How P2C can help retailers maintain brand loyalty amid the supply chain crisis
With the ongoing supply chain crisis expected to continue throughout 2022, retailers are bracing for even more disruptions.
Throw in issues with ‘commerce anarchy’ – that being the plethora of platforms and channels retailers need to manage to stay afloat in this current era of e-commerce – and a perfect storm is brewing for Aussie retailers.
This will likely lead to many companies losing control of their supply chains, in turn disappointing customers that are now accustomed to fast shipping, on-demand supply and quality service.
“Companies are experiencing significantly low inventory levels, which was especially problematic during the holiday season when shopping is usually at an all-time high,” says Marcel Hollerbach, chief innovation officer at Productsup.
“Retailers haven’t been able to stock up on popular items to ensure they can meet high order volumes like they typically would during the holidays, and as a result, they’ve missed out on significant sales.”
Hollerbach, a member of the supervisory board at Productsup where he’s responsible for shaping the company’s offerings and go-to-market strategies based on the evolving retail and technology landscape, says beyond the immediate impacts of low inventory levels, the supply chain crisis is causing long-term damage to brand loyalty.
“Let’s say a shopper adds a product to their online cart and then comes to find out the item is out-of-stock once they’re in checkout. That consumer is likely to ditch the retailer to shop with a competitor,” he says.
“Most consumers understand that inventory and delivery issues are out of retailers’ hands, as many are conducting their shopping far in advance of when they actually need the items. However, nothing frustrates a shopper more than inconsistent, inaccurate, out-of-date, and missing information about the products they’re shopping for.
“Companies that don’t update their product information in real-time and at every consumer touchpoint break their customer relationships.”
While many of the problems with the supply chain are out of their control, Hollerbach says retailers can still take steps to enrich the customer experience by following three golden rules:
- Customers can see what products are readily available at each physical store location,
- Customers have the option to pick up an online order in-person at no cost, and
- Customers can have something delivered directly to their doorstep.
“By providing alternative delivery options, companies lower the number of individual shipments going out while ensuring customers can receive their products when they need them,” he says.
“Similarly, in-store shoppers need just as much flexibility. There’s nothing more frustrating than going into a store that doesn’t have what you want. Instead of turning shoppers away when products run out, companies need to offer online ordering as part of their in-store customer service.
“This blending of online and physical retail prevents shoppers from feeling like their time was wasted.”
Ultimately, Hollerbach suggests retailers embrace a product-to-consumer (P2C) strategy – an entirely new way of thinking about how products move between suppliers and buyers. P2C streamlines the path of product data to simplify the process of managing an omnichannel strategy.
“Communicating holistic, accurate, and consistent product information to customers becomes seamless with P2C. Not only does it make it easy for companies to be present in all channels their customers are using to browse and make purchases, but it also ensures they’re delivering a frictionless experience in those channels,” Hollerbach said.
“For example, if a supplier doesn't receive a shipment in time and runs out of stock of a particular product, P2C can help them update all of their product listings in real-time to note that product is no longer available on all of their selling and marketing channels.
“Or, if a customer doesn't receive a delivery on time for a product they ordered, P2C speeds up the process of communicating that feedback to the supplier.”
The CIO says Productsup can assist retailers struggling with supply chain issues by guiding them through a new P2C strategy.
“One way that Productsup’s P2C platform can help companies overcome supply chain issues is by setting up local inventory ads. Encouraging shoppers to buy products from nearby stores as opposed to ordering online can ease the stress from having to meet delivery expectations,” he says.
“But meeting product data requirements for local inventory ads is vastly different from other ad formats. For example, Bax Music struggled to structure and customise their product feeds for each of their brick-and-mortar locations, as well as maintain control of which products to advertise.
“With Productsup, Bax Music could quickly and easily fuel their ads with perfectly structured, optimized product content, resulting in a 20.8 per cent average increase in in-store revenue.”