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

Nov. 29, 2012
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.
The holid
ay 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,


About the Author

Jim Tompkins | CEO

Dr. James A. Tompkins is an international authority on leadership, logistics, material handling, outsourcing, and supply chain best practices. As the founder and CEO of Tompkins International, he provides leadership for Tompkins globally.

His 30-plus years as CEO of a consulting / integration firm and his focus on helping companies achieve profitable growth give him an insider’s view into what makes great companies even better. Listen to an interview of Jim Tompkins on the Business Leader Radio show.

As a high-level business advisor, his unique perspective prepares corporations and executives for the future.

To share his knowledge and provide up-to-date information on supply chain and business trends, he developed the GoGoGo! Blogand Global Supply Chain Podcast.

He has written or contributed to more than 30 books and eBooks, including Caught Between the Tiger and the Dragon, Bold Leadership, Logistics and Manufacturing Outsourcing, The Supply Chain Handbook, andNo Boundaries. Jim has been quoted in hundreds of business and industry magazines such as The Journal of Commerce, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, and FORTUNE, and he has spoken at more than 4,000 international engagements.

Jim has served as President of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, the Materials Management Society, and the College-Industry Council on Material Handling Education, and Purdue has named him a Distinguished Engineering Alum. He has also received more than 50 awards for his service to his profession.

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