Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
The rapid growth of ecommerce in Australia has opened up a lucrative new opportunity for Australia’s logistics industry. But for many of those companies, who previously were deeply entrenched in the world of business-to-business relationships, the switch to servicing consumers has required a switch in customer service mindset.
Hence it not surprising that the new head of Fastway Couriers’ marketing team brings extensive business-to-consumer experience.
Simon Sproule has joined Fastway as global marketing manager after a career with consumer-oriented brands including VideoEzy, Freedom and Pizza Hut. He has also owned and operated a national online marketplace for buying and selling building, pest and strata inspections, called Buy Smart.
Sproule started at Fastway part-way through the redevelopment of the company’s business model to become more consumer-focused, which includes recruiting retail outlets such as newsagents and video rental stores to become pick-up and drop-off points, under the brand Parcel Connect.
“If you look at the explosion of e-tailing, it is changing the face of the logistics industry,” he tells CMO. “We’ve now got to come to grips with the sheer number of customers that we have, so we have to look at what the pressure points are.”
One of the clear pressure points is customer service – an area where many B2B logistics companies have struggled. To combat this, Fastway’s has invested in building Parcel Connect, with Sproule hoping to launch the 500th location this year.
“We have to work out how we deliver a better service, and how we deliver a perceived better service, which means making sure we get the right information to customers at the right time,” he says. “And that will involve a lot of automation. The expectations of consumers are getting harder to meet, and the expectations of what they are prepared to pay for that have not increased.”
The bar for logistics companies was raised even higher in December when Amazon announced it would be offering one-hour delivery on its Daily Essentials products for customers in New York’s Manhattan borough.
“[Consumers] are expecting almost as quick an experience as shopping in bricks and mortar, certainly in larger metropolitan settings,” Sproule says. “That’s the challenge for the industry: To do that in a cost-effective manner.”
As for reaching new customers, Sproule says much of his efforts will be focused on digital channels.
“We have quite a lot of knowledge about our customers and the type of people who could be our customers, so I think that’s where we’ve got to play,” he says. “That’s where our customers are - if they are in to ecommerce they are going to be online.”
With much of Fastway’s business coming via the relationships it forges with retailers, maintaining a high level of customer service will be essential in maintaining relationships with those B2B customers.
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