Omnichannels’ balancing act for hyperpersonal logistics 

Alex MacPherson
17 October, 22

Gen Z is forcing brands and organisations to reconsider their rules and expectations as they prove ethical and sustainable behaviour to be a top priority for consumers. The age group have proven to be increasingly conscientious regarding the aftermath of their purchases on the environmental, cultural and societal trends over the last five years, spotlighting their economical influence.

However, with the accelerating demands for quicker, more individualised brand experiences, it’s crucial to balance the necessity of increasing sustainability and remaining environmentally aware as brands and consumers. Alex Macpherson, Senior Director of Solution Consultancy and Account Management at Manhattan Associates, Alex MacPherson, discusses how you can find this balance below…

ECO-RESPONSIBILITY VS. DELIVERY: THE CONSUMER CONTRADICTION

Delivery remains most important to ecommerce customers, with this being ranked above price and even the product itself, whilst providing a choice of delivery options has also been deemed crucial, according to a recent study published by IFOP and Star Service. 

However, despite this, an increasing number of consumers are demonstrating enlightenment and alignment with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies for their chosen brands to purchase from.  

This research also provides insights into Gen Z’s willingness (80%) to settle for a slower delivery service on the condition of an increased environmentally friendly process, with the generation additionally being willing to pay more for this sustainable delivery.

Through this, the paradox arises: the majority of these consumers are expressing desires for increasingly environmentally sustainable options, yet claiming their purchase decisions are affected by delivery speeds. 

THE RISE OF OPPOSING TRENDS: FAST FASHION MEETS SUSTAINABLE FASHION

The last few years have seen the rise of fast and sustainable fashion, two opposing trends that have developed side by side. Fast fashion is an incredibly popular trend in the industry, identified by the swift evolutions of collections that are soon heavily discounted in an attempt to clear the way for the next upcoming line. This trend demands extreme levels of production and transportation, with rapid delivery speeds that indicate a lack of regard for the environmental ramifications.

The sustainable fashion industry centralises around the aim of reducing the environmental impact of the clothing value chain (design, production, consumption) through establishing and maintaining honest and ethical conditions. The evolution of the second-hand market has epitomised this, driven by platforms such as Vinted and brand initiatives like Seconde Main at Kaibi and ThredUP at PacSun.

This  stimulates the circular economy and reuses as opposed to the manufacturing  of new products and the frequently sprawling supply chain networks required for production and delivery.

THE ROAD TO PERSONALISED LOGISTICS

Ultimately,  these supposedly paradoxical demands and consumer philosophies should not be considered in isolation –  they are more a portrayal  of a demand for ever greater personalisation. A consumer with the desire for rapid delivery from one brand, could potentially be satisfied to wait several days for another. Just as they will purchase selected products online and others in store, they could want to utilise a mixture of both home deliveries and click & collect.

Therefore, the question is not whether logistics should slow down and become slower logistics (this also lacks evidence suggesting any great environmental benefit), but rather, how can it adjust and arrange  itself to satisfy the multiple expectations of individual consumers without sacrificing sustainability for the sake of customer service – a recent element  incorporated  to the previously  complex equation of omnichannel commerce.

Whilst  the pursuit of ultra-personal logistics hots up,  the ability to orchestrate both ultra-fast and slower flows is essential, depending on consumer expectations . However, ensuring  these flows are more efficient and as environmentally friendly as possible is fundamental, because no brand in 2022 can afford to govern its logistics in the absence of a solid  environmental concern. 

Achieving environmental gains for retailers isn’t always simple, however support is at hand. With agile, flexible and responsive unified supply chain systems, all stages and processes that underpin consumer buying journeys (allocation and orchestration of stock, order preparation  in warehouses, in the shop, cross-docking, grouping or splitting of an identical order, returns management , supervision of restocking or smarter route planning) can constantly modify upstream or last-mile transport plans to guarantee  the correct decision on delivery speeds, and the most sustainable choices.. 

RESOLUTIONS  ESTABLISHED FOR CUSTOMERS AND THE PLANET

Adopting a ‘reverse engineering’ process when dealing with the challenge of omnichannel retail in 2022 is ultimately the most efficient method to meet the test. Begin at the final step of the process with customer demands before working backwards through the procedures to software IT architecture at the foreground.

This method of reengineering supply chains,  allows your supply chain network, systems and people to have secure and flexible IT foundations established to enable them to speed up, slow down and realign with minimal impact to any point in the supply chain when rapid consumer shifts occur. Do this for an unbeatable  mix of speed (fast and slow), agility, control, happy customers and a satisfied planet..

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