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8 Ways Your Small Business Can Improve Its Delivery Service

roberthall

Do you deliver goods to your customers’ doorsteps? Your delivery service is a valuable delivery serviceconvenience to your customers, but it’s important to do it right. Botched deliveries reflect poorly on your company and can even cost you customers. On the other hand, going the extra mile to improve your delivery service will usually result in increased business and improved customer loyalty.

Here is a roundup of the top eight things you can do to make sure your company’s deliveries reflect well on your business:

  1. Use addressing software. It’s surprising how many companies don’t double-check their customers’ addresses. This is a mistake, because a false address can result in delayed deliveries or even failure to deliver. Even if the addressing mistake was not your fault, any problem with delivery will usually reflect poorly on your company in your customer’s mind. Running your mailing list through address validation software will help ensure delivery to correct address. It will also format the addresses properly for the postal service, improving delivery rates for mailed items.
  1. Implement systems for delivery. Don’t leave your delivery service to chance, or assume that your employees will do it right on their own. Think through every step each shipment must go through, from order through delivery. Create step-by-step checklists your employees can use to make sure everything is done correctly. Pay special attention to any “transition points” where the responsibility for the order transfers from one person or department to another. It also helps to appoint one person to head your delivery service.
  1. Use telematics. GPS tracking is an indispensable tool for optimizing your delivery fleet’s performance. Tracking your vehicles will help you cut fuel costs, monitor drivers for responsible driving behavior and optimize routes for greater efficiency. By knowing exactly where each vehicle is at all times, you can also provide your customers with down-to-the-minute ETAs, and quickly respond to last-minute requests.
  1. Outsource where appropriate. Even if you own your own fleet, it may be more efficient to outsource certain deliveries. For example, if you normally run regular routes with your trucks, using a courier service to deliver to areas where you have few accounts may provide those customers with better service, and be more cost effective for you as well.
  1. Communicate clearly and often. Use emails and/or texts to keep customers informed of their order’s delivery status. (Be sure to get their permission before texting.) Let them know when the order has been processed, when it has shipped and the estimated time of delivery. If an item has to be dropped off and no one is home, you can send a delivery notification. It’s also a good idea to follow up to make sure the item was received and that the customer is satisfied with the purchase and delivery. This is a proactive way to head potential problems off at the pass.
  1. Train your drivers in customer service. Your vehicle and driver represent your business. Make sure they are clean, neat and clearly identified. (If you are outsourcing your deliveries, expect the same of the service you use.) Train your driver to smile, greet the customer properly and thank them before leaving.
  1. Send extra perks with each delivery. Including a little thank-you gift with each parcel will make your company stand out as special. Try a few pieces of candy or a handwritten thank-you note. Or, include a sample of one of your other products or a coupon for future purchases.
  1. Solicit feedback. It’s hard to know what your customers really think about your delivery service, unless you ask them. Every once in a while, send a survey requesting anonymous feedback from your customers. It will let them know you care, and their frank comments will help you improve.

Delivery doesn’t directly generate cash flow, so it’s easy to overlook its significance. However, from your customer’s point of view, your delivery service is vitally important. In fact, it may be the only direct contact they have with your business. If you are already implementing many of the ideas above, you probably already enjoy the excellent customer loyalty and repeat business a top-notch delivery service can help you achieve. If not, try them out, and see for yourself how improving your delivery service can boost your business.

Robert J. Hall is the president of Track Your Truck, headquartered in New Lenox, IL. Track Your Truck is the primary provider of GPS vehicle tracking software for small and medium-sized businesses. 

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Why B2B E-Commerce Is Prime For Disruption

Stuart O'Neill

The same market forces that created consumer-centric businesses like Afterpay and Deliveroo are at work again – but this time among B2B organizations.

With the sector’s reliance on long-term contracts and traditional relationship building, B2B might seem an odd contrast with these digital businesses largely borne out of consumer frustrations. But with online services leading consumers to expect personalized and seamless experiences in all digital interactions, the B2B e-commerce sector is primed for change.

We’re witnessing the digital evolution of the manufacturing sector, and with this change comes opportunity. For example, Forrester predicts the U.S. B2B e-commerce sector will grow to $1.1 trillion by 2020.

This growth opportunity extends to Australia, and manufacturers not responding will risk losing out to their competitors who are committed to delivering the same rich experiences to businesses that are delivered to consumers.

Traditionally, manufacturers have had difficulty building one seamless experience for buyers given the challenge of removing silos in backend systems. This prevents them from sharing data and analytics between departments, channels, and countries. Simultaneously, existing systems can’t cope with the new pricing, availability, and delivery-sequencing implications of bundled offerings.

To capitalize on the opportunity, B2B organizations must create easy-to-use buying experiences with real-time response, intuitive options for recurring orders, and online accounts that allow customers to view their order history and status and integrate all data points gathered. These must be offered across multiple devices and varying buying platforms.

Finding a system that enables a business to connect its many data points to deliver an omnichannel and personalized experience is key. According to Forrester, 60% of B2B companies report buyers spend more overall when they’re able to interact across multiple channels.

With Amazon also formally announcing its move into the market, there can be no doubt B2B is in for a period of change. In Europe and the United States, Amazon started in the B2C sector and is now actively addressing the requirements of the B2B sector. We can assume it will not be long until Amazon makes B2B a prime focus in the Australian market as well.

The proliferation of mobile within business also opens up countless opportunities to foster strong and lasting customer relationships. It means being able to build on the traditional relationships that governed the B2B sector and provide that same feeling of true customer experience across a number of touchpoints.

So how can manufacturers get on the front foot?

Finding a way to get a single view of the customer is a critical first step. This means implementing a software platform that allows data to flow seamlessly across the supply chain: commerce, customer relationship management, and manufacturing applications. Building a comprehensive view is important to cross-sell and upsell, and it’s a necessity for modern business.

It’s a challenging process, but addressing this technical challenge now allows manufacturers to ensure the system is working for them versus chasing their tail to get their affairs in order before it’s too late. This means communicating the benefits of e-commerce within organizations to take full advantage of the inevitable market conditions coming their way.

Learn more about how digital has changed the sales process in Primed: Prompting Customers to Buy.

This article originally appeared in Industry Update.

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Stuart O'Neill

About Stuart O'Neill

Stuart O’Neill is the Head of Business for the ANZ region for SAP Hybris. In this role, Stuart has helped champion e-Commerce adoption amongst leading Telecom and retail customers globally, leading the strategic Customer Engagement and Commerce line of business for SAP in ANZ. A technology sales professional with deep industry knowledge, Stuart has spent the past six years evangelizing an industry-wide shift to ecommerce and the cloud in Europe, Asia and Australia and has helped position hybris as a leader in the ecommerce market in Australia and NZ. Stuart has spent the last 15 years working in the networking and e-Commerce industry in both Europe and Asia and is recognized as one of the leading experts in ecommerce in Australia. His expertise has been garnered through his experience working as a sales professional with leading players in the industry including Nortel Networks, Cisco, Fujistu and Digital River. Stuart has travelled extensively, and has lived and worked in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Stuart holds an MBA specialized in Marketing and bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.

Is This Winning Business Formula The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread?

John Ward

Sometimes lasting success starts off with one really, really good idea.

That’s the case with the Hansaloy Corporation of Davenport, Iowa. In fact, this family-owned business is based on what is perhaps the granddaddy of all great ideas: sliced bread. Hansaloy began making the specialized knife blades used in automatic bread-slicing machines back in 1933. Today, the company is still an industry leader. Its loyal customer base includes large wholesale bakers around the globe.

Yet Hansaloy remains a modest-sized company of only about 60 employees.

How does a small manufacturing company maintain this kind of business success? Hansaloy’s president, Kim Brenner, is happy to share a few of their secrets.

Stick to purpose-driven design

“First, we make sure we fully understand the needs of our customers,” says Brenner. “Each of our blade edges is designed with consideration for the type of crust, texture, and grain of the breads being sliced.”

These razor-sharp blades utilize proprietary steel alloys that produce very consistent slicing and excellent product cycle life. “Our blades are extremely sharp and extremely strong,” Brenner says. “Our technology continues to set us apart from the competition.”

Stay flexible

Hansaloy has also redesigned its manufacturing operations over time to better support the company’s evolving business model. As Brenner explains, the company’s global business is now essentially split equally between two major markets.

For domestic accounts, Hansaloy usually builds-to-order and ships the blades directly to the end user in custom package sizes. Customers in foreign countries, on the other hand, are typically served through local distributors who order stock in bulk, maintain inventory, and handle the final shipments.

Products for both markets are made at Hansaloy’s single manufacturing location. “We need to stay flexible,” Brenner explains. “And our current manufacturing systems and processes allow us to quickly accommodate changes in product specs, bill of material, packaging, or routing as new requirements come up.”

Partner for success

Though the customized business systems that Hansaloy had been using in the past once served them well, these aging solutions were beyond their support cycle and not adaptable to changes in manufacturing. Hansaloy reached out to CONTAX Inc. – a global consulting services provider with local offices right in Davenport – to help find a more standardized and sustainable solution.

Establishing this strategic partnership was yet another good idea. “A business transformation project is never just about technology,” says Corey Herchenroder, a Director at CONTAX. “It is also about the process, the business, and the collaboration.”

Together, the Hansaloy and CONTAX teams rolled out an ERP platform designed specifically for small to midsized industrial manufacturing companies to improve production planning, scheduling, and control.

Hansaloy once spent considerable time on tasks such as tracking small components and manually cross-referencing the production and material information to a customer’s shipment. “Now, instead of using an array of user-specific spreadsheets and filing systems, we can focus on the overall process and manage what’s most important,” Brenner says.

Find the right combination

It usually takes more than one good idea to achieve sustainable business success – especially when you’re a small or midsize manufacturing company.

Hansaloy seems to have found a winning formula: Combine superior product technology with agile manufacturing practices and strategic partnerships.

Why, that idea could be the greatest thing since . . . well, you know.

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Taking Learning Back to School

Dan Wellers

 

Denmark spends most GDP on labor market programs at 3.3%.
The U.S. spends only 0.1% of it’s GDP on adult education and workforce retraining.
The number of post-secondary vocational and training institutions in China more than doubled from 2000 to 2014.
47% of U.S. jobs are at risk for automation.

Our overarching approach to education is top down, inflexible, and front loaded in life, and does not encourage collaboration.

Smartphone apps that gamify learning or deliver lessons in small bits of free time can be effective tools for teaching. However, they don’t address the more pressing issue that the future is digital and those whose skills are outmoded will be left behind.

Many companies have a history of effective partnerships with local schools to expand their talent pool, but these efforts are not designed to change overall systems of learning.


The Question We Must Answer

What will we do when digitization, automation, and artificial intelligence eject vast numbers of people from their current jobs, and they lack the skills needed to find new ones?

Solutions could include:

  • National and multinational adult education programs
  • Greater investment in technical and vocational schools
  • Increased emphasis on apprenticeships
  • Tax incentives for initiatives proven to close skills gaps

We need a broad, systemic approach that breaks businesses, schools, governments, and other organizations that target adult learners out of their silos so they can work together. Chief learning officers (CLOs) can spearhead this approach by working together to create goals, benchmarks, and strategy.

Advancing the field of learning will help every business compete in an increasingly global economy with a tight market for skills. More than this, it will mitigate the workplace risks and challenges inherent in the digital economy, thus positively influencing the future of business itself.


Download the executive brief Taking Learning Back to School.


Read the full article The Future of Learning – Keeping up With The Digital Economy

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About Dan Wellers

Dan Wellers is the Global Lead of Digital Futures at SAP, which explores how organizations can anticipate the future impact of exponential technologies. Dan has extensive experience in technology marketing and business strategy, plus management, consulting, and sales.

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Why Millennials Quit: Understanding A New Workforce

Shelly Kramer

Millennials are like mobile devices: they’re everywhere. You can’t visit a coffee shop without encountering both in large numbers. But after all, who doesn’t like a little caffeine with their connectivity? The point is that you should be paying attention to millennials now more than ever because they have surpassed Boomers and Gen-Xers as the largest generation.

Unfortunately for the workforce, they’re also the generation most likely to quit. Let’s examine a new report that sheds some light on exactly why that is—and what you can do to keep millennial employees working for you longer.

New workforce, new values

Deloitte found that two out of three millennials are expected to leave their current jobs by 2020. The survey also found that a staggering one in four would probably move on in the next year alone.

If you’re a business owner, consider putting four of your millennial employees in a room. Take a look around—one of them will be gone next year. Besides their skills and contributions, you’ve also lost time and resources spent by onboarding and training those employees—a very costly process. According to a new report from XYZ University, turnover costs U.S. companies a whopping $30.5 billion annually.

Let’s take a step back and look at this new workforce with new priorities and values.

Everything about millennials is different, from how to market to them as consumers to how you treat them as employees. The catalyst for this shift is the difference in what they value most. Millennials grew up with technology at their fingertips and are the most highly educated generation to date. Many have delayed marriage and/or parenthood in favor of pursuing their careers, which aren’t always about having a great paycheck (although that helps). Instead, it may be more that the core values of your business (like sustainability, for example) or its mission are the reasons that millennials stick around at the same job or look for opportunities elsewhere. Consider this: How invested are they in their work? Are they bored? What does their work/life balance look like? Do they have advancement opportunities?

Ping-pong tables and bringing your dog to work might be trendy, but they aren’t the solution to retaining a millennial workforce. So why exactly are they quitting? Let’s take a look at the data.

Millennials’ common reasons for quitting

In order to gain more insight into the problem of millennial turnover, XYZ University surveyed more than 500 respondents between the ages of 21 and 34 years old. There was a good mix of men and women, college grads versus high school grads, and entry-level employees versus managers. We’re all dying to know: Why did they quit? Here are the most popular reasons, some in their own words:

  • Millennials are risk-takers. XYZ University attributes this affection for risk taking with the fact that millennials essentially came of age during the recession. Surveyed millennials reported this experience made them wary of spending decades working at one company only to be potentially laid off.
  • They are focused on education. More than one-third of millennials hold college degrees. Those seeking advanced degrees can find themselves struggling to finish school while holding down a job, necessitating odd hours or more than one part-time gig. As a whole, this generation is entering the job market later, with higher degrees and higher debt.
  • They don’t want just any job—they want one that fits. In an age where both startups and seasoned companies are enjoying success, there is no shortage of job opportunities. As such, they’re often looking for one that suits their identity and their goals, not just the one that comes up first in an online search. Interestingly, job fit is often prioritized over job pay for millennials. Don’t forget, if they have to start their own company, they will—the average age for millennial entrepreneurs is 27.
  • They want skills that make them competitive. Many millennials enjoy the challenge that accompanies competition, so wearing many hats at a position is actually a good thing. One millennial journalist who used to work at Forbes reported that millennials want to learn by “being in the trenches, and doing it alongside the people who do it best.”
  • They want to do something that matters. Millennials have grown up with change, both good and bad, so they’re unafraid of making changes in their own lives to pursue careers that align with their desire to make a difference.
  • They prefer flexibility. Technology today means it’s possible to work from essentially anywhere that has an Internet connection, so many millennials expect at least some level of flexibility when it comes to their employer. Working remotely all of the time isn’t feasible for every situation, of course, but millennials expect companies to be flexible enough to allow them to occasionally dictate their own schedules. If they have no say in their workday, that’s a red flag.
  • They’ve got skills—and they want to use them. In the words of a 24-year-old designer, millennials “don’t need to print copies all day.” Many have paid (or are in the midst of paying) for their own education, and they’re ready and willing to put it to work. Most would prefer you leave the smaller tasks to the interns.
  • They got a better offer. Thirty-five percent of respondents to XYZ’s survey said they quit a previous job because they received a better opportunity. That makes sense, especially as recruiting is made simpler by technology. (Hello, LinkedIn.)
  • They seek mentors. Millennials are used to being supervised, as many were raised by what have been dubbed as “helicopter parents.” Receiving support from those in charge is the norm, not the anomaly, for this generation, and they expect that in the workplace, too.

Note that it’s not just XYZ University making this final point about the importance of mentoring. Consider Figures 1 and 2 from Deloitte, proving that millennials with worthwhile mentors report high satisfaction rates in other areas, such as personal development. As you can see, this can trickle down into employee satisfaction and ultimately result in higher retention numbers.

Millennials and Mentors
Figure 1. Source: Deloitte


Figure 2. Source: Deloitte

Failure to . . .

No, not communicate—I would say “engage.” On second thought, communication plays a role in that, too. (Who would have thought “Cool Hand Luke” would be applicable to this conversation?)

Data from a recent Gallup poll reiterates that millennials are “job-hoppers,” also pointing out that most of them—71 percent, to be exact—are either not engaged in or are actively disengaged from the workplace. That’s a striking number, but businesses aren’t without hope. That same Gallup poll found that millennials who reported they are engaged at work were 26 percent less likely than their disengaged counterparts to consider switching jobs, even with a raise of up to 20 percent. That’s huge. Furthermore, if the market improves in the next year, those engaged millennial employees are 64 percent less likely to job-hop than those who report feeling actively disengaged.

What’s next?

I’ve covered a lot in this discussion, but here’s what I hope you will take away: Millennials comprise a majority of the workforce, but they’re changing how you should look at hiring, recruiting, and retention as a whole. What matters to millennials matters to your other generations of employees, too. Mentoring, compensation, flexibility, and engagement have always been important, but thanks to the vocal millennial generation, we’re just now learning exactly how much.

What has been your experience with millennials and turnover? Are you a millennial who has recently left a job or are currently looking for a new position? If so, what are you missing from your current employer, and what are you looking for in a prospective one? Alternatively, if you’re reading this from a company perspective, how do you think your organization stacks up in the hearts and minds of your millennial employees? Do you have plans to do anything differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For more insight on millennials and the workforce, see Multigenerational Workforce? Collaboration Tech Is The Key To Success.

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