March 1, 2019
Today, we can deliver your customers a set of winter tires overnight. It’s going to cost them $175 more, cost the environment the carbon footprint of a jet, along with air and noise pollution. All for something they won’t need for another six months.
Conversely, we can get them a hot water pump in the next five days. It’s going to cost relatively little, and do minimal damage to the planet. But they’ll have to suffer through several days of cold showers and dirty dishes.
Does Speed Equal Value?
I grant you these are extreme, black-and-white examples, but at Visible Supply Chain Management, as an integrated technology-driven supply chain company, we’re thinking about these things for customers with many more shades of grey in their operations. We see a big part—perhaps the biggest part—of our job as their partner is determining what their customers actually want and need, together with what their brand values dictate, to figure out what balance will give them a competitive advantage in their space—without breaking the bank, their corporate ethos, or the planet.
Today, a lot of technology is focused on speed of delivery. It’s getting faster all the time. Pretty soon you’ll be able to deliver an extra-large, hold-the-mushrooms pizza, by drone, in 20 minutes, or it’s free. Delicious. But just because you can, should you?
Do we really want the noise, pollution and madness of the dystopian future portrayed in countless movies dating back to Blade Runner?
What Do Customers Actually Want?
While many eCommerce companies, such as the Amazons of the world, are fixated on time to customer, we have dedicated ourselves to other important questions, too. Like value to customer, and cost to planet. And, when it makes sense, we’re happy recommending slower delivery methods. Our customers are even happier to consider them, because their customers are happier still to accept them.
Fact is, some things should stay on the ground, particularly when the urgent ones can still get there in a two-day window.
Shipping everything by air isn’t just detrimental to the environment, it’s an insult to customers’ intelligence. It’s time companies put as much thought into how the box gets there, and how quickly, as they do into what goes inside it. We should be giving people the option to reduce their costs and personal environmental impact. You might be surprised by the result of providing them with the choice, particularly for younger customers, who are voting with their dollars and loyalty for products with less impact.
Today, More Choices Equal More Competitive Advantage
It opens up a whole new world of options for them. How much do I want to spend? How quickly do I need it? And what do I want my decision to do to our environment and economy? It gives them the opportunity to make better choices that are representative of them not just as “consumers,” but as people.
That’s a part of the supply chain I don’t think is getting enough attention right now, because everyone has become fixated on “how fast can we go… is immediately soon enough?”
Businesses are finding that being able to offer the choice of how, and when, the box gets there is a massive competitive advantage.
Enlightened businesses are also giving more thought to what else goes in the box, and how big that box should be. To their delight, our customers discover that right-sizing their packages, diminishing print processes, and examining their fill can protect products better, make production cheaper, diminish environmental impact, and move shipments into a more economical shipping rate bracket. A win-win-win-win. With an all-important additional win with those customers who are increasingly taking notice of unnecessary packaging waste—its space in the landfill, and the cost, energy and pollution required to get it there. What people really want is the ability to tailor their experience for themselves. And that doesn’t necessarily include getting products as fast as humanly, or technologically, possible.
It’s Bigger Than Supply Chains
These are weighty decisions that go far beyond shipping and packaging. So they really belong in the hands of millions of people, not dozens of corporations… because they can help shape our planet’s future. When the present is filled with options, the future isn’t filled with pollution, garbage, and inflated prices.
What the world needs now are choices that allow us to get the experience we want as individuals, from companies we want to support. Some of these options don’t even exist today… but trust me, Visible Supply Chain Management is working on them.