Hopping Down the Bunny Trail: How CX is Transforming the Digital Supply Chain

Easter is coming — and this is good news for confectioners.

When it comes to candy sales, Easter is second only to Halloween. The National Confectioners Association notes that each year candy manufacturers make more than 16 billion jelly beans — “enough to fill a giant egg measuring 89 feet high and 60 feet wide.”

But the truth is, Easter-related sales are rising across all sorts of categories other than candy. According to the National Retail Federation, spending for Easter will hit $17.3 billion in the US — a new record. Consumers are expected to spend $146 per person on the holiday, and though most will buy candy (88.7 percent), more money will be spent elsewhere: “$5.5 billion on food, $3 billion on clothing, $2.7 billion on gifts, $2.4 billion on candy and $1.2 billion on flowers.”

Beyond the Goods: Delivering Outstanding Customer Experiences

As manufacturers ramp up for this holiday — and any other holiday that boosts sales — the pressure is on to deliver more than just the goods. Today’s manufacturers need to deliver experiences as well. This, I believe, is the where leading companies are now competing.

Yes, there will always be a need for bulk jelly beans, but growth companies are looking to connect with customers in ways that build relationships and deliver the outcomes that customers want. Increasingly, the way to do this is through personalization.

One online candy story allows you to personalize your Easter-themed Hershey kisses with the name of your kids. Not only does this cut down on sibling arguments by delineating whose candy is whose, it also creates a personalized transaction (and product) between you and your customer — one that leads to far more “stickiness” than when a customer picks up a bag of candy at the grocery store.

Supply and Demand: Give Consumers the CX They Desire

Even personalized messages require a fair level of digital supply chain sophistication. Ideally, you’d want to link up your online ordering system to an automated production process where the personalized messages are adhered to the candy wrappers and shipped off to the customer — with all the tracking necessary to know where you are in the production process at any point in time. This requires digital supply chain capabilities — from the e-commerce site on the front end to supplier coordination for fulfilling orders to real-time logistics for tracking the goods.

And remember, too, that the customer relationship doesn’t end at the point of delivery. The post-sale experience can be just as important.

Show the Receipts: Make Returns Seamless

Take, for example, the experience a colleague of mine had after purchasing a pair of jeans from one company and a pair of boots from another for his son. Both items needed to be exchanged for different sizes.

To exchange the jeans, the company needed the item to be checked back into stock before sending out the new pair in the correct size. My colleague could have ordered the correct sized jeans, returned the original, and waited to get credited for the return. However, since he had never done business with the company before, he lacked the trust that it would work out. Instead, he opted for an exchange process that took almost two weeks.

Even though the circumstances were more challenging to exchange the boots, that company provided a better experience. Though my colleague trusted the company and would have purchased a new pair while sending back the old for an eventual credit, there was a glitch. The issue: He had purchased the boots at a 40 percent holiday discount — and three days after Christmas the price had gone back up.

Instead of having him pay the 40 percent extra for the new pair of boots, the company issued him a 40 percent discount code that it honored as soon as it saw movement on the return.

My colleague boxed up the boots and dropped them off at the post office, where his preprinted return label was scanned. By the time he returned home, the company had already registered the return, and he ordered the new boots at the purchase price.

Which company would you rather do business with?

Looking to learn more about how your supply chain can stay ahead of the competition? Read this free IDC white paper, “The Strategic Imperative for an Agile Supply Chain.”