Comment: Post-purchase Platforms and the Logistics Partner Advantage
It has never been easy being a logistics provider; we’ve all got the (mental, emotional, even a couple of physical) scars to prove it. Costs seem to always be going up while pricing is heading in the opposite direction with equal speed. Regulations change as regularly as the election cycle and no one quite knows what will happen next. The competition is either consolidating, expanding or exploding out of nowhere, and every time you open a newspaper there is some new way to get a package from A to B that’s the new best thing since sliced bread.
What’s more, the growing complexity in information flow adds to the problem. When did you last use an ink pen and sign a piece of paper to accept a delivery? Every piece of information these days is digitised to the point where the data flow for Mrs. Smith’s new shoes looks like a map of the London Underground. Immediate access to order status throughout the supply chain is simply a cost of doing business, and end consumers are demanding the ability to see and communicate through an increasingly integrated set of devices and platforms.
In this environment, competitive advantage means focusing on simplifying the everyday lives of retailers—and more critically, consumers—across the increasingly broad post-purchase experience. That’s an ambitious goal, especially considering all the complexity in the system. We are living in an ever more consumer-driven world and the brands, retailers and delivery providers that meticulously plan, efficiently execute, and wholeheartedly embrace that reality will be the ones left standing.
So that leaves us with the question: how can a technology partner help do this in a way that ensures parties involved in the delivery process—consumer, retailer, and carrier—all benefit?
The rapid adoption of SaaS-driven, retail post-purchase platforms underscores the manifold benefits for retailers and consumers alike, providing a much-needed solution to complex delivery cycles and systems. Successful retailers leverage the platform and create a unique and lasting customer experience that simplifies the consumer’s life while empowering retailers themselves to champion their customers at every step of the journey. Increasingly shippers have to integrate platforms to help manage the touchpoints and data relationships that a fully informed and empowered consumer demands. But what about the logistics providers? If the post-purchase platform is partnership-focused and successful, it will enhance and support the logistics provider’s own unique capabilities and competitive advantages. Platforms and logistics providers are increasingly interdependent. Successful relationships will create value to retailers and consumers in ways that neither platforms or logistics providers, independently, are able to do.
So how do logistics providers benefit from this partnership with post-purchase platforms?
Ensure the good work gets seen
A platform elevates and improves the granular in-transit visibility that logistics providers have developed through significant technology investments and consistent operational discipline. Access to that data, ensuring consumers receive the correct information they need, when they need it, and in a consistent manner, shines a positive light on both the logistics partner and retailer. The platform gives consumers options across a wide range of communication channels in ways that logistics providers may not be able or willing to invest in supporting.
Help drive costs down
One phone call into customer service or dispatch can turn a profitable delivery into a loss. Integrating into a SaaS post-purchase platform provides consumers with much-needed visibility, communication, and self-help tools to allow them to navigate through and resolve issues before they generate a customer service call. By enabling consumer updates to logistics providers and drivers enroute, costly delivery attempts, multiple order dispatches and time-on-stop are all reduced, driving significant efficiency gains.
Drive revenue up
Just about every business is in business to grow. For retailers, purchasing a SaaS-based platform drives repeated and increased revenue volume from their customers. The platform also enables rapid deployment and continuous optimisation as retailers grow volume, expand products, and leverage different delivery methods. For logistics providers that support ecommerce activity, those increased retailer sales volumes translate directly into increased revenue. Logistics providers already integrated in the platform have a leg up when selling into this exploding marketplace.
Make sure that unique service capability is appreciated
Logistics providers invest heavily in developing and evolving competitive advantages through unique product features and service options. The platform works with the logistics partners to enable retailer and consumer access and visibility to those services in ways logistics providers often cannot do on their own. Rather than enforced, anonymous standardisation, the platform ensures that those service offerings and their branding are fully exposed so that the return on investment is maximiszed to the logistics provider.
Delivery logistics and the companies that make ecommerce happen are not commodities. Narvar’s logistics partners and the people that work within them pour blood and treasure into their organisations to keep the wheels of commerce greased and running. They innovate, adapt and endure. By leveraging the benefits of working with a post-purchase ecommerce platform, these hard working companies can grow and prosper while keep those wheels spinning.
Cainiao Network Launches Customer-Centric Logistics
As the logistics division of the Alibaba Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Network has decided to provide its Southeast Asian customers with unsurpassed service during its annual shopping festival. Based on customer feedback surveys, the company will expand its real-time customer service support and speed up delivery times. ‘By expanding and deepening our services, we aim to provide a stronger logistics infrastructure that can bolster the booming eCommerce sector, support merchants’ expansion into new markets and diversify retail options for consumers’, said Chris Fan, Head of Cross-Border, Singapore, Cainiao Network.
Who Is Cainiao?
According to TIME Magazine, Cainiao ‘is far from a typical logistics firm’. The company controls an open platform that allows it to collaborate with 3,000 logistics partners and 3 million couriers. This means that merchants can choose the least expensive and most efficient shipping options, based on Cainiao’s real-time logistics analytics. The company’s goal is to ship packages anywhere in the world in under 72 hours—and for less than US$3.00.
For countless small business owners around the world, from coffee-growers to textile-weavers, this could change everything. Usually, it costs about US$100 to ship a DHL envelope from Shanghai to London in five days. Cainiao aims to change that. Said its CEO Wan Lin: ‘The biggest barrier to globalisation is logistics’.
What’s Part of the Upgrade?
Throughout the Tmall festival, Cainiao’s logistics upgrade will be divided into four critical segments:
- Real-time customer service support. Cainiao has launched a direct WhatsApp channel for customers to receive logistics updates and ask questions.
- Expansion of air freight parcel size and weight limits. Packages can now be up to 30 kilograms or 1-metre x 1.6 meters to help ship large items such as furniture.
- Daily air and sea freight connections. Shipping frequency will almost double to seven times weekly to maintain resilience and efficiency.
- Compensation for lost or damaged packages. Customers will be reimbursed up to RMB 2,000 (US$311).
Where is the Company Headed?
From June 1st to June 20th, the finale of Tmall, Cainiao will ensure that its customers feel confident in the company’s ability to deliver their packages. Despite global shipping delays due to COVID, the show will go on. Said Fan: ‘This series of customer-centric logistics upgrades reaffirms our goal of pursuing value-added services to enhance customers’ shopping experience while mitigating challenges posed by external factors’.
Furthermore, Cainiao has recently expanded its Southeast Asian operations, achieving revenue growth of 68% year-over-year. In Malaysia, the logistics operation has partnered with BEST Inc. and Yunda; in Singapore, the company has partnered with Roadbull, Park & Parcel, and the Singapore Post. And if its recent measures help retain and grow its customer base, the company will be well-poised to lead the industry in resilient and customer-centric global logistics. ‘COVID-19 made everyone realise how important the logistics infrastructure backbone is’, said Wan. ‘And it gave us a peek at what Cainiao should look like in three years’.