First, how do you find out what really matters to customers? Companies that excel at this do two things: they streamline their operations and take out cost, and they create new experiences and tap new sources of value. Many organizations simply take a “problem view”—treating internal processes as a cost that needs to be reduced, and looking for customer pain points that need to be eliminated. That’s a good place to start, but if it’s the only view, it misses out on the idea of creating additional customer value.
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The recent news that a direct rail freight service had arrived in Barking, East London, from China via the ancient ‘Silk Road’, generated a flurry of speculation about the potential of this new route. However, the truth and implications of this are more complex and potentially far-reaching.
Maersk and CMA CGM have agreed to take bookings through Alibaba’s ‘One Touch’ system. This facilitates the delivery of products to customers for Chinese manufacturers who sell through Alibaba’s network of websites. Essentially, such vendors can now book container space directly on Maersk or CMA CGM vessels. The ‘One Touch’ system can, according to Alibaba, also handle “customs clearance preparations and assistance in foreign exchange collections”, although this appears to stop-short of a full door-to-door freight forwarding service.
Modern POS and inventory management solutions enable businesses to make better-informed decisions, and will sometimes help automate the process, whether it’s a re-order or a halt in production, or a customer concern. These provide better visibility and transparency so that business managers don’t have to rely on guesswork.
The tools available to businesses have become stronger, smarter and faster, likewise providing a better user experience for the customer. For businesses, it’s a matter of deploying the right solution that fits the business.
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The latest development is from the German car and truck maker, Daimler. It has invested in a UK based drone designer called ‘Starship’, run from Estonia by some former Skype executives. Physically Starship’s engineering is distinct from most of the other experiments in drone technology in that the drones are ground vehicles. Resembling a totebox with wheels they have the ability to drive and navigate themselves. The batteries powering the vehicles last for around 60 minutes.
Starship’s vision includes the option of local retailers using the vehicles to deliver goods to customers. Of course, another possibility is for last-mile and express logistics operators to use them for home-delivery. Conceivably it could be a form of motorised PUDO capability.
National regulators have adopted more definitive legal stances regarding drone technology, and some, such as the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), have adapted such rules with the explicit intention of allowing companies to experiment.
This has allowed the companies engaging with drone technology to more accurately test their operation against commercially applicable conditions, which was highlighted in December by both Amazon and DPD.
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Earlier this year, research from Barclaycard revealed that six in 10 retailers were negatively affected by the growing number of people returning items after buying online. Online-only businesses were hit the hardest, with 31% saying that managing returns was affecting their profit margins. One in five businesses admitted to upping their prices to cover the cost of returns. Read more
CEOs and boards have become increasingly aware that making
incremental changes to the business may not go far enough;
doing too little or going too slowly may place their firms at risk
as they compete in a customer-led, digitally driven market.
The question is, how far do they need to go to:
• Get closer to the customer?
• Avoid the complexity — and marginal results — of trying
to deliver experiences to multiple customer segments
across multiple products? Reported by Forrester
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