Logistics professionals are challenged to deliver consistent customer experience across channels, Iptor research shows

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Delivering a consistent customer experience across all channels is a key challenge for global logistics professionals, according to a new study by supply chain specialist Iptor Supply Chain Systems.

Iptor’s study surveyed the views of 500 supply chain decision makers in six sectors including food & beverage and pharmaceuticals in the UK, US, Australia, Benelux and the Nordics. It was conducted by the London-based research company Sapio Research.

In addition to navigating supply chain issues across multiple channels, logistics professionals agreed they need to reduce supply chain complexities and fine tune KPIs.

Guy Washer, managing partner at Sapio Research, said the research showed there was a strong correlation between KPIs and the efficiencies they brought to the business.

“The more KPIs, the better the business performed,” said Washer. Awareness of costs was also greater for those with more KPIs but it was preferable to have five to six KPIs applied correctly than too many, he said.

Traceability of products is the number one business issue that logistics professionals seek to control through KPIs (59%), followed by complexity of the supply chain (50%) and balancing cost efficiency and sustainability (49%), the research found.

B2B2C fulfilment patterns are becoming increasingly popular, the research showed. Seventy one per cent of respondents said they were growing and 62% have one.

Orders are typically captured via a website (70%) and telephone (70%) with the former more prevalent in the UK, US and Australia and the latter in Benelux and the Nordics.

Providing a consistent customer experience is a challenge for 61% of respondents, the study showed. However, those with more KPIs are more confident that they are delivering a consistent experience.

Excess stocks – 39% of logistics professionals say they overestimate demand for a product – and stock outs are top pain points for 52% and 62% of respondents respectively.

The Iptor findings echo those of IDC, according to its research director, enterprise software, Philip Carnelley.

It found 60% of European businesses are undergoing digital transformation with 40% in the first two stages of digital transformation in a five-stage maturity journey.

According to Carnelley, there are five dimensions to digital transformation: information, leadership, customer experience, work force and the operating model; and he highlighted businesses which were in the throes of transformation.

They include BMW, which is exploring how to sell cars directly to the consumer. It has launched a car rental scheme in North London, for example.

“That’s changing the business model,” said Carnelley. Also in the automotive sector, Audi has teamed up with Amazon and DHL to pilot a service to deliver to consumers’ car boots in Germany. “That’s changing the way businesses work quite dramatically,” he said.

Jayne Archbold, CEO at Iptor, said the research findings and trends had implications for the company’s supply chain products and services. Adopting the 90/10 rule, where 90% of transactions or processes are predictable and 10% are not, Archbold said Iptor added value by supporting the 90% but bringing a strong focus to the 10% too.

“The customer wants to focus on the 10% and a lot of customers are getting us to do that,” she said.

Archbold highlighted Iptor’s transformational supply chain work with customers. They included a fresh food distributor in Europe, which is expanding from supplying small retail outlets to supplying restaurants and direct to the consumer.

“A few years ago that could not have considered because they did not have the capability. Now they can reach new customers and cause disruption,” Archbold said.

In another example, a pharmaceutical wholesale distributor, which historically took the majority of orders via telesales in a call centre, now takes 70% of orders via the web, thanks to a new e-commerce solution and is better able to manage margins.

In a third example, Iptor has supplied supply chain software to a leading UK educational publisher to enable all its materials to be published online.

According to Archbold, initiatives like these are capable of transforming a whole industry.