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Blog postsOctober 12, 2016

4 Supply Chain Secrets to Drive Customer Satisfaction

Any supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Karl Siebrecht, Co-founder & CEO, FLEXE

“Any supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. A company can move a product from China to the United States, clear it through Customs, move it to a distribution center, and fulfill it in record time. But if it doesn’t deliver the product to consumers quickly enough, they are not happy, and the company’s supply chain has failed.”Inbound Logistics Magazine

Retail success hinges on customer satisfaction, so it makes sense supply chain success is also closely tied to happy customers. Here are four customer-centric supply chain strategies that will help drive sales by keeping your customers delighted.

1. Improve on-time delivery

Customers want what they want and they want it fast and on-time. In some situations, clients have no-forgiveness policies. One slip up can cost you a client for good. It is vital to meet promised delivery windows in order to maintain your customers trust and encourage repeat business. Here are four ways companies are improving on-time delivery and consistently fulfilling delivery promises to their customers:

  • Online Appointment Scheduling
  • Proactive Order Management and Recovery
  • Capacity Forecast Sharing with Carriers
  • Carrier Allocation Management

2. Use technology to enhance visibility and track inventory

Technology is important to automate warehouse activities and ultimately fulfill today’s consumer needs. Warehouse management systems (WMS) provide benefits beyond automation. A WMS speeds up processes and makes a warehouse less prone to errors, but it also offers greater visibility into facility management, and supply chain visibility is key to customer satisfaction!

Without a big picture view of your supply chain, it becomes nearly impossible to implement customer-focused strategies like just-in-time inventory replenishment. When delivery windows are tight, even minor missteps and miscalculations can have major service level consequences.

Order tracking systems paired with your WMS are also critical to building transparency and improving customer satisfaction. Order tracking systems allow users to view when a customer ordered an item and when the item was actually shipped. Most importantly, it allows visibility at the customer level by giving them the ability to track orders online, down to the line‐item level.

3. Increase speed-to-delivery with pop-up fulfillment

Winning e-commerce customers means fast, low-cost delivery, which ultimately requires getting your product closer to your customers. Retailers that don’t have the capital to insource new distribution centers are turning to pop-up fulfillment as a way to augment their supply chain and scale without costly acquisitions. Pop-up fulfillment centers allow companies to expand operations without significant investments and ultimately, improve customer satisfaction with shorter delivery times.

4. Satisfy customer demand with an agile inventory strategy

Inventory management is a constant struggle, but today’s consumers are powering a critical change in how inventory is handled. Consumer demand is driving a need for weekly rotating stocks that address quick changing styles and trends like “fast fashion.”

Supply Chain 24/7 said it best, “Out-of-stock inventory kills customer loyalty. Not being able to fulfill quickly kills customer loyalty. But having lots of inventory doesn’t equate to efficient fulfillment. That requires having a modern, flexible supply chain. Without agility, retailers often lack the competence to satisfy customer demand, let alone fulfilling profitably.”

Retailers always struggle to find the optimal balance between excess inventory and out-of-stock inventory situations. Agility allows supply chain partners to work together to produce the amount of product that is needed daily, not based on quarterly, monthly, or yearly forecasts.

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