By Karen Reddington | The biggest trend in logistics right now is not artificial intelligence or blockchain, it’s personalization–unlocking a new era of delivery once only accessible to big global companies and corporates.
Over 70% of Asia’s entrepreneurs and small businesses are now exporting beyond the Asia Pacific (FedEx). The industry is currently at the threshold of dynamically tailoring services to individual customers to build greater competitive advantage. While many believe in the power of personalization, far fewer know that tapping into customization strategies in logistics is now easier than ever.
So, how can Asia’s small businesses customize shipping experiences and use logistics to gain ground against larger, more established brands?
Logistics tailored to you
Despite shipping being the most important aspect of the $4.5 trillion e-commerce economy (Forbes), we recognize that to many, it’s largely invisible (Raj Subramanian). So, what is the essence of customization and personalization in a world where 11% of global GDP is already directly attributable to digital technologies (AU Govt)?
The first step is to change the mindset that logistics is only relevant after goods and services are sold. For instance, FedEx believed it is important to help SME e-tailers generate more business on their website and engage in post-sales services to match shipping with customer needs (FedEx). In addition, approximately 90% of logistics takes place via mobile phone (FedEx), meaning we must deliver differently.
The ‘new normal’ of personalized logistics is all about bringing greater convenience to customers. These include same-day delivery, last mile choices including self-collection locations (FedEx), and advanced tracking that can create personal ‘watch lists’ (FedEx).
Visibility is another personalization tool well-suited to customers who expect regular updates and control over the status of their shipment (FedEx). Take FedEx Delivery Manager for instance, which can request delivery notifications, sign for deliveries in advance, have shipments delivered to a secure location, suspend deliveries and more.
Customers continuously want more from logistics. They seek the ability to return goods, receive delivery updates via text message, track product requirements online, control delivery window and location, and use ‘click and collect’ options to collect goods from a secure location, such as locker units or 711 stores.
We’ve also seen growth in customization and postponement, which has increased options for SMEs to manage inventories more efficiently (FedEx). By delaying product packaging and assembly for as long as possible, exact customer specifications can be met whenever products are needed (FedEx).
Brands who embrace personalization grow two to three times faster than competitors, and see revenue growth of up to 10% (BCG research). With personalization, small businesses will be able to create one-of-a-kind supply chains for better growth and connection globally.
As Alan Kay once said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” We are working on a number of technological innovations that will further change the way we do business and how we serve customers (FedEx).
Across all on-demand innovations, the ultimate personalized accessory of the future will be the ability to book a FedEx shipment through a digital personal assistant. Picture a small business customer answering the assistant’s questions to complete a booking, hands-free and paper-free, after which our couriers or robots will zip to your home or office for pick-up (FedEx).
New ground for competition and growth
The current rate of connectivity and growth is unprecedented. More customers are connected across multiple devices, from smartphones to home appliances (Martech Today). This personalization of connectivity, where we’ve moved from walking among 100,000 products in a store to accessing more than 10 million products on a phone (Accenture), is giving today’s small businesses the opportunity to compete on a scale never seen before.
As we move closer to 2020, customer experience is expected to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Frost and Sullivan). The opportunity for Asia’s SMEs is now.
In fact, the ability to compete on customer experience using personalization is open to businesses of all sizes. It may just be small businesses that win the future battle for personalization.
About the Author
President, Asia Pacific, FedEx Express
Karen Reddington is President of Asia Pacific Division of FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company. In this role, which Reddington took up in January 2015, she heads up Asia Pacific from its headquarters in Hong Kong. Reddington is responsible for leading the FedEx Express business across the region, including overall planning and implementation of corporate strategies and operations across more than 30 countries and territories with about 29,000 employees.
For young startups, where the founders are usually CEOs, you might come across the thought of hiring someone outside the company when your business and workload begins to grow.