The Courier, Express and Parcel (CEP) sector is booming.
The Pitney Bowes parcel shipping index forecasts a 20% increase in parcel volume every year from 2017 - 2021.
The roots of this exceptional growth are the rapid rise of digitization and eCommerce. But, along with expansion, they’ve brought unprecedented change to the sector.
This evolving logistics landscape has also heavily altered customer expectations.
Loyalty is dead. Your customers want a fast, flexible service with maximum visibility and minimal costs – they don’t really care who delivers it. Oh, and don’t forget convenience, customers expect to order anytime, anywhere and largely through online and self-service channels.
On top of this, new players, developments in last mile delivery, and eCommerce providers going it alone mean that to grab a bigger piece of the logistics’ pie providers have to evolve, and quickly.
You need greater efficiencies and slicker processes across the commercial lifecycle to maximize profits
Frustratingly, while the market expands and competition grows, margins remain tight. This fact, combined with the investment necessary to meet new customer expectations, dictates that you need greater efficiencies and slicker processes across the commercial lifecycle to maximize profits.
This starts with using the very technology that has disrupted logistics to digitize your organization, as well as your offering.
From technology architecture and pricing management, to slick sales and order management, we’ve looked at the critical elements you need to transform to deliver next-generation sales in logistics.
Make the most of your data with the right technology architecture
Cloud-based platforms have become the go-to for any organization that craves speed, visibility, flexibility and scalability.
The reasons speak for themselves. With the right cloud-based solution you can get a 360-degree view of customer data and commercial information – including product, pricing and orders. This gives you the full picture you need to start providing that personalized, always-on experience customers expect. On top of this, the ability to automate and optimize processes to make them cheaper, faster and more accurate makes this kind of solution an attractive proposition for any CEP provider.
Currently, for most logistics providers, disjointed legacy systems make offering even the basic customer experience expected today a headache. Slow inaccurate manual processes and – worse still – siloed data present barriers to the delivery of seamless sales and customer journeys.
It didn’t take us long to get to data, today’s hot topic – but it’s with good reason.
Data is the lifeblood of organizations in an increasing number of industries, but there’s a strong case that CEP sits among the most data thirsty
Data is the lifeblood of organizations in an increasing number of industries, but there’s a strong case that CEP sits among the most data thirsty. You don’t need us to tell you that your data not only provides opportunities for reinventing your sales and delivery – but to transform your forecasting and supply chains.
But if you’re going to put any trust in data-reliant business insights and processes, you need all your data and you need it in one place. An integrated cloud-based solution gives you this single, scalable and safe platform.
Sadly, these extensive capabilities aren’t just immediately available with the acquisition of a cloud platform, you need the right technology architecture. By its very name, a single platform sounds limiting. But look at it as a CRM, integrated with the applications you want to complete the full customer lifecycle, and it becomes more appealing. It can also be linked to ERP systems if necessary to provide functionality on top of transactional information.
A modular architecture gives you flexibility, speed and provides the experience you desire
This modular architecture gives you flexibility, speed and provides the experience you desire. We think of it like an iPhone – housing all the applications you need in a single place to give you a tailored experience.
Better still, with all these apps integrating seamlessly, your commercial and customer data can be collected, analyzed and optimized. Smart platforms can then take this data and use the likes of AI and next best action to deliver a slick customer experience and analytics for reporting and forecasting to optimize processes and supply chains.
Manage complex products and pricing
For the logistics providers we’ve worked with, the complexity around product and pricing is an area that the majority of solutions can’t handle.
CEP providers have to deal with multi-dimensional pricing models due to the inherently variable nature of products. Sure, your parcel price is based on weight, but there’s also size dimensions, delivery class and insurance to factor in. With all the variables for each of these elements pricing gradually grows in complexity. This complexity only increases when you add in a customers’ specific discounts, not to mention other product lines.
Even the slickest of sales teams may not be able to salvage a journey that starts with clumsy pricing
But as the very basis of your service, if you can’t get these two pillars of CEP working, you’re starting on shaky ground. Handling pricing manually is slow and inaccurate – even the slickest of sales teams may not be able to salvage a journey that starts with clumsy pricing. However, it’s common for commercial solutions to falter when facing this kind of sophisticated product and pricing model.
You need to find a solution with a product catalog that supports multi-layered pricing dimensions, so you can dynamically automate pricing, launch new services faster and update your pricing and packages quickly and easily.
Make your sales process seamless
If your product catalog and pricing is up to speed, it’s time to put the other pieces of your sales process into place. So, what does this actually involve?
It starts with your quote and contract and runs right through to your order management. As we’ve discussed, choose the right technology architecture and these applications can all join up to provide a seamless sales experience.
If any solution you’re considering doesn’t offer the likes of guided quotes and insights into upsells and cross-sells across all your channels, look elsewhere.
A next-generation Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solution incorporates the complex pricing management and product catalog you need alongside a smart quotations tool. If any solution you’re considering doesn’t offer the likes of guided quotes and insights into upsells and cross-sells across all your channels, look elsewhere. You also need self-service capabilities which can be sourced from exposing your CPQ functionality to a front-end customer portal.
The next step in making a fast, accurate sale is your contracts. All the complex configuration of your order needs to be pulled into your contracts – but doing this manually is a minefield. You need to automate the whole contract lifecycle, from creation to approval and delivery.
If you don’t want your contracts to be a roadblock in your sales cycle find a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) solution with guided editing and approvals, workflow rules and eSignatures. And, of course, make sure it integrates with the rest of your technology to make contracts just another easy step to the sale.
Fulfill your deliveries quickly and accurately
Each part of the customer journey is important – but in logistics managing your orders effectively to deliver for customers has to sit at the top of your priorities.
Find an order management solution with automated processes and workflows to provide fast and accurate deliveries.
The simplest way to make this happen is to find an order management solution with automated processes and workflows to provide fast and accurate deliveries.
Beyond this, you need visibility of ongoing orders – right from processing orders through to delivery and post customer care. That way, if there are problems with an order your customer service team can proactively contact customers or provide real-time information to resolve issues.
Your customers also crave this visibility so they can manage and track orders online. As a result, a solution with live tracking, order notifications and self-service capabilities to manage orders and subscriptions is essential to provide the convenient on-demand service your customers expect.