Technology can help meet & exceed customer expectations this Black Friday

As retailers prepare for one of the most lucrative dates in the calendar, there will be additional pressure on ecommerce this Black Friday – as high streets largely remain closed and stores vacant. However, these flagship days also present an opportunity for retailers to make up for the loss in sales caused by the pandemic. In fact, last month’s Amazon Prime Day generated almost $10 billion in global sales — a 43% increase YoY. This signifies the profitability of such an event if retailers get it right, as well as the increased customer appetite for online shopping this year.

As retailers offer unprecedented deals, quick delivery, and easy returns to remain competitive in the online world, customer expectations have simultaneously increased. According to a recent Global Insights Report published by Experian, 60% of consumers have higher expectations of their digital experience now than prior to Covid-19. To remain competitive, retailers must meet and exceed expectations by delivering products on time and providing excellent customer service. However, many are still struggling with the large-scale disruption caused by the pandemic and may not be prepared for the additional pressure created by a surge in online shopping on their fragmented supply chain.


Learning from other businesses’ experiences

Although worsened now owing to the pandemic, this struggle to match customer demands is not new. In fact, according to our research at Celonis, many companies across the business world are continuing to perform far below their potential when it comes to order management, which affects both supply chains and customer experience.

According to the research, very few companies are putting their customers first when it comes to servicing their demands, with more than a quarter (26%) of orders not delivered to customers on time – with average delays of up to two weeks (12 days). This is increasingly unacceptable and is thrown into a starker light by many retailers now offering same- or next-day delivery as standard. These delays are also costly, with late deliveries of sales orders costing the companies we surveyed more than half a million pounds every year, owing to fines.

Similar shortcomings in retail, especially in these crucial coming days, would do significant and potentially irreversible damage to many brands’ reputations. While retail may currently be leading the way, maintaining those high standards, especially under this year’s heightened pressure, can be challenging.


An analytical approach

To overcome this, companies should analyse their processes to ensure that the most efficient and effective approach is taken to achieve the desired business outcome.

This can be done by leveraging the latest technology and working backwards from the desired end goal – in this case on-time delivery – and assessing how best this can be accomplished, or what will prevent it from happening. AI-powered technology can analyse the whole supply chain and flag any potential problems even before they appear. To avoid them it can even automatically put contingencies in place to ensure a delivery target is fulfilled.

Additionally, all enterprises – large and small – run their core processes and operations through a complex mix of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of individual systems. The complexity of this fragmented system environment often traps execution capacity, which hampers business performance. Process mining technology can be leveraged here to analyse the processes running on these systems and identify execution gaps in real-time. This is done by drawing data from underlying systems to identify and measure the barriers that stop companies from reaching their full execution capacity. Systems can then be put in place to automate certain actions and navigate roadblocks – systematically removing any constraints. By doing this, retailers can free up additional business capacity and maximise performance, preparing themselves for the influx of orders this Black Friday, and throughout the holiday shopping season.


Creating customer value is key

Improving a company’s supply chain breeds greater customer satisfaction and saves businesses money – a win-win, especially when demand and competition in the marketplace are so high. In such turbulent times, using the available technology to look at gaps in supply chains acts as an important aid for businesses to succeed, and to keep customers happy.

This is particularly crucial for online retailers this coming Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as shoppers rush to their screens to take advantage of the best deals. Business supply chains must be agile, resilient, and prepared, so that they can deliver products on time and meet customer expectations.



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