Operations as opportunity: parcelLab’s platform helping retailers deliver
There have been millions of words written about the concept and importance of the Customer Experience (CX), and not just a few of them on these very pages. Companies and public organizations spend enormous sums on fine-tuning their customers’ experiences when interacting with the company or service.
CX is challenging to define, but it gravitates around ease-of-use, personalization, relevant communication, and quality of service overall. In some contexts, the quality of customer experiences has been equated to trust — difficult to gain but very quickly lost. In some respects, the comparison is accurate: it only takes one failure to deliver on time, and the end-user starts looking around for alternatives.
Therefore, it’s surprising that in some industries, brands seem quite happy to fine-tune their customers’ experiences, but at the point at which logistics, delivery or returns take place, they effectively wash their hands of the matter. Getting a consignment from A to B becomes someone else’s responsibility. Typically, the “someone else” comprises several companies: freight haulers, distributors, warehouses, a delivery service, a last-mile operator. International supply chains can get complicated, but even domestic delivery and returns are rarely that simple.
The primary downside to that situation is that when something goes wrong, who gets the call? In many cases, the customer has no idea who the carrier is, nor do they care overmuch. The company they complain to is the originating brand that made the sale.
There are quite a few cases, too, where things can go amiss, like when deliveries don’t show or returns don’t end up back at the originating retailer. Social media tends to amplify complaints, and very quickly, a company’s reputation is in tatters. All of those carefully allocated CX dollars might as well have been dropped onto a yard fire.
Go your own route
The very big retailers could construct their own distribution and delivery mechanisms — at least in part — but doing so takes the type of money that really only the Amazons, Alibabas and Rakutens of this world have. However, for the rest of us, that’s not an option.
The other go-to solution to this issue is to carefully construct a series of technology-based connections between the brand’s internal systems and those of their supply chain partners. In tech terms, these are API connections (application programming interfaces), and as the name suggests, they usually need a deep understanding of multiple technologies.
Again, that solution is OK if retailers have the budget to fund a code development team (or outsource to a team that will need internal resources, typically comprising a laser-like oversight on what the remote techs produce). High-tech businesses may have the right people already on board, but the supply chain partnerships change, as do the systems in use: weekly changes to APIs and status codes break the connection that’s relied upon. Just keeping on top of API updates is a long-term commitment.
Buy in Brilliance
At Tech HQ, we’re publishing several articles highlighting some of the best in the post-purchase business, companies that will nurture your brand as carefully as you do. Because what happens after the customer clicks the “Pay” button (or hands over a credit card) has as much influence on a brand’s reputation as what goes on before.
First in our spotlight is parcelLab, a company we chose because at its core is a pure-play white-label offering that works very effectively and enhances the customer experiences its clients have carefully constructed.
The company’s solution is best described as an Operational Experience platform. To be that, the platform not only handles the interactions between the brand, its technologies, and tall logistics seamlessly, but it also creates powerful and new opportunities for the brand to emphasize and increase the quality of care.
Going through every feature offered is not practical in this article — we will be diving deeper in a few weeks in a dedicated piece — but for now, some notable highlights differentiate parcelLab from its alternatives.
After a sale has taken place, parcelLab communicates using your messages throughout the logistics process, keeping customers appraised of every step. From order preparation through shipping, delivery, returns and refunds, every touchpoint is on-brand and provides a widening of the conversation between the business and the customer.
All interactions are digital, as you might expect, and these are naturally data-driven. The possibilities for insights into customer journeys and experiences are huge – previously, the tap of information got turned off at the warehouse loading bay.
The platform also pulls in extra data – like local weather and traffic updates — and combines it with logistics so you can now send messages like “We’re on our way, and we’ll leave your delivery under cover for you, if you’re not in.”
Alongside necessary updates for each consignment (“We might be late today, there’s so much snow”), there are options too for value-adds, or even cross-selling opportunities. The barbeque company, Weber, sends recipes with its messages, while IKEA also sends its famed assembly instructions in a digital format. Interactions with customers increase brand value and improve experiences, making each purchase a highly personalize-able opportunity.
The issue of integration was touched on earlier, especially in the context of interacting with other parties in a supply chain. When brands go with parcelLab, they get access to an immediate network of pre-integrated connectivity, with over 150 worldwide and domestic carriers. Setting up these connections is already done, as are the integrations between many common business systems (like e-Commerce platforms or stock control systems) commonly found in a business. The brand has little to do but plug-and-play to get things started.
Keep watching these pages for the full review of parcelLab, or to find out more, get a demo with the people behind this operations experience platform, which comes recommended by the likes of IKEA and Puma.
Using this innovative white-label package, brands like those household names can utilize worldwide delivery networks as easily as domestic carriers. There are success stories on the parcelLab site from domestic-only operators as well as the bigger names, so whatever your market segment (or your ambitions for the future), parcelLab is well worth considering.
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