Some call it the “Amazon effect.” Others simply note that as eCommerce matures, consumers have gotten increasingly used to getting what they want—when they want it—contributing to an overall rise in expectations across the board.

Either way, it’s becoming clear that consumer expectations are impacting supply chains—and not always in the ways you’d expect. In this article, we’ll share 14 customer experience statistics that can (or should!) influence the way many supply chains run.

One note: Even though your business may not sell direct to consumers, it still may feel the ripple effect from these expectations. For example, if you supply a business that sells direct to consumers, you may need to change the way you do business with your customer in order to help them keep their customers happy. Ultimately, when you can assist a customer in meeting their own business goals, you’ll become an even more valuable partner.

But before we explore the statistics, let’s talk about the why.

Why Invest in Customer Experience? The Benefits Can Be Huge

Depending on what kind of business you operate, it may not be immediately obvious why investing significant time and energy into customer satisfaction can impact your bottom line. In fact, many companies view it as an expense—an unnecessary one.

However, these statistics suggest just the opposite:

  • A study from a leading consumer experience research firm discovered that companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect an average return of an additional $700 million within 3 years of investing in customer experience.
  • Additionally, a study from Walker, an experience management firm, argued that customer experience will soon become more important than price and product in brand differentiation.
  • Finally, a Gartner survey showed that more than two-thirds of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. (That number was just 36% in 2010!)

In other words, superior customer experience can be a tremendous advantage, one that’s becoming increasingly impossible for any business to ignore.

However, that being said, when it comes to meeting consumer expectations, the bar has been set pretty high.

The Rise of Consumer Expectations

Likely because they have more choices today than ever—many of which are available immediately on their smartphones—consumer expectations are hitting an all-time high:

  • A PwC survey of 15,000 consumers found that 33% will abandon a brand they love after one bad experience.
  • That same study found that 92% would abandon that same brand after just two or three negative experiences.

Additionally, a study from Convey, a delivery experience management software developer, showed that 84% of consumers say that they won’t buy again from a brand after just a single bad delivery experience.

In other words, if you’re dealing directly with consumers, it’s absolutely critical to provide an exceptional customer experience if you want to cultivate repeat business. And if you’re not directly serving consumers, you can still get a sense of the pressures your business customers may be under to meet these expectations.

This pressure to get it right, every time, can put significant pressure on each link of the supply chain. If you decide to focus on a superior consumer experience, how can you more carefully manage your inventory to ensure sufficient stock? What can you do to ensure that the final delivery goes as planned? And, finally, how well are you staffed to respond to problems, challenges, and complaints? Answering these questions can make the difference between consumers who return again and again—and those who abandon your company.

So, now that we understand how critical consumer expectations can be—and just how high they’ve gotten—the next question is: What really matters to consumers these days?

The Factors That Move the Needle

Of course, every business’s consumers will have unique needs. If you’re able to ferret these out—and meet them—you’ll be on your way to creating a superior customer experience your competitors will be hard-pressed to match.

To get you started, consider the results of a PwC customer experience survey, which found that speed, convenience, helpful employees and friendly service matter most to consumers.

Let’s take a closer look at some revealing statistics around two of these hot buttons.

Speed Matters

When it comes to speed, many people will pay for it: More than 40% of respondents in another PwC survey said they’d pay extra for same-day delivery.

Additionally, consumer patience is decreasing: The maximum number of days they’re willing to wait for an item in exchange for free shipping has declined from 5.5 days in 2012 to 4.1 days in 2018. Also, according to the National Retail Federation, 39% of consumers expect two-day shipping to be free. (It’s probably fair to attribute this to the “Amazon effect!”)

What does all this roll up to? Consumers expect speed in delivery and, increasingly, they expect that speed to come at lower and lower out-of-pocket costs.

With speed comes the need for precise inventory management to ensure that you can put items in the hands of consumers quickly. As a result, many retailers and manufacturers are prioritizing real-time product visibility when investing in their supply chain. In fact, in a recent study, 57% of retailers and 50% of manufacturers cited it as a top reason for investment.

In addition to pure speed, consumers are also seeking convenience, which is driving trends in fulfillment.

The Significance of Convenience

Today’s consumers are savvy about getting items in their hands, and their desires have driven both 1) high expectations and 2) new options for fulfillment.

A study from the eCommerce platform Kibo Software Inc. showed that nearly 2 in 3 people have used buy online/in-store pickup options to avoid shipping fees and enjoy the convenience of getting a purchase in their hands quickly.

Additionally, when it comes to retail stores, many consumers now expect to take advantage of inventory at other locations and within warehouses. For example, if a consumer walks into a store and doesn’t find a sweater in her size, she might whip out her mobile phone to see, in real-time, if it’s available in the store the next town over. In fact, a Deloitte study revealed that 58% of consumers use their smartphones for in-store shopping, likely to check availability and to browse online pricing.

Or, in stores like Nordstrom, a salesperson may be able to check their inventory across the country, find the sweater in a store in Oregon and have it shipped to Florida via complimentary two-day shipping.

However, companies who don’t have fully integrated systems with real-time inventory information won’t be able to meet these expectations—and close these sales. Additionally, those who do have this capability but choose not to make it easily available to consumers will also fall behind. Those who do will shine when it comes to the convenience factor and attract significant repeat business.

Finally, when it comes to what consumers want, there’s one more X factor at play. Or maybe we should call it a Z factor.

Generational Considerations Affect Perception

At the end of the day, what matters to a Baby Boomer isn’t necessarily what matters to the members of Generation Z. In fact, a PwC Future of Customer Experience Survey put actual numbers to this phenomenon.

The researchers asked a group that spanned several generations what elements of the customer experience they’d be willing to pay more for. The five following factors charted higher for Gen Z than any other group. In other words, they reflect what matters more to this generational grouping:

  • Mobile experience
  • Fun
  • Design
  • Brand personality
  • Trust

So as you evaluate all of this data, remember to look at it through the lens of your particular consumer base. That way, if you decide to make changes in your supply chain, you’ll be confident that you’re making ones that will impact what matters to your consumers—and what they’ll invest in.

Meeting—and Leveraging—Customer Expectations

Whether you’re delivering items direct-to-consumer or you’re supplying a business that does, you’re going to continue to see the impact of increased customer expectations on supply chains. If you can view this as an opportunity to create a significant competitive advantage, it will feel more like an investment with return potential, rather than just another expense. As a result, you’ll create a business that’s primed for repeat customers who are much more loyal to you and the products you supply.




Need some help optimizing your supply chain to keep your customers happy? We’d love to help. Just reach out to us for a free consultation. One of our experts will get in touch to talk about creating solutions that leave your customers thrilled with their experience.

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