E-Commerce and Predictive Customer Experience

By Sukdev Sen, Director IT, Thermo Fisher Scientific
The current era is appropriately termed the electronic age with the internet and World Wide Web being a resource for almost everything, from research, to education to entertainment.Today, the speed at which innovative technology is rolled out and adopted is increasing. While radio and television took 38 and 13 years respectively to reach masses; online engagement outlets such as Facebook and Twitter reached out to masses faster – in less than a year. Retail e-Commerce is another example of an area that experienced rapid growth as a result of the internet – from automotive, to clothing to electronics – these industries have significantly benefited by the ability to buy and sell their goods electronically. One sector that is taking longer to embrace e-Commerce is the life science industry, which has a longer way to go in order to catch up.

E-commerce, by definition, refers to the buying and selling of goods and services over an electronic network. Transactions occur between companies and their customers, or between companies. E-commerce includes:

• electronic trading of goods and services

• advertising and promotion of products and services

• pre- and post-sales support

• electronic procurement

The success of any e-Commerce platform depends on its ability to win customer support by providinga consistent and quality experience every time they visit a storefront. Technology is constantly driving an enhanced customer experience by keeping them informed at every stage of order execution (Order entry, Shipment, Door Delivery, Customer feedback) via email and/or SMS communication.

For enterprises and organizations to offer a consistent customer experience, it is important to engineer a Tech Stack build on a single source of Master Data cutting across Customer relationship management (CRM), Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other planning and supply chain applications. Successful enterprises embark on integrated SIOP (Sales Inventory and Operations Planning) processes with manufacturers and vendors for maintaining inventory levels across the distribution network which drives e-Commerce experience and accelerates buying momentum. Cloud, analytics, mobile and social convergence will bring even more energy in to the fast evolving digital world.  Self-Service analytics is catching up and will be the next level of customer engagement, offering simple-to-use Business Intelligence (BI) tools with basic analytical capabilities and an underlying data model, simplified or scaled down for ease of understanding and straight forward data access.

Forward thinking enterprises are leaning towards a predictive customer experience where they would like to understand and communicate proactively to customers before they follow-up, incur losses or are otherwise inconvenienced. This not only helps customers plan for any change in schedule/delivery/need, but it also reinforces trust and dependency on the suppliers. Improved customer satisfaction will further result in a better working relationship and on-time payment collection
from customers.

Life science is all about looking at life with sharp attention to sense of urgency and accuracy. Dealing with regulatory requirements, licenses, jurisdiction, storage conditions, shelf life and delivery lead times are critical to the success of life science research and development. Using conventional means to order lab supplies, such as printed catalogs, and raising purchase orders is time consuming compared to logging on to a website to browse for products and make purchases.

Increasingly, life science companies are trying to optimize and adopt e-Commerce platforms to enable customers with a dynamic Search - Decide – Buy platform for products and services, offering detailed content including technical specification, real time stock availability, and delivery lead times to improve customer experience.

With increasing competition and a race for increasing market share, organizations are under pressure to invest in the best technology, IT tools and processes that will get them closer to meeting customer expectations and providing a cutting edge experience.

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