With the rise in e-commerce and cross-border transactions, managing an increasingly complex supply chain is a major challenge. A fluctuating global business climate and increasing customer expectations only add to this challenge. According to a Deloitte survey of C-suite executives, 53% of respondents said that supply chain disruptions have become more costly in the past 3 years while 48% said that they had become much more frequent.
Poor delivery planning plays a big role in such supply chain disruptions. These include missed delivery deadlines, damaged goods, and cost overruns. Proper delivery planning has a number of interrelated and complex elements, from managing the logistics fleet to collaborating between different delivery stakeholders, ensuring quick turnaround time, and living up to customer expectations. This is why any business that does a lot of shipping and wants to optimize costs of operation has to focus on delivery planning.
Poor delivery planning doesn’t just affect supply chain dynamics negatively. It also has a ripple effect across different facets of the business like poor productivity, customer churn, increased fleet management costs, inefficient reverse logistics and inability to scale..
Loss of productivity is one of the biggest by-products of poor delivery planning. This loss of productivity can manifest itself in a number of ways:
Inflated labour costs as shipments get delayed and overtime is needed to handle last-minute shipments.
Sub-optimized freight runs due to poor delivery scheduling.
Loss of productivity and an increase in costs as items sit in the warehouses waiting for pick-up and delivery.
Since the advent of Amazon, logistic services have gone to the next level in terms of greater visibility and faster turnaround. Over time, this has resulted in a huge shift in customer expectations. In fact, nearly 90% of the respondents in an IBM and Total Retail survey felt that Amazon had radically enhanced their expectation around timely and inexpensive delivery. Not only do customers expect cheaper and faster delivery, but they are also looking at other aspects like convenience and personalization. In such a scenario, sub-par delivery services can really become a deal breaker. Items getting delayed or not arriving as per the customer’s availability or arriving damaged all create a negative impression in the minds of the consumer. In fact, given the sheer choice that today’s customers have, timely delivery has become a key to customer retention.
In a Deloitte survey of 600 C-suite executives, 53% of the respondents felt that margin erosion was one of the costliest bye-products of supply chain disruptions. This margin erosion is because of improper fleet management which results in things like higher fuel costs and delayed arrival at ports which means higher transportation fees. Since logistics costs account for anywhere between 5 to 50% of the total landed cost of the product, these inefficiencies can have a huge impact on the ultimate bottom line.
With the advent of e-commerce and the easy returns policy, reverse logistics has also seen massive growth. In 2015, for instance, the total return delivery costs amounted to $246 billion in North America alone and more than $600 billion across the world. Reverse logistics is altogether more complex and requires even more thorough planning, especially because it is relatively new and unfamiliar. A returns process that is poorly planned and manually executed leads to a whole range of hidden labour costs, from customer service labour costs to financial reconciliation costs to sales labour costs. Poor returns processes can also have other negative consequences like sale of products in the ‘grey market’, lack of visibility for customers, inability to forecast correctly, and brand toxicity.
A manual delivery planning process may work when the company is really small but is simply impossible to scale. Unless delivery planning is systematic and organized, it will become very difficult to maintain the same level of efficiency and timeliness as volumes increase. Delivery operations that are people dependent and not process dependent work only at a small scale. At any level, it’s the process that takes precedence over people in order to ensure standardization, consistency, and reliability. This is not possible unless you have a comprehensive delivery planning process in place.
In the post-globalization world, a more convoluted and complex supply chain equals more errors and delays. In this scenario, the key to effective delivery planning is to simplify your supply chain by removing unnecessary links thereby optimizing costs and improving efficiency. Using a supply chain platform can help you simplify your supply chain and plan your deliveries in a way that makes you far more competitive. A small investment in supply chain technology can go a long way towards building your brand reputation and long-term customer loyalty.
Field Service organizations can manage their operations better by automating the processes and field workforce. Planning day-to-day operations, implementing the strategies, measuring the performance and analyzing the operations on a daily basis helps analyzing the company approach in the wake of delivering a superior service.
One of the most important pieces in this game of deliveries is the experience that the customer undergoes as a good Delivery Happiness Score is the cornerstone for customer retention and brand equity. For an on-time delivery execution to take place, a well-orchestrated engine needs to function like an oiled machine at peak efficiency.
Delivery management softwares that are based on artificial intelligence and machine learning enable not just visibility but predictability in the processes as well.