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Building Customer-Centric Supply Chains in E-Commerce

Nov 25, 2021

While customer-centricity is not a new concept in marketing or sales, it might be for those in the supply chain space. Traditional supply chain operations have always had a heavy emphasis on operational productivity or cost-efficiency. Today, a customer-centric supply chain is becoming increasingly more important.

In our latest fireside chat, we sat down with Head of Customer Supply Chain EMENA from Nestlé Purina Petcare, Bill Papantoniou, to understand how a customer-centric supply chain works.

Why Customer-Centric Supply Chain?

While it is entirely logical to design a supply chain that focuses on shoppers (end-consumers), this can take the focus away from retailers, where most FMCG sales usually come from. In Nestlé Purina Petcare, Bill shared that retailers are what they considered as customers. 

In Bill’s view, it is possible for a great product to not fit a retailer’s strategy. Therefore, instead of looking entirely at what end-consumers would want, the team at Nestlé started by looking at how each of their customers can “win”.

“So how can I make Amazon win? How can I make Carrefour win? How can I make Zooplus win? Starting from there, we develop the services that will enable them to win. And usually, when you start from there, you get a win-win for the customer, a win-win for the consumers, and also for us as a company as well.”

Consumer-Centricity in DTC

We’ve seen the rise of Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) fulfillment as one of the key e-commerce logistics trends throughout the pandemic. With a traditional retail strategy, FMCG companies do not have direct contact with the end-consumers within the supply chain operations. However, this is not the case with DTC.

The supply chain team would have a different approach to DTC fulfillment operations. The slightest mistake that was done in terms of delivery, not providing visibility, or product damages can have a tremendous impact on the brand. The impact is further exacerbated by how easily and seamlessly consumers can share their opinions through social media. Therefore, a consumer-centric supply chain is key in DTC.

In addition to a consumer-centric supply chain, collaboration with different teams is crucial in DTC fulfillment. Working with commercial teams to understand how they design promotions can help with inventory and supply chain management. 

Balancing Between Consumers & Customers

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