This article first appeared in the Winter issue of The Record.
The modern consumer wants things fast and at a time convenient to them, rather than having to be in a certain location between certain hours to sign for a parcel. They want the delivery experience to be in tune with their real lives.
If for any reason this is not the case, then chances are they will take their business elsewhere. This ‘last mile’ of the consumer journey is, in many respects, a deal maker or breaker.
“We see major trends in terms of consumers being the ones deciding where products are going to be delivered – not just collect-in-store or receive at home, but many other potential touchpoints, as well as adding the capability to make changes at the last minute,” says Phillipe Loeb, vice president of consumer packaged goods and retail at Dassault Systèmes. “If for any reason you thought you’d be at home but you are not, you want to redirect the order to another place. The level of expectation when it comes to the last mile of retail keeps going up.”
Loeb says that retailers are aware that the last mile poses a ‘major challenge.’ As such, many are looking for new business models and smarter ways to use their resources.
“Consumers are more often than not located in city centres,” Loeb says. “The traditional model of large stores in the suburbs is not the most suitable for the last mile of delivery for today’s consumers. They are on the move, highly mobile, and so retailers are reinventing their strategies and investing in smaller stores.”
Loeb says Dassault Systèmes is ideally placed to assist retailers in this area, particularly following its acquisition of Quintiq – a leading provider of on-premise and cloud supply chain and operations planning and optimisation software.
“Quintiq’s technology helps retailers solve the problems faced at the last mile stage,” he says. “Retailers can build delivery plans to deliver to stores or at home, and these plans update as things are delivered. Why’s that so important? Because today with the web and mobile, you don’t know who is going to order what product where.”
To meet this need, agility is key. “It’s not just about monitoring transactions based on history – it’s now also the capability to re-route drivers to deliver to different stores,” says Loeb. “This requires end-to-end continuity from the manufacturer, to the distribution centre, to delivery.”
This attention to the final part of the consumer journey is something Loeb believes to be lacking today. And with retail being such a competitive industry, he thinks as word spreads about the availability of planning and optimisation solutions, more and more retailers will look to adopt.
“To protect their branding and be competitive, retailers need to look at these solutions,” he concludes. “They need to fine tune their models to deliver results, and thanks to these technologies this transition is accelerated. It makes it possible for them to keep and acquire more customers.”
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