SupplyStack: Supply Chain Visibility & Customer Experience

This week we had the great pleasure of sitting together with Nick Poels CoFounder and CEO of SupplyStack, one of our selected partners for Savant Supply Chain Congress in Amsterdam this May.
Here’s what we talked about!

What are the challenges you see your clients are facing in 2019?

Well, I think most of the challenges are related to customer experience as B2B expectations are increasing, putting pressure on current supply chains, order management and transportation in general.

By 2022, global B2B eCommerce sales will be nearly 3 times as big as B2C eCommerce sales, about 15 trillion dollars, fuelled by organisations entering new sales channels. 

The rapid increase in sales and customer expectations will just stress updated technologies applications, so I think in today’s marketplace, the struggle is that an excellent product will not make up for a bad overall experience.  Especially Supply Chain can play a crucial role in driving a better customer experience, as it is strategically positioned to implement a collaborative process aimed to improve the customer experience.
Unlike the B2C market, B2B companies have more immature capabilities when it comes to customer experience management: just think that 27% of companies believe they offer a superior service to their competitors, meaning that three quarters of companies are actually not exploiting this opportunity, while at the same time customer experience is always amongst the top 5 strategic business priorities of CEOs all over the globe.

Let’s talk about Supply Chain Visibility: what does it mean for you?

Well, it’s safe to say that when it comes to Supply Chain Visibility, there’s a lot of confusion in the market.
We’re not talking about a technology categorisation, but a functional capability that is entailed inside an application. Visibility is one of the key areas to contribute to a better Customer Experience first, and overall SupplyChain collaboration second, improving operational efficiency, costs and time optimisation. I think there’s a lack of understanding in how crucial Supply Chain departments can impact revenue through their customer facing roles: historically, Supply Chain executives are forced to prioritise cost optimisation over customer experience, as it’s seen as a side effect. 

We want to challenge this way of thinking, flipping it around completely. If the focus is on the customer, cost optimisation will be a side effect. To do so, it becomes crucial to bridge and connect the different functional areas of a company, connecting closely customer service with logistics, sales and all the different departments. This is more often than not an unsolved problem in many companies, hence the chances of doing repeated purchases are limited, at least when it comes to b2b.

Can we say that companies should break down silos and have a more holistic approach including different departments towards a unique customer facing excellence?

Definitely, and technology is very well positioned to do so.
Imagine having a dashboard with a view of a customer, his orders and all the context around him, knowing the sales orders, transportation path, estimated arrival etc.
This way, you can warn the customer upfront and not disrupting his operations in case of delay.

A late delivery can disrupt or disappoint, while an expedited delivery can actually delight or  save a life.

There is a huge opportunity for companies to turn these factors into  a big differentiator from the competition: when it comes to B2B, most of the time there’s not much differentiation in pricing, in product or quality, meaning that retaining existing and acquiring new customers is all about service. Even a delay can become an opportunity for you to show how good and fast you are in reacting and solving problems for your customers.

Investing more in customer relationship will indeed increase the lifetime value of your customer. How do you make perceive this message to managers?

If you compare the risk of churning revenue with the cost optimisation outcome, the latter are diminishing returns compared to lost business. 

Losing a customer is not only about lost revenue, it’s about increased  customer acquisition costs to replace that revenue.

In traditional enterprise markets the outcome has always been very tangible, and this view needs to change: putting focus on the customer means bridging many functional gaps in your organisation. We provide a customer-centric transportation management system. This means we offer modules that really foster collaboration between the different departments, so your logistics managers can all work together within the tool, plan and execute orders while having visibility of every phase of the cycle, so the different departments are always immediately aware of what’s happening.

Given the lack of communication between departments, how do you manage to get the best out of the data?

The biggest issue we see now is that companies have a consistent amount of data; coming from ERP and WMS systems, Excel, BW and many more; that potentially could be provided to the customers and to the different parts involved. Truth is, it’s very difficult to get these data out of their systems and make them visible.
We pull a lot of data out of eg. the ERP system, enhance the data and make it digestible for a user to analyse and use. ERP are transactionals, while we’re an event based system. We will monitor every event that happens during the life cycle of an order, using all these events to trigger actions, automate communication and the actual process as well. Visibility in itself brings you zero value, it’s how you use the visibility data to actually be able to automate processes and communication, that’s how you get valuable outcomes out of your data. Looking at the position of a  truck on a map will provide zero value, but knowing and predicting that the truck will be late will allow you to react and take action.

As this is embedded in the foundation of our product, we use all the visibility data to automate the transportation process and make sure we provide the best possible outcome, warning your customer upfront or planning differently the next time.

If you would like to hear more from SupplyStack about Supply Chain Visibility, Customer Experience and more, he will join us at Supply Chain Congress  this May in Amsterdam.
Secure your pass here!

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