Great Customer Experience Is More than a Buzzword

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For the past several years, “customer experience” has been one of the most talked-about topics in retail. Seminar after seminar at the past two National Retail Federation’s Big Show conferences have focused on this subject and how important creating a great customer experience is to the success of brick-and-mortar as well as e-commerce retailing in today’s omni-channel world.

Much of the customer experience is dependent on a well-oiled supply chain. Because of the growth of omni-channel retailing, loss prevention and asset protection organizations have placed much more attention on securing and streamlining their companies’ supply-chain networks. Here at the magazine, we recognize the importance of our supply-chain LP professionals and have increased our editorial on the subject. For the past year, we have published a column on supply chain written by one of the industry’s most accomplished supply-chain executives, Maurizio Scrofani, CCSP, LPC. In this issue for the first time, we have interviewed a director of asset protection for global supply chain—Mike Combs of The Home Depot. Even for our readers who are on the corporate or store side, you need to understand the logistics world and how it impacts what you do. Plus, there are growing opportunities to expand your careers in the supply-chain world.

I want to share a personal story that ties into both the customer experience and supply-chain topics. My wife and I own a second home in Manzanillo, Mexico, where we spend six to eight weeks a year. In fact, I’m writing this column from my Manzanillo office. No, there’s not a margarita in my hand on the beach. But I can see the Pacific Ocean from my window and have access to the beach, mountains, and excellent food and beverages after work hours.

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We’ve owned our home since 2008 and have spent each year outfitting our home with both essentials and extras to make our home away from home personalized to our tastes. Much of what we’ve added could be found locally, or as local as Guadalajara, which is a three-hour drive from Manzanillo. Other things we have brought with us on the airplane in what we jokingly refer to as “body bags” filled with merchandise from our favorite retailers in the United States.

One of the items we’ve looked for in Mexico that surprisingly we’ve not been able to find is dinnerware. Like I’m sure many of you have, we both grew up with Fiesta® dinnerware. Maybe because it’s a US-based manufacturer, we could not find it or anything similar to it locally. Buying it in the United States and shipping it to Manzanillo seemed like a daunting and expensive option. That is, until I mentioned it to Maurizio, who told me that while the head of supply-chain AP at Macy’s, they had set up a system for shipping to over a hundred countries worldwide. Fortunately for us, Fiesta is a brand that Macy’s carries.

On the Friday before leaving for our current stay, we visited a Charlotte Macy’s store to look at what they carried. Then we went online to place our order. The process was straightforward by simply clicking on the “shipping to” link at the top of the website and putting in our Manzanillo address. Everything else was basically the same.

Because we are staying this trip for six weeks, we hoped that the lengthy delivery times for most shipments from the US to Mexico would allow us to receive the goods before we returned to the US. The prompt notice we received from Borderfree, a global shipping partner for Macy’s and other major retailers, said that our shipment would go out in “five to ten days.” We thought, “Okay, that’s not bad, but how long will it take to arrive?”

We flew out two days later and arrived late Sunday. Monday morning I had an email saying that our shipment would arrive on Friday. Really? Well, it didn’t arrive on Friday; it arrived on Thursday after another notice alerted us to the earlier arrival time.

One week after placing the order, we unpacked three large boxes with absolutely nothing damaged. As you might imagine, we were delighted—the result of a great customer experience made possible by an excellent supply-chain platform. I’m sure that months of work and thousands of man-hours by a team of retail professionals—including the asset protection team—resulted in Macy’s efficient e-commerce supply-chain solution.

The only downside I can offer is that now that we know there is a viable means for ordering products for delivery in Mexico, our bank account will likely suffer. In the meantime, I’ll raise a cold margarita in a toast to Macy’s on the beach later this evening.

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Jack Trlica
Managing Editor

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