#ClockworkConvenience: From order to delivery

April 19, 2024 | By RetailME Bureau

#ClockworkConvenience: From order to delivery session, ICS MENA 2024

Timely delivery plays a pivotal role in enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. How can brands optimise the ordering process, manage inventory effectively, leverage technology for real-time tracking and transparently communicate delivery timelines with customers?

“I think we’re talking about the most forgotten, yet crucial, aspect of e-commerce, and the hardest part too,” observed session moderator Darine El Sabbagh, Managing Director, Golden Scent setting the context for a panel discussion at the Internet Commerce Summit (ICS) MENA 2024.

“Ordering is easy. Fulfilling the order is difficult and a lot of customer experience and good net promoter scores are hidden there,” stated Vishal Kapil, Group CIO, GMG.

To start the conversation, El Sabbagh asked for a fad that’s going around in the industry.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is real, and AI is a fad, Kapil responded.

A lot of debate is happening around AI these days and wider adoption will take time, opined Alfred James, Deputy General Manager – Group E-commerce, Lulu Group International. “You need to know the problem you’re trying to solve and stay focused.”

AI facilitates machine learning and deep algorithms of operating with huge quantities of data. “In our business it accounts for 20-30% of top line. But Generative AI is yet to prove its application in terms of unit economics,” observed Max Avtukhov, Chief Executive Officer, Yango Tech.  

On the other hand, Mayank Srivastava, Head of Business Development – MEA, Kaleyra said AI is changing lives. “We’re seeing good results by leveraging AI in our business.”

“AI is evolving and we’ve to wait and see what’s in store. But I think when it comes to a short-term fad, and staying with delivery we must try to understand that it’s not a race against time. It’s about an experience,” said Rehana Raj, Operations Head – Retail, Choithrams.

Moving away from the world of grocery, lifestyle and technology Malini Ohri, Founder, Saante Selfcare and Minal Siyal, Conscious Executive Officer, Beauty Binge emphasised on the importance of making mindful choices when it comes to beauty, health and wellness steering away from the on-going fads which tend to change rapidly.

Do you feel the pressure to keep up with the customers’ growing expectations on delivery which has reduced from one hour to 15 minutes now, El Sabbagh asked.

“It’s very important for us to define what is on-time delivery for a customer point of view. We define a customer shopping mission into three parts – planned and bigger baskets fulfilled through our brick-and-mortar stores and chatrooms; weekly top-ups serviced through the marketplaces and aggregator platforms within 60-90 minutes; and finally quick delivery serviced through dark stores of Deliveroo Hop and through our home delivery channel. Accordingly, we get our processes in place to meet these expectations effectively wherein data plays a crucial role. We work with clear goals around how inventory should be managed through our auto replenishment system, so that the inventory is available for the picker to pick and deliver in an efficient manner. The entire experience is comprised of processes put together with products and people facilitating the delivery experience,” Raj shared.

“Within the grocery space the biggest challenge for us is to deliver faster to customers,” James agreed.

“Having a centralised inventory management system has helped in making offline inventory levels visible to online customers. From an out-of-stock perspective, combining demand planning, understanding the offline-online customer demand and planning the supply chain have helped us immensely. From a customer perspective, transparent communication around delivery has reduced the volume of customer inquiries.”

Delivery tracking mechanisms positively impact the overall customer experience by providing real-time tracking updates offering the flexibility around delivery preferences, Srivastava agreed. 

“We are in a business to make money. And every experience you want to cater to has a cost and profitability element attached to it. We need to be very clear on a few things – are we chasing growth or building a business which is scalable or building a business that’s profitable. Even if two elements of the three things – growth oriented and being profitable – are on track the business is on the right path,” Kapil observed. “While experience plays a very important role, inventory is an asset, and how that’s managed is crucial. We live in a world where latency is the new outage. Every business needs to take a look at what is right, what is wrong and make technology, people, capability and operational choices accordingly.”

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