Walter Blackwood has a wealth of experience in retail logistics and ecommerce fulfilment, having worked for both large retail groups and logistics suppliers during his impressive career. Taking to the stage of the eDelivery Conference on 11th October in London, he’ll be encouraging the audience to think about agility – making sure fulfilment and delivery operations are reliable, meticulously-planned, flexible and most important of all – economical.
“In today’s world of customer expectation of ‘anytime, anyplace, anywhere’, retailers with 30% or 40% or 50% of their sales coming from the online channel, need to be careful not to over-promise and under-deliver,” says Blackwood (pictured left). “I’ll be going through the ‘5 Ps’ of Proposition, Process, Procurement, Precision and Profitability. You need to get all these elements right before you can be sure of doing everything well and with the necessary agility to respond to sudden changes in demand.”
His big warning to the assembled retailers will be “make sure you’re doing as good a job as you possibly can with e-delivery, as getting it wrong can be disastrous”. The power of social media taking hold of a negative customer experience and communicating it rapidly across your customer based must be avoided at all costs.
“Precision is important – taking the time to get things exactly right, and that means testing and measuring results and improving all the time,” says Blackwood. “In this way you can minimise the chances of things going wrong, and ideally eliminate bad experiences being shared on social media channels. Retail brands are very exposed these days, with operational and customer service performance highly visible at each stage of the customer journey.”
Agility means profitability for everyone
Today Blackwood is a consultant and takes on strategic projects for leading retailers, through his consultancy W&MB Consulting. Previously in his most recent full time role at Mothercare as Director of Group Logistics Blackwood had firsthand experience of the complexities of omnichannel retailing. He’s has dealt with the challenges of customer demand, updating IT systems and introducing new delivery services when he was sitting on the boards of major mail order businesses including Otto UK and Littlewoods. In addition, his experience of taking on major supply chain projects while MD of Parcelnet and HDNL and setting up Collect Plus has given him significant insights into the challenges faced by any organisation in the digital space.
“I want delegates to take away really useful insights into the practicalities of making e-fulfilment work, and for them to be very clear on the importance of core profitability,” says Blackwood. “Everybody in this environment – retailers and their 3PLs – need to be profitable, otherwise the whole system fails. If you’re agile you are in a great position to achieve this, but to get to that stage takes a lot of commitment and hard work. We can’t all be Amazon and offer every delivery option under the sun, but we can work to find the most appropriate, flexible ways of working within a core proposition, and achieve great service , profitably.”
See Walter Blackwood’s presentation at eDelivery Conference 2016 on 11 October.
15.15 pm -15.45 pm: How Agile is Your Supply Chain? Five things every retailer should know to maximise performance!
Walter Blackwood is founder of W&MB Consulting.
Register for the conference here.