While brands can't control every aspect of a customer's journey with their brand, they can more effectively control customer interactions with digital omnichannel tactics.
Supply chain integrations can help companies jumpstart their omnichannel strategies. Connecting channels through seamless integrations lets your business streamline the buying process across all platforms, improve the customer experience, and build loyalty.
Consider a few of the ways supply chain integrations are beneficial for an omnichannel retail strategy:
- Accurate inventory availability: Integrations unify your various selling channels, syncing inventory availability across platforms in real-time as customers make purchases. The ability to automate inventory level updates helps you ensure inventory accuracy across channels.
- Centralized customer data: Omnichannel integrations are an excellent opportunity to consolidate consumer data. Integrations can collect data through multiple channels to provide a unified purchase history. You'll gain more insights and can provide a more personalized customer journey across sales channels. Plus, customers will feel like your brand cares about them.
- Improved fulfillment times: When combined with efficient fulfillment strategies, omnichannel integrations can speed up order fulfillment, saving time and reducing shipping errors. You can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty to your brand with improved fulfillment times.
Understanding and Responding to Consumer Emotions
Acknowledging customers' emotions when shopping and creating a frictionless shopping path are the two primary keys to omnichannel success. Identifying your customers' emotions can be tricky. You can think of the customer journey as an "emotional EKG."
The clearer your customers' emotional EKGs are, the easier identifying and addressing any dips — negative emotions — in their experience will be. Meeting a customer's emotional needs can differentiate your brand from others. If you want your brand to stand apart from the crowd, make your customers' emotional experience a priority.
Developing an emotional EKG requires tools, and the digital transformations occurring in the supply chain industry can provide you with them. Here's an example that illustrates the buying journey a customer goes on when buying a couch and how technology can help streamline their shopping experience:
Supply chain digitization can streamline the customer's delivery updates, giving them a real-time view of their couch's location during transportation. From delivery tracking to push notifications upon arrival, digitization gives customers better visibility into their orders, improving their experience with your brand.
Digital transformation is about adopting new tools and technologies, but it's also about reevaluating your business practices, identifying areas that need improvement, and using new technologies to improve your company. For example, tracking supply chain metrics enables your company to view the success of its partners and processes and use the insights to strategize for improvement.
Create a Frictionless Customer Experience
A frictionless customer experience is about seamless commerce. Any time customers interact with your brand, their experience should be as convenient as possible to create a more positive overall experience. Frictionless commerce often includes the following services that can speak to specific pain points a customer can experience in their shopping journey:
- Increased fulfillment speed: Digitalization significantly reduces lead times by enabling companies to respond to and fulfill orders faster. That's a major benefit for customers and your business.
- Reduced order errors: Integrating retail channels and automating the order fulfillment process also reduces the rate of errors in orders. Digitizing fulfillment and inventory management can increase order accuracy to improve the customer experience.
- Decreased friction in stores: When there is a limited supply of a product on store shelves, customers can experience disappointment in your brand and may shop with a competitor. Reduce the likelihood of in-store friction by using integrations like Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) to keep shelves fuller. A VMI platform analyzes data from DCs and stores and recommends replenishment orders for the supplier to review, creating a demand-driven supply chain to improve in-stock rates.
- Delivery tracking: Digitizing order statuses enables you to show customers exactly what stage of the processes their purchase is in, providing confidence that they will receive their product in a timely fashion. Companies can use eCommerce and marketplace integrations with their ERP to provide inventory updates to customers in real-time, increasing visibility into order status.
"Digital technology can make customer experiences better," McKinsey says. When supply chain managers are given more control, they can provide customers unprecedented transparency, improving their customer journey. That same article from McKinsey cites "track-and-trace systems that send detailed updates about orders throughout the lead time" as an example of how digital transformation in supply chain management can play a crucial role in providing the kind of transparency customers crave.
How to Launch and Manage Digital Growth
It takes time to develop, launch, and expand your digital omnichannel services. You will need to prepare your team and back-end operations to equip them with the tools and insight necessary to support your evolving supply chain management strategy.
Managing the supply chain during digital growth and transformation should include the following steps:
- Identify the capabilities and processes that need improvement.
- Find providers and solutions that can help automate and optimize critical tasks.
- Train or retrain your internal team to use new technologies or leverage fully managed services from your providers, which can be more cost-efficient than training from an internal source.
- Ensure launch readiness by doing test runs and practicing with the new tools.
- Slowly implement your digital omnichannel services to avoid overwhelming your business processes.
- Leverage best practices. You don't need to reinvent the wheel, so learn from your peers and competitors to ensure you're getting the most mileage out of each new tool you adopt.
Transform Your Supply Chain with TrueCommerce
From supply chain management to omnichannel retail, supply chain digitization continuously advances to allow more brands to create a truly digital, integrated supply chain.
At TrueCommerce, we focus on creating solutions that help your company streamline its supply chain and gain visibility into every moving part. We offer a wide range of electronic data interchange (EDI) solutions, eCommerce integrations, and business system integrations to help your business manage all areas of the supply chain. Our solutions enable companies to automate inventory management, reduce lead times, improve communication with suppliers, and provide customers with a better experience.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you manage digital growth and expand omnichannel services to offer an improved customer experience.
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