Historically, the retail industry has talked about experience through one lens and one lens only — the customer’s. And for good reason, too — customer experience (CX) is a known driver of customer loyalty, one that is sometimes more powerful than brand or price.

While continuing to create positive customer experiences with easily navigable layouts, relevant assortments, product availability, and knowledgeable staff is critical to keeping hearts and carts full, it would benefit retailer KPIs to consider which other experiences are ripe for improvement and elevation.

Consider the supply chain workforce, for instance. Everyone from demand planning to the employees working the store floors is hard at work creating harmony amid chaos, and they’re doing it within a fragmented and siloed supply chain. Even when customer satisfaction is high under these conditions, retail professionals would do well to ask themselves: “But at what [hidden] cost?”

Customer Satisfaction Versus Labor Retention: A False Dichotomy

Two of the major systemic retail weaknesses unveiled by the COVID-19 pandemic have only deteriorated since they were uncovered: finding and retaining retail employees and keeping retail shelves stocked. Continuing to view these as two distinct issues with two distinct point solutions is part of what’s holding retail back from resolving them.

“The issue with both [retail leaders and workforce] is predictability,” says Rod Sides, Deloitte’s vice chairman and U.S. retail, wholesale, and distribution leader. “Employees need predictability in their hours…On the other hand, retailers need predictability in when products are going to arrive and need sorting to provide employees with predictable schedules.”

Under the pressure of keeping up with increasing competition to create lasting experiences for customers, it can be difficult not to see the problem as a dichotomy of extremes where a positive customer experience comes at the expense of a positive labor experience, or vice versa.

It is more productive (and more profitable) for retailers to consider positive customer experience as being interconnected with positive employee experience. The retailers who are adopting comprehensive supply chain solutions rather than a patchwork quilt of “best-in-breed” remedies are seeing the benefits of this more holistic view.

How Morrisons Put the Customer at the Heart of Every Decision  

UK grocery retailer Morrisons wanted to increase on-shelf availability for their shoppers through improved demand planning and replenishment based on analyses of customer behavior at every store. So, they leveraged artificial intelligence (AI)-infused forecasting and replenishment solutions from Blue Yonder to increase the shelf availability of 29,000 SKUs across 130 categories in almost 500 stores.

The key to putting customers at the heart of every decision is to ensure that the products that they want to buy in each store are ready and waiting for them when they’re out shopping. Previously, store replenishment patterns were based on manual ordering by in-store teams. But this proved time-consuming, created inconsistencies between stores, and wasn’t always accurate. The manual ordering processes were based on historical practices and intuition rather than a data-driven analysis of local customer behaviors, frequently leading to overstocking, understocking, and less-than-positive customer experiences.

With a Blue Yonder solution in place, orders were automatically forecasted per store and per SKU to meet customer demand. Its self-adjusting capabilities meant that demand could be optimized down to product level by factoring in influences like shelf sizes, seasonality, and weather conditions. The results? A 30% increase in on-shelf availability and reductions in store inventory of two to three days.

In addition to making the order placement process more accurate and efficient for customers, the automated solution improved the work experience of in-store managers and associates. Instead of configuring manual orders based on outdated historical data, employees were free to spend more time on the floor helping customers and contributing in other ways to a positive shopping experience.

Improving CX Starts at Production, Not Sales

Morrisons’ application of AI-infused replenishment planning solutions is a powerful example of how innovative automation can elevate customer experience, employee experience, and business outcomes. But limiting solutions that amplify experiences to the sales floor is short-sighted, especially when there is margin to be gained at multiple points in the supply chain.

The Best Way To Ensure Positive CX Is To Ensure Positive Experiences From End to End

It is not only possible to power up your supply chain with engaging interactions that boost sales and satisfaction while minimizing waste, it is necessary to consider how to achieve this in tandem with elevating experiences for supply chain professionals.

Schedule your strategy call with a Blue Yonder expert today. They’ll explain how seeing the supply chain’s digital ecosystem as an orchestrated and comprehensive whole rather than a patchwork quilt of “best-of-breed” can unlock hidden value in your retail supply chain.