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Customer satisfaction takes a dip | Cashing in on the product lifecycle

From a major supermarket shortage to why it pays to invest time in your new products introductions, supply chain bloggers, Sam Phipps and Jessie Cooper, explore the hottest topics from the last 7 days.

Customer satisfaction takes a dip amid houmous crisis

As the latest food crisis hit British retailers this week, frustrated shoppers took to social media to complain about the sudden disappearance of houmous. As supermarket shelves lay bare, notices appeared in some stores informing customers that their entire ranges of houmous had been withdrawn due to manufacturing issues. Given that the price of houmous has already gone up by 6% this year alone, the current availability issues have only made matters worse. But what can retailers do to prevent such supply chain disruptions from impacting customer satisfaction?

One potential solution could be to establish more collaborative relationships with suppliers. Through sharing supply chain information, both retailers and suppliers could benefit. For example, retailers may be able to provide suppliers with greater insight into likely customer demand. This, in turn, could enable suppliers to align their operations, ensuring they have enough capacity to satisfy the retailer’s inventory requirement while simultaneously preventing costly waste.

Equally, if suppliers have the means to inform retailers of any potential shortages well in advance, steps can be taken to maximise the value of the stock that is available. Whether this means re-allocating the stock that is available to where it is required most or cutting short a promotion which would only further inflate demand, such actions can help minimise any potential disruption.

On the other hand, it may be beneficial for retailers to have alternative suppliers in place. After all, if the usual supplier is unable to deliver, perhaps another supplier can meet your inventory requirements. However, in practice, this is rarely this simple. For instance: how do the minimum order quantities, lead times and unit costs compare to your usual supplier?

Supply chain shortages are a constant battle for retailers. What has your business done to try and minimise the impact that stock-outs have on customers?

Cashing in on the product lifecycle

As the deadline to spend your paper £5 notes looms, it seems some 150 million old style notes still remain within the public domain. Thus, now is the time to rummage down the back of the sofa!

When you consider how many ATMs’, parking meters & self-service checkouts (just to name a few) are affected by the introduction of a new form of currency, preparing for this switch requires careful planning. Yet, when the new £1 coin was released at the end of March many businesses were simply not ready for the 12-sided replacement. Given that the introduction of a new coin or bank note is the ultimate example of a major product launch, what can we learn from the HM Treasury’s shortcomings?

While a new product development typically marks the start of a product lifecycle for one item, it can often mean the end of the cycle for another. While failing to understand the relationship between predecessor and successor products could prove costly for your business, producing too much or too little new currency could destabilise the entire economy!

Furthermore, in order to achieve a successful product launch, this requires effective communication with customers to ensure they are well prepared to manage any changes. While businesses were given several months’ notice of the new coin design, given the difficulties in gearing up for the changes, was this enough? With this in mind, in advance of any major product launch, there could be real value in enabling key customers the opportunity to voice any concerns and plan the product introduction accordingly.

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