EDX Interview: Why Sainsbury’s Dave Crellin says the optimal delivery service is crucial

Dave Crellin, head of online operations at Sainsbury’s, will be speaking in the Operational Excellence conference track at the eDelivery Expo which is being held March 21-22 at Birmingham’s NEC. His session, Evaluating What Operational Excellence Will Look Like in 2020 And What You Should Do Now to Prepare will look at how strategies will change in the next two years.

Ahead of the show we caught up with him to find out why he believes the optimal delivery experience will be more important than ever in the future:

ED: Retailers are currently facing a big enough challenge in meeting delivery needs today – why should they be considering delivery in 2020? 

DC: The demand for delivery isn’t going to go away. The key questions are around how customer expectations are going to change around fulfilment over the coming years and how retailers can leverage current infrastructure and create future infrastructure to meet as many of these needs in as economically sensible way as possible.

ED: What are the most significant changes we are likely to see? 

DC: In terms of pure fulfilment, customer expectations will continue to sharpen as more retailers look to differentiate through delivery – next day, same day, named hour, etc – but also through their returns processes as relevant. Customer expectations for grocers, as an example, aren’t just being set by other grocers, they’re being set by anyone who delivers a product or service to a customer.

From a structural perspective, the balance of trade swinging from walk-in retail to other forms of fulfilment will necessitate a range of changes which will impact different retailers at different rates. This change in balance will ask questions of physical infrastructure, people and systems as well as of upstream supply chains.

ED: What are the biggest challenges retailers are likely to face by 2020? 

DC: In front of a changing world and a growing demand, recruiting and maintaining the best talent across all fulfilment roles will continue to be a major focus for the industry.

The economics of the channel are at the forefront of most minds. All variants of fulfilment cost money, whether it’s the drivers, buildings and vehicles or websites, systems and call centres. Getting the best value for money out of this resource as well as making sure it has the capability to scale, absorb changes in the marketplace and flex to future customer demands, is key.

The mindset of each retailer’s respective decision makers will be vital. Different strategies will dictate the need for short- and long-term investment; a focus on sales, profit or growth; differentiation, keeping up with the market or deliberately not following. Is fulfilment seen as a necessary part of a cross-channel proposition to keep hold of customers, an annoyingly margin-dilutive channel or a real way to differentiate? In such a dynamic marketplace one of the core challenges is therefore strategic clarity.

How are customer expectations around delivery likely to change? 

Customer expectations will largely be guided by what is offered to them. The simplistic reaction is that lead times will shorten and delivery windows will narrow. However, whilst improved customer propositions should definitely be expected, the focus for retailers is likely to be more concentrated on what their individual customers actually value, which may already be fairly close to what they have now.

2020 is two Christmases away, which isn’t a lot of time to build any radically different infrastructure. What customers will expect, though, is that some sensible level of fulfilment service is always on tap.

The greater level of expectation-defining change is therefore likely to come in the service elements of fulfilment, with initiatives to make a more informed and appropriate delivery becoming an increasing feature in customer experience.

This is where e-commerce starts to merge into multi-channel and omni-channel and the ability for a business to know a customer and deliver the optimal product or service to that customer in the optimal way will be the differentiator that sets the new benchmark for the industry.

Find out more from Dave Crellin by attending his session Evaluating What Operational Excellence Will Look Like in 2020 And What You Should Do Now to Prepare. Book now.

Image credit: Sainsbury’s and eDelivery Expo

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