Chains for customers

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If it weren’t for the customers, e-commerce would be easy. Who can forget how some of ASOS’s customers responded to a warehouse fire in June 2014? Someone actually tweeted: “Can’t believe I probably won’t receive my prom dress. Thanks a lot ASOS”.

And then there was: “Thanks ASOS. I really wanted to order today as well. Can we all get free next day delivery pls pls”.

Five years on and a new survey has revealed that customer expectations are still a major stumbling block to implementing e-commerce strategies for many companies.

Malory Davies, FCILT, Editor.

Malory Davies, FCILT, Editor.

The study by DHL, entitled “The e-commerce supply chain: overcoming growing pains”, found that 70 per cent of B2C and 60 per cent of B2B companies are still working towards full implementation of their strategies.

And the most common barrier to implementation is that customer expectations are constantly changing – cited by 44 per cent of B2C companies and 45 per cent of B2B companies.

This comes ahead of other factors such as other business priorities and limitations on existing infrastructure.

The report says: “Assuming price parity, purchasing decisions are, with increasing frequency, now based on how well businesses meet their customers’ demands. Demands that not too long ago may have been inconceivable – including two, one, or even same-day delivery; customisation; real-time tracking; flexible omni-channel ordering; and receipt and return capabilities.”

There can be few organisations that will never need to master e-commerce. It’s core to much B2B business as well as B2C and it will continue to grow, so finding strategies to deal with changing customer demands is critical.

There has be plenty of work in recent years to make supply chains more agile and flexible – but it is clear that agility is going have to reach a whole new level for e-commerce success.

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