A recurring theme within this IREU Dimension Report has been the idea that fulfilment is now integral to the customer experience. However, we are conscious this emphasis runs the risk of underplaying the operational, technical and business challenges here. In this context, there is no sense in, for example, introducing a click-and-collect service or next-day delivery without the confidence of knowing where goods are held so that they can be sent promptly to consumers.
One of the recurring lessons we take from looking in depth at companies that outperform the market within Operations & Logistics is that this is usually down to a combination of commercial focus, investment and an in-depth understanding of the business to determine what can be achieved. In contrast, those companies that run into problems often start from the idea that our competitors are doing something so we should too – without thinking through the impact on the company.
The other recurring theme we should emphasise is that retailers outside western Europe are addressing the issues here. This is not surprising. As ecommerce matures, there more and more information about best practice is available. That said, the improvement in, performance amongst, for instance, eastern European retailers has been impressive, much better than we might have expected.
Will this rate of improvement continue? For a while at least, we suspect it will but there will also be a levelling up of service levels – at least until retailers develop new kinds of services to tempt consumers and gain that all-important competitive advantage.