Discussing the omni-channel approach with the John Lewis partnership
Colin Turner, Senior Programme Manager of Supply Chain Development at the John Lewis Partnership, took part in a Q&A with Stephanie Aslan to share his thoughts ahead of the E-Commerce & Omni Channel 2015 event
Hi Colin. In your opinion, what is key to simplifying the supply chain process?
You can’t get away from the fact that an omni-channel supply chain, particularly for a large or diverse business, is a complicated thing. It’s made more complicated because few of us have the luxury of designing a supply chain on a ‘green field site’.
More often we have to knit together a collection of existing supply chains, perhaps built to serve different business units or the result of acquisitions, with the aim of making something cohesive. The key to making the supply chain process as simple as possible is to start with a clear vision of what you want to achieve in developing your supply chain, taking into account the desire for simplicity of process and always remembering the needs of your customers.
If you get that vision clear and make sure it is understood throughout the organisation, then the rest will follow, albeit with a lot of hard work.
The challenge is joining it all up so that we get a really clear end-to-end picture that allows us to keep everything running smoothly as well as exposing trends or emerging issues. This congress coming up in London presents a rare opportunity to discuss the very real challenges of omni-channel retailing with peers from across the retail industry.
How important is it to understand customer delivery expectations, in order to create a responsive fulfilment service and retain a customer base
It is vital to have a good understanding of the customers’ expectations, both for the service that they want and also what they are prepared to pay for it. Getting the balance of these right means you can build a proposition that offers real value to the customer, and also contributes to a healthy profit level for the business.
Tell us one thing about you, which you would like Supply Chain Digital readers to know.
I am a John Lewis ‘lifer’, starting my career many years ago in IT and taking a rather sprawling route towards my current role in supply chain strategy.
How critical is visibility across the supply chain process?
Visibility is incredibly important. The old adage that you can’t manage what you can’t measure remains true. Taking that a step further you can’t measure what you can’t see, which means we need visibility.
The good news on this is that modern supply chain systems, and even the embedded technology in our equipment, are a data-rich environment so there is no shortage of information about what’s going on in the supply chain.
The challenge is joining it all up so that we get a really clear end-to-end picture that allows us to keep everything running smoothly as well as exposing trends or emerging issues that we might need to get ahead of.
What aspects of E-Commerce & Omni Channel 2015 are you most looking forward to?
I am most looking forward to hearing what other retailers are doing in this space, and where they see the threats and opportunities coming from in the years ahead.
The industry has moved forward an enormous extent where e-commerce and omni-channel is concerned. How disruptive has this shift been to established retail processes?
Any big change is disruptive, and the seamless merging of shopping and fulfilment channels is certainly a big one. As well as re-engineering elements of the supply chain process, there is a big cultural shift for everyone from head office through to the frontline staff who directly serve the customer. The key to making the supply chain process as simple as possible is to start with a clear vision of what you want to achieve in developing your supply chain.
People are keen to hear your presentation at E-Commerce & Omni Channel 2015; can you give a brief introduction of the main aspects of your talk?
In my session I will talk about John Lewis’s journey from single to multi and then omni-channel retailing, highlighting some of the key challenges we have met along the way and how we have been able to take a strategic approach to building a sustainable omni-channel business.
For more information on the E-Commerce & Omni Channel 2015 event, please visit: http://www.ecommerce-supply-chain.com/
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’.