Tuesday, 23 July 2013

What’s behind that package you ordered online?

I am constantly telling myself that I need to pay more attention to marketing areas outside of this little screen and keyboard that forms my laptop – and a portal to the world. Recently however, I read on a 2013 Deloitte report that spoke of the changing nature of consumer behaviour. The rapid adoption of portable devices, like smart phones and tablets, has changed not only where we can check our email, but our whole system of behaviour. Deloitte predicts that mobile sales, currently 5.1% of total retail sales, will increase exponentially to reach 17–21% ($628-$752 billion) of total sales by 2016.

So how are companies going to cope with all this fast paced change?

In my research, I came across an article by The Business of Fashion, going backstage at a growing company providing solutions for the fast growing e-commerce industry. Although just ONE aspect in the chain of events involved in online retailing, the article talks about an extremely important element: how do we get our product to our customer?

While many companies have dedicated distribution centers that are already efficient and cost-effective, many start-ups cannot afford this luxury if they are to stay competitive. This is where Quiet Logistics come in. Quiet Logistics, based in Devens, Massachusetts, is unlike any traditional shipping warehouse. Although the 275,000 square-foot facility is packed with approximately 1.5 million units of inventory, the whole place is surprisingly calm and quiet. This is because the whole operation is run predominately by robots. Catering to growing apparel companies like Bonobos and Nasty Gal, the robots diligently fulfill orders with accuracy and efficiency.

The marketing cherry on top of this e-commerce cupcake is the personal touch at the end of the process. You may never know that your package has not come directly from the company you purchased it from. Once the robot fulfills its duties, the package is then passed onto a human to be examined, wrapped – sometimes with a personalized note - with the care likened to a birthday present from your grandma. And this is what makes Quiet Logistics different to other shipping companies.

As we all know, the points of contact with customers are changing, and companies need to take every opportunity to make a good impression. In an age where the retail experience is being challenged, small companies rely on the personal touch Quiet Logistics offers to build and maintain their relationships with their customers.

Although this definitely is not the end of the conversation when it comes to the growing e-commerce industry, it’s an interesting aspect think about and understand. As marketers, mapping journeys, like the one of your product, from website to doorstep, can provide opportunities for innovation and moments for you to make another connection with your customer.

You can read more about Quiet Logistics.

Hongi Luo
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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