Gaining a Supply Chain Edge

This Booming Holiday Shopping Season, It’s All About Customer Expectations and Amazon's Genius

The holiday shopping season is upon us – a time where supply chains need to be performing at peak. More than ever, customers today expect correct and on-time delivery of items they buy online.

Not meeting these expectations will cause customers to go elsewhere, losing sales for your company during what has already become a record-setting holiday sales season. Black Friday 2012 sales have set a jaw-dropping new record at $1 billion, and Cyber Monday sales were up nearly 30 percent over last year.

CNN has reported that Amazon led the pack in online sales for these two very important shopping days (no real surprise). Their innovations in customer satisfaction and service have put them at the forefront. Amazon’s same-day delivery and Prime membership features are just a few of the innovations that keep folks coming back.

And did you hear the news about Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos? He was just named Fortune’s 2012 Businessperson of the Year.

The announcement came with a headline calling Bezos “the ultimate disrupter." This means that the most influential and important businessperson this year, whose company is obsessed with customer satisfaction, is also disrupting “business as usual” in nearly every industry. To compete, you must have a demand-driven supply chain that responds in real-time to customer needs in any and all channels.

So what more can we learn from Bezos and his disruptions, as well as Amazon’s role in the shift in customer expectations? Here are four insights:

  • Stick with your story – Be sure that your organization understands and continues to control its own narrative, and that you know your customers' stories as if they were your own. Bezos has been known to hold half-hour reading sessions with his executives where they do nothing but read narratives in silence.
     
  • Obsess over the customer experience– Embed customer satisfaction in your company culture. This is clearly what distinguishes Amazon from other companies, to the point where Bezos says, "Here in the shower, we're thinking about how we are going to invent something on behalf of the customer."
     
  • Leverage global technology– Access to global technology will keep your company strong. Amazon just held its first-ever web services global customer and partner conference in an effort to tackle two of the biggest tech markets: Cloud computing and mobility. This is moving way beyond selling Kindle tablets, books and computers.
     
  • Combine innovation with practicality -- Allow innovation to continuously power your progress, but don't be too proud to recognize a competitor's great concept and then put your unique twist on it. A practical approach to Wall Street is also one of Bezos' trademarks, making them bend to Amazon's long-term plans for gains instead of the other way around.

It’s clear that the definition of customer satisfaction is changing, and the Amazon Effect is leading the way. Are your customers going to expect to be treated the same way they are treated at Amazon? If not, what is the alternative?

Happy Holidays and Supply Chain Days,

Jim

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Jan 17, 2013

I agree that customer satisfaction is not constant. By the way, retailers are in hot competition with other stores, especially during the holiday season. One technique they often use is what they called price matching. That is when a store will match the reduced price of an item being offered by a rival. But being informed about specific store policies is essential.

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What's Gaining a Supply Chain Edge?

Thoughts for today's global businesses and supply chains.

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