The most successful growers have one thing in common; they chase perfection. Jeff Bezos, the demanding CEO and founder of Amazon, is the poster child for chasing perfection and placing a never-ending focus on the customer. I think we can all agree that he’s done a pretty good job.
Fortunately for you, Mr. Bezos has paved the way for new technologies that now allow you, the entrepreneurial grower, to also provide an Amazon-like experience, but without the costs or the headaches of reinventing an entire industry.
The Amazon Experience Is About How You Deliver
What Amazon realized is that while low price was important to its model, the delivery experience was perhaps just as vital. Think about it — low prices with delivery in three weeks just doesn’t cut it. But, low prices and delivery today, keeps the customer from ever leaving.
That’s why Amazon went from three- or four- day delivery promises just five years ago — but now it can deliver the same day you order in most cities at no charge to the customer. This is a revolutionary change. It has forced everyone not wanting to get crushed by Amazon to mimic its every move when it comes to the logistics of product delivery.
How Does Amazon Do It?
Amazon can set the bar so high because it leverages logistics software, known commonly in the logistics world as TMS software (Transportation Management System).
TMS systems allow you to organize every aspect of your logistics, shipping, and delivery operations. From the moment the order is approved up to the final customer delivery (with order tracking), the TMS software handles everything. A TMS will provide order management and route and load optimization to minimize miles driven and driver stops. It manages any claims and overages or shortages, tracks drivers, handles all delivery paperwork, processes driver payments and carrier settlement, and provides important statistics on your ever-changing third-party carrier rates and other logistics costs.
Moreover, most growers don’t just use a TMS for outbound delivery to customers, they also use their TMS for inbound loads from suppliers, or loads from other growers if you need to buy product elsewhere to fill an order.
Size Doesn’t Matter; There’s a TMS System for You
Only 10 years ago, TMS systems were prohibitively costly for most growers, and they required dedicated IT staff to install and manage. Today, thanks to the web, there are free TMS software systems available that you can use (just Google free TMS Software), or low-cost TMS systems that you pay for via an inexpensive monthly subscription.
The best TMS software will give you an insight into your shipping operations that was once only available to the very largest growers. It’s nice being able to break down the numbers to find your lowest cost carriers or most efficient drivers (as well as the opposite — the worst carriers and drivers — that may be giving you a bad name).
There’s a flavor of TMS software for everyone, from multi-million-dollar systems to perfectly good systems that won’t cost you a single penny to try out.
At the end of the day, customers expect more from you today than ever before. So, if you provide the Amazon experience, they’ll come back to you again and again — just like we keep going back to Jeff’s little online retail store.
Whether we love Amazon (as customers) or hate them (as business owners), we can thank Jeff for setting the bar higher for us all. After all, sometimes it takes a nudge or two for us to be willing to embrace new powerful technologies, like TMS software, that are now available to us.